Discovery of 6,000 ghost workers sparks controversy in Ondo

The state government claims it has been augmenting local government salaries.

The recent discovery of 6,000 ghost workers in the 18 local councils of Ondo State has remained shrouded in controversy, with the state government withholding salaries of local council workers.

The Ondo State Government last year set up a staff audit committee to investigate the irregularity in the recruitment exercise carried out at the local governments from December 2008 to December 2012.

Three months after the committee was set up, it came out with a shocking revelation.

The government in a statement by the Secretary to the State Government, Rotimi Adelola, said “the discovery (was made) of monumental fraud in phantom recruitment exercise carried out at the local councils where unauthorised recruitment of unqualified workers or none existing individuals whose names are being used to deduct salaries from the local government’s accounts on monthly basis were discovered.”

Mr. Adelola said the committee, in the course of its investigation, discovered over 6,000 junior workers and about 4,000 senior workers recruited between December 2008 and December 2012 without following due process.

The SGF held that before “any recruitment could be done at the local government level, the express approval of the state governor should be sought and the local government chairmen should consider if they have the fund to pay the wages of such new recruits.”

Bur the audit report was done in a hurry without proper documentation, sources say.

Some of the people the report claimed were ghost workers are senior officers who may retire any moment from now.

One of such officers is the state chairman of National Union of Local Government Employees, NULGE, Ayo Omoreighe, who has been declared as one of the ghost workers.

But the state government insisted that the workers stated in the report were those who have been collecting salaries illegally from the state government.

The SSG said those who connived with these workers to dupe government will be prosecuted at the appropriate time.

“Such act is criminal and we will not spare anybody caught”, he said

This development has forced the state government to suspend the salaries of local government workers since January.

Although the workers are lamenting, the state government said it would not pay the backlog of salaries until ghost workers uncovered are flushed out of the system.

The state government claimed it has been augmenting local government salaries in the last two and half years with a sum of N500, 000 monthly.

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