The Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, has appointed 18 women in the state as his special assistants on gender matters.
Mr. Obaseki also appointed one woman, Efosa Uyigue, as a special adviser, also on gender matter.
The 19 women were sworn in on Monday at the Government House, Benin City, making it the largest number of women appointed into political office in a single day by any governor in the state.
The special assistants are to report to the special adviser who in turn reports to Mr. Obaseki.
“I need 19 sets of eyes to help me see and identify what is happening with women across the state,” the governor said during the swearing-in.
“I want to know what is happening to our women in the market, hospitals, their children’s education and issues that relate to human trafficking in your local government areas,” he said.
The governor described women as “powerful economic units and social mobilisers who can change our society”.
“We should create the avenue to reach out to them, know what they are going through and not only to use them for political gains. We need to support them to do more for themselves,” he said.
Crusoe Osagie, the governor’s media aide, defended the appointment, saying that the numbers weren’t too much.
“Special assistant is the lowest in the ranking of political appointees,” Mr. Osagie told PREMIUM TIMES. “Their salary is around N80, 000 each and they are not entitled to official vehicles.
“They don’t work from the government house; they work from their different wards where they stay in touch with the grassroots to know exactly what their problems are and ensuring that they feed the Government House back with respect to the challenges the people are going through in their locality,” the governor’s aide said.
Governor Obaseki made a similar appointment six months ago when he picked 192 people from each of the wards in the state and made them his special assistants.
“The Edo State government appointees are comparatively the lowest in number in all the states of the federation,” Mr. Osagie said.
“You have 18 commissioners, eight special advisers and 210 special assistants and 58 senior special assistants. In all, we have less than 400 political appointees. In other states, you have up to 1,000 appointees.
“The value these people bring to the government far outweighs the money spent on them,” he said.