Home News Panic, Personnel Audit Fishes Out Over 3,000 Ghost Workers In Cross River?

Panic, Personnel Audit Fishes Out Over 3,000 Ghost Workers In Cross River?


Gov. Bassey Otu

The Cross River state government current personnel audit exercise may have fished out over 3,000 ghost workers in the state civil service so far if reports reaching Pillar Today is anything to go by.

Faced with serious financial challenges resulting from accumulated debts, huge wage bills, deductions from the Federation Account to service debts, the state governor, Senator Bassey Otu in the twilight of his administration engaged a personnel audit firm to look into the actual staff strength of the state civil service and the local governments.

So far the official report of the personnel audit is not out yet but top sources told Pillar Today that “findings so far is on the high side . From the state civil service alone, I think we may have about 3,000 ghost workers. The figure may increase or reduce by the time that of the local governments is added and inputs gotten from labour is gotten “.

For now the audit firm has completed documentation and physical verification in the state civil service and has moved to the local governments for physical capturing.

Recall that in a press briefing to mark his 100 days in office, Governor Otu had raised an alarm regarding civil servants huge wage bill.

“We discovered that a whole lots are retiring but the salary bill keeps on increasing. There is need to do a proper audit to ascertain the exact number so that part of the politicians who have the qualifications, can be taken as civil servants, and the rest can be appointed, I think it is only there and then that we would be able to strike a balance and we have gone very far with that”, he added. 

Although the governor did not give figures of suspected ghost workers but said that, “the number of ghost workers we have (in the state) is outrageous but I believe not too long from now, we would be taking that particular exercise to a very logical conclusion”.

He had expressed concerns with the low finances of the state saying huge debt was a major factor as the state recorded deficit allocation from the Federation Account in his first two months in office.

“We have succeeded in restructuring our debt because that was the first issue that confronted us as a government which almost threw us to the ground and that was judgement debts, and the one that was most threatening was the (Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) debt. 

“By the time we finished discussions with the federal government, it became clear that we are not going to have anything for a very long time and suffice to say that ever since I came to this office in May, in June, we had a negative ₦1.9 billion deficit after allocation and in the second month we had about ₦480 million deficit. When it is negative like that, it means we even have to look for money to balance up, not to talk of Irrevocable Standing Payment Order (ISPO), talk less of salaries and other responsibilities but God has been helping us, we have been managing and we will come out of it very soon”, Otu said.

Findings from Pillar Today has shown that the issue of ghost workers and huge wage bill has always been a challenge to the government as in September 2021, the immediate past Governor of the state, Senator Ben Ayade had declared war against ghost workers in the state as the then Head of Service, Mrs Geralden Akpet-Ekanem was being sworn in.

Ayade, charged Akpet-Ekanem to hit the ground running, reminding her that “as head of service, one of the greatest challenges before you is to fish out ghostworkers.”

Disclosing the staggering figure he inherited as pension,  amounting to about N340 million per month, the governor said “today that figure stands at about N740 million per month. I do not understand that increment of over N400 million especially when you juxtapose it with the fact that I met a civil service wage bill of about N1.2 billion rising to N1.6 billion and now standing at about N2.1 billion.

According to Ayade, “It is expected that when pension is increasing, salary is supposed to be reducing. But to have an increase in the wage bill in terms of salaries, increase in pension, while the employment regime just accounts for less than N 200 million is difficult to understand. It really calls for a thorough investigation. So I implore you to use your professional and educational background as a trained lawyer, your-self discipline from the heritage of a decent family and check the level of manipulation of our payroll system.”

Similarly, in April 2017, the former Chairman of the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Senator Stephen Odey had disclosed that the state government has fished out1,458 ghost and fake teachers in its system.

Odey who is now the Commissioner for Education in the state had in a briefing then with newsmen said out of this total figure, 700 ghostworkers were discovered under its pay roll while 758 teachers were fished out with fake National Certificate for Education (NCE).

With the discovery of the 700 ghost workers in the board’s payroll, the state would now be saving over N 60 million monthly, Odey said adding that the board has granted amnesty to the teachers with fake certificate by asking them to go back to school and get genuine certificates required for teaching

He said this discovery was a fall out of the personnel audit and biometrics across the 18 local government areas of the state following a mandate given to him by the state governor, Senator Ben Ayade to
sanitise the educational system.

Commenting on current personnel audit by the state government, the State Chairman of the Trade Union Congress, (TUC), Comrade Monday Ogbodum in a phone interview said, “nothing much has happened but they have commenced the audit in the northern local government district. When the last audit was done, those on the local government payroll submitted their document, they are now left with image capturing. They just started the process in the North, which will take them a week before they come to the south and Central. They had finished with the state workers”.

He said “the final report is not yet out because it is the same consultants that are handling this. The information on the assumed number of ghost workers in the state cannot be correct, for now, until we give our final report when we conclude our findings. Even in the office of the Head of Service, the list of civil servants who were not captured were asked to wait until when they conclude with the local government.

“We cannot rule out the fact that there are ghost workers, and those working in two places in the state and we find most of these happenings more in the local government sector than in the state service”.

The TUC Chairman however advised the state government “not be in a hurry to publish whatever figure they have or whatever information the consultants have given to them. Due diligence should be done before giving the final report of the total number of ghost workers”.


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