By Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
The Ekiti State Government has discovered fraud amounting to N19.3 million being allegedly lost to ghost workers in the 16 local government areas of the state on monthly basis.
This was contained in the report of an 11-member Committee on Local Government Staff Verification set up by Governor Kayode Fayemi.
The committee’s report said the amount represents salaries and emoluments drawn monthly by 362 ghost workers discovered in the just concluded verification exercise, which was submitted to Fayemi in his office on Tuesday.
Sensing that some people were allegedly hiding under ghost workers to pilfer the state’s resources, the government had early in the year set up the 11-member committee and seven-member sub- committee to investigate the issue of ghost workers in a bid to block financial loopholes in the local government system.
Presenting the report, the Co-Chairman of the Committee and Commissioner for Local Government Affairs, Prof. Adio Folayan, said: “The 362 absentee workers were discovered on the payroll of the local government service after thorough screening and verification.”
Applauding the committee, Fayemi expressed joy over the professional manner the body handled the exercise, promising to study the reports as well as the recommendations.
The governor said the bulk of the money accruing into the state coffers goes into payment of salaries and emolument, adding that government had to look for creative ways to ensure provision of amenities such as good roads, improved education system, better healthcare services, safe environment and empowerment.
He said the money recovered into the state coffer from the ghost workers would be used to attend to other government obligations to workers in the state.
Stressing that government has a duty to block all financial leakages in the system, Fayemi instructed the Head of Service, Mrs Peju Babfemi, to use her experience in supporting the Local Government Service Commission in ensuring improved consistency in their payrolls.
He said: “This is a matter we need to look into. You can’t sit in Lagos and be earning salaries in Ekiti for work you have not done. But it is our duty to stop that from happening, it is not the duty of the person that is cheating the system.
“The resources available to us is limited, we all know this. Some pretend not to know but anyone that has a limited knowledge of government finances will know that already we spent a bulk of what comes to this state on emolument and we have many people who are not public servants or political appointees, yet they too expect that government will touch their lives. The only way we can touch their lives is to fix the road in their community, improve on their schools and their health facilities and that would provide empowerment for them in their community, if we can’t find money to do that.
“After this exercise, the committee said they saved N19.2 million on a monthly basis, imagine where that will go. N19.2 million on a monthly basis is almost N400 million on an annual basis that is coming back to the coffers of the state.
“That will build two schools conveniently of the type that we have just built. It will meet the obligations that we have to workers in certain areas that are in dire needs of recruitment of workers whether they are health workers or teachers.
“I want to commend you and the chairman of Local Government Service Commission and the entire members, I am glad that NULGE was part of this, I am particularly happy that you included NULGE in the process. It is in the overall interest of the workers.”