The Nigerian Government saved N200 billion by eliminating 50,000 ghost workers from its payroll this year, the Presidency said yesterday.
Between February and this month, N13 billion was taken off the payroll monthly.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, said 11 leaders of the syndicate behind the ghost workers had been handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
He said: “The flagship programme of the Muhammadu Buhari administration to rid the system of fraud and instill good governance is on course. Through a notable initiative, the Efficiency Unit of the Federal Ministry of Finance has embarked on the continuous auditing of the salaries and wages of government departments.
“When the Committee was constituted in February 2016, the Federal Government monthly wage bill was N151 billion, excluding pensions. Now the monthly salary warrant is N138 billion, excluding pensions; which means that the government is making a monthly saving of about N13 billion. That is from February 2016 to date.”
“The pension bill was N15.5b monthly as at February. Now it is down to N14.4 billion, which means average monthly saving is about N1.1 billion.” he said
He said 50,000 ghost workers had been removed from the payroll and that 11 leaders of the ghost workers syndicate had been referred to the EFCC. Some of them, he said were undergoing trial.
On the welfare of the recently-released 21 Chibok Girls, Shehu said they were being treated as adoptees of the Federal Government adding that there is a lot of local and international interest in their future plans.
He said: “A black American billionaire, Mr. Robert Smith, who is sponsoring the education of 24 girls from Chibok, among them the first set of escapees from Boko Haram at the American University of Nigeria, Yola, has offered to pay for the education of the 21 freed girls through negotiations and is offering to take responsibility for all the others who will hopefully be eventually set free. The Murtala Mohammed Foundation in the country is equally interested,”
Responding to complaints by some of the parents of the 21 girls that they did not have enough room for interaction with their daughters brought home for Christmas by security men, the presidential spokesmen admitted that there were some hitches arising from a lack of understanding of the objective of the trip on the part of some security operatives but that following the receipt of the complaint, a directive had been given from the headquarters for access by the parents to be eased.
“If the situation persists, please let us know so that the higher authorities will make a further intercession,” he assured.
Shehu said appointments into boards of government agencies would be on track in the New Year.
“You know that the reconstitution (of board membership) began methodically, from sector by sector. You should expect that to resume at the beginning of the New Year. The President has given directions on what to do”, he stated
On the agricultural programmes of the administration, Shehu said the President’s persistent calls for a return to farming were yielding good results.
“The talk about agriculture has driven people to the farm. This year, there is a huge boom in the rural economy. We have witnessed an excellent harvest. Farmers are getting value for their output. What has encouraged farmers the more is the increasing availability of extension services. New farming techniques are helping farmers to do their occupation better. The readiness to buy the produce is also a major boost.
“When you put all these together with the systematic move to curb importation as a boost to local production through the restriction of the available foreign exchange to critically important sectors of the economy, you have favourable environment for the diversification of the economy.
“As we speak, several of the country’s major manufacturing industries are actively backward-integrating- Nestle, Unilever, the breweries are looking at what we have as local materials, changing their formulations to maintain production levels and keep their share of the market. Manufacturers who are hooked on import of raw materials are advised to re-strategise and take full advantage of local raw materials. The future belongs to those who employ the use of local raw materials,” Shehu said.