Yekini Jimoh in Lokoja
Kogi State Government has successfully saved N1.3 billion monthly and N16.6 billion annually after the staff screening exercise from which 18,211 ghost workers were discovered.
This was made known monday during the final presentation of the workers’ screening exercise report to the state Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, at Government House in Lokoja.
According to the report, the state and local government workers were put at 88,973, while the screening committee screened and cleared 63,870 workers.
The report added that a total of 18, 211 ghost workers were discovered after the exercise.
The governor, while receiving the report from the Back-up Committee jointly led by the state Auditor General, Alhaji Yusufu Okala, and that of the Local Governments, Mallam Usman Ahmed Ododo, said his administration had put a permanent stop to ghost workers phenomenon and non-residents, non-identifiable workers syndrome.
Bello said the screening exercise is the first layer of civil service reform which his administration intended to embark up on, adding that he is determined to reposition the civil service to play a vital role of facilitator in the economic drive growth in the state.
The governor noted that his government would not rest until ghost workers are completely removed from its payroll as he also pledged to ensure that all the funds of the state that were carted away would be recovered.
The governor said it would be unfair to spend the state’s resources on only two percent of its population, saying: “We are putting a permanent end to ghost workers syndrome.”
Bello however blamed the organised labour in the state for attempting to hold his government down over its efforts at sanitising the civil service.
Earlier, the Auditor General, Mr. Yusuf Okala, explained that no fewer than 88, 973 people were on the payrolls as at the time the screening exercise commenced with a monthly wage bill of N5.84 billion.
He however said upon the conclusion of the screening exercise, 63, 870 workers were cleared, reducing the wage bill to N4. 443billion.
The development showed that N1. 365 billion was being paid to ghost workers and unintended beneficiaries every month.
According to him, the exercise showed that N213. 034 billion has been lost in the last 13 years to non-existent workers.
He added that the screening exercise showed that the people in this category include those offered employment before the creation of the state, diaspora workers, non-existent workers, double/multiple employment among others.
The auditor general said the committee screened workers in state ministry, department and agency, local government departments, local government education authorities, state and local government pensioners.
He however noted that the exercise was not completely perfect as there was infiltration by the organised labour with the intention of embarrassing the state government.
Okala also said the committee had recommended that those found culpable in the looting of the state through ghost workers syndrome should be prosecuted.