Ekweremadu said the protesters were paid between N500 to N1,500 to gather at the National Assembly.
Ekweremadu stated this while contributing to a motion by the Senator Banabas Gemade on the floor of the National Assembly on Tuesday, July 3, 2018.
The remarks of the Deputy Senate President has confirmed Pulse earlier report that organising protest has become a lucrative business in Abuja.
Some “hired” protesters had besieged the National Assembly upon resumption to Tuesday to challenge the removal of some projects by the executives to create room for constituency projects.
The protesters, mostly women and youths were seen carrying placards with threats and cautions to the National Assembly.
Gemade condemned the protest and advised the Executive arm of government to focus on actions that would ensure even distribution of projects.
In his contribution, Ekweremadu described the situation as shameful and embarrassing.
His words: “Let me recognize that we have problems and challenges in Nigeria. But I would limit myself to the issue of unemployment and poverty. Rising from this, some people have found a way of surviving. One way of surviving in Abuja is to organise protest. There are people are considered as protest contractors."
“What is happening is that some people go to government officials or governors who they believe are opposed to the national assembly and collected a N1500 each for number of protesters and when they organize these young people, they pay them only N500 as in the case of today to come protest in the front of National Assembly.
“So each time I see them, I feel sorry for this country that some people are doing things they do not believe in. the issue of protesting today against constituency projects is to say the least very embarrassing. I come from a constituency in this country where we indeed constituency projects is working and I challenge anybody who says it’s not working to come with any contradiction of what I am saying that constituency projects in my senatorial district has been implemented as allocations were released. There is no abuse whatsoever. I challenge anyone who feels it has been abused to come up with evidence of such.
“Any persons who is opposed to the projects of our various constituencies because I consider the person as an enemy of the people. I will never for any reason be distracted by this. We should focus and ensure that in any budget that this is provided for because this is the only way we touch the lives of people we represent in this country.
"No amount of black mail or intimidation should stop the implementation of constituency projects, I admit like every other thing in life, it is being abused in some places and by some people but that is not to suggest that the benefits out-numbers some of the issues we have raised.
“If anybody has any particular evidence of the abuse of constituency projects, the senate and indeed the national assembly is prepared to deal with it. But to say that constituency projects should be discontinued, I believe that is the height of insensitivity to the part of our people. So whoever is collecting money to come to the National Assembly to come and oppose the issue of constituency projects that is not going to happen so I want to advise my constituents,” he added.
Kogi lawmaker, Attah Aidoko said such “paid” protests cost at least N10 million to organise.
He urged the executive to double the funds for constituency projects in the country.
In his remarks, Senate President Bukola Saraki urged the protesters to take channel their grievances to the Executive that orders the release of funds.
Saraki noted that in some communities in the country, constituency projects are the only ways through which the impact of governance if felt by Nigerians.