Governors’ ‘jumbo’ appointments cost millions in salaries monthly

AMIDST dwindling revenue generation, revenue to debt management and increasing demand by citizens for improved infrastructural development, state governors are increasing the number of their appointees, and the appointments cost millions in monthly remunerations for the beneficiaries.

The ICIR observed that five newly elected governors (Abia, Enugu, Ebonyi, Kano, Niger) and two re-elected governors (Adamawa, Yobe) created new offices to accommodate more people into the government, shunning concerns about the rising cost of governance in their recurrent expenditures. 

In Sections 196 and 208 of the 1999 Constitution, a governor is empowered to appoint aides to assist him in performing his functions. However, the Constitution does not limit the number of persons to be appointed. 

The law states that “the number of such Advisers and their remunerations and allowances shall be prescribed by law or by resolution of the House of Assembly of the State.”

Human rights lawyer Festus Ogun said the appointment was an abuse of scarce state resources, adding that the law does not support reckless abuse of meagre state resources. 

He said, “There must be prudence, accountability and transparency in government. If Section 14(2)(b) of the Constitution says the people’s security and welfare shall be the government’s primary purpose, then appointing an endless list of appointees will defeat that purpose because the resources meant for the people will now be used to pay political appointees. Profligacy in government is unconstitutional.”

At the federal level, The ICIR reported how the appointment of 46 ministers by President Bola Tinubu would cost N29.91 million monthly to pay the basic salaries of these ministers. The ICIR also reported N110 billion palliative and N218 million holiday allowance for lawmakers and how the funds could improve some sectors of the economy. 

Salaries costing states millions

According to the remuneration approved by the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), if a review has not been made, each special adviser earns N380,241.76 monthly and N4.6 million annually.  Also, the assistants or advisers are entitled to other allowances like accommodations, furniture estacodes, medical, severance gratuity, leave and motor vehicle loans, which are paid based on application.

The ICIR used the amount provided by the commission as an estimate to determine how much it would cost the state governors monthly to offset the payment of their aides’ salaries.

For instance, in Adamawa, The ICIR reported how the governor, Ahmadu Finitiri, appointed 47 media aides. These appointments, by calculations, would cost the government N17.9 million to offset the aides’ monthly salaries. 

Similarly, Governor Alex Otti appointed 52 Special Advisers and Assistants to his cabinet in Abia. This would cost the state N19.77 million monthly to pay the aides’ basic salaries. 

In Kano state, a report captured that the governor, Abba Kabir Yusuf, appointed 197 Special Advisers, Senior Special Assistants and Special Reporters. By calculation, the governor would be paying N74.9 million monthly, while in Yobe State, where the governor, Mai Mala Buni, appointed 642 aides, nothing less than N244.11 million would be spent on their salaries monthly. 

In Niger State, Governor Umar Bago appointed 131 women into his cabinet to fulfil his campaign promise of women’s inclusion in his administration. Out of this, 90 women were appointed as SSAs. This amounts to N34.22 million monthly in salary payments.

Similarly, in Ebonyi state, a report showed that Governor Francis Nwifuru appointed 41 Special Assistants and Senior Special Assistants, translating to N15.59 paid monthly as salaries to the officials by the governor.  

Meanwhile, in Enugu state, Governor Peter Mbah had earlier appointed 24 special advisers and senior assistants but got the approval of the state House of Assembly to appoint 50 more aides. By calculation, the state would be spending N28.14 million monthly salaries for the 74 aides.

Aside from the appointment of SAs and SSAs, some of the state governors, like Ebonyi and Niger, also appointed as high as 35 and 30 commissioners in their respective states. According to RMAFC, a commissioner is expected to earn N406,739.25 monthly. This means Ebonyi and Niger states would pay N14.24 million and N12.02 million on monthly remuneration for their commissioners. The ICIR captured the appointment of commissioners by state governors in this report.

Looming challenges

While there are questions about how state governors can manage the cost of running their administrations, the perceived waste of taxpayers’ money can be reinvested into addressing some challenges in the state. 

For instance, according to the Debt Management Office (DMO) data, Enugu and Kano states are among the highest states with foreign debt profiles. Also, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed that Yobe and Kano states have one of the country’s highest numbers of out-of-school children, while Yobe state ranked poorly in providing primary health services. 

    The ICIR further looked into the multidimensional poverty rate of each state published by NBS in 2022. Kano, Ebonyi and Niger have 10.51 million, 3.66 million and 3.60 million poor people in their state.

    Also, Adamawa has 3.44 million poor people, Yobe state with  3.23 million, Enugu has 2.63 million and Abia with 1.12 million.

    Vahala Kwagwa, senior research & policy analyst for BudgIT, told The ICIR that states should be looking to reduce the cost of governance and not increase it with no justification for doing so.

    He said, “Every naira spent on a Special Assistant is not spent on citizens that need public goods and services.”

    Kehinde Ogunyale tells stories by using data to hold the government into account. Shoot him a mail at [email protected] or Twitter: Prof_KennyJames

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