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Nigeria discovers 24,000 ‘ghost workers’ on public payroll

A new verification system uncovered federal government salaries being paid to people who do not exist



LAGOS, Nigeria—Nigeria’s Finance Ministry says it is cutting 24,000 ghost workers from the national payroll, saving $11.5 million a month.

A new bank verification system helped uncover frauds with federal government salaries being paid to people who do not exist and some civil servants receiving salaries from multiple agencies, according to a Feb. 29 statement from Festus Akanbi, the spokesman for the minister of finance.

The 24,000 make up 7.5 per cent of the 312,000 names so far checked in an ongoing exercise to root out corruption, he said, but was reluctant to give a figure for the total workforce until the verification exercise is complete.

In addition, the Military Pension Board has stopped payments to more than 19,200 personnel found to have died since the last audit in 2012, Akanbi said.

Shortly before Nigeria’s government changed last year, an independent commission against corrupt practices reported discovering 45,000 ghost workers just in the federal ministry of finance.

Federal workers’ salaries, the biggest item on the budget, account for more than 40 per cent of Nigerian government expenditure, Akanbi said.

Any money saved will mean less borrowing abroad and at home to fund Nigeria’s expanded budget for 2016, he explained.

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