The Plateau State Government said it has no fewer than 5,000 ghost workers on its payroll.
Yakubu Jang, the Special Adviser on Special Duties to the Plateau State Governor, Jonah Jang, said this on Sunday.
Mr. Jang, who is Chairman of the Biometric Data Capture Committee, said out of the state’s total workforce of 21,000, only about 50 percent, or 11,176, have so far been cleared and certified as authentic.
With 5,000 of the 21,000 workers believed to be ghost workers, this implies about 25 per cent (one in four) are ghost workers.
He said that as a result of this shocking discovery, the state government has resolved that only those properly cleared would be paid the January salaries, adding that of the remaining, 5,000 cases are pending with `small issues’.
“We have set up an appeal panel to determine their cases. So at the end of the day, we may end up with about 16,000 workers. There is practically nothing about 5,000 others. Our conclusion is that such people are fake and never existed in the first place,’’ he said.
He said the committee found out that so many workers did not have official files, while for others who actually had files and have been in the service for 10 years, there was “no communication in such files at all to show that they (are) workers.”
“The files have no activity in them. They contained nothing on promotion, steps upgrading, annual leave or anything. Just blank files,’’ he said.
He said there were other shocking findings, including many cases where some persons promoted themselves by about four or five grade levels so as to earn salaries and entitlements they were not qualified to earn.
“In one very bizarre case, we found that someone had promoted himself to ‘a commissioner’ and was drawing salaries and all other entitlements for that office,’’ he said.
According to him, the committee had initially provided 18,330 forms with an intention to produce more since the nominal roll indicated that there were 21,000 workers, but discovered that only 17,000 of the forms were returned, out of which only 11,176 had records after the files were checked and cross-matched.
With the biometric capturing of workers data, Jang said the monthly wage bill of N1.7 billion by the state government has since dropped by about N100 million, adding that government suspicion is that names smuggled into the payroll suddenly ceased for fear of being caught.
The governor’s aide said that the committee was already digging into the missing names so as to trace those who have been padding the pay vouchers, pointing out that though the fight against corruption in the civil service was difficult, the committee was ready to look into the records to uncover the perpetrators.
He said the committee looking into the open and secret files of the workers was made up of experienced civil servants who are ready to help implement the reforms that are already sweeping through the civil and public service in the state .
The focus of the state government, he said, was to create a conducive atmosphere that would put Plateau back on the path of growth, progress and prosperity, pointing out that the state has huge potentials for growth; but was delayed by the inability of successive governments to build on the solid foundation laid by its founding fathers.
Apart from corruption, the special adviser said government was battling with the problem of persistent insecurity, which he described as a major drawback to the development of the state in the past 11 years.
According to him, persistent insecurity has frustrated so many plans and made it impossible to achieve set goals, saying it has become difficult to quantify how much government has spent in its search for peace in recent times.
“The situation has been particularly challenging because there has been no assistance from anywhere. We have had to bear this burden alone,” he stated.
He blamed the lingering crisis on some unresolved issues like the lack of equity by past administrations, and stressed that the present administration was striving to right such wrongs so as to give a sense of belonging to all citizens of the state.