Of Special Advisers and Ministers
I recently asked the rhetorical question, “What does any country need 40 ministers and 20 special advisers to the presidency for”? Now, with the announcement of the specific titles of the 20 special advisers, I am the more worried how many of those positions are really necessary. Perhaps those more conversant with the workings of government should first tell us what the difference in the roles of a minister/or state commissioner and those of special advisers and special assistants are. We have even seen a situation under Obasanjo where some ministers in his first term in office returned in the second term as Special Advisers.
To be sure here are some special adviser positions that I am struggling to understand. There is a Special Adviser to the President on Energy. Does that mean there would be no minister for energy? There is also a Special Adviser to the President on Social Development. Is the department of social development going to be pulled out from where it is currently? It is just as I am wondering what the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs will do, that cannot be done by the minister in that ministry. And then there is a Special Adviser to the President on International Relations. Really? What happens to the foreign affairs minister?
I am sure many Nigerians have often wondered what amounts to ‘Special Duties’ that we sometimes have a special adviser and maybe a minister for? I remember that Abacha had three different ministers of Special Duties, the most popular or notorious being Wada Nas. Those duties must be so special that they cannot be identified under any specific head. Maybe that is where ‘miscellaneous’ expenses we see in budgets get spent.
Now there is a “Special Adviser to the President for Special Duties (Office of the Vice President)”. Let’s reason for a moment that when that office holder then gets a ‘special assistant’ (PA), that one will bear the very lengthy designation of “PA to the SA to the President for Special Duties (office of the VP)”. I would love to see that fellow’s business card.
Now, all these titles and designations look too complicated and technical to understand that I am thinking of suggesting that we need a Special Adviser on Special Advisory Coordination. Never mind, my suggestion is late because there is a ‘Special Adviser to the President on Technical Matters’. Could that be the person for the job?
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