It is usual for Nigerians to praise any form of reduction in the number of Aides serving a public officer. This is so because over the years Nigerians have seen how appointments are used to pay back political debt and how the government spends so much for so little.
The media have been known to play along this line of thought by depicting every attempt as reducing Aides as a positive news with headlines carrying words like “reduces” or “cut down”. This however was not the case when the popularly despised President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, was reported to have reduced his Aides by 98 persons. For once the media remembered that when Aides are “reduced” actual people are sacked.
From Daily Trust to TheCable to The Sun, everyone was screaming “Saraki sacks 98 persons” and the like of it. When compared with previous headlines like “Buhari cuts down Aides” or “Borno Assembly cuts down Shettima’s Aides” or “Politicians Hail Governor’s decision to cut Aides”, we see a clear reason to be concerned for balanced reporting.
On the 24th of May, 2016, Daily Trust ran a story with the headline “Saraki, Dogara hires 282 aides” whereas the report seem to be about how the Assembly wanted to cut number of aides by 60%. It was claimed that while Saraki had 112 aides, the Speaker of the House of Representative, Yakubu Dogara had 170 aides. The news paper went ahead to claim each of these aides take home about 700,000 to a million naira as salary. The report emphasized waste but in the new report announcing how Saraki “sacked” 98 persons, the report did not refer to waste neither did it refer to the decision of the Assembly management it earlier reported. Matter of fact, in the new report which was far shorter, the newspaper still found a way of mentioning that the Senate President’s aides are still too many. TheCable on its part however reported the exercise as an attempt to cut waste.
Tthe Sun newspaper on its part seem to have simply lifted Daily Trust report, although without removing Daily Trust’s name, unlike the infamous Naij.
Following the staff audit conducted in the office of the Senate President, Daily Trust reported that 98 aides were laid off. Among those laid off include Saraki’s Director of Protocol, Arthur Ndiwe and Head of Administration, Folashade Adigun. The audit was carried out earlier this year to cut down the number of aides which is above 250. Yet, the Special Adviser on media to the senate president, Yusuph Olaniyonu has said he is not aware of the sack.
Recall that the former Chief of staff to Saraki, Isa Galaudu had resigned earlier in January 31 following the expected shuffle.
Legislative aides who currently are about 4,600 in the Assembly had staged a protest over unpaid salaries and allowances earlier in October which they said had run into ₦1.5 billion.
The cut down in legislative aides is aimed at reducing cost.