Daily Trust Newspaper is reporting that the National Assembly management has requested the presiding officers to reduce the number of their aides by at least 60 percent as part of cost cutting measures.
Senate President Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara and their deputies have hired over 400 aides, sources said.
Saraki is said to have over 112 aides, Dogara about 170, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu 60 and Deputy Speaker Yusuf Suleiman Lasun 58.
But the assembly bureaucracy has lately asked the presiding officers and their deputies to reduce the figures drastically.
Sources said 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.
Daily Trust reports that two weeks ago over 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 on how to cut down on expenditures.
Sources said the management intimated the presiding officers that they could not guarantee regular payment of salaries to such aides, especially when most of them were placed on higher grade levels.
Daily Trust findings revealed that the salaries of all the political appointees have not been paid since January.
It was gathered that the last time the aides collected their salaries was in December.
Most of the aides are said to have little or even nothing to do. They hang 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.’
“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,” he said.
Daily Trust also gathered that about 50 percent of the aides are former lawmakers who served with Dogara 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.
“The truth of the matter is that he (Dogara) made so many appointments. He has different manner of aides.”