Aides of President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo whose appointments have not been renewed since the expiration of the last administration on May 29 are in a fix.
Appointees of the president, who occupy various positions in the presidency, were expected to leave office at the end of Mr Buhari’s first tenure on May 28, 2019.
PREMIUM TIMES gathered that appointment letters issued to all the presidential aides had actually given May 29, 2019, as the termination date of their appointments.
Mr Buhari has not renewed the appointment of any of the aides since taking a fresh oath of office over a month ago.
Without asking them to leave their posts, the president has allowed the coterie of aides to continue serving the government, thereby generating confusion.
The status of the presidential aides has generated controversy with lawyers describing the aides’ staying on as illegal.
Over 100 aides serving Messrs Buhari and Osinbajo and their spouses are affected by the logjam, including Mr Buhari’s spokespersons, Femi Adesina and Garba Shehu.
A source at the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), said only three appointees in the presidency are not affected by the glitch.
Those not affected are the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha; Mr Buhari’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, and the deputy chief of staff who serves Mr Osinbajo, Adeola Ipaye.
Checks by this newspaper indicate that civil servants in charge of finance have since May 29, 2019, written off presidential aides from the payroll, thereby depriving them of salaries, allowances and travel estacodes.
Presidential aides, who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES last week, confirmed that the last pay they got was for May, which is considered their last month in office.
A civil servant, who is not in a position to speak on record, also confirmed that none of the political appointees was paid in June.
A special assistant to the president who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES on Wednesday said the non-payment of salary was not expected, as appointees felt their mandates would have been renewed before the end of the month.
“Well, actually our letters said our position would be terminated by May 29, it is there. We are still operating but there is no pay of any kind,” he said.
Aside salaries and routine allowances, PREMIUM TIMES learnt that the affected aides are also no longer entitled to travel allowances and estacodes.
This manifested last week when Mr Osinbajo was preparing to travel for a meeting in the United States.
The vice president was reportedly taken aback when he was told that his personal aides could not be provided for by the government to join him on the trip.
Civil servants handling his office said they could not pay the aides estacodes as was the normal practice.
The piqued Mr Osinbajo had to device personal means to take care of the few aides he travelled with.
This constraint may also affect Mr Buhari’s scheduled trip to Niamey, Niger Republic, this newspaper learnt.
The president is expected to travel with a very small number of personal aides who are political appointees.
“Apart from the ADC and CSO, the personal physician and the chief of protocol, no other aide is sure of traveling with the president,” a source at the presidency said.
Other Privileges Affected
PREMIUM TIMES gathered that protocol officials in the presidential villa have also stopped filing notice of meetings and other memos to all the aides, rendering presidency activities, largely an informal affair.
While the aides still attend to official functions and meetings, their usual privileges are being cut down.
Notice of meetings and schedules of the president and his vice are no longer shared with most of the appointees who used to get those documents in the past.
Their inclusion in trips has also been cut down, except on the special request of the two leaders, and at non-official capacity.
‘Sorting out mess’
The spokesperson of the SGF’s Office, which is the office in charge of appointments of aides, Willy Bassey, declined comment on the matter insisting that the issue was not in the purview of the SGF’s office.
“It is the duty of the Revenue Mobilisation Commission. Reach out to them,” he directed, rebuffing all attempts to explain his office’s connection with the subject.
But a senior official in the office of the SGF, who is not authorised to speak with the media, said the logjam is being sorted out “as the government has commenced process of reappointing some of the aides”.
“It is only when their appointment(s) is renewed that they can continue to benefit from the pecks of office,” the senior official said on Wednesday.