Staff Audit: FG unmasks 45,000 ghost workers, saves N100b

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•Jonathan raises panel to verify Nigeria’s assets abroad

By Chesa Chesa, State House, Abuja

Federal Government has saved over N100 billion in the ongoing staff audit that has so far unmasked about 45,000 ghost workers in 251 Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

The audit, under the Integrated Payroll and Personal Information System (IPPIS), introduced in the last 18 months, has covered 153,019 workers as at January, while 321 MDAs are yet to be audited.

These figures were disclosed on Wednesday in Abuja by Minister of State for Finance, Yerima Ngama, whose ministry made a performance assessment presentation at the meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

President Goodluck Jonathan who chaired the meeting also set up a ministerial committee to travel the world and verify the status of Nigeria’s assets abroad to ensure they were not lying waste.

Briefing newsmen after the meeting, Ngama explained that the IPPIS was introduced to enhance efficiency in personnel cost, planning and budgeting, based on actual verified numbers and not estimates.

The minister said: “We have registered over 153,000 federal government workers. But compared to the total number of staff that used to get salaries in these MDAs, we have seen a gap of 45,000 people missing. So, we have already declared that they are ghost workers.

“We have about 320 MDAs that we have not covered and when we cover this, we may actually discover more and reduce the total payroll cost.”

He said the Federal Government was fast tracking the exercise to make appreciable progress by the end of 2013.

According to the minister, a centralised bio-data of staff has been established and is domiciled in the office of the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF).

“Whether you are working in a University in Uyo, or any federal establishment in Nigeria, by the press of a button, your salary will go to your account,” Ngama noted.

He said government has also established the Treasury Single Account (TSA) as a unified structure of government bank account that gives a consolidated view of its cash position at a given time.

A total of 92 MDAs are currently on TSA, while 97 Abuja-based MDAs will be added by March, he stated.

On other achievements of the Finance Ministry, Ngama said for the first time, it broke the jinx surrounding late preparation of budget, as the 2013 budget was presented at a record time in September 2012 and the National Assembly passed it by December while “there are few things to sort out before it is signed” by the President.

Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, who also spoke at the press briefing, said the ministerial committee to verify Nigeria’s assets abroad would be chaired by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Olugbenga Ashiru.

He said the committee was expected to verify the properties and assets of not just the ministries but also agencies, and even the military, including the Nigerian Navy and the Nigerian Ports Authority,

Maku said the time frame within which the committee will complete its assignment would be made public when it is formally constituted by the President.

Other members of the committee will include the National Intelligence Agency (NIA); ministries of Lands, Housing and Urban Development; Finance; Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE); Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) and the President’s Special Adviser on Projects Monitoring and Evaluation.