Abuja – Since the current democratic dispensation in Nigeria began in 1999, opinions have been divided on its desirability, given the cost of running the system.
While many Nigerians have called for a review of the system to ascertain its suitability on the ground that it is expensive, some, especially political office holders, have continued to defend it.
The proponents of the system argue that it is the best for the country and that the cost of governance inherent is inevitable.
A major known source of huge expenditure in a democratic governance, the type adopted in Nigeria, is the retinue of aides often appointed by the president, state governors and lawmakers at all levels.
Prompted by these concerns, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) conducted a survey which revealed that governors in each state of the federation have an average of 100 political appointees, including commissioners, totalling 3,600 aides for all the governors, at the average.
In the North-Central zone, it was discovered that the governor of Niger, Alhaji Abubakar Bello, has 317 aides, aside from 14 commissioners
His Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr Jide Orintusi, said that the governor appointed that number of aides “to ensure efficient services”.
He said that there were 15 Special Advisers and 274 Special Assistants appointed from the 274 wards in the state by the governor.
In addition, Oruntusi said that the governor had 25 Senior Special Assistants and three Zonal Special Advisers representing the three senatorial districts in the state.
He explained that the daily responsibility of the aides was to tackle issues bordering on politics, economy and security.
In Plateau, it was learnt that Gov. Simon Lalong has no fewer than 60 aides, including four Special Advisers and 21 Liaison Officers – one for the National Assembly, three for House of Assembly and one each for the 17 local government areas in the state.
A reliable source at the Office of Secretary to the State Government told NAN that the governor would have appointed more aides “but for lack of resources”.
In Niger and Plateau, it was difficult to ascertain the remuneration of the aides as the sources declined comments on it and no one in the SSG’s office was forthcoming with the information.
But in Taraba, it was revealed that the 10 Special Advisers to Gov. Darius Ishaku earn about N400, 000 monthly, while the 100 Senior Special Assistants and 100 Special Assistants engaged by him take home N200, 000 and N100, 000 each monthly respectively.
In all, the governor has 210 aides, in addition to 20 commissioners.
A competent source told NAN in Jalingo that appointment of aides was ongoing “as the governor said he would be appointing them as the need arises”.
“The number will rise in the days ahead because even last week, someone showed me his appointment letter as a Special Assistant,” the source said.
He disclosed that about 90 per cent of the governor’s aides had neither portfolios nor schedules of duty.
He added that the governor recently directed the aides to go back to their local government areas and assist in revenue generation for the state.
Ishaku had at a news conference recently said that appointment of aides was aimed at empowering people in the state because there were no industries to generate employment for them.
“We need to create job opportunities through these appointments because we have a state that is purely a civil service state.
“I decided to enlarge the number of appointments in order to spread welfare to the citizenry,’’ Ishaku had said.
In Nasarawa state, Gov. Umaru Al-Makura has appointed 66 aides since the inception of his second term, according to Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mr Suleiman Azores.
Azores said in Lafia that the aides comprised 30 Special Assistants, 20 Senior Special Assistants and 16 Special Advisers.
He declined comment on the salary of the aides, but said that they had been living up to their responsibilities “by helping the governor to deliver good governance’’.
On his part, Gov. Yahaya Bello of Kogi has appointed 47 aides since his assumption of office on Jan. 27, 2016.
His Special Adviser on Media and Strategy, Alhaji Abdulkarim Abdulmalik, confirmed this in Lokoja.
He said that the number of aides comprised the Chief of Staff to the Governor and Deputy Chief of Staff, deployed to serve the Deputy Governor; 15 Commissioners, 21 Special Advisers and 10 Senior Special Assistants.
Abdulmalik said that the governor would appoint more senior special assistants soon, adding that the number of aides so far appointed was few when compared with what obtained in the last administration.
He, however, explained that the need to conserve funds for development projects informed the decision of the governor to appoint fewer aides, adding that all the aides were fully engaged with defined responsibilities.
In Benue, it was gathered that Gov. Samuel Ortom has no fewer than 70 political appointees, including 13 commissioners and 20 special advisers.
The size of salary of the aides could not be ascertained as officials in relevant offices with such information refused to speak , but it was learnt that only few of the aides, along with the commissioners, have daily responsibilities.
In the South-South, it was discovered that as with other zones in the country, there is no law on the number of aides the governors can engage. It is at the discretion of the governors.
In Akwa Ibom, it was revealed that besides 20 commissioners, Gov. Udom Emmanuel has 145 aides comprised of six special advisers, 84 special assistants, 43 personal assistants and 12 protocol assistants.
The remuneration of these aides, it was gathered, ranged from N70, 000 per month for personal assistants to 250, 000 monthly for special assistants.
And, in Cross River, from 25 commissioners in the last administration of Liyel Imoke, the governor, Prof. Ben Ayade, increased the number by three, to 28 commissioners currently, and attributed it to his “vision on governance’’.
Apart from the Secretary to the State Government and Chief of Staff, the governor, who doubles as Tourism and Culture Commissioner, also has no fewer than 84 other aides made up of 33 special advisers and 51 special assistants.
Investigation revealed that some aides do not have office accommodation and are operating from their homes while some are redundant because of duplication of schedules.
One of the aides, who pleaded anonymity, said that since his appointment in March, 2016, he had not been given an official car or office accommodation.
The redundancy syndrome in the appointments, it was learnt, made Mr Murphy Ugba, the governor’s Special Assistant on Information and Strategy, to resign recently.
In the letter of resignation, dated July 18, 2016 and addressed to the governor, Ugba stated that his belief system did not permit him to receive wages “no matter how small, for work not done”.
He was Chairman of Editorial Board of African Independent Television before he left to contest a senatorial election in Cross River North in the 2015 general elections.
Ugba lost the election and was “compensated“ with the appointment.
The Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr Christian Ita, told NAN that Ayade’s motive for appointing many aides was to expand governance in the state.
According to Ita, the salaries of the aides were paid according to the structure that was domesticated by the State House of Assembly.
“A commissioner earns about N400, 000, special adviser takes home N300, 000 and special assistant, about N150, 000 monthly.
“When you look at the revenue from the Federation Account, you see that Cross River gets the least. We don’t pay like other oil producing states,” he explained.
NAN recalls that the governor had in a recent interaction with journalists in Calabar, said that he would appoint more aides to assist his administration in carrying out its duties.
According to him, the intention to appoint more aides is to create jobs for the unemployed and reduce redundancy to its minimum.
The survey in Edo showed that a total of 1,093 persons were currently working with Gov. Adams Oshiomhole as aides.
The figure comprised commissioners, special advisers, executive directors, senior special assistants and special assistants.
The survey also revealed that salaries of the aides, aside from commissioners and directors, range from N120,000 for special assistants to N350,000 for special advisers.
NAN reports that apart from the 20 commissioners in the state and aides in the Media Unit and the Ministry of Works, others have no offices or definite schedules.
In Bayelsa, it was revealed that the governor has over 45 political aides.
An official in the Office of the Secretary to the State Government, who preferred anonymity, confirmed this and said that the appointees, who excluded 21 commissioners, earned about N180, 000 monthly.
However, Mr Moses Odo, a former Special Assistant to Gov. Seriake Dickson on Student Affairs, told NAN that political appointees were paid N500, 000 monthly during the governor’s first term.
Odo, who served during the first term, said the slash may have been as a result of prevailing economic situation in the country.
“The state’s allocation from the Federation Account has dropped, salaries of workers have also been cut by 50 per cent, and right now, the workers are receiving half of their salaries,” Odo said.
An aide to the governor on Electronic Media, Mr Ekio Benson, confirmed that allowances and salary of political aides in the state had been reduced by 50 per cent as with other workers in the state.
The survey revealed that Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta has 25 commissioners, one from each of the 25 local government areas in the state.
He also has 15 special advisers and no fewer than 50 aides, including senior special assistants, special assistants and personal assistants.
In Rivers, Gov. Nyesom Wike has 24 commissioners and 38 other aides, including special advisers, special assistants and personal assistants.
It was gathered that the aides are remunerated according to the recommendation of the Revenue Mobilisation Accounts and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) in line with the law.
On utility of the aides, Mr Cyril Wite, Special Adviser to the Governor on Special Projects, said that all the aides had schedules and were quite busy.
“ The job is really tasking but exciting because we are working hard to meet the standard set by the governor,’’ he said.
Wite added that the governor had a new vision for the state and was working hard to attain it.
In the South-West, Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos state has 23 commissioners and 14 special advisers.
Aside from the commissioners, chief of staff and secretary to the state government, other appointees, it was revealed, receive salary and allowances that range from N100, 000 to N500, 000.
A source said that all the aides of the governor had responsibilities that they carried out daily, and that he appointed them to support him in administering the state.
“Their functions are basically tied to the day-to-day running of the government. While most are administrative, some are personal functions and are within the confines of the governor’s personal needs,’’ the source said.
In Oyo state, Gov. Abiola Ajimobi, who had 23 ministries and corresponding number of commissioners in his first term, has reduced the ministries to 13 but has 15 commissioners
He also has 13 special advisers, according to his Senior Special Assistant on Print Media, Mr Akin Oyedele.
Oyedele told NAN that the appointees had been very efficient in the discharge of their duties.
Similarly, the Ekiti State Government under Gov. Ayodele Fayose, has 14 commissioners as against 26 commissioners that served his predecessor.
The Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr Idowu Adelusi, who disclosed this, said that the governor had 16 special advisers and explained that political appointments were made by the governor in tune with current economic reality.
He said that the policy was also to check the errors of past administrations in the state with regards to duplication of duties.
Mr Lanre Ogunsuyi, the Commissioner for Information, Civic Orientation, Youths and Sports Development in the state, explained that the number of aides did not matter, but their roles and how they discharged them to add value to governance.
In Osun, Gov. Rauf Aregbesola has since he assumed office for his second term on Nov.10, 2014, been without commissioners and other aides.
He had been running the state alone, assisted only by Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Moshood Adeoti, and the Chief of Staff, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola. Both men served in the same capacities in the governor’s first term.
Aregbesola had sometime explained that he would appoint commissioners and other aides when the finances of the state improved.
From the North-East, Malam Bello Zaki, the Special Assistant on Media to Gov. Muhammad Badaru of Jigawa, said that aside from commissioners, the governor had eight special advisers and14 special assistants.
He said that although there was no law limiting the number of aides he could appoint, the governor was conscious of the economic situation in the state and country.
Zaki explained that the aides were appointed based on the needs of the state, adding that they had been assisting the governor in his administration.
In Borno, the Special Adviser to Gov. Kashim Shettima on Communication, Malam Isa Gusau, told NAN that the governor had only seven aides, made up of two special advisers and five special assistants.
Sources at the Office of the Secretary to the State Government disclosed that the monthly salary of a special advisers was N500, 000, while special assistants and their seniors, earned between N150, 000 and N250, 000.
Gov. Muhammadu Jibrilla of Adamawa, it was revealed, has 21 commissioners and 28 other appointees, apart from the Secretary to the State Government and his Chief of Staff.
The 28 aides comprised of four principal special assistants, 19 senior special assistants and five special assistants.
It was learnt that although the House of Assembly in September, 2015, approved 35 Special Adviser positions for him based on his request, the governor changed his mind and refused to appoint them.
He had while swearing in the senior special assistants some time ago, said that because of the cash crunch being experienced in the state, his administration could not afford the services of the advisers.
One of the aides who spoke on condition of anonymity told NAN that due to the sacrifice they were making in view of the downturn in the economy, the aides were collecting salary of between N200, 000 and N300, 000.
In Yobe, the governor has 15 commissioners, down from 22 that he had in his first tenure.
It was also discovered that he reduced the number of special advisers from 15 that he had in the first term to 10 advisers currently “to cut down costs’’.
Similarly, the governor has engaged only one senior special adviser as against 18 in his first tenure.
In Bauchi state, it was revealed that 15 commissioners and no fewer than 40 other aides work with Gov. Mohammed Abubakar.
Press Secretary to the governor, Malam Abubakar Al-Sadidue, told NAN that the aides included special advisers and 20 senior special assistants and special assistants.
Al-Sadique, however, said that some of the aides were appointed on part-time basis, adding that salary of the advisers and assistants ranged from N80, 000 to N200, 000 monthly. (NAN)