The office of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, underwent painful surgery on Thursday following downsizing of about 98 staff owing to the bid to cut down workers and be efficient.
Speaking with journalists, the Senate President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, justified Saraki’s for using discretion based on the judgment of a review committee.
He said, “It is entirely his (Saraki’s) discretion to determine who works with him, those who are helping his agenda, and those areas where gaps need to be filled. This is important for the efficiency of the office.
“It is not a negative thing; it is to ensure that the office is more invigorated and better positioned. It is possible some new people may also be joining in areas lapses have been observed.
“It is good for a public official like the Senate President to have given everybody the opportunity to serve. The last 26 months were good enough to determine who would fit into his agenda for the next 22 months of the lifespan of this Senate.”
He added that the development was an exercise to reposition the office fo efficient service delivery.
Although the office declined in confirming the number of staff affected, but narrated that majority of those affected were deployed back to service from National Assembly Service Commisson.
Sources told Punch that the number is 98, and further revealed that most of the affected officials were inherited by Saraki, including the Director of Protocol, Arthur Ndiwe, who had occupied the office since Senator Ken Nnamani was the Senate President.
It was further gathered that those affected were issued sack letters through the Chief of Staff to the President of the Senate, Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, in batches.
Olaniyonu further explained that the “staff review” was the outcome of an assessment exercise which started four months ago.
He added, “The restructuring that has just taken place on the workforce in the Office of the Senate President being reported as mass sacking in the media was meant to reposition the office for service delivery, the outcome of which has affected three categories of members of staff in different ways.
“The first category of workers are those that have been found capable and competent to continue with their job, like all the entire members of the media unit.
“The second category of workers are those earlier seconded from the National Assembly bureaucracy to serve in the Office of the Senate President but now directed to go back to their civil service job, like the Head of Administration, Mrs. Folashade Adigun.
“The third category of workers are those whose services within the last two years were not all that satisfactory in the eye of the committee set up by the Senate President to carry out the repositioning exercise of his office.”
Olaniyonu, however, did not provide details on the number of those affected in each category. He also dismissed the reports that the exercise was meant to cut cost, insisting that it was for efficient service delivery.
Saraki had in December 2016 directed the National Assembly management to carry out a “comprehensive human resource audit.”
His former Chief of Staff, Senator Isa Galaudu, who later resigned his appointment, had in a letter to the Clerk to the National Assembly, Mohammed Sani-Omolori, said the measure was aimed at “verifying the skills, efficiency and motivation of the employees of the National Assembly.”
“The President of the Senate expects the assessment to be completed within 90 days and progress reports be submitted regularly until completion,” it partly read.