The Federal Government last week exposed another fresh 11,000 non-existent (ghost) workers on its payroll in its second staff audit.
This came shortly after the government found it was paying 23,000 ‘ghost’ workers. The Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun announced that Muhammadu Buhari-led administration had already saved FG N2.29billion per month, due to the 23,000 ‘ghost’ workers discovered.
The enormous payment of ‘ghost’ workers in the civil service is causing grave leakage to government’s revenue despite the shortfall in the global oil prices and macro economic challenges.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) through the Bankers’ Committee and in collaboration with all banks in Nigeria on February 14, 2014 launched a centralized biometric identification system for the banking industry tagged Bank Verification Number (BVN) which had helped in discoverying ‘ghost’ workers that are operating within government agencies across the country.
The finance ministry had said the adoption of the BVN became inevitable due to the failure of the Integrated Payroll Personnel Information System to effectively deal with the issue of ‘ghost’ workers in the federal civil service.
Using BVN rather than requiring the physical presence of workers has simplified and accelerated the progress of the project and at a lower cost.
Since the discovery of 23,000 ghost workers early this year, the Federal Government investigation had not announced any culprits or financial institution’s involvement.
Although, the ministry had announced that economic crimes investigative agencies would prosecute financial institutions, firms and individuals working to defraud the Federal Government by padding it payroll, the pace of doing so had been slow.
It was gathered that the preliminary report of an investigative committee, set up to probe the alleged fraudulent payment of salaries to either ‘ghost’ workers or payments to multiple accounts, indicated that salaries were being paid into some inactive accounts, which had fuelled the belief that government had been paying salaries to ‘ghost’ workers.
It was learnt that the panel had discovered that some of these inactive accounts were domiciled in a particular branch of a bank.
The investigating committee discovered that in a particular branch of a bank, over 300 accounts of some civil servants were opened the same day and all of them have become dormant.
It is however imperative that government should strategically work on loopholes in order to save the country from recession and hardship.
The same method will be commended if other levels of government can adopt the use of BVN required at this time to expose ‘ghost’ workers.
It is an indication that Buhari-led administration has a serious fight on corruption endemic in public service during the 16 years of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Nigerian NewsDirect believes in government willing power and transparency in fighting ‘ghost’ workers from the top to the bottom must be driven with purpose.
Government must take the bull by the horns and prosecute those involved and to some extent publish names of those culprits involved in stealing public funds and putting the nation in financial crisis.
Government should not only recover monies from those found guilty of the fraud but also hand them over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for prosecution.
We also commend the Presidential initiative on continuous audit of Ministries, Departments and Agencies which is expected to go beyond payroll of staff.
Legislative approval of World Bank readiness to support the country in tackling ‘ghost’ workers in the public service, must be hastened in order to control finance and spending of government’s money especially in anticipation of the approval of the budget, which is an extended expenditure.
The present internal auditors should be don away with the new set of young and vibrant youths are recruited.