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

Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun

The Nigerian government said on Sunday that about 23,846 ghost workers were being removed monthly from its payroll.

The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, said consequently about N2.293 billion was reduced from the total salary bill for the ministries, departments and agencies MDAs for February 2016 when compared to December 2015 when the BVN audit process commenced.

The minister said the ghost workers were uncovered in payrolls of various MDAs during the ongoing bank verification number (BVN)-based staff audit and enrolment to the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).

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.

The BVN platform to audit and sanitise the salary payment system, ministry of finance sources said, has so far checked the details of about 312,000 civil servants currently enrolled on IPPIS, a development that has led to the discovery of a high level of irregularities in salary payment.

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 removal of the affected names, the spokesperson said, were being undertaken in active collaboration with the concerned banks and the National Pension Commission (PENCOM).

Equally, the Ministry said the Military Pension Board has revised its due pension contributions payable on a monthly basis by N575million following its annual verification exercise for military retirees.

The Board said the exercise had cut down on the number of pensioners by 19,203 as a result of deaths since the last verification exercise in 2012.

To reduce personnel cost, which constitutes over 40 per cent of government total expenditure, the federal government has said it would not relent on efforts aimed at sustaining the periodic verification programme on a regular basis.

Part of that effort would to continue strengthening its payroll control systems, apart from plans to undertake periodic checks, using the computer-assisted audit techniques under its new Continuous Audit Programme.

“This will ensure that all payments are accurate and valid,” Mr. Akanbi said.

“Requirements for new entrants into the Federal Civil Service have also been enhanced to prevent the introduction of fictitious employees in the payrolls in future,” he said.

The ongoing exercise, which Mr. Akanbi explained was part of the cost-saving and anti-corruption agenda of the present administration, would be key to funding the deficit in the 2016 budget.

Savings from the exercise would ultimately help reduce the amount to be borrowed to finance the budget.

On recent calls by the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN) for members of the panel investigating cases of indicted civil servants to be drawn from both government and labour, the Minister said the request would be difficult to meet, as the investigations were of a criminal nature and therefore the responsibility of the appropriate investigative agencies.


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  • Rommel

    Interesting,more grease !!!!!

  • Ashibogu

    Debit the CBN accounts of the banks involved with the amount that slipped through their banks. This will teach them a lesson not to toy with Government Accounts.

    • Reason-ability

      Totally agree with you

  • New Nigerian

    From the numbers given through this
    scheme alone, pdplutocrats in the civil service steal 27.516 billion
    Naira per annum! This is 440.256 billion Naira in 16 years!…it is
    great that this have been stopped somewhat, however the stolen
    commonwealth through this scheme could and should be recovered. So let
    the searchlight on this not be dimmed……let EFCC continue to work
    with the bank to uncover this scheme fully and recover all stolen

    • Tom Nwafor

      The stealing did not start with PDP. As a matter of fact when I wrote to condemn what I noticed in my local government with respect to this ghost worker issue in 1997, PDP has not come to power in Nigeria. And when I observed that the politicians of today would not have been as corrupt as they have become if they were not guided and encouraged by the civil servants, I knew what I was talking about. If I had followed the advice and guidance of my Local government Secretary and Treasurer when I was the local government chairman in 1991, I would not have remained poor today. And it is because I refused to play ball with them, they made sure I was frustrated and denied even my legitimate entitlement from the council.This is exactly what operates at all levels of government in Nigeria.Anyone who tells you something different is trying to cover up something.

      • New Nigerian

        True talk. Congratulations Sir Nwafor for sticking up for ethics, for what you have said here. A good name is worth it’s weight in gold. Now you can sleep easy and those with sticky fingers would always look over their shoulder until they are parted with stolen wares or die.

  • ed

    The minister of finance need a new hairdresser.

    • Peter_Edo

      hahahahaha you harsh oh!

    • JC Kunle

      So that’s the biggest of your problems now? What result did u get from the last minister of finance with good looking hair ? Better Nigeria is her priority now not her hair. Make that your priority and see what difference your can make.

  • CovertNigerian

    I don’t understand why the government didn’t announce arrests along with news of the outcome of this audit. Until they do that, this process is incomplete.

    • Reason-ability

      Arrests can only be made by the Law Enforcement Agencies such as the Police or EFCC and the Government has referred to matter to them. We are looking at about 24,000 people so after investigation of how this huge number got into the pay roll groups of persons who were involved from the banks or Head of Service or Pensions will be interrogated and arrests will be made.

  • favourtalk

    God will continue to bless the government of PMB as they are on rampage to clean the system from the dirt compounded during GEJ and his clueless days in power. More to go to makes sure that youths get a place in government also

  • Man_Enough

    What happens to the “ghosts”? The records of what they have been milking Nigeria are there in the bank accounts. No better time than now to teach them a bitter lesson.

  • Tom Nwafor

    I am beginning to develop faith in President Buhari’s fight against corruption with this recent development reported here. Much as I believe that big time corrupt practices like Dasukigate, Budget padding, oil subsidy fraud and outright embezzlement of public fund by public officials and politicians constitute a major drawback to the nations effort to develop, the ghost-worker corruption syndrome is no less devastating in its impact. This development has given rise to undue enrichment of civil servants especially those who work as Treasurers in the treasury departments from Local government councils to state and federal governments. Investigation of these category of workers at these levels will reveal so much and I urge the federal government to beam its searchlight towards this area.

  • Dr Pat Kolawole Awosan

    When former finance minister,Dr Ngozi Okonjo Iweala,a so-called Havard university trained graduate was in charge as minister of finance,these 23,847 ghost workers were in the service collecting their slaries and entitlement regularly.Truly, Dr Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, used advance technology to fight corruption crimes.