Overstaffed and Overburdened: Nigeria’s Political Class Deepens Economic Woes
In a shocking display of irresponsibility amidst Nigeria’s dire economic struggle, 22 state governors have defied calls for austerity measures by appointing an astounding 5,000 political aides. This reckless disregard for the country’s economic woes is nothing short of a slap in the face of the suffering Nigerian populace.
At a time when conversations surrounding the exorbitant cost of governance have been gaining momentum, these governors seem to have buried their heads in the sand. To the average Nigerian citizen, the size of government at the state level has ballooned to an unsustainable burden for the already beleaguered economy.
It is utterly disheartening to witness the lackadaisical attitude of these sub-governments in addressing this issue, especially in light of the prevailing economic realities. Most states find themselves deeply mired in debt, struggling to meet their basic financial obligations. Some are notorious for failing to pay their workers’ salaries, while others are drowning in pension arrears.
The Debt Management Office (DMO) sounded the alarm in May 2023, revealing that a staggering 16 out of Nigeria’s 36 states were on the brink of collapse due to debts amounting to a whopping N2.9 trillion. These debts consist of a domestic debt of N2.2 trillion and an external debt of $1.6 billion as of December 31, 2022. This is a crisis of monumental proportions, and it is the ordinary citizens who bear the brunt of such fiscal recklessness.
To add insult to injury, it comes to light that one governor in the previous administration had an army of 38,000 political aides, all supposedly appointed to “fight poverty.” This extravagant display of political patronage is not just absurd but utterly indefensible.
The list of political appointees reads like a never-ending saga of excess: Special Advisers (SAs), Senior Special Assistants (SSAs), Special Assistants, Executive Assistants (EAs), Technical Advisers (TAs), and Assistants. Bayelsa leads the pack with over 2,000 aides, followed closely by Imo with 668 appointees. The list goes on, with states like Yobe, Akwa Ibom, Kano, Plateau, Edo, Niger, Adamawa, Enugu, Ebonyi, Abia, Ondo, Benue, Osun, Sokoto, Kebbi, Katsina, Bauchi, Ekiti, Kaduna, Ogun, and Lagos all contributing to this staggering number. This is just a tip of the iceberg as more appointments are the offing.
This unchecked expansion of the political workforce at the expense of a crumbling economy is an affront to the suffering masses of Nigeria. It is high time that the electorate, the popular sovereigns, rise to the occasion and demand accountability from their elected officials. The excesses of the political sovereigns must be curbed, and responsible governance must take precedence over political patronage.
To the political class, we issue a stern warning: Nigeria’s economy is on the brink, and the people are watching. The days of wanton extravagance must come to an end, or the consequences will be dire. It’s time for a responsible, lean government that puts the interests of the people first, not one that burdens them with an army of political appointees while the nation teeters on the edge of financial collapse. This is utterly unacceptable!