Do these SSAs actually have a role or are they just a bunch of paid sycophants and praise singers?

By Ayo Akinfe 

(1) Over the last week, most of our governors have finally gotten round to forming their cabinets almost three months after being elected. Why it has taken them so long is beyond me but at least they are finally getting there. By the end of August, most states should have their cabinets in place 

(2) With several governors already announcing their plans, I wonder where these newly appointed commissioners will fit in. What happens if the commissioner has a different vision from that of the governor? For instance, say a governor wants to dramatically increase the number of secondary schools in the state but the commissioner has an alternative plan that includes expanding existing schools. What gives?

(3) I get the impression that most of these governors are taking a cue from President Buhari. Why it would take President Buhari two months to appoint Godswill Akpabio, Rauf Aregbesola, Gbemi Saraki, Timipre Sylvia, Adeleke Mamora, Festus Keyamo, etc is totally beyond me. These are people he has always known and could easily have named them on May 30

(4) Back to the governors though, have you noticed that the first thing many of them did after being sworn-in was name their senior special assistants (SSA)? These basically were party people who were not going to make the cabinet, so were compensated with these token positions which really have no essence

(5) Most of these SSAs have no job descriptions, staff, budgets or official roles. I know of one SSA to a governor who did not have one meeting with the governor throughout the three years of being in office 

(6) From what I can see, all the SSA has are police escorts, a government office, a staff quarters and a token salary. Given that they are not even paid that much, I ask why anyone would even accept such insulting appointments in the first place 

(7) Many Nigerians hark back to the past and nostalgically long for a return to the era of three regions. They naively think that the regions actually worked better but that is a nonsense. Obafemi Awolowo, Ahmadu Bello and Michael Okpara had objectives. It was the men in charge that made the difference not the system. Ask yourselves what kind of mess Nigeria would be in today if Abdulaziz Yari, Abiola Ajimobi and Rochas Okorocha were the premiers of the Northern, Western and Eastern regions respectively 

(8) Back in the First Republic, we did not have SSAs. What we had were commissioner’s, who had responsibilities. They were given portfolios, budgets, staff and a mandate to deliver. Today, governors surround themselves with sycophants and praise singers who have no official roles whatsoever 

(9) From what I can see, the position of SSA just entrenches nepotism, sycophancy, abuse of office, political cronyism and provides avenues to siphon public funds into private accounts. Maybe it is time for the National Assembly to pass a bill abolishing the appointment 

(10) When Obafemi Awolowo was the premier of the old Western Region, he used to tell his commissioners not to bother him with frivolous details. He always made it clear to them that whenever they came to his office, he wanted them to come equipped with ideas and solutions to matters of governance. Until we revive that spirit in public office, we will continue to be misruled