Over 2,000 aides for new NASS members


•Applicants  intensify scramble for jobs 

Over 2000 legislative aides are being recruited by new members of the National Assembly as thousands of job seekers keep thronging the complex since its inauguration on June 9.

Others bombarded the legislators with telephone calls and home visits.

Apart from the regular civil servants and political appointees at the level of Special Advisers and Special Assistants lubricating the National Assembly machinery, 2, 750 aides serve the 109 Senators and 360 members of the House of Representatives.

Each of the federal legislators is entitled to a minimum of five aides: Senior Legislative Aide, Legislative Aide, Personal Assistant and office secretary.

They can function either in Abuja or the constituency office of the lawmakers.

The Principal officers have more aides. Stringent screening of visitors to the National Complex by policemen, private security contractors and dedicated security officials under the NASS Sergeant-at-Arms has not succeeded in stemming the streaming in of the job seekers.

“Many of us have been working in private companies, law firms, banks and other reputable places but the logical search for greener pastures motivates people like us to be here in hope of getting employed as legislative aides,” Ms Helen Edokpayi told The Nation on Sunday.

The monthly salary of the legislative aides ranges  from N150,000 to 250,000 while  the salary and allowances of  Special Assistants, Senior Special Assistants and Special Advisers start from N950, 000 per month.

A source at the National Assembly said: “The number of people within this salary bracket in the offices of Senate President and Speaker during the seventh Senate was more than 60.

“Besides, the Deputy Senate President and Deputy Speaker also have many such appointees, including those who do next to nothing throughout the year.

“Some people have been lucky to serve as Secretary, Personal Assistant or Senior Legislative Aide to legislators over a period of two or three terms; once you do the first four years, you develop interest for another four years.

“There is a measure of arbitrary authority that the Senate President, Speaker and their deputies can exercise in deciding how long the list of their aides, including Special Assistants should be.

“That is part of the reasons why many delectable and well-qualified ladies in the banking sector are also lobbying for such job opportunities.”

While many legislators have picked one or two aides from those who worked for them during the campaign period in their constituencies, the high cost of accommodation in the Federal Capital Territory has encouraged them to recruit aides in Abuja.

The National Assembly’s budgeting process and expenditures have remained complex since 1999 such that only a few members of staff and aides have a clear idea of the breakdown or expenditure items in the annual N150 billion budget of the legislature.

Incessant protests by legislative aides between 2001 and 2003 led to the separation of legislative aides’ salaries from legislators’ salary account.

Before then, many legislators were alleged to be paying their aides a mere fraction of their entitlements or simply employing only one or two aides while collecting the full salaries for all.

Even until recently, some legislators were alleged to have presented the names   of their wives, children and other relations living outside Abuja to the National Assembly Service Commission as legislative aides.

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