Residents of Kwara State on Tuesday decried the discovery of 8,863 ghost workers on the payroll of the state and local government councils.
Some of the residents who expressed shock at the fraud included the two factional chairmen of the state Peoples Democratic Party, Chief Iyiola Oyedepo and Mr. Sunday Fagbemi as well as the state Secretary of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees, Mr. Abayomi Afolabi. They called for the prosecution of those indicted in the scam.
The Secretary to the Kwara State Government, Alhaji Isiaka Gold, while submitting the report of the Kwara State Personnel Database Development Committee to Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed at the Government House, on Monday had said the committee uncovered 8,863 suspected ghost workers on the payroll of both the state and local governments.
Gold, who is the alternate Chairman of the committee, stated that the 8, 863 personnel could not be verified in the just-concluded staff biometric verification.
He noted that the development could potentially save both the state and local governments N437, 500, 513.56 monthly.
Gold added that as of the time of commencing the exercise, the total number of staff on the payroll of both the state and local governments was 81, 446, but only 72, 583 of the workers and pensioners scaled through the verification process.
The SSG said that of the 35, 656 workers on the state government payroll, only 31, 652 were cleared and verified, leaving a total of 4,004 unverified personnel.
He added that out of the 45, 790 workers and pensioners on the payroll of the 16 LGs in the state, only 40, 931 were verified, which left 4, 859 unverified.
According to him, the committee recommended that the verification should be continuous and that the state government should implement a harmonised staff identification system, certificate verification and clock-in system, which should be deployed by the consultant at no cost to the government.
Ahmed in his response endorsed all the recommendations of the committee and also directed the state Ministry of Finance to adopt the committee’s report to prepare the payroll of both the local and state governments’ worker’s salaries henceforth.
The governor further directed that the ministry should warehouse the projected savings until it was ascertained that all workers and pensioners had been verified.
He thanked the consultant and members of the committee for the quality of work done and expressed confidence that with the submission of the report, there would be an effective payroll administration at both the local and state levels.
Afolabi said the menace of ghost workers in the state was very sad, adding with the discovery, a lot of money would be saved for the state and the LGs.
Fagbemi, who decried the ghost worker syndrome in the state, added that the fraud had been going on for a long time.
He said, “It is fraud galore. They know who is responsible for all those things and we know this money get back to the big ogas. It is a fraud that has been going on for long.”
Oyedepo called for the prosecution of the culprits, adding that it was sad that the alleged fraud had lingered for some time.
“If that is their claim, it is okay. They have been in government for the past 13 years and the ghost workers had been there. They should also know how to bring them out. With the large number of ghost workers, you can imagine how much money that had been wasted to pay those who are not suppose to be in the system.
“Whoever put them must be punished so that it will not happen again. If they have the courage in fishing out the ghost workers, I salute them for their courage. But one would feel better if they are able to punish those who put those ghost workers there. They should be punished.”