Presidency removes 50,000 ghost workers from payroll
* Saves N14.1b monthly
* Syndicate members taken to EFCC for prosecution
The Federal Government says it has removed 50,000 ghost workers from its payroll, and saved N13 billion monthly since February this year.
According to the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the government also saves N1.1billion monthly from pension bill in the fight against corruption.
At an interactive session with State House correspondents to mark the end of the year, Shehu announced that an 11-man syndicate in connection with the ghost workers had been arrested and handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
“The flagship programme of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to rid the system of fraud and instil good governance is on course.
Through a notable initiative, the Efficiency Unit of the Federal Ministry of Finance, the government has embarked on the continuous auditing of the salaries and wages of government departments.
“When the committee was constituted in February 2016, the Federal Government’s monthly salary bill was N151 billion, excluding pensions. Now the monthly salary warrant is N138 billion, excluding pensions, which means that the government is making a monthly saving of about N13 billion. That is from February 2016 to date,” he said.
The presidential media aide added that “the pension bill was N15.5billion monthly as at February. Now it is down to N14.4 billion, which means average monthly saving is made of about N1.1 billion.”
Shehu put the total number of ghost workers so far removed from the payroll around 50,000. With the lightening of the government wage bill through the tightening of the financial system, the government will have more funds at its disposal to attend to more important needs of governance. It will also check the spectre of unpaid or delayed salaries that hangs over federal government workers in recent times.
On the recently released 21 Chibok girls, he said they were being treated as adoptees of the Federal Government, as he hinted of local and international interest in the future plans for the girls.
“A black American billionaire, Mr. Robert Smith who is currently sponsoring the education of 24 girls from Chibok, among them the first set of escapees from Boko Haram, at the American University of Nigeria, Yola has offered to pay for the education of the 21 released through negotiations.
He is offering to take responsibility for all the others who will eventually be set free. The Murtala Mohammed Foundation in the country is equally interested,” the presidential spokesman said.
On the concerns raised by some of the parents of the girls that they did not have enough room for interaction with their daughters brought home for Christmas by the Department of State Services (DSS), Shehu admitted hitches arising from lack of understanding of the objective of the trip on the part of some security operatives. He said a directive had been given for ease of access by the parents. “If the situation persists, please let us know so that the higher authorities will make a further intercession,” he said.
Addressing another concern raised by members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) on appointments into boards, the spokesman assured that the process would be fully back on track at the beginning of the new year.
“You know that the reconstitution began methodically, from sector by sector. You should expect that to resume at the beginning of the new year. The President has given directions on what to do.”
On the agricultural programmes of the administration, the media aide said that the president’s persistent call for return to farming was yielding good results.
“The talk about agriculture has driven people to the farm. This year, there is a huge boom in the rural economy. We have witnessed an excellent harvest. Farmers are getting value for their output. What has encouraged farmers the more is the increasing availability of extension services. New farming techniques are helping farmers to do their occupation better. The readiness of takers to buy the produce is also a major boost.
“When you put all these together with the systematic move to curb importation as a boost to local production through the restriction of the available foreign exchange to critically important sectors of the economy, you have favourable environment for the diversification of the economy.
“As we speak, several of the country’s major manufacturing industries are actively backward-integrating. Nestle, Unilever, the breweries are looking at what we have as local materials, changing their formulations to maintain production levels and keep their shares of the market. Manufacturers who are hooked on import of raw materials are advised to re-strategise and take full advantage of local raw materials. The future belongs to those who employ the use of local raw materials,” he said.