Eze Onyekpere: The Discovery of 45,000 Federal Ghost Workers

Published:18 Feb, 2013

At the meeting of the Executive Council of the Federation last Wednesday, the Council and indeed all Nigerians were informed of the “grand achievement” of the Ministry of Finance in discovering 45,000 ghost workers through the deployment of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System. A total of 153,019 workers have so far been audited in 251 Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government leaving 321 MDAs not captured under the system. The system, according to the Ministry of Finance, was introduced to enhance efficiency in personnel cost, planning and budgeting. From these figures, it is clear that less than half of the federal MDAs have been audited and we have so far identified 45,000 ghost workers. The implication is that by the time we end this audit, it may be revealed that we have been paying over 100,000 ghost workers at the federal level alone every month!

Earlier media reports had indicated very bizarre findings. It was reported that in one ministry of about 500 staff, 350 were discovered to be ghost workers. In another, 11,000 workers of the 14,000 on the ministry’s payroll were ghosts.  A number of issues arise from these disclosures. First, the deployment of the IPPIS started in October 2006 in seven pilot MDAs, namely the Federal Ministry of Education, Federal Ministry of Information and National Orientation, Federal Ministry of Finance Federal Ministry of Works, Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, National Planning Commission and Budget Office of the Federation. Seven years down the line, the IPPIS has yet to cover half of all MDAs. If this information disclosed in the media is the true state of the IPPIS roll-out, then the speed of the reforms is slower than that of a snail. Who benefits from this reluctance to roll-out the reforms across all the MDAs? Definitely, it is not the ordinary Nigerian but the same entrenched interests in the civil service who are collecting the salaries and perks of office of these ghosts. What is so special about the IPPIS that it cannot be rolled-out in one financial year across the board for all the MDAs?

At some point in 2012, the Federal Government was reported to have slowed down on the implementation of the IPPIS because of intermittent internet connectivity problems. The IPPIS was also partly blamed for delays in the payment of the salaries of civil servants. This was the disclosure of the Accountant-General of the Federation, Mr. Jonah Otunla, during an oversight visit to his office, by members of the House of Representatives Committee on Finance. The excuse of poor internet connections is too dumb and lame in this day and age for such a project of national importance. We have agencies specifically charged by government to solve such challenges. Blaming the IPPIS for the delay in payment of salaries is clearly giving a dog a bad name to hang it. Whatever delays that might have been are clearly human failures that border on conspiracies and plans to frustrate the reforms.

The second point is that the revelations have proved beyond reasonable doubt that over 35 per cent of the annual budget which goes to personnel cost is a bloated vote, not meant for real and existing human beings who are said to be employed in the public service of the Federation. When you consider the remuneration of these ghosts with the fat emoluments of political office holders, then you will discover why we may never make any progress in terms of having enough resources to deploy to critical growth-inducing infrastructure development. Even the little that is available (which is less than the personnel cost every year) for such development will still be subject to the grand old corruption and inefficiencies which reduce it further to a pittance.

The third issue is that our personnel cost have almost remained constant over the years despite the deployment of the IPPIS which has discovered these ghosts. There is no empirical evidence of a lower wage bill despite the discoveries. The question arising is; if we are saving so much from the discovery of ghost workers, why do we still have such a high personnel budget? Where are the leakages still coming from? Who are then paid these money budgeted for salaries and allowancies? Are we removing existing ghost workers and thereafter padding the payroll with new ones? It is not enough to regale Nigerians with figures of how much has been saved. Where have these savings been channelled to?

The fourth issue arising from the above is that the political will to push through this reform is lacking. It is apparent that neither the President nor the Minister of Finance understands the magnitude of the challenge and how by their inaction, they have held back the development of Nigeria through their refusal to act expeditiously and decisively. The idea that such reforms are introduced gradually to draw lessons and further fine-tune them does not imply that it should take eternity to complete a simply transaction. Continuing a reform transaction for close to seven years increases the cost of the reform and denies the public the gains from such a reform process.  Apologies and stories about why the administration and previous ones failed to do the right thing is not what Nigerians need to hear. Every  Nigerian needs to get informed of the successes recorded, challenges met on the way and how they were surmounted.

The fifth issue is that despite the huge figures recorded as savings since inception in 2006 which run into hundreds of billions of naira, no one has been prosecuted and punished for obtaining and receiving those public funds. Or, did the money so discovered simply disappear on their own? Various sections of the Criminal and Penal Codes, the laws setting up the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission have a plethora of provisions that categorically state that such actions and omissions are grave crimes against the state. Someone in the personnel department was responsible for compiling the list of persons to be paid including their positions and emoluments and the compilation was signed off as true and correct by the Accounting Officer being the Permanent Secretary, Director-General or other officer of equivalent status. Yet, no one is held responsible and accountable. The message is clear; the resources of the state belong to no one and there is a big scramble. Any part of the resources which you can appropriate, do so and no one will ask you either to return same or punish you for that.

The message to the President, the Ministry of Finance and all those involved in this IPPIS game for the last seven years is straight-forward. Kindly complete the roll-out to all the MDAs before the end of 2013; bring to book through criminal prosecution all those who approved and collected the hundreds of billions of naira through the fraudulent scheme; and require every Accounting Officer to explain any sudden increase in personnel numbers under him or her after the roll-out in his/her MDA. If the explanation is not satisfactory, prosecute him or her under the relevant laws and throw out all those who have illegally sneaked back into service after allegedly collecting their retirement benefits.  It is only when we take these concerted actions would the discovery of the ghost workers by the government be relevant to us.

 

Eze Onyekpere (censoj@gmail.com)

Read original article via Punch

Related Posts

Recent Posts

Richard Tayo: Stellar Hypocrisy On Show: Letter To Senator Ben Murray Bruce

I am particularly compelled to write you this letter sir knowing that the Senate is currently riddled with plethora of controversies that your 'Common Sense' campaign is yet to address. Your 'Common Sense' crusade have addressed almost every prevailing situations in this country save that of the Senate. Reason I can't just help but remind you of the stellar height you have taken hypocrisy to. Hypocrisy is not a way of getting back to the moral high ground....

Rahaman Onike: Saraki And His Running Battle

The latest disclosure by the embattled senate president, Dr. Bukola Saraki that his current travail was a price he has to pay for opposing muslim-muslim ticket when APC as the ruling party was to decide its presidential/vice-presidential candidates sounds  like a belated excuse. Assuming he has raised the allegation ab initio probably it might have received greater public sympathy. The media boost given to the assertion notwithstanding, many Nigerian still find it difficult to believe his untoward...

Zayyad I. Muhammad: The Youths in the Boko Haram Conflict Region

There are quite a number of young people in the Lake Chad region (Nigeria, Niger, Cameroun and Chad)...

Olawale Rotimi: Violence in Nigeria; Causes, Effects And Solutions

Violence in Nigeria in its various forms has evolved over the decades; from use of traditional weapons, charms and hamlets, violence in Nigeria has taken sophisticated dimension. Political, electoral, religious, ethnic/tribal, cultism and other forms of violence are dominant in the Nigerian society, at varying degrees. Each region in Nigeria has its peculiar form of violence; in northern Nigeria, religious violence and extremist attacks is peculiar, in the South-South, militancy is popular and like...

Liam Hemsworth Takes Miley Cyrus To Lunch With His Parents

Miley Cyrus was pictured spending some quality time with boyfriend Liam Hemsworth & his family. The couple was seen walking together as they arrived to meet with his family in a restaurant in Byron Bay, Australia. After the lunch, she joined Liam's sister-in-law/Thor star Chris Hemsworth's wife, Elsa Pataky for a shopping trip. See more photos below...

Father Beats His 17yr Old Son Silly In Boxing Match As Punishment For Skipping School

An unnamed American father has come up with a form of 'discipline' most parents will be hesitant to apply. A video posted to Facebook shows the father challenging his teenage son to a fight after learning that the lad walked out of lessons without telling him. He then proceeds to pummel the precocious young man leaving him a bloody, sobbing mess. The video has gone viral garnering nearly 1.5million views.

Colombia Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage

A top court in Colombia has officially legalized same-sex marriage in the country. Same sex couples who were already allowed to form civil partnerships, are now permitted to get married just like other heterosexual couples.  This new law places Colombia as the fourth country in Latin America to legalize same sex marriages. Argentina was the first Latin American country to take the step in July 2010 before Brazil and Uruguay followed suit.

Prince’s Sister Tyka ‘Walks Out Of Meeting As Family Gather To Discuss Estate’

Prince's sister Tyka reportedly stormed out of a meeting as the family gathered to discuss the late singer's £200million estate. Prince passed away last week without a will and a bank has now been appointed to manage his assets. It is thought the Purple Rain superstar's fortune will be divided between his sister Tyka and half-siblings John, Norrine, Sharon, Alfred and Omarr. US gossip site, TMZ reports that Tyka met with Alfred and Omarr in Minnesota on Thursday. After...

Navy Declares Suspected Pirate, Charles Parker, Wanted For Alleged Hijack Of Oil Vessel

The Nigerian Navy has declared one Charles Ekpemefumor, also known as Charles Parker, wanted for alleged hijack of MT MAXIMUS off Cote d’Ivoire waters on Feb. 11, 2016. This is contained in a statement issued in Abuja on Thursday by the Director of Navy Information, Commodore Christian Ezekobe. It said investigation so far conducted by Navy operatives had identified Charles Parker as the mastermind of the hijack of the vessel. It said the notice became necessary following Parker’s refusal to honour an...

Death Of Doctors, Blow To Healthcare Delivery – Ngige

Sen. Chris Ngige ,the Minister of Labour and Employment, on Thursday in Abuja described the death of six medical doctors on Kaduna –Abuja road as a blow to heath service delivery in Nigeria. The message is contained in a statement signed by Mr Samuel Olowookere, Deputy Director Press, Ministry of Labour and Employment. The statement said that Ngige expressed his heartfelt condolences to the president and members of Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) over the loss. ``I received with great shock the news...

PDP NEC Zones Party’s Chairmanship To North-East

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Executive Committee (NEC) has zoned the party’s chairmanship position to the North-East geo-political zone. The National Chairman of PDP, Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff disclosed this on Thursday in Abuja, while briefing newsmen on the outcome of the NEC meeting held at the party national secretariat. Sheriff said that the NEC received the report of the Zoning Committee presented by its Chairman, Gov. Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom. He said that the committee’s zoning recommendation was unanimously...

FG To Build Hostels For IDPs In 24 States

Mr Ifiok Abia, member of the Presidential Flood Relief Rehabilitation Committee, said the Federal Government will build hostels for Internally Displayed Persons (IDPs), in 24 states affected by floods. Abia made this known while presenting relief materials to flood victims in Akwa Ibom in Uyo on Thursday. According to him, the Federal Government will also build 10 solar-powered boreholes for the IDPs. ``Already, work has begun on some of the boreholes in some states while some have even been completed'', he said. . Abia...

Senate Invites Security Chiefs For Update On Fleeing Terrorists In North East

The Senate has invited the country's security chiefs to brief it on the activities of fleeing terrorists in the North East to prevent the spread of terrorism. The summon followed a motion by Sen. Chukwuka Utazi (PDP Enugu North) on the recent attack on Nimbo Community in Enugu State by persons suspected to be herdsmen. Sen. Utazi who relied on a point of order to make the matter an issue of public concern, prayed the Senate to approve his seven-prayer motion.   "There...

Ekiti NMA Buries Three More Doctors, Driver Amidst Tears

Emotion ran high on Thursday during the commendation/funeral service for three more medical doctors from Ekiti State and their driver at the Nigerian Medical Association’s secretariat on Ado-Iyin road. The four were among six doctors and a driver that died on Sunday along Abuja-Kaduna Expressway on their way to the Annual Delegates Meeting of the NMA in Sokoto. Those given the last honour were the late Dr. Atolani Adeniyi, Senior Health Officer with the Ekiti Hospitals Management Board; the late Dr....

N23bn Bribe: EFCC To Arrest More INEC Officers, Bankers

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is set to arrest more officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission and election monitors that received various bribes in the N23bn funds from a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke. The PUNCH had reported on Thursday that the EFCC had arrested the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Fidelity Bank, Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo, for handling $115m for Diezani in the build-up to the presidential election. Okonkwo was alleged to have helped in...

Jonathan Shared Ecological Funds To PDP Govs – Oshiomhole

The Edo State Governor, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, on Thursday accused former President Goodluck Jonathan of favouring state governors elected on the platform of his party, the Peoples Democratic Party, during his regime. He specifically accused the former President of doling out N2bn from the Ecological Fund to each of the PDP governors without considering giving same to governors of the All Progressives Congress. Oshiomhole made the allegation while speaking with State House correspondents after a meeting state governors had with President...

BoT Members, Others Shun PDP NEC Meeting

The crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party became more visible on Thursday as majority members of its Board of Trustees, National Caucus and others stayed away from its National Executive Committee meeting which was held in Abuja. BoT members and others were said to have been angered by the decision of the national leadership of the party to hold NEC meeting without following due process. Traditionally, NEC meeting is held after both the BoT and the National Caucus of the party...

Buhari’s Reactions To Herdsmen Killings Shocking – Soyinka

Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has criticized President Muhammadu Buhari for his reaction to increasing attacks and killings by herdsmen in several states in the country. Soyinka in an address to the National Conference on Culture and Tourism on Wednesday said he was shocked by the President’s claim that the attacks would soon be over. He added that comments made by the President and the government fell short of expectation and did not provide any reassurance for Nigerians.

Bayelsa Speaker Bows To Pressure, Swears In Opposition Lawmakers

At last, the Speaker, Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Mr. Kombowei Benson, on Thursday, bowed to pressure and swore in the three opposition lawmakers after about four months in limbo. The three lawmakers inaugurated at the hallowed chamber of the House are Watson Belemote of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, representing Brass Constituency 2; Gibson Munalayefa of the Labour Party for Ogbia Constituency 2 and Gabriel Ogbara of African Democratic Congress for Ogbia Constituency 3. At last, the Speaker, Bayelsa State...

NYSC To Deploy Doctors, Pharmacists, Nurses To IDP Camps Nationwide – DG

The National Youth Service Corps is to deploy medical doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other medical professionals to Internally Displaced Persons camps nationwide. The Director General of NYSC, Brig-Gen. Sule Kazaure, made this known on Thursday while flagging-off the NYSC intervention programme at Damare IDPs camp in Yola. Kazaure said the deployment of NYSC in the camps was part of the scheme’s contribution to government’s efforts in assisting the IDPs. “This programme, which is designed to bring succour to the inmates in this...

Abacha Loot: World Bank Asks For More Time

The World Bank Access to Information Committee has asked for more time to decide on a request by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), Lagos, on how the recovered Abacha loot was spent.   Mr Olukayode Majekodunmi, the Deputy Director of SERAP, said in a statement on Thursday that the World bank had requested for additional time to respond to SERAP'S request.   The statement said SERAP received a letter dated April 27 form the World Bank requesting for additional time on...