FOR a very long time, one issue that has helped drain the public treasury is that of “ghost workers” – a situation perfected such that people who do not exist anywhere else exist on payrolls of, especially government institutions. It is one of the particularly ingenious schemes by which public money is siphoned.
Last Monday, the Sokoto State Government told the world that no fewer than 639 unverified staff have been discovered on the state’s civil service payroll, with the 639 “people”earning over N25 million as monthly salaries.
That was the latest effort in that state to deal with the ghost workers’s syndrome. In July 2011, the Tureta Local Government Area of the state discovered over 500 “ghost workers,” on its payroll.
A little further down from Sokoto, in Niger state, no fewer than 20,000 ghost workers were detected on the payroll of the 25 local government areas in the state last December. Also last December, Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State said his government uncovered 608 ghost workers on the payroll of the state Universal Basic Education Board alone.
The governor’s words: “It is unfortunate to inform you that some people who don’t have the fear of God collect salaries of 608 ghost workers in ZSUBEB, money that could have been used in providing basic amenities to people.
Down here, the Lagos State Government early this month said it had frustrated an illegal payment of over N82m to ghost workers and dead pensioners in its local councils and local government education authorities. Auditor-General for Local Governments, Mr Mohammed Hassan, said the fraud was discovered during an audit exercise which uncovered over 100 ghost workers and impersonators of deceased pensioners.
The list is endless, as it is a nationwide phenomenon, but it is simply appalling that twelve years into the 21st century, we are still battling with such an indicator of backwardness like ghost workers. By now, almost every Nigerian, at least those in one form of employment or the other have one or more form of identification — the National ID card, a driver’s license, voter’s card, or registered phone lines.
With these identification data, how can incidences of this crime remain so high? There must be more to it - it’s a deliberate, sustained racket which those in authority refuse to deal with properly. But if they want to, simple ICT tools from reputable Nigerian firms are available to help solve this problem. All they need do is advertise for the solutions.
In ‘good’ company?
From those who know, more than US 175 million is lost to the ghost workers and pensioners racket here, but not to worry, we are not alone. Sindh Province is one of the eight administrative units of Pakistan, with capital at Karachi.
According to a Gulf News report in January, “nearly 10 per cent of the Sindh government’s workforce are “ghosts….out of 401,388 people on the payroll of the Sindh government over 40,000 are ‘ghosts’.
This is about 10 per cent of the workforce, indicating a loss of over PKR (Pakistani Rupees) 10 billion annually. That amounts to more than N17 billion here. But the Pakistanis are more IT savvy, relatively speaking, and have a higher rate of IT penetration than us, so it’s a matter of what people want, not so? Thus, adopting ICT solutions to problems like this is also a matter of attitude. D’accord?
- 4,334 ghost pensioners on Abia’s payroll (vanguardngr.com)
- More than half of Sokoto teachers can’t read – UBEC boss (transformationwatch.com)
- Zamfara: How we stopped a two-yr old from receiving salary – Rini (transformationwatch.com)
- Sokoto’s street begging defies N2.1bn intervention [Daily Trust] (transformationwatch.com)