The Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, has appointed 200,000 new Special Assistants, SAs, on Political Unit Affairs, whose wages are expected to cost the state N42,000,000,000.
Wike, inaugurating the new SAs Batch 2 from Rivers East Senatorial District at the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium, Omagwa, Ikwerre Local Government Area, announced an increase from 100,000 to 200,000.
There were indications, yesterday, that the newly engaged 200,000 Units SAs are to receive a N30,000 monthly stipend while the wage for the 359 Constituency and Local Government Area Liaison Officers stays at N50,000.
This means that between now and May 29, 2023 when Wike’s tenure will lapse, Rivers will pay the appointees N42.127 billion.
The appointments elicited criticisms from the All Progressives Congress, APC, National Rescue Movement, NRM, and Niger Delta Peace Coalition among others.
Defending the development, the Governor said: “My mail box almost crashed. People are sending text messages saying ‘why are you leaving us alone, the job is too much. This number cannot do the work’.
“Therefore, a lot of Rivers people are volunteering to be part of this work. And I can announce to you today, we have increased the number from 100,000 to 200,000.”
Wike directed all political leaders of the various Local Government Areas to return home to search out trustworthy folks they consider can help Rivers retain its prime position in the comity of states.
He said even if so much has been done, his administration is not taking its remaining time for granted, emphasizing that these SAs on Political Units Affairs were being engaged to help his administration finish well.
“It is me who is appointing. It is me who wears the shoe that knows where it pinches. It is not you outside because you are not part of government. I know what it takes and I know these people will help me. Now that I am finishing, I want to finish very well.”
Wike said the appointments fulfill his declaration on the day Rebids I Flyover was inaugurated that he would begin to implement his policy of stomach infrastructure, saying the engagement will put money in the pockets of Rivers people.
He reiterated the charge on them to, among other duties, interface with Rivers people to know what they are saying, their assessment of government projects and policies, whether positive or negative, and feedback to his office through the Constituency and Ward Liaison Officers.
The State Commissioner for Information, Chris Finebone, preempting likely public antagonism on the development said: “Hope we know the governor has not broken any law. I know that the frustrated opposition in Rivers State will twist this.
“But let me caution them. Frustration of opposition can really drive anyone to turn into an angry piece of bird but no one should allow that frustration turn them into a piece of bitterly angry bird.”