Published On: Wed, Feb 14th, 2024

Political Appointments and the Abysmal Remuneration in Cross River State


LAGOS FEBRUARY 14TH (URHOBOTODAY)-Political appointments in Cross River State, Nigeria, have recently come under scrutiny due to the low remuneration provided to the appointees. Unlike civil service positions, political appointments typically last for a short period of four years, which is why the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission in it’s wisdom offers high remuneration to political appointees. In some states in Nigeria, such as Lagos, Akwa Ibom and other States, even the least paid political appointee, such as a Personal Assistant, earns between #500,000 to #1,300,000.


The Demands and Challenges Faced by Political Appointees


Political appointments come with numerous demands from various stakeholders, including the appointee’s political ward, local government area, family, friends, and the society at large. These demands, combined with the short tenure of political appointments, make the remuneration a crucial aspect of consideration.


The “Food on the Table” Scheme and Its Impact


The former governor of Cross River State, Sen. Ben Ayade, introduced a scheme called “food on the table” where beneficiaries were named as government appointees. While this scheme had good intentions, it unfortunately dragged the dignity associated with political appointments to the gutters. Under this scheme, government appointees earned a laughable #40,000 per month, comparable to the wages of menial job workers. This failure to differentiate between “food on the table” and government appointees has greatly undermined the term “Appointee” in Cross River.


The Promise of Restoring Dignity in Government Appointments


During his campaign, the current governor of Cross River State, Prince Bassey Otu, vowed to restore the dignity of government appointees in terms of remuneration and other benefits. However, despite making a few appointments, the remuneration for political appointees remains miserably low. For instance, compared to appointees under Sen. Ben administration, using Special Assistants as case study who earned #150,000 per month, when the prices of fuel and commodities were significantly low, compared to Special Assistants under Prince Bassey Otu who recieve the same meager #150,000 when prices of fuel has gone up to 650per litre and prices of commodities have tripled, this remuneration is insufficient to cover basic necessities, let alone government engagements and other expenses. By all standards, appointees under Ayade fared better. No one should accept any appointment with this abysmal renumeration.


The Discrepancy in Remuneration


The remuneration discrepancy between government appointees and civil servants is glaring. A level 8 civil servant under the Ministry of Health, with 35 years of service, earns over #140,000 at level 8 and over #400,000 as director, while a Special Assistant, who holds a similar rank to a Permanent Secretary, earns only #150,000. This vast difference in remuneration is absolutely despicable and can be likened to modern day slavery.


The Need for Advocacy and Action


The Bassey Otu administration has made some progress, but the low remuneration allocated to political appointees will continue to tarnish  the image of his governance. Ayade’s excuse was that he had thousands under payroll and couldn’t meet the renumeration standard for appointees, we know Otu intends to run a lean cabinet, what is his excuse after being on the saddle for six months. It is imperative for human rights organizations to speak up and advocate for the rights and fair remuneration of government appointees in Cross River State. The current situation is not only deplorable but also unparalleled in Nigeria and the entire African continent.


_Duke Edet is a civil society activist. He writes from Calabar.


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