This Day (Lagos)

Nigeria: House Probes Ghost Workers' Syndrome in Civil Service

The House of Representatives Tuesday set up an Ad hoc Committee to investigate the incident of ghost workers in the Federal Civil Service.

The investigation came on the heels of a recent report by the executive that it discovered some 45,000 ghost workers in its Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and recovered a whopping N100 billion.

In a resolution that followed a motion of urgent public importance, the lawmakers want the Ad hoc Committee to determine the exact amount of monies lost; the exact figure of monies saved or recovered and determine what the monies were used for by the executive.

Sponsor of the motion, Hon. Idris Ahmed (ACN/Plateau) recalled that at the Federal Executive Council meeting held last week, the Federal Ministry of Finance revealed that in the course of implementing its Integrated Payroll and Personal Information System' (IPPIS), a total of 45,000 ghost-workers were discovered during the implementation of the scheme in 251 Federal Government's MDAs.

According to Ahmed, the discovery was made when the Ministry of Finance screened a total of 153,019 workers in the 215 MDAs as at January 2013.

He said that given the fact that one of the constitutional duties of the House was ensuring prudent management of the nation's resources it behoved on the legislature to review the report presented by the executive.

Section 88 (2) of the 1999 Constitution provides that: "The power conferred on the National Assembly are exercisable only for the purpose of enabling it to expose corruption, inefficiency, waste in the execution and administration of laws within its legislative competence and in the disbursement and administration of funds appropriated by it."

Ahmed acknowledged that the IPPIS was introduced to enhance efficiency in personnel cost planning and budgeting but observed that under the policy, personnel cost was supposedly based on actual verified number of staff and not estimates.

He expressed concern that even though less than half of the MDAs have been audited about 45,000 ghost workers have been discovered so far.

Meanwhile, protesters Tuesday thronged the gates of National Assembly and barricaded its entrance, forcing President of the Senate, David Mark, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal and other lawmakers to gain entrance through the second gate.

A senator, Bello Tukur, who arrived at 10.am apparently through the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) gate was advised to turn back by security personnel. He complied.

Workers who resumed work early could neither drive to designated parks nor trek to their offices as the over 4,600 sacked staff of the National Identity Card Management Commission (NIMC) blocked the main gate.

Few policemen on duty watched helplessly as the aggrieved protesters who had carried out similar demonstrations in the past stormed the city from the 36 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

National Chairman of the disengaged staff of NIMC, Ushe Fidelis, said they had vowed to sustain the action.

He said they would only leave if the Senate President, David Mark, explained to them why the Director General of NIMC planned to recruit 18,600 new staff after sacking 4,600 of the former staff of the commission.

Fidelis lamented a situation where several investigative inquiries into the imbroglio in both chambers of the National Assembly failed to yield results.

It was learnt that most of the protesters kept vigil to ensure their early arrival at the National Assembly.

Most of the men protesters carried placards while their female counterparts held green leaves with which they chased staff who attempted to slip into the premises.

All vehicular movements were at a standstill as staff parked their cars far away thereby blocking the entire stretch of road leading into the complex from the National Arcade.

Some of their placards read: "NIMC DG is deceiving Nigerians, NIMC DG must go, NIMC DG is a thief, barawo, No more tomorrow, Onyemenam enemy of progress."

All efforts to calm the staff down by the Divisional Police Officer (DPO)of Asokoro, Ahmed Musa, and other National Assembly security and administrative staff were resisted.

"We are all aware that the Minister of State for Finance, Dr. Yerima Ngama, revealed at the Council Meeting that over N100 billion has been saved through the exercise from 153,019 workers that have been audited so far by system. This was at the end of last month. The sad incident of ghost workers is usually sustained by a chain of syndicates and cabals who feed on inflating the actual number of workers while fleecing the nation of tons of billions of naira annually," he said.

Ahmed said the whole incident left a barrage of questions unanswered and issues unresolved. questions, hence the need for the House to investigate it.

The motion was adopted without debates and the adhoc committee is expected to submit a report on its findings to the House within two weeks.

Meanwhile, the House has passed through the second reading a bill for an Act to provide for the registration and regulation of lobbyists in Nigeria.

The lawmakers also passed for second reading a bill for an Act to amend the definition of citizenship in the 1999 Constitution to include all persons indigenous to communities now forming part of Nigeria.

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