There is disquiet in the National Assembly over the number of aides presiding officers have on payroll.
Senate President, Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara and their deputies have hired over 400 aides, Daily Trust reports.
Saraki is said to have over 112 aides, Dogara about 170, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu has 60 while Deputy Speaker, Yusuf Suleiman Lasun has 58.
NASS management, it was gathered, had advised the presiding officers and their deputies to reduce their aides by at least 60 per cent to reduce cost.
Saraki and Dogara were 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 monthly.
The report has claimed that 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 recently discovered how 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, who stated that that they could not guarantee regular payment of salaries of their aides, with most of them placed on higher grade levels.
Daily Trust revealed that the salaries of all the political appointees have not been paid since January.
Yet, they hang around the National Assembly complex or stay in their colleagues’ offices as they have no offices of their own.
For Dogara, about 50 percent of the aides are former lawmakers who served with him 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.
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.
Speaker’s spokesman, Turaki Hassan, refused to comment on the matter.
Saraki’s media adviser, Yusuph Olaniyonu said only the Chief of Staff, Senator Isa Galaudu, could speak.
However, Galaudu himself declined comments.
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.”
For personal assistants: “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: “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.”