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A Nigerian senator, Bulus Amos, representing Gombe South Senatorial District, on Thursday said he has approved the appointment of 118 constituency aides.

These aides were picked across the forty wards in Balanga, Billiri, Kaltungo and Shongom LGAs of the senatorial district, Mr Amos said through his spokesperson, Abdul Lauya, on Thursday.

The 118 appointees comprised two personal assistants drawn from each ward and another 38 special assistants.

While the personal assistants are to serve as links between the lawmaker and the grassroots, the special assistants would represent various special interests including women, youth, students, physically challenged and the aged through the constituency office in Bambam, the lawmaker said.

Mr Amos also said the “massive appointments” is part of his “empowerment drive aimed at reducing joblessness, youth restiveness, thuggery and other social vices.”

Letters of appointment are due for presentation to the appointees at a later date at the constituency office, the release read.

Provision of the law

As provided in the National Assembly Act, each lawmaker, excluding principal officers, is entitled to five aides, including one senior legislative aide, two legislative aides, a personal assistant and a secretary.

These aides are apart from those who work in the constituency offices of the legislators.

The President of the Senate is entitled to 45 aides; his deputy, 30, and 20 each for all principal officers.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives is entitlted to 35 assistants; Deputy Speaker, 15 and 10 each for the six principal officers of the Green Chamber.

Sources at the National Assembly said aides get monthly emoluments ranging between N75,000 to N180,000 — a downward review from N150,000 to N250,000.

All of these aides are paid from the coffers of the National Assembly.

Controversies

The role of legislative aides has been a subject of controversies, partly due to allegations that they are being shortchanged by federal lawmakers.

In 2016, an investigation revealed that, in violation of constitutional stipulation, no fewer than 2,570 aides were engaged by the 469 members of the 8th National Assembly.

Of this, 700 aides work for lawmakers in the Senate, while the remaining 1,870 were engaged by House of Representatives members.

There have also been series of protests by these aides due to nonpayment of their entitlements.

At other times, citing the same allegation, the aides have petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari as well as the EFCC, the nation’s anti-graft agency.

It is unclear how Mr Amos intends to finance payment of his 118 appointees and what he would do differently to avoid disquiet among his appointed aides.

Calls to his spokesperson, Abdul Lauya, were unavailable Thursday evening. WhatsApp calls were not answered.

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