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Speaker’s appointment of 33 aides, insensitive

Following his election to head the Green Chamber, the Speaker, House of Representatives, Rt. Honourable Tajuddeen Abbas, on Monday, 26th of June, appointed 33 more…

Following his election to head the Green Chamber, the Speaker, House of Representatives, Rt. Honourable Tajuddeen Abbas, on Monday, 26th of June, appointed 33 more aides to his office, bringing the total number so far appointed to 36.

The announcement of the new appointments was made by the Speaker’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Musa Krishi, who said the appointments were with immediate effect.   

Reactions have continued to trail the appointments by Nigerians, majority of who consider them insensitive and out of touch with the present socio-economic circumstances in the country.

Many Nigerians are of the view that the number is too large.  Further pertinent questions asked relate to the practicality and relevance of the positions in terms of the lack of proper definition of the job descriptions of the positions in public service rules and regulations.

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Also considering overheads such as remunerations of the appointed aides, their logistical requirements in terms of office accommodation and furniture, equipment, vehicles etc, this brings unnecessary additional costs to the running of the Speaker’s office which cannot in any way be justified under the current economic situation in the country.

All this comes against the background of the call by President Bola Tinubu and functionaries of this new administration on the need for Nigerians to brace up for testy times ahead. Already, in furtherance to this, the administration removed subsidy on petroleum product which has witnessed a quantum jump in pump prices of the product. The naira too has been devalued against the US dollar and major currencies.

This has resulted in sky rocketing inflation all round and particularly, we have witnessed an exponential increase in transportation costs. We believe that as one of the leading figures in the country, the Speaker is aware of these developments. Right from his constituency in Zaria to the National Assembly, where he presides over affairs as Speaker, he must have seen first-hand the desperate levels of poverty and deprivation among the people trying to eke out a living under the dire situation they find themselves in the country today.

While recognising the enormity of the demands of the office of the Speaker which requires a necessary and commensurate complement of staffing, we, however, expect the Speaker to show enough sensitivity to the situation by helping to cut the cost of governance in his office so that the funds saved will be channelled to indigent areas of the society. The office of the Speaker could also consider drawing the staff it needs from the National Assembly Staff Commission on secondment with little or no additional cost to the public purse as these staff are already covered as public servants. Whatever happened to the time-honoured admonition of leadership being about self-sacrifice for the greater good?

What rationale can leaders have to call on Nigerians to make sacrifices for the greater good of the nation if they, who are supposed to lead in that endeavour are not seen to be walking the talk?

By all parameters of judgement, the Speaker’s action in appointing 33 aides in the midst of economic downturn in the country cannot in anyway be considered as leading by example.

Beyond all this, the Speaker’s action sends disconcerting signals. On this score the administration cannot expect Nigerians to take it serious when its leading functionaries are seen to be living large as if nothing has changed.  It must be stated clearly that the desired change in the country cannot and will not be achieved if while the poor tighten their belts, efforts are not made to cut cost of governance.  In fact the whole exercise will amount to nothing in the long run if this continues.

It is on that note that we call on the speaker to review the appointments with a view to cutting down the number. We also call on other public office holders to note that it cannot be business as usual. We urge them to reflect deeply on this matter and act in line with current realities. Nigerians have grown weary of leaders who say one thing and do another. We cannot hope to build the nation we all desire if the necessary sacrifices for that outcome to materialize are borne only by one group of persons.

 

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