Delta state House of Assembly Speaker, Mr. Peter Onwusanya Tuesday, was said to have thrown caution to the wind and physically attack the State factional Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), David Ofoeyeno and Assembly workers staging a mass protest against the House leadership over welfare and allowances due the workers.
The Assembly workers, under the aegis of Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN), embarked on a mass protest as early as 8am Tuesday and locked out the speaker of the House and other members from gaining access to the Assembly complex, thereby causing a serious gridlock along the busy Okpanam road in the State capital.
Trouble started after the protesters waited in vain for several hours for the Speaker to come out and address them. This prompted the State factional Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), David Ofoeyeno to mobilize protesters to the official residence of the Speaker.
On arrival at the speaker's official residence, he came out and Ofoeyeno told him "we are here to see you."
The Speaker, Mr. Onwusanya then replied "we scheduled a meeting for 10am today at the office. I am surprised at your action now. We can't talk here, let us go to the office."
Mr. Ofoeyeno then insisted that the talk must hold immediately, pointing out that the gates which the workers had locked-up has been forcefully opened and "right now, we are your visitors, you have to receive us."
However, Mr. Onwusanya who was already dressed, turned down the request, maintaining that the meeting must hold at the office, while working away from the factional NLC chairman.
As if he was issuing directive to his subordinate, the NLC chairman told the Speaker "No, Mr. Speaker, come back here."
This immediately infuriated the Speaker who shouted at Ofoeyeno, saying "you are stupid, who are you?" and immediately the exchange of hot words ensued. The Speaker and some of his aides then broke into a major physical brawl with the NLC chairman, the workers, and the State Police Commissioner Mr. Baba Usman. Commissionor Usman had raced down to the Speaker's official residence to intervene and calm tempers.
According to PASAN chairman, Mr. McCartney Obrotu and Secretary of PASAN, Mr. Emmanuel Osubor who led the protesting workers, the House leadership has vehemently refused to implement its agreement reached with the Assembly workers in the January 19 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) concerning the workers welfare and other matters.
The protest, which lasted several hours, disrupted all official activities of the State Assembly, and all entrances to the complex were barricaded.
The placards carrying protesters with inscriptions such as "commission members must go,” “honor the MoU,” “Mr. Speaker be sensitive to staff welfare,” “what do you do with the monthly allocation to the House?,” and “pay bereaved families their claims,” among others.
Meanwhile, reacting, the Speaker of the House, Mr. Peter Onwusanya, said that the House has fulfilled all the terms of the January 19 MoU, saying that the latest protest embarked upon by the workers was uncalled for saying that their action of locking the gates amounted to labor intimidation.