GEJ’s SPECIAL ADVISERS and 25% cuts…Responsible leadership?

Due to enormous clamour during the #occupynigeria protests for massive cuts in government spending, President Goodluck Jonathan announced a 25 per cent cut in the salary of members of the Executive arm of government but we have seen no action on that decision taken by the president. The cut in salary is for himself, his deputy, ministers and special advisers. Now, even though we have argued and expressed disgust that 25% of their basic salary is hypocrisy when their basic salary amounts to less than 30% of their total take home, we have not even seen any action on the proposed cuts.

What we hear is that the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission which has the responsibility for determining and fixing the remuneration of all political office holders in the country, is yet to get communication from the Presidency. The Chairman,  Mr. Elias Mbam claims not to have received instructions as at when he appeared before the House of Representatives’ ad hoc committee investigating subsidy payments by the Federal Government. The President said, “For the year 2012, the basic salaries of all political office-holders in the executive arm of government will be reduced by 25 per cent.” Now in all honesty, are these even enough? Are they fair to all Nigerians?

I agree that in our jostling and pouring of vituperations, added to the fact that information has now become commodity and we could have been misled or lied to; so can our beloved President tell the Nigerian people what 25 per cent of basic salaries of public office holders amount to? Consider that we are making sacrifices for by the removal of fuel subsidy ad aas the finacce miniter and the CBN governor clearly stated, “the country is not broke” but it could be bbad if we continue in this way in five years? Since we don’t have to tighten our belts but the presidency wants us to, how much have they shown they are willing to sacrifice?  The recurrent vote in this year’s budget is a high 74 per cent, compared to 26 per cent for capital. How does the 25% cut create the necessary motivation and confidence in the people?

President Goodluck Jonathan has, at least 24 advisers as at the last count.

Let’s consider a few special advisers:

Dr. Tunji Olagunju, Special Adviser to the President on NEPAD
Dr. Pius Olakunle Osunyikanmi, Special Adviser to the President on International Relations
The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) is an economic development program of the African Union. So it means it is foreign affairs; so why do we have to appoint a special adviser to the president on these when there is a ministry of foreign affairs with more than one minister, permanent secretary, directors and possibly a department in charge of NEPAD?

Mr. Oronto Douglas, Special Adviser to the President on Research and Strategy.
What exactly is the role of this office?

Prof. Abubakar Sambo, Special Adviser to the President on Energy.
Really? What distinctive ‘special advice’ is the President expecting from there that the ministers for petroleum, energy and power cannot give? or is it a different kind of energy?

Mrs. Sarah Akuben Pane, Special Adviser to the President on Social Development
Mrs. Sarah Jibril, Special Adviser to the President on Ethics and Values.
What a joke! Is this possible? Or are we dreaming? This stinks of childishness. What do these people tell their friends that they do?

Kingsley Kuku, Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs.
This is the biggest scam. I am from the Niger-delta and i would prefer young people who have resisted the urge of militancy to be sponsored abroad on technical/professional trainings and what would the minister and the minister of state for the Niger Delta ministry be doing and what about the head of the Niger Delta Development Commission?

Prof. Dan Adebiyi, Special Adviser to the President on Special Duties
Senator Isaiah Ballat, Special Adviser to the President on Special Duties (Office of the Vice-President)
Nze Sullivan Akachukwu Nwakpo, Special Adviser to the President on Technical Matters
Mrs. Asma’u Abdulkadir, Special Adviser to the President on Gender Issues.
What on earth amounts to ‘technical matters’? what is the job of a gender issues adviser? Ok who advises for AIDS issues or Super eagles issues? or dem no serious reach? What on earth constitute special duties? Organising parties or what?

Yakubu Abdullahi, Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters (Office of the Vice President)
Mr. Bashir Sufyan, Special Adviser to the President on Legal Matters (Office of the Vice-President)
Hmmm… 

Professor Nwanze Okidegbe, Economic Adviser to the President 
What economic advice would this officer give the President that the National Economic Management Team members including the Minister of Finance and the Minister of National Planning cannot? I tire myself o.

Senator Ben Obi, Special Adviser to the President on Inter-Party Affairs
Ahmed Gulak, Political Adviser to the President
Dr Mariam Ali, Special Adviser to the President on Inter-governmental Affairs
What in the world are the functions of these people? how do they distinguish their operations? I mean, i fail to see how they even live with themselves

PICK OF THE PACK?  Reno Omokri, Special Adviser on New Media
In clear terms, he is special adviser on Twitter and Facebook matters! This is aside the fact that there is a Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity. Strangely, the ‘Twitter and Facebook special adviser’ is not attached to the office of the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity but to the Special Adviser, Research and Strategy.

If a government that has budgeted N1bn in 2012, for feeding the Presidency alone cannot be serious enough about cutting cost and sharing (sharing?) sacrifice, then it is definitely not interested in engendering the people’s trust. I strongly believe that all of what we see on TV as regarding a probe is a sham and will produce nothing in the long run. If reducing allowances isn’t a sacrifice they can make, we are in for a long-haul #occupation.

Mr. President sir: Can you please, for the purpose of transparency and to secure the goodwill of the people, take a strong step and cut down these and other wasteful appointments and we would begin to think about believing you, rather than lame rhetoric and constant barging over the TV with messages, publicity dramas and NTA talk shows. WE WANT SWEEPING REFORMS OR NOTHING!

**Appreciations to thoughts from Obo Effanga, who is the Governance Coordinator, ActionAid Nigeria, obobef@yahoo.com

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One response to “GEJ’s SPECIAL ADVISERS and 25% cuts…Responsible leadership?

  1. U,ve done well bt d question is, do dis pple ve a traind cnscience? Lets kip talkn anyway. I neva for once blivd Gej will run such a govt. It,s sad.

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