By Cecilia Ijuo
Abuja – The President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, on Thursday confirmed that he had reduced the number of aides working in his office.
Saraki’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Yusuph Olaniyonu, made the confirmation when he briefed National Assembly Correspondents in Abuja.
Olaniyonu explained that the shake-up was done in good faith and was not meant to serve as a punitive measure in anyway.
He stressed that the essence of disengaging the aides was to reposition the office toward delivering on the mandate of the 8th National Assembly.
“I am here to discuss this issue of restructuring in the office of the Senate President. Some of our colleagues called me to clarify what happened.
“It is has been known for four months that a comprehensive staff review was going on in the office of the senate president.
“It was just concluded a few days ago and the purpose of the exercise is to reposition the office to improve on service delivery and improve on his ability to deliver on the agenda of the 8th Senate.
“We have served for two years and this is a long time enough to determine who is good enough to continue in the last phase of the service.
“You know the Senate has just about 22 months to its expiration.
“So, it is an exercise that has now been concluded and we have determined who is good enough to continue, who needs to give way and who may likely come in,’’ he said.
The special adviser said that the downsizing was done based on efficiency and the need to redeploy those that were seconded from the National Assembly Service Commission.
He said, “there are some members of staff who by their performance in the last two years have been deemed fit to continue and those ones are still there.
“There is also a second category of people who were seconded from the National Assembly Service Commission to the office of the Senate president.
“Some of them were told to revert to bureaucracy where they were from the beginning.
“Then, there is a third set who have been removed maybe, because they were found not to have met expectations of the offices or who did not help enough in the functioning of the office.
“So, you see that actually, it is a positive one, not a punitive measure. It was meant to reposition the office to ensure that the office is more strengthened.’’
He said in view of the exercise, there was likelihood that a new set of people would be engaged.
On the number of those affected, those retained and those likely to be enlisted, Olaniyonu said he had no details, but promised to get back to the newsmen after verifying the figure.
On speculations that some of the aides were laid off because they were inherited from the former President of the Senate, David Mark, he said there was no ulterior motive to that.
He said that Saraki accommodated the inherited aides for two years even when he had the power to lay them off on assumption of office.
“It is good for a public official like the Senate President to have given everybody the opportunity to serve in that office and he has done that by retaining everybody.
“He carried on the entire team for two years, even more than two years.
“So, the two years was sufficient enough to determine who is doing well, who needs a little push and who cannot really fit in entirely and the decision was taken.
“So, nobody committed any sin. It was at the discretion of the senate president. He has been able to determine within this period those that had helped in his agenda and so on.
“When a man comes in, he has the right to ask everybody to go but he did not.’’
Olaniyonu noted that most of the people Saraki inherited would only revert to their offices as some of them were deployed by the commission. (NAN)