Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Nigerian Government Uncovers 60,000 Ghost Workers In Its Workforce

The federal government has uncovered a total of 60,000 ghost workers in federal establishments across the country following the staff audit of the federal government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) on the implementation of the integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS).

The current number indicates a 20 cent increase over the 50,000 earlier announced, the coordinating minister for the economy (CME) and minister of finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala disclosed yesterday.

Okonjo-Iweala, who disclosed this yesterday while briefing newsmen on performance of the ministry in the last one year, added that the discovery had saved government over N160 billion, which was amount paid to them as salaries and allowances.

She, however, said that the case had been transferred to the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) for prosecution of those involved.
“Last year, 60,000 ghost workers were weeded out, which saved government about N170 billion. The ministry wrote to ICPC to trace those that needed to be held accountable and we are ready to assist ICPC on any issue that borders on transparency.”

The lead director, Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), Eze Onyekpere, lamented that since 2013 when the discovery of ghost workers was first made, no credible step had been taken to recover the money and expose and punish the perpetrators.

“Government’s refusal to take steps to recover the money is an endorsement of corruption, a manifestation of impunity which encourages intending looters to seek to perfect their crime,” he said.
The CSJ had invoked the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to access the details of the accounting officers and others who presided over the payment of salaries to the ghost workers, request Okonjo-Iweala allegedly declined.

The group had, in a suit, approached the Federal High Court, Abuja, to get the details of the MDAs’ accounts and officers who presided over the colossal looting of the treasury.

Meanwhile, Okonjo-Iweala also unveiled part of the federal government’s contingency plan aimed at shielding the economy against the steep fall in oil price at the international market by raising revenue targets of the key non-oil revenue agencies for the next fiscal year.

According to her, the plan would see an increase in the revenue target for both the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and the Nigeria Customs Service, but she did not disclose the exact revenue targets given to the agencies.

The finance minister, however, who disclosed that FIRS had realised N44 billion out of its N75 billion target while Customs said it had realised N713 billion (between January and September) out of its N1.23 trillion target.

“We must shift the economy to non-oil revenue and we are already working hard on non-oil. Our revenue to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio is below that of other countries. We need to work very hard on non-oil sector and deliver on it.

“The global economy is volatile; oil prices are falling and, as a matter of priority, we are developing a contingency plan to bring stability to the economy,” she said.

On the macro economy, Okonjo-Iweala said the economy had enjoyed a good measure of stability as key indices such as inflation, exchange rate and other instruments have been stable, a development she said has allowed investors to plan.

She said the Excess Crude Account would be increased from $4.41 billion to $6.31billion, just as additional $1.55 billion savings would be added to Sovereign Wealth Fund.
“The President has delivered on steady macro economy of this country, but oil price has come down, but it is not beyond our capacity to deal with, and we are dealing with it by diversifying the economy,” the minister said.

Leadership Newspaper