As many as 50 political appointees are believed to have been secretly included on the National Assembly’s payroll as aides working in the Office of the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila.
The illegal appointees were said to have been allegedly added to the speaker’s list of appointees by the immediate past Clerk to the National Assembly (CNA), Mohammed Sani Omolori, without the knowledge of the presiding officer.
Sources within the National Assembly bureaucracy told Daily Independent that the said illegal aides were staff and non-staff of the National Assembly close to the former CNA, who were possibly appointed and placed under the speaker’s office.
This was as the former CNA also allegedly denied the speaker and his deputy, Ahmed Idris Wase, the opportunity of appointing deputy chiefs of staff in their offices just like their counterparts in the Senate.
Our correspondent gathered that this became known to the speaker when nominal rolls were sent to him for signing.
A source with good knowledge of the intrigues said despite the speaker’s directive that such alien names be immediately removed from his list of appointees, the former CNA allegedly sat on it until he left office in July.
While Daily Independent could not immediately ascertain the names of the illegal appointees added to the speaker’s office, a bureaucratic source who pleaded anonymity, however, confirmed their existence.
This newspaper also gathered that the former CNA, Omolori, delayed in paying the said allowances for more than one year after these aides concluded documentation and were issued appointment letters by the National Assembly management in 2019.
Sources, who do not wish to be named, said the money for such allowances, if not paid, is usually lodged in a fixed deposit account to yield interest for those in charge.
However, upon his assumption as CNA, Amos Olatunde Ojo moved to clear the backlog of such allowances which he is said to have paid to aides of the Senate President, his deputy, and other principal officers, as well as senators.
Same has also been extended to the House where aides to the deputy speaker, principal officers, and members are said to have been paid, except those in the speaker’s office.
“Despite the fact that the speaker exhausted the number of aides he was supposed to appoint, slots for at least 50 were added to his office but concealed from him.
“Even when the speaker sent names of would-be aides based in his constituency office in Lagos, the ‘oga at the top’ replaced them with his own people.
“Some of us saw it but there was nothing we could do because such action is beyond our pay grade.
“But now, the delay in paying the speaker’s aides has to do with the failure of the Finance Department to remove those names before sending the list to the speaker for approval.
“And from the look of things, if the names are not removed the speaker will not sign it for payment,” the source, who is a middle level officer in the finance unit, said.
It was also gathered that some key figures within the account section of the legislative bureaucracy are still very much loyal to the former helmsman, which explains why the said illegal names were still returned to the speaker to sign.
Asked how the verification to fish out such illegal appointees is done by the management, a senior bureaucratic staff who pleaded anonymity, said: “It is a simple matter of engaging the Speaker’s Chief of Staff to submit the list of aides working under him, which was compared with what the management has on its nominal roll.
“When you compare, you will definitely see that there is something fishy, a wide margin between the two, to the effect that about 50 or more names found their ways to the nominal roll as aides to the speaker.
“So, management has to remove those ones first before commencing any payment of 28 days to genuine aides under the speaker’s office in order to avoid paying them (illegal aides) again, and I believe that is what the speaker wants,” the source said.
Daily Independent also gathered that the former CNA, when sent a memo confirming the appointment of a deputy Chief of Staff to the Speaker, allegedly declined, saying that there was no provision for such — for both the speaker and his deputy.
But findings by Daily Independent revealed that both the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, and his deputy, Ovie Omo-Agege, have deputy chiefs of staff appointed by them.
It would also be recalled that the immediate past speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara, appointed a DCoS in the person of Hon. CID Maduabun, a former member of the 6th Assembly.
Our correspondent also gathered that among the illegal aides allegedly appointed by the former CNA, positions of deputy chief of staff allegedly denied the presiding officers, as well as special advisers were said to have been assigned to some of them.
Omolori is said to have supported the new CNA to succeed him, having realised that there was no way he (Omolori) could continue in office after the service commission nullified his then “reviewed condition of service” which could have kept him and others due for retirement in office for another five years.
As secretary in charge of Estates and Works, the new CNA and Omolori worked closely together for some years before the former succeeded the latter.
Attempts by this reporter to get the former CNA to react to these allegations were unsuccessful as the only phone line available to the reporter was unreachable, and this reporter was told he had changed numbers, with no one admitting having the new ones.
Similarly, several visits to the Finance and Accounts Department of the National Assembly to get confirmation and reactions to the information in this story were equally unsuccessful as staff at the offices declined comments, just as they didn’t allow the reporter to see their superiors.