THE Federal Government yesterday announced the discovery of about 45, 000 ghost workers in 251 Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government under the integrated Payroll and Personal Information system (IPPIS).
The discovery has saved the country about N100 billion, Minister of state for Finance, Yerima Ngama disclosed while addressing State House Correspondents after the regular meeting of the Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan.
He did not however say for how long the scam had been going on or whether any of the officials officials who ran the racket had been arrested.
The minister explained that the IPPIS was introduced to enhance efficiency in personnel cost, planning and budgeting as it ensured that personnel cost must be based on actual verified number rather than estimates.
The minister noted that since January 2013, the federal government has undertaken staff auditing in 215 MDAs where 153,019 staff have been audited while 321 MDAs were yet to be captured on the IPPIS.
He said the government has also established the Treasury Single Account (TSA), a unified structure of government bank account that gives a consolidated view of the cash position directly to the Accountant General of the Federation.
Ngama, who was speaking on his ministy's performance report presented to FEC, revealed that 92 MDAs are currently on TSA while 97 others would be added by next month.
Minister of Information Mr. Labaran Maku also announced at the briefing that the federal government has approved the setting up of an inter-ministerial committee to travel abroad and take inventory of Nigeria's assets worth billions of naira.
Some of the assets to be verified belong to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Nigerian Maritime Authority (NMA) and other Nigerian agencies with assets abroad.
He said government was of the belief that the money invested in assets should not be wasted but should add value to governance.
He revealed that the committee which would be headed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru, would be made up of the representatives of the Ministry of Finance, Nigeria Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ministry of Lands, and Housing and Urban Development, Bureau form Public Procurement (BPP), Project Monitoring and Evaluation.
He paid tribute to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which he said had enabled the country to have the best foreign policy in decades.
Noting that the present administration has been able to stabilize the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) through the support given by Foreign Affairs, he said Nigeria's role in the international community has been greatly enhanced by its foreign policy initiatives.
Expatiating on the report presented to council, the Foreign Minister, explained that the foreign policy was influenced by President Jonathan's pledge to defend democracy anywhere in Africa when he assumed office.
While noting that the credible election conducted in Nigeria gave the government the leverage to move around the world to attract investments to the country, he said government had pursued a policy of using foreign policy to support domestic policies to create jobs for the people, ensuring global peace, security and a just order.
Some of the achievements he mentioned included the restoration of relative peace in West African countries such as Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea Bissau and Mali as well as Libya in addition to ensuring that Nigeria, which has not been represented in the decision-making body of the AU since inception in 2003, finally got a representation at the level of Commissioner. "A Nigerian has been elected as a commissioner for the first time Aisha Laraba Abdulahi, former Ambassador to Guinea," he stated.