The Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) says it will soon commence the prosecution of culprits behind the 45,000 ghost workers identified in the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of the federal government.
This is even as the breakdown of the budget of agencies currently on statutory transfers such as the National Assembly, the Independent National Electoral Commission, National Judicial Council, the Niger Delta Development Commission, Universal Basic Education and National Human Rights Commission would soon be made public.
As a result of the implementation of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information system (IPPIS), about 45,000 names of ghost workers were discovered and taken off the payroll and about N118 billion saved.
Coordinating minister for the economy and minister of finance Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who made these known yesterday, stated that she has already referred the issue to the ICPC for further investigation so that any identified culprits can face the full wrath of the law.
Okonjo-Iweala also noted yesterday, in a statement signed by her special adviser, Paul Nwabuikwu, that contrary to some media reports, the ministry did not reject any requests for information from civil society groups on appropriations and statutory transfers, insisting that there was no basis for rejecting any legitimate requests for information on allocations to any government ministry or agency.
Accordingly, her ministry through the Budget Office of the Federation, was currently collating the details of the transfers to the agencies listed and would soon make them available to the public in compliance with a recent court order.
"In obedience to the recent court judgement, the ministry, through the Budget Office of the Federation, is collating the details of appropriations and statutory transfers to the National Assembly, the Independent National Electoral Commission, National Judicial Council, the Niger Delta Development Commission, Universal Basic Education and National Human Rights Commission for publication. These agencies are all on first-line charge to the Federation Account and therefore the ministry must work with them to obtain the necessary information," she said. "It is public knowledge that the ministry has consistently implemented a policy of transparency and accountability in the management of the economy and public finances. This is demonstrated in the monthly publication of allocations to the three tiers of government, regular updates on the status of funding of SURE-P programmes, payments to oil marketers for verified imports of petroleum products as well as other information."
She also denied the allegations that the Budget Office of the Federation and other agencies have the highest proportion of ghost workers in the country. "This is an obvious misrepresentation of facts. The Budget Office was one of the pioneer agencies on the IPPIS platform since 2006 and, through biometrics and other processes, ghost workers have been eliminated from its payroll for about seven years now. The failure to give a time frame to this allegation was obviously done in bad faith to give a negative impression."
The minister reiterated that the Federal Ministry of Finance will, in line with its statutory mandate and international best practice, continue to manage the finances of the country transparently and accountably.