REPORT | Saraki Has Over 112 Aides, Dogara 170, Ekweremadu 60
The National Assembly management has requested the presiding officers to reduce the number of their aides by at least 60 percent as part of cost cutting measures, Daily Trust is reporting.
Senate President Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara and their deputies have hired over 400 aides, sources told the newspaper.
Saraki according to Daily Trust, is said to have over 112 aides, Dogara about 170, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu 60 and Deputy Speaker Yusuf Suleiman Lasun 58.
But the assembly bureaucracy has lately asked the presiding officers and their deputies to reduce the figures drastically.
Sources said Saraki and Dogara have been requested to cut down the numbers to 25 each while Ekweremadu and Lasun should have 17 each.
The aides are in three categories – Special Advisers (SAs), Senior Special Assistants (SSAs) and Special Assistants whose salaries range between N700, 000 to over a million naira each.
The special advisers earn about the same salaries as federal permanent secretaries while the others earn higher than directors in federal government establishments.
Two weeks ago over N10bn was paid as severance package to Senate and House legislative aides that served in the seventh assembly. The severance pay was 300 percent of their annual basic salary.
In January, the presiding officers met with the National Assembly management on how to cut down on expenditures.
Sources said the management intimated the presiding officers that they could not guarantee regular payment of salaries to such aides, especially when most of them were placed on higher grade levels.
Findings revealed that the salaries of all the political appointees have not been paid since January.
It was gathered that the last time the aides collected their salaries was in December.
Most of the aides are said to have little or even nothing to do. They hang around the National Assembly complex or stay in their colleagues’ offices as they have no offices of their own.
A source close to the office of the Senate President explained that most of the appointments were mere ‘political patronage.’
“The appointments are political patronages; it is an avenue to settle supporters politically. Most of them will be collecting salaries without doing anything.
“I know only last week two persons were recruited. They showed me their employment letters,” he said.
Daily Trust also gathered that about 50 percent of the aides are former lawmakers who served with Dogara during the last 7th Assembly.
Most of them were said to have been rewarded for their support to Dogara, while a few others were nominated by some close friends to the speaker.
“The truth of the matter is that he (Dogara) made so many appointments. He has different manner of aides.”
A top management staff, who preferred anonymity, told Daily Trust that it was true that the speaker over-employed.
It was gathered that the National Assembly management made two suggestions to the speaker on how to manage the situation.
The management told Dogara to demote most of the special advisers to senior special assistants, while majority of the senior special assistants should be demoted to personal assistants otherwise the only option would be to sack most of the appointees.
When contacted, peaker’s spokesman, Turaki Hassan, referred Daily Trust to the National Assembly management, saying it was purely a management issue.
The Special Adviser, Media and Publicity to Saraki, Mr. Yusuph Olaniyonu also referred the newspaper to the Chief of Staff, Senator Isa Galaudu.
However Galaudu has declined to comment.
Also, the the Director of Information in the National Assembly Mr Ishaku Dibal said he was not aware of the matter, but that he would contact his superiors and get back to our correspondent. He never did.
Former Senate President David Mark was reported to have sacked 120 aides in June last year when he lost his position after his party became a minority.
It was gathered that the former speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, had over 100 aides during his time.
A look at the reviewed remuneration package for the legislature at the federal, state and local government levels, Volume II, 2007 by the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) showed that a presiding officer of the National Assembly is entitled to two types of office aides – special assistants and personal assistants.
For the special assistant, the commission provides that “In recognition of the need for this provision, it is hereby retained; the personnel shall be provided by the National Assembly Service Commission and shall be within GL 12 and 14 levels.”
As for personal assistants, it said: “The existing 25% of the annual basic salary shall be maintained. This is to enable the office holders employ personal assistants of their choice.”
The document by the commission indicates that a presiding officer is also entitled to four domestic staff – a cook, a steward, a gardener and a housekeeper.
For the domestic staff, it said: “An allowance of 75% of the annual basic salary shall be made payable on a monthly basis to affected officers to cater for the emoluments of four staff.”
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