- Category: Business and Economy
- Published on Monday, 16 April 2012 10:24
- Written by Admin
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More facts have emerged on how virtually all the 42 ministers in the Goodluck Jonathan administration are flouting the presidential order that they limit the number of their aides to two.
From Senior Special Assistants to Special Advisers and Personal Assistants to the Assistants and Advisers, the bloated cabinet has been a drain on the economy.
The presidential directive stipulates that each Minister must not have more than two aides – either a Special Adviser or Special Assistant, and a Personal Assistant.
However, we learnt that some of the ministers have as many as 10 aides with different portfolios.
Our checks in Abuja revealed that the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Senator Bala Mohammed, for instance, has 10 aides.
They include: Special Assistant (SA) on Investment, SA (Transport), SA (Media), SA (Politics), SA (Land), SA (Security), SA (Education), SA (Legal and Multilateral), Senior Special Assistant, SSA (Administration) and SSA (Information Management).
These SAs and Senior Special Assistants (SPAs) also have Personal Assistants (PAs) serving under them.
The Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, also has no fewer than 10 aides.
These aides include: Senior Special Assistant (Administration); Senior Special Assistant (Media and Communication); Special Assistant on Child and Maternal Health; Special Assistant on Technical Matters, Special Assistant (Protocol); Special Assistant (Special Duties), Special Assistant (Nursing and Midwifery); Special Assistant (Tertiary Hospital); Special Assistant (States and Local Governments) and Special Assistant (Labour Matters).
The Minister of Trade and Investments, Dr Olusegun Aganga has Special Assistant (Media), Special Assistant (Administration) and three other Technical Assistants.
The Minister of Education, Professor Ruqqayat Ahmed Rufai, checks also revealed, has five aides. They are: one Special Assistant, a Personal Assistant and three technical Assistants.
The three technical Assistants are in charge of the Minister’s Media, Special Duties and Technical Matters.
The ministers’ failure to obey the directive may have been because they observed that the Presidency can only be a poor teacher on slim cabinets.
A now rested newspaper, NEXT, had last year reported that the Jonathan administration had 133 personal aides deployed in the offices of the president, the vice-president, and the First Lady.
During a trip to one of the South West states, not long ago, we learnt that Vice President Namadi Sambo’s office forwarded a 120-man advance delegation list to his host Governor.
The list eventually grew to 172 during the trip proper, with its cost implications on the economy.
“That was just for a domestic trip. One can only imagine the number of aides in the Vice President’s entourage during foreign trips. The president’s figure quadruples that of the Vice President for both domestic and international trips,” an inside source told us.
Presidential aides, according to NEXT, include the Chief of Staff to the President, Deputy Chief of Staff to the Vice President, Principal Secretary to the President, Principal Secretary to the Vice President, 25 special advisers, 42 senior special assistants, 52 special assistants and 12 personal assistants.
Two of the personal assistants are Malian and Senegalese tailors who sow the president’s clothes, the newspaper added.
In reaction, the president of the Civil Rights Congress, Shehu Sani, said that most of the appointees were simply engaged by President Jonathan as campaign foot soldiers.
“The president is simply wasting our national resources and applying pressure on the economy by settling cronies, bootlickers and parasites on the corridors of power with appointments,” Sani was quoted to have said.
Some of the appointments appeared to be duplication of duties, the paper reported, saying: “For instance, there are six physicians (two senior special assistants and four special assistants) who attend to the health needs of the president, the vice president and the first lady.
They include two chief physicians to the president and vice president, two personal physicians to the President and the vice president, an assistant personal physician to the president and a personal physician to the first lady. Yet some public hospitals across the country do not have a single physician.”
The newspaper continued: “Apart from the large number of domestic staff in the presidential villa, who are civil servants, there are also six special assistants in charge of domestic matters for the president and his vice. Their job descriptions are special assistants on presidential household matters, domestic affairs, domestic matters, household administration, social events and household matters, and domestic affairs.
“Eleven of the presidential aides on the list work for the unconstitutional office of the First Lady. They are Ike Neliaku and Oroyemisi Oyewole, both senior special assistants on administration to Mrs. Jonathan; Mary Oba, a special assistant on administration; Grace Koroye, coordinator, Organization of African First Ladies Against HIV/AIDS, and Martha Owuzurumba, coordinator, African First Ladies Peace Mission.
“Other aides of Mrs Jonathan are Hannah Offor, a special assistant on protocol, Isiaku Aliagan, her media assistant, and Elizabeth Austin Amadi, her personal physician. On August 13, 2010, Mrs. Jonathan’s stylist, Agnes Aineneh, was appointed a presidential assistant. Two ladies-in-waiting were also appointed for the president’s wife. In the United Kingdom, the term Lady-in-Waiting, according to Wikipedia, is used to describe a woman attending a female member of the royal family other than the Queen or Queen Consort. In Cambodia, the term refers to high ranking female servants who served food and drink, fanned and massaged, and sometimes provided intimate services to the King. It is however not clear what Justin Adaba and Amina Iye Ahmadu do for Mrs. Jonathan.”
It reported further: “Yet, there are other aides of the First Lady that are not on the list. Among them are her steward, Benson Okpara; her luggage officer, Geoffrey Obuofforibo; her aide-de-camp, Jacob Tamunoibuomi; her orderly, Abigail Jonah, her chief security officer; Francis Ibiene; her director of protocol, Mfama Abam; her principal protocol officer, Nuhu Kwache; and another media assistant, Ayobami Adewuyi.”
The newspaper did an analysis of the cost of the president’s bloated aides to the nation. It wrote: “The total sum used in paying the annual salary and allowances of the 133 presidential aides is N775, 207,125. This money will pay the basic salary of 3,600 civil servants. The money is also more than the Federal Ministry of Education needs this year to construct new schools (N202 million) and provide infrastructure in existing ones, including all the 103 unity schools (N102 million).”
It added: “This money, even by government estimate, can construct 100-room hostels in each of the nation’s five first generation universities which will comfortably accommodate thousands of young undergraduates who have no place to sleep in our universities. (Cost of constructing a 25-room hostel is N41million.)” (Sunday Compass)