Fishing out the Ghost Workers!

by Rev. Uche Dr. Obodoechina

We are living witnesses to the on-going Verification Exercise in most Ministries, Agencies and Parastatals of different states of the Federation including the Federal Capital Territory Abuja. It is about finding out the accurate number of workers in a particular office or establishment. This exercise tries also to establish the accurate statistics of men and women who have retired from such establishments and at what time was their retirement.

Verification exercise seeks to find out whether the salaries and pensions including the gratuities being paid to these workers are genuine. That is to say, whether the recipients of such salaries are actually the persons due. It works to stamp out fraud in such public establishments. In fact it is intended to establish the veracity of claims made and being made by workers.

Against this background is the experience in Nigeria of what is called 'ghost workers'. Ghost workers are the so called workers, but they do not exist in reality. Ghost workers exist in the air. Yet they are being regularly paid. Their names and dossier exist in the payrolls of their respective ministries. This is a difficult experience. Yet a Ghost worker in Nigerian civil service is a common phenomenon.

It is incredible an experience that the names and credentials of such people exist as fake. Yet somebody who is alive and employed probably by the same establishment appropriates such identities and collect the salaries due. It is mind-bugging that such names and information of such non-existent workers are in the official records of the establishment of their employment but they are not actual employees of the same establishments.

Their names are there in the vouchers of payments of the various ministries but they are never there physically in those establishments. This situation raises a whole lot of questions namely, who employed those ghost workers and why are the immediate boss of each establishment unable to establish the accurate number of people in its employment? In fact, it is interesting to find out who benefits from the ghost worker scenario? Can a single person in an office organize such a volume of evil for a very long time? Otherwise will the cat not get out of the bag after one regime? It is difficult to understand this situation. But it exists in Nigeria.

Yes, Nigeria is a complex country. It is a country where virtually everything is possible. It is evident that ghost workers exist in Nigerian civil service. That means, there are Nigerians who are receiving double or triple salaries in a month in the context of the abysmal state of unemployment among Nigerian youths. It is horrible to note that a multitude of Nigerian young men and women are roaming our upper and lower streets seeking for gainful employment without success.

It is an evil that cries for attention. No one single citizen is more important than the other. And Nigeria belongs to all of its citizens. It is therefore urgent. that all the ministries and agencies of government conduct a transparent verification exercise in order to fish out these vagabonds. It possible to condemn the practice but it can linger on afterwards. That is why it is not just enough fishing out the perpetrators of this crime, it is absolutely.

Essential to enact regulatory mechanics and policies, if they do not already exist, guiding against such practices. And if such regulatory policies exist, the culprits of this act should be made to face the wrath of the. law. But it is most unfortunate when those in power and authority of service, whose duty are to ensure order and discipline in public service are found to be the perpetrators of such crimes they are being invited to remedy. This is nothing short of running with the hare and chasing with the hound!

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