RECENTLY, the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate, PTAD, disclosed that it discovered over 4,000 ghost pensioners among the 20,000 police pensioners it inherited. According to PTAD, the ghost pensioners were discovered during the ongoing pensioners’ verification and biometric data capturing exercise in Benin, Edo State.
The verification exercise was for pensioners who retired from Federal Government agencies in Edo and Delta states.
Similarly, in March last year, after integrating the payroll of the Nigeria Police Force into the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System, IPPIS, the Federal Government had said it discovered 80,115 ghost officers on the force’s payroll.
The ghost workers syndrome in the civil and public services at all levels has been with us for a long time.
It is clear that the Nigeria Police is not the only government institution crawling with ghost workers. The Civil Service at all levels reeks of these non-existent workers planted by senior officers who are in positions to manipulate the payrolls.
There is no doubt that if the IPPIS dragnet is routinely run through all Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs, a whole lot more of these ghosts siphoning public funds will be discovered and removed from the payrolls.
The problem of ghost workers is like a monstrous vampire sucking the life out of Nigeria’s economy. After four years of managing the affairs of this country, it is expected that one of the cardinal achievements of President Muhammadu Buhari who was mainly elected for his promise to kill corruption in Nigeria, would have been to weed out ghost workers from the payroll by now.
It is unfortunate that the Nigeria Police Force which cites poor funding as a major reason for its poor performance should be a conduit through which vital financial resources of our commonwealth are siphoned. Surely, this has huge implications for the prevailing insecurity in the country.
It is also curious that no one has so far been put in the dock for this heinous crime. It is surprising that the anti-graft agencies have not yet devised sting operations to apprehend those benefiting from this horrific act of corruption.
With little or no efforts, perpetrators of this crime can be fished out and made to pay the price. Instead, the anti-graft agencies seem more interested in politically-exposed cases involving fund recoveries which generate more media sensation.
We, therefore, call on the President, Governors and local government chairmen to swing into action and rid the country of ghost workers.
The IPPIS is an excellent testimony of the wonders that can be achieved through the use of technology in fighting corruption, especially at the preventive end.
Governments should run the IPPIS through their payrolls every month to catch the perpetrators on time, and free up more funds to fix our infrastructure deficit.