The issue of ghost workers has become the bane and a recurring decimal of the Nigerian civil service, and it appears that there is no concrete mechanism in place to put it to an end. Over the past years, cases of ghost workers or what some have come to describe as salary scams has continued to embrace front page of newspapers, journals, internet based news (media) / blog sites with no end in sight.
“Ghost workers” is a term used to describe a calculatedly and well-planed act by the Chief operators of the Nigerian civil service in connivance with a few others to bankroll or pay monthly salary to fictitious pensioners, underage persons, and dead civil servants whose death or death certificate have not been issued to the appropriate authority with a view to stopping such payment.
Ghost workers or salary scam is not only peculiar to the Nigerian federal ministries as has been widely reported in our regional, local and national newspapers, where 45,000 ghost workers were unearthed, but it does also exists in the state and local government levels of government. Most state government in addition to local government have at one time or the other discovered this condemnable act of salary racketeering.
To buttress this, thepointernewsonline.com of 21 February, 2013 on its editorial page reported that, “Yerima Ngama, Minister of State for Finance, announced to a shocked nation and an ever astonished world last week that a total of 45,000 ghost workers who earned over N100billion had been uncovered from about 251 ministries, directorates and agencies through the application of the Integrated Payroll Personnel Information System, IPPIS. It is instructive to note that staff audit of some 251 MDAs is yet to be effected”.
“Plateau State Government has announced the uncovering of 5,000 ghost workers on its pay roll. Interestingly, this includes a commissioner, expectedly sitting in the State Executive Council sessions with the State Governor, Jonah Jang. Kano State has also announced the uncovering of over 8,000 ghost workers, while Kebbi says 9,300 of such fictitious names have been uncovered from the nominal roll of its state work force”
Apart from the above revelations, we have also been treated to reports of how other state government across the country uncovered the hydra-head monster – ghost workers. But since the unearthing of the intractable ghost workers syndrome – another extension of corruption which has relentlessly plagued the Nigerian Civil Service the question is: have those who are linked or perceived to be involved in this retrogressive impunity been properly investigated, arraigned, and tried in a competent court, and if found guilty punished?
It is a well-known fact that there are people behind this act. Are they above the law, untouchable or sacred cows that nothing punitive has not been done to them just to set a discouraging example to others who might nurse the ill-idea of enriching themselves via salary scam (ghost workers syndrome)?
At this juncture, I call on the various tiers of government to relentlessly investigate, arrest and arraign those who are directly involved in this despicable act that has the goal of bringing global contempt, economic waste and underdevelopment to Nigeria. If such persons are found guilty, they should be sentence to life imprisonment, and not retirement. Whatever they must have purchased with the ill-gotten money should be confiscated and sold in order to recover the commiserate amount they fraudulently enriched themselves with through ghost workers syndrome. In addition, their bank accounts should be frozen.
Again, the federal, state and local government should contrive a better way of identifying and paying real civil servants to avoid paying ghost workers. If need be, they should go back to the days when manual payment of salaries by hand after such a worker’s identity must have been ascertained. Though this method may have its disadvantage or what do you think?