Is the Office of the Chief of Staff constitutional? #YES

Claim:  Moshood Adeoti, the candidate of the Action Democratic Party (ADP) in the September 22 governorship election in Osun State, says the office of the Chief of Staff is unconstitutional.

Conclusion: FALSE

Politics is in the air and politicians on the campaign train not only make promises but they also make all kinds of statements to their usually gullible audience. The Governorship candidate of the Action Democratic Party (ADP), Moshood Adeoti, would not be left out.  Addressing his party supporters in Osogbo, the state capital, he said the office of Chief of Staff is unconstitutional.

Verifying the claim

DUBAWA contacted Mr. Adeoti on telephone to confirm that he made the claim during his campaign rally in Osogbo. He confirmed that he did say that. “Let them check the constitution to see if it is stated there or not”, he told our correspondent.

Nigeria’s presidential system of government is modelled after the American presidential system of government which provides for an executive president, an independent legislature and a judiciary to serve as checks on the executive. One of the creations of that system of government is the creation of the office of the Chief of Staff to the President at the federal level and to the Governor at the state level.

President Franklin Roosevelt of the United States was credited with creating the office in 1939.

The Chief of Staff is a political appointee of the Governor and so, does not require the confirmation of the legislature. He serves at the pleasure of the Governor and often, the occupant is a very powerful man (or woman) who coordinates the Governor’s schedule and controls access to the Governor.

The same applies at the federal level. Not a few Nigerians believe that the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Abba Kyari, decides what happens in the country.

In Nigeria, the occupants of the position have exuded the aura of  Governors-in –waiting. Indeed, some of them have succeeded their bosses in office. For instance, Babatunde Raji Fashola, the Minister of   Power, Works and Housing served as the Chief of Staff to Bola Ahmed Tinubu when the latter was Governor of Lagos State. At the end of Tinubu’s tenure, Tinubu propped him up as his successor and he was elected to the office of the Governor of Lagos State.

Theodore Orji in Abia State also became the Governor having served as Chief of Staff to the former Governor, Orji Uzo Kalu for eight years.

What do the lawyers say?

A Lawyer and Human Right Activist, Inihebe Effiong, says: “While the office is not a creation of the Constitution, it will be inaccurate to say that the office is unlawful or not political. The Governor or the President has the power as provided in the constitution to appoint special aide to work with him. So, Chief of Staff is the super aide of the Governor or the President as the case may be.  Base on my interpretation, it is the highest ranking and even by governance protocol, Commissioners report to the Chief of Staff when they need to see the Governor. As a matter of fact, most decisions of Governor or President are communicated through the Chief of Staff to other staff of the Government“, Mr. Effiong explained.

Another Lawyer and Activist, Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi said: “The office of the Chief of Staff ordinarily should not be political. He is the head of all staff, the word ‘chief’ made him closer to the Governor and because of that for me, I think is a political position.”

What does the Constitution say?

DUBAWA had recourse to the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to get a hand on the issue. The relevant section is Section 208 (1,2, &5).

Section 208:

“(1)Power to appoint persons to hold or act in the offices to which this section applies and to remove persons so appointed from any such office shall vest in the Governor of the State.

(2) The offices to which this section applies are, namely –

(a) Secretary to the Government of the State;

(b) Head of the Civil Service of the State;

(c) Permanent Secretary or other chief executive in any Ministry or Department of the Government of the State howsoever designated; and

(d) any office on the personal staff of the Governor.

(5) Any appointment made pursuant to paragraphs (a) and (d) of subsection (2) of this section shall be at the pleasure of the Governor and shall cease when the Governor ceases to hold office.”

In view of the section quoted above and highlighted, the Governor is at liberty to appoint persons to any office as his personal staff; such appointees do not require the confirmation of the legislature and they shall cease to hold office when the Governor ceases to be in office.

Conclusion: The position of Chief of Staff is constitutional!

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