How Nigerian lawmakers employ 2,570 aides; then cheat the system – NAN Investigation

The National Assembly
The National Assembly

No fewer than 2,570 aides are engaged by the 469 members of the 8th National Assembly, an investigation by the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, has revealed.

Out of the number, 700 aides work for lawmakers in the Senate, while the remaining 1, 870 are engaged by House of Representatives members.

As provided in the National Assembly Act, each lawmaker, excluding principal officers, is entitled to five aides – one senior legislative aide, two legislative aides, a personal assistant and a secretary.

It was discovered that in the provision, President of the Senate is entitled to 45 aides, his deputy, 30, and 20 each for principal officers.

Similarly, Speaker of the House of Representatives has 35 assistants, Deputy Speaker, 15 and 10 each for the six principal officers.

The number of aides to each legislator, it was gathered, includes those in their Constituency offices.

The monthly emolument of the aides, which ranged from N150, 000 to N250, 000, sources close to the assembly said, has been reduced to between N75, 000 and N180, 000 by the current leadership of the assembly.

The investigation revealed that in addition to the regular aides, the principal officers of both chambers have Special Assistants, Senior Special Assistants and Special Advisers of varying numbers.

This category of aides, it was learnt, had a monthly salary of a minimum of N950,000; but was reduced to N400, 000 by the current management of the assembly. All the aides are paid from the coffers of the assembly.

CHEATING THE SYSTEM

However, NAN gathered that some of the lawmakers, especially principal officers, have more than the statutorily approved number of aides in their employ, who also draw their salary from the assembly’s funds.

Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara (Left), President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki (right)
Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara (Left), President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki (right)

Some lawmakers, however, pay the aides from their own resources.

It was also revealed that many legislators draw the emolument of their aides from the assembly’s funds but pay them fractions. Some of the lawmakers employed only one or two aides but are collecting the full salary for the five they are entitled to.

This act was discovered to be perpetrated more by the members through their constituency offices, which they are mandatorily expected to have in their areas, but deliberately failed to do so.

They submit names of non-existent staff in the constituency office to the national assembly service commission and collect their entitlements directly.

An aide to a senator from the South-West, working with him in Abuja, told NAN that he had never heard of other aides or office his boss had in his constituency.

“All of us, his aides are here; it is only when he is travelling to the state that he goes with the senior legislative aide and his younger brother.

“The brother works with him; he is not documented but he is in charge whenever oga (the boss) is not around.

“But, all of us are always in the office in Abuja, I do not know of assistant or aide he has at the constituency level or in the state,” he said, adding that it was the same with some other lawmakers.

The source declined to disclose his salary, allowance and pay point, but said that the emolument depended on the grade of the aide.

He, however, disclosed that the least-paid aide earned N120, 000 from the assembly commission.

The lawmakers contacted on the issue declined to comment, with some of them saying that they were complying with the rules.

The Clerk of the National Assembly and officials in his office also rebuffed enquires on the issues.

NIGERIANS REACT

Reacting to the findings by NAN, some stakeholders called for reduction in the number of aides working for federal lawmakers and a slash in their pay.

They told NAN that the reduction was necessary in view of the current economic challenges facing the country.

Ahmed Haruna, a trader in Wuse Market in Abuja said “from my own point of view, I think the number of aides assigned to legislators is much and consumes a huge amount from public funds.

“These aides are paid monthly but if their number is slashed and their pay reduced, the money can be redirected into providing infrastructure in the country.”

Paul Imohiosen, a civil servant, believes that the lawmakers do not need the number of aides they are officially entitled to.

He said, “some of these aides are not useful; most of them are there for mere decoration. They are just too many.

“The country’s economy has gone into recession so this is not the appropriate time to use as much as 45 or 35 aides by one government official.’’

Mr. Imohiosen also decried the number of security details attached to some government officials and other elite in the country.

According to him, Nigeria is in need of adequate security to protect lives and property but government officials have huge number of security aides all to themselves which is not fair.

In her view, Igoni Mirabel, a student, insisted that there was need to cut the number and salary, respectively, of the legislative aides by 50 per cent.

“The 50 per cent cut should serve as intervention and the remaining percentage could be used judiciously to improve the economy of the country.

“The Nigeria economy is in a bad state presently, so all expenses must be cut down so that the citizens can benefit immensely,” she added.

On her part, Imelda Omelogo said that the number of aides and their emoluments “does not suggest a prudent approach to the management of public expenditure.

“If the call for the reduction in number of aides to the lawmakers is implemented, it will greatly reduce wastage, thereby leaving more money to be ploughed into other sectors.’’

Condemning the large number of the federal lawmakers’ aides, Emmanuel Sawyer, a legal practitioner, said it did not tally with the economic hardship in the country.

He said the number of aides should have been slashed along with their salaries by the new leadership of the national assembly.

“We are in a period when Nigeria is facing recession and the cost of running government is still too high.

“At this point in time, we should be talking of merging both chambers into one to reduce the cost of running governance,” Mr. Sawyer said.

Teddy Nwanunobi, a civil servant, said that it was unfair for such big salaries to be paid to aides of lawmakers when they were not doing any work commensurate to the pay.

Mr. Nwanunobi questioned why some of the principal officers should be entitled to many aides.

“My honest thinking is that the principal officers do not need more than five aides to start with. That way, the aides would be up the task on their duties.

“Secondly, the nearly N1 million monthly salary is just too large for one aide; most of them do not merit that sum, and that’s why they misbehave.

“Personally, I suggest that aides should be graded, and salaries paid accordingly; their salaries should not only be slashed, but paid in accordance with grade and level,’’ he said.

Adanna Uwaleme, a political analyst, however said that the call for slash in the number of aides to the lawmakers should be extended to the Executive arm of government.

Ms. Uwaleme said most of the ministers, and even the President, have too many aides.

She said, however, that she was not suggesting that people be sacked but said that there was need to save cost.

“There is no need employing too many aides and paying them so much when other people who do so much work are paid very little.

“I feel that there should be a harmonisation of salaries and allowances of aides and staff of choice government agencies like the NNPC and FIRS with other federal workers.

“There is no justification for paying someone in NNPC so much salary while his colleague on the same level in the ministry takes less than quarter of his salary,” she said.

Emeka Ogwuru, a businessman, said that those on the payroll of the lawmakers were “just lucky; many other Nigerians would do anything to get the same position.

“Even if it’s N400,000 a month, at least they can afford a bag of rice, a basket of tomatoes, 50 litres of petrol and book a local flight online in this recession,” he said.

(NAN)

All rights reserved. This material and any other material on this platform may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, written or distributed in full or in part, without written permission from PREMIUM TIMES.


  • joe

    Isn’t it time to stop this drainage to our national treasury by scrapping one these houses of criminals?

    • musa aliyu

      We don’t even need the two houses.

    • Abah of Ipolo

      Honestly, the dual house is a big waste! The lower house should be scraped to curtain this gigantic waste of precious but scarce resource, more so due to the current situation.

  • Can you imagine one single person with 45 aides. Something is definitely and fundamentally wrong with Nigeria. It is high time we scrap this useless and redundant senate and remove all the jamboree allowances of the legislative.

    • musa aliyu

      Gbam!

    • Whalerolex

      Having 45 aides is crazy but these fools not giving these aides the correct pay is crazy. They even have ghost workers!!! It shows these politicians are mentally poor and the more reason we need to get rid of them/the positions because they will never get fulfilled thereby milking Nigeria dry.

      • musa aliyu

        GBA Gbam,gbam!!!

      • Abah of Ipolo

        I like your comment. Question is: who will tame those crazy lots and looters? Imagine 45 something aids: Are ant queens that need not do nothing but guy food? How do we rise up against their excesses?

        • Whalerolex

          The truth of the matter is we the masses are the problems. Majority are self centred and at every opportunity, we want to oppress our neighbour/colleague/brother or friend. This is what these politicians are taking advantage of. We should speak as one and chase them out of that NASS or where every their office is. The masses have the power to force drastic changes but who will lead the fight? Like Seun Kuti said, we do not have many activists, what we have is cashtivists. Make noise and you are bought over.
          My fear is, if we do not do it fight back now then its might turn into civil war which will not only be bloody but endless.

  • Okokondem

    “They submit names of non-existent staff in the constituency office to the national assembly service commission and collect their entitlements directly.”

    Why not call it what it is….our esteem Honorable(s) actually engage in the disgraceful practice of “Ghost worker” scheme.

    I have been saying it, fixing Nigeria, at least monetarily, requires fixing the legislature.

    You know, in the US, if you come Iowa or Nebraska or Georgia etc. to serve your constituency in the Congress, you are responsible for your accommodation in Washington.

    In fact it was on the news couple of years ago that some members of the Congress were squarting and taking showers in the members gym before reporting for work in the morning because they couldn’t afford to maintain a residence in Washington. Imagine that.

    Whereas in Nigeria, we build them fancy houses, and when their term is over the government sells the house to them on the cheap. Then the government builds more houses.

    Do you almost if not everyone who has served as a senator or house member ends up maintaining a residence in Abuja. That’s not how it is in Washington.

    • Abah of Ipolo

      How will these sickening ‘dyshonourables’ have their feathers clipped?

  • Dr Pat Kolawole Awosan

    If Nigerian-national assembly-lawmakers are truly Nigerians that are concern deeply about the current fiscal and economic constraints confronting Nigerians, home and diaspora,senators and representatives must come to their common-senses and find a joint way of reducing the huge cost of governance especially,how senators and representatives lawmakers can cut cost by jointly, coming to an effort to restructure and reform national assembly by forming a single chamber of Nigerian-National Assembly instead of like UK,s House of Commons to cut the present high cost of running the senate and house of representatives.National Assembly must restructure as separate chambers are clear waste of funds that do not benefit Nigerian state and citizenry.

  • Harry Haruna

    Something is fundamentally wrong with the structure of our government, unfortunately for us again the very people that have the constitutional power to undo the things properly are the beneficiaries of the problems. As such you can see that we are helpless.

    • okokondem

      You mean, the FOX is guarding the HEN HOUSE. I agree that’s is the problem.

      But there’s a way out. If the agency known as RMAFC – Revenue Mobilization Allocation & Fiscal Commission, if I am not mistaken, that works out the salaries and remuneration of civil servants, can be tasked by Buhari to come up with the right salary and allowance structures for members of the Parliament that is commensurate with what their counterparts around the world earn.

      And if they reject such salary structure (which I believe they would) then the president can call for a referendum (plebiscite) so the people can vote for the adoption of the salary structure.

      Nigeria can not keep dancing around issues as if there are no solutions. There are always solutions, you just have to look for them.

  • Sanssouci

    The number of aides should be reduced to a reasonable level whether or not the economy is in recession, but i don’t think the salaries should be reduced, if anything, they should be shored up to reflect modern realities. A poor aide is not only useless, but a serious liability. You cannot convince me that an aide collecting 120k a month in Abuja is of any use to a senator, that is nothing more than survival money, I am a believer that majority of the jaw dropping cases of corruption in the civil service are due to unrealistic remunerations.

  • when the head is rotten

    Controversy around the recently launched Change Begins With Me campaign by President Muhammadu Buhari, it appears, may not yet be over as it has been revealed that the exercise cost the Federal Government a whopping N3.4 billion. Is it the Judiciary that Buhari will not compromise–with a view to ensuring that the PDP is forever killed? Jonathan did not sow the seed of discord in the Yoruba led APC—but when it got to the turn of the Yorubas and Fulanis—————-they invited lucifer to destroy PDP via Obasanjo

  • Burning Spear

    Aisha Buhari Spotted Wearing N8.25 Million (£15,000) Chopard Wristwatch (PHOTO)

    Aisha Buhari Spotted Wearing N8.25 Million (£15,000) Chopard Wristwatch: In what appears to be another display of brazen opulence, wife of the President of Nigeria, Aisha Buhari has been spotted wearing a £15,000 Chopard Happy Sport 36 MM stainless steel……while Buhari urges Nigerians to tighten their belt-he steals to appease his baby pancake Halliburton wife—–All the Apes in APC are trying to do is to paint the Senate and the House of Rep black for their own selfish end—————Buhari has destroyed the PDP now he is after the Senate and the House–having failed to use to CIA controlled US ambassador–who helped to impose on 9jas—- to pull the lawbreakers down—with his fake sex allegation——Now Bingo Buhari is trying to destroy the wife of Jonathan–with his evil vindictive Fulani spirit from Mali

    • Rommel

      HhahahahahahLolz! aren’t you tired of spewing these garbage? every right thinking person knows that PMB and his wife are decent people,a quality that can never be used on some people I know

      • Nobody’sPuppet

        There’s no doubt that Buhari and his paedophile wife are as decent as dysentery. Thank you for letting us know.

      • Duruoha1

        Shot de-fuck-up. What do you know….monkey

  • Abah of Ipolo

    Ghost workers at the highest level! Why don’t they draw their staff and aids from the NASS service commission pool of staff and save cost? Crooked ways and cheating won”t let them! Buhari should rise to this rot. Enough of the decadent old ways. They must change!

  • Rommel

    Do these said employees pay taxes? because if they did,the inland revenue should have records with their data,seems that so many things are wrong in Nigeria.

  • Okokondem

    Burning Spear,

    You are definitely not part of the solution.

  • Nobody’sPuppet

    The best way to resolve the issue of these Lawbreakers is to rename that house from National Assembly to National Gathering of Thieves. Even the building resembles mosque. Or may be, it should be called National Assembly of Terrorists.