Politics

Tackling ghost staff syndrome

FRESH revelations about Nigerian civil servants who’ve remained on the federal government payroll for years after relocating overseas once more underscores the pervasive inefficiencies and corruption which have outlined the general public service.

That a Nigerian residing within the United Kingdom might nonetheless be having fun with his salaries with the collusion of a superior who occurred to be a relative is an appalling indication of a systemic breakdown within the nation’s public service.

The ‘ghost worker’ syndrome stays a systemic fraud that has defied treatment with grave implications for the integrity of the state aside from the resultant lack of billions of naira yearly to rapacious civil servants and their collaborators. It is an untold travesty that some individuals are freeloading on the general public purse whereas denying alternatives to real job seekers.

The rape of public funds persists as a result of there isn’t a punishment for perpetrators. President Bola Tinubu has promised to fish out and cope with the enablers. He should preserve his phrase and public examples made from these caught to function a deterrent.

The downside is well-known. The Federal Government launched the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System to streamline the wage fee course of and get rid of corruption amid sturdy resistance by some ministries, departments, and businesses. An audit by the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation of IPPIS discovered that the system had been compromised. The UK-based ghost employee’s case affords proof.

A 2016 Federal Government audit found over 50,000 ghost staff, resulting in financial savings of roughly N200 billion yearly. Similar discoveries have been made in states like Kaduna, the place over 24,000 ghost staff have been recognized in 2017. In Kogi, round 8,000 phantom staff have been uncovered in 2018. In 2021, Borno discovered 22,500 ghost staff, which price it N420 million a month. This January, Anambra mentioned it found 210 ghost staff on its payroll.

These discoveries level to the broader entrenched tradition of sleaze and impunity throughout the public service. Civil servants orchestrate schemes to gather a number of salaries by means of proxies, retain retired and deceased staff, insert faux names within the payroll, and discover methods to pocket such funds. Retirees’ pensions are routinely diverted and stolen.

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Cases of sheer negligence abound the place supervisors don’t hassle to examine whether or not subordinates report for work. Civil servants run their personal companies and delegate others to signal work attendance registers on their behalf. Corruption can be seen in how jobs and promotions are steered in the direction of the kin of politicians and officers.

The Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Folashade Yemi-Esan, mentioned that the verification train of the IPPIS had uncovered 1,618 civil servants with faux/unlawful employment letters. This is why civil servants are largely perceived as financial parasites and considered with mistrust by society.

The state of affairs offers credence to strategies that the general public service is severely bloated. It is about time the Tinubu administration summoned the braveness to implement the suggestions of the Steve Oronsaye Report.

Losses from payroll fraud represent an enormous drain on public assets. For Nigeria’s civil service, as soon as seen as a pillar of nationwide improvement to retain its misplaced status, the federal government should implement an intensive overhaul. It ought to deploy fashionable identification administration and digital instruments to finish this charade.

Technology developments have made it doable to examine payroll fraud. The authorities ought to set up biometric verification instruments to find out the variety of staff certified for fee and weed out ghost staff. The federal and state governments ought to strengthen the biometric seize of all staff and hyperlink knowledge to their nationwide identification numbers and financial institution verification numbers.

Supervisors ought to be held personally accountable for any discrepancies and duly punished together with payroll fraud perpetrators with the termination of appointments, prosecution, and restoration of fraudulent earnings.

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