Waste Of Public Funds: Ministers Defy Jonathan On Number Of Aides

Close to three quarters of members of the federal cabinet are defying an over one year-old presidential order to keep a low profile in the appointment of aides.

Each minister is required by the directive to have no more than a special adviser/assistant and one personal assistant.

The Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) even wrote to the ministers over a year ago on the issue as part of the measures to conserve public funds, but an investigation now shows that the majority of the ministers still retain as many as 12 Special Advisers/Assistants each.

A circular from the Presidency reminding the ministers about the RMAFC directive has also gone largely unheeded.

The Presidency is embarrassed by the action of most of the ministers on the order and has decided to move against what is perceived as a waste of scarce resources.

The salary and allowances of each minister’s Special Adviser/Assistant are paid by the appropriate ministry, while the emoluments of the Personal Assistant are part of each minister’s earnings.

The federal cabinet has 42 members with no more than 12 found to be compliant.

The errant ministers, according to sources, claim to have been under pressure from their godfathers and other political heavyweights for having so many aides.

Some ministers also attributed the bloated aides to the “need for patronage since they are political appointees.”

An authoritative source familiar with the situation told The Nation in Abuja: ”The ministers are actually not honouring the government directive on aides. Some of them have up to 12 Special Advisers/Assistants.

“Besides, there was also a circular issued by the Secretary to the Federal Government that ministers should source their Special Advisers/Assistants from the civil service.

“But these ministers have brought all manner of aides without requisite experience. That is why cabinet members do not depend on civil servants to implement their programmes.

“The Presidency will soon sanction the affected ministers.

“Some of these ministers have made Permanent Secretaries to believe that they will pay the extra Special Advisers/Assistants on their own. But they force Ministries, Departments and Agencies to pay some allowances and travelling estacodes of these aides.

“These SAs take direct charge of all affairs, including execution of projects, and serve as front for their principals.

“It is sad, however, that these aides have no regard for civil service procedures at all in doing things.”

Culled The Nation

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