- Category: Politics
- Published on Saturday, 23 July 2011 18:34
- Written by Admin
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Some members of the Federal Executive Council have moved to ensure compliance with the presidential directive to remove, with immediate effect, the excess number of aides around them.
The President was said to have summoned the ministers to a meeting in Aso Rock penultimate week, where he chastised some of them for appointing more aides than stipulated by law.
The law states that each of the ministers of the federation is entitled to a Special Assistant and a Personal Assistant.
A source told our correspondent on the condition of anonymity on Friday that most of the ministers involved were those retained by the President.
It was learnt that Jonathan almost sacked some of the ministers when he discovered that some of them had engaged a ridiculously high number of aides and were maintaining them with public funds.
Investigations showed that many of the former aides of the ministers who besieged the offices of the reappointed ministers last week were disappointed as they suddenly found themselves out of job.
The reaction of the President compelled some of the ministers to promptly reduce their aides in obedience to his directive.
Before the presidential order, some of the ministers had more than 10 aides working under vague descriptions and were being maintained with public fund.
“Well, the minister has asked most of us to go. I think the ministers were summoned to Aso Rock and were asked to engage only the number of people prescribed by the law. That was two weeks ago.
“I fact, when my boss (name withheld) came back from the Villa, he said that he was left with no other option than to act in line with the decision of the President that the ministers should only appoint one SA and PA each,” a victim said.
The source said that the former aides of the ministers who were affected by the President’s call for financial accountability in ministries were earning between N150, 000 to N250, 000 per month.
The source added that the special assistants, who are rated as grade level 16 officers, normally earned other perks of office, especially when they travel with their bosses.
Similarly, a member of staff of one of the ministries said that while he was not aware of the presidential directive, he observed that most of the aides in his minister’s office were gone.
The shedding of the excess special assistants by the ministers came shortly after the declaration by the President on July 15, 2011, that he would not protect any of his ministers who got involved in corruption.
Jonathan who spoke at a two-day induction programme for the ministers and his special advisers, urged the ministers to be conscious of how they would use public funds, insisting that the funds should be used to the benefit of Nigerians.
“Let me reiterate that public funds are meant for public good, and I am quite pleased to note that this administration’s fidelity to the rule of law is common knowledge, because neither the Vice-President nor I will offer protection to anyone in government whose integrity is called to question.
“Transformation, in my view, is taking what you have and making the best of it. In so doing, you create a paradigm shift. We must, by our deliberate action, engender a paradigm shift and challenge that will steer confidence,” Jonathan had said.
Before the programme, the organised labour, comprising the leadership of the Trade Union Congress, the Nigeria Labour Congress and opposition parties in the country, had expressed concern about the size of the cabinet.
The labour movement and opposition parties had argued that a government which was out to reduce the cost of governance would not create additional ministries.