Intersociety tackles Speaker House of Representatives over 33 political aides

Gbajabiamila now parades a retinue of political aides numbering 33

—accuses Governors of squandering N29B

Odogwu Emeka Odogwu

Int’l Society for Civil Liberties & Rule of Law, Intersociety has frowned at the appointment of 33 political aides including six media aides by the Speaker of House of Reps (Green Chambers), Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila.
Intersociety said the appointment was nothing short of formation of ‘a State Executive Council in the Green Chambers’ and a clear case of legislative squander-mania, fiscal profligacy and rapacious abuse of public office.

 Speaker of House of Reps , Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila.
Speaker of House of Reps , Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila.

Intersociety said a federal lower house of parliamentary speaker does not supposed to have more or maximum of three-five aides, especially with several standing committees and parliamentary departments up and running in such legislative house including Nigeria’s House of Reps.

Intersociety further alleged that the reason behind none formation of cabinets or State Executive Councils in most, if not all the 29 States across the country since May 29, is not only to replicate the Baba Go Slow method of the Presidency, but also for purpose of diverting and pocketing public funds meant for the remunerations of the appointed public office holders’ slots in the said 29 States, numbering not less than 29, 000 or average of 1000 for each of the States.

‘’We challenge the 29 Governors to proof us wrong by publicly publishing their expended monthly wage bills for the months of June and July 2019 including security votes, over-heads or running costs and sub personnel costs or remunerations of their States’ serving and retired workforces. The July wage bills are included in the instant case because by today being 18th July 2019, the non-overheads or running costs component of the States’ Personnel Costs or Expenditures for July 2019 must have been worked out and set for disbursements’’. 

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Int’l Society for Civil Liberties & Rule of Law, Intersociety, stated this in a statement issued and signed by Lawyers, Obianuju Joy Igboeli, Head of Civil Liberties & Rule of Law Program, Chinwe Umeche, Head of Democracy & Good Governance Program, Evangaline Chidinma Udegbunam, Head of Campaign & Publicity Dept and Emeka Umeagbalasi, a Criminologist & Graduate of Security Studies and Board Chair of Intersociety.

Gbajabiamila now parades a retinue of political aides numbering 33 - Intersociety
Gbajabiamila now parades a retinue of political aides numbering 33

Intersociety alleges that the new Speaker of House of Reps, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila now parades a retinue of political aides numbering 33 including ‘six media aides’, lamenting that by his public admission that most of them are former legislators, hence the Speaker has also magisterially, technically and unconstitutionally expanded the number of rep seats above the constitutionally allowed 360 to over 390.

The statement read: ‘’Formation of ‘a State Executive Council’ in the Green Chambers by Speaker Gbajabiamila is like forming a State Executive Council of 33 Commissioners and Special Advisers under normal and constitutional circumstances or tantamount to over-bloated ‘Commissionership State Cabinet’ where a Governor abusively appoints or forms a cabinet consists of 33 Commissioners. It is also likely that the new Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan will toe (if not already toed) similar profligacy friendly path of the Speaker. 

‘’To keep the 33 over-bloated political aides or appointees at ‘former legislators’ category or lifestyle’, not less than N1m will be spent on each of them every month, totalling not less than N33m per month and N396m per annum. The N1m per month for each of the 33 political aides at ‘former legislators’ category’ mandatorily includes hotel and feeding bills, transport and duty assignment allowances, ‘PRs’ and take home pay or ‘pocket allowances, etc. The above calculation, done, using N1m as a benchmark is very conservative and may likely be in double.

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Intersociety is deeply concerned and worried because for too long particularly since 1999, profligacy and squander-mania had overshadowed the art of tangible and intangible executive and legislative administration or governance in Nigeria particularly at Federal level and many, if not most States of the Federation; whereby, it is ‘generate and borrow’, then ‘squander and plunder’ all through. Through the Executive and Parliamentary conspiracy in budgeting and fiscal expenditure matters, the chunk of the generated and borrowed public funds had ended and still end up in direct and proxy private pockets as well as white elephant projects.

Intersociety further observed that not less than N29b is likely to have been lost or made to end up in direct or proxy private pockets following the failure of most, if not all the 29 State Governors to constitute their cabinets or form their State Executive Councils since May 29. The not less than N29b loss is projected to have been lost in two months or months of June and July 2019, after the Governors were sworn-in on 29th May 2019.

It is important to remind that in the last Governorship election in Nigeria, seven States were exempted on account of the Supreme Court ruling in Peter Obi v INEC & ors (2007) and from our last checks, most, if not all the 29 State Governors are yet to form their cabinets and get their governments fully running. Also from our checks across the country, Federal allocations to the States and their IGRs have steadily accrued since May 29, deposited to their State coffers and expended in the form of ‘Monthly Wage Bills’ for the months of May, June and July 2019.

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That is to say that if a monthly wage bill of State A is N5b in April and May 2019, got deducted from its State coffers and expended on its political appointees and retired and serving workforce remunerations as well as its running costs; then same amount must have been deducted and expended for the months of June and July 2019. From our checks, too, each of these 29 States had maintained before May 29, 2019 not less than 1000 appointees comprising commissioners, special advisers, senior special assistants, special assistants, executive assistants and personal assistants, etc. This is similarly the case in their State Assemblies.

Intersociety concluded: ‘’To keep these 1000 appointees in each of the 29 States, not less than N500, 000 is spent monthly on each of them, covering allowances for their rents, transport, feeding, duty assignment or public functions, ‘PRs’ and take home pay, etc. This translates to N500m per State monthly and N1b for the two months of June and July 2019, totalling not less than N29b. In other words, it is likely correct to say that the failure of the affected States and their Governors to form cabinets or State Executive Councils and keep their governments fully running since May 29, has resulted in the loss or pocketing of whopping sum of over N29b between June and July 2019’’.