Nigeria announces removal of 23,846 ghost workers from government payroll

No fewer than 23, 846 ghost workers have been removed from the Federal government's payroll, saving the government N2.293 billion from the total salary bill for the ministries, departments and agencies MDAs for February 2016. According to the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, who disclosed this over the weekend, said Bank Verification Exercise and enrolment to the Integrated Payroll and
Personnel Information System (IPPIS) exposed ghost workers that have hitherto been collecting salaries in various MDAs.

The BVN is a unique number that identifies each bank’s customer for “Know Your Customer” (KYC) purposes. The use of BVNs, rather than physical appearance of workers for biometric capture at the initial stage of verification, has significantly simplified and accelerated the progress of the payroll audit process and reduced the cost of implementation.


A Federal Ministry of Finance statement said: “this figure represents a percentage of the number of non-existent workers who had hitherto been receiving salary from various ministries, departments and agencies”.

The BVN audit has also reduced the list of military pensioners by 19,203. “The Military Pension Board has revised the amount payable for its due pension contributions on a monthly basis by N575million, following its annual verification exercise for military retirees.

“This reduced the number of pensioners by 19,203 as a result of deaths since the last verification exercise in 2012,” the statement by Festus Akanbi, the spokesman for Finance Minister Mrs Kemi Adeosun, said.

She also said that during the audit, names of some civil servants whose salaries were being processed were found to be inconsistent with those linked to the bank accounts into which salaries were paid.

Individuals in this category were therefore found to have either been receiving salaries from multiple sources in different MDAs, or were ghost workers.

The spokesperson to minister, Festus Akanbi, explained that the figure represented a percentage of the total number of ghost workers that have been receiving salary from the various MDAs.

“Further investigation into other suspected cases of non-existent workers will continue in conjunction with operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC),” Mr. Akanbi said.

He said the federal government was also pursuing the recovery of salary balances in bank accounts as well as any pension contributions in respect of the workers whose names have since been removed from the payrolls.

The statement added that further investigation of other suspected cases will continue in conjunction with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The removal of non- existent workers from federal payroll and the attendant savings on salaries was made possible “because of the ongoing BVN-based staff audit and enrolment to the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS)”, the statement added

The Federal Government is also making efforts to recover “salary balances in bank accounts as well as any pension contributions in respect of the deleted workers. This involves active collaboration with the concerned banks and the National Pension Commission (Pencom).”

The Federal Government, the ministry said, is determined to continue the verification programme on a regular periodic basis in its efforts to reduce personnel cost.

Since personnel costs represent over 40 per cent of total government expenditure, the Federal Government has vowed to continue to strengthen its payroll controls.

“It plans to undertake periodic checks and to utilise Computer Assisted Audit Techniques under its new Continuous Audit Programme. This will ensure that all payments are accurate and valid. Requirements for new entrants joining the Federal Civil Service have also been enhanced to prevent the introduction  of fictitious employees in future” the statement said.

Reacting to recent calls by the leadership of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN) that the panel members investigating the cases of indicted civil servants be drawn from both government and labour, the Ministry explained that “the request could not be acceded to, as the investigations were of a criminal nature and would therefore be handled by the appropriate  investigative agencies”.

The ongoing exercise, which is part of the cost-saving and anti-corruption agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, is key to funding the deficit in the 2016 budget, as savings made will ultimately reduce the amount to be borrowed.

The strategy of using BVNs, rather than requiring the physical presence of each member of staff for biometric capture at the initial stage of verification, the finance ministry said, has significantly simplified and accelerated the progress of the payroll audit process and reduced the cost of implementation.

With the adoption of the BVN platform to audit and sanitise the salary payment system, the Ministry has so far checked the details of about 312,000 civil servants currently enrolled on IPPIS.

In some instances, the exercise showed that the names of some civil servants whose salaries are being processed are not consistent with the names linked to the accounts into which their salaries are paid.

Individuals in this category are therefore either receiving salary payments from multiple sources (which could be different parastatals for example), or they are non-existent workers.

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