As part of cost-cutting measures, the National Assembly management has requested the presiding officers to reduce the number of their aides by at least 60 percent, Daily Trust reports. It was gathered that Senate President Bukola Saraki has over 112 aides, Speaker Yakubu Dogara has about 170, deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu 60 while deputy speaker, Yusuf Suleiman Lasun has 58 aides. Sources said that 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. It was learnt that about two weeks ago, over N10 billion was paid as severance package to Senate and House legislative aides that served in the 7th assembly. The severance pay was 300 percent of their annual basic salary.
Findings revealed that the salaries of all the political appointees were last paid in December, 2015. Most of the aides are said to have little or even nothing to do as they are found hanging 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’ adding that 50 per cent of them are former lawmakers who served with Dogara during the 7th Assembly.
“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. “The truth of the matter is that he (Dogara) made so many appointments. He has different manner of aides. The Speaker over-employed,” a top management staff of the National Assembly said. 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, Turaki Hassan, the speaker’s spokesman, said it was purely a management affair while the special adviser on media and publicity to Saraki, Yusuph Olaniyonu declined comments on the issue. Ishaku Dibal, the director of information at the National Assembly said he was not aware of the matter. David Mark, the former senate president was reported to have sacked 120 aides in June 2015 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.”
Read more: https://www.naij.com/775741-exposed-saraki-dogara-hire-282-aides.html