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BVN: Finance Ministry uncovers 23,000 Federal Ghost Workers

Ayodele Afolabi, Abuja

Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun on Thursday disclosed that the introduction of Biometric Verification Number (BVN) and biometric capturing of federal civil servants have uncovered 23,000 Ghost Workers on federal government payroll.

Adeosun who told Senate Committee on Finance at a budget defence session at the National Assembly  that the 23,000 ghost workers uncovered would be handed over to Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), lamented  that the ghost worker syndrome had caused very serious leakage to the country’s revenue system.

‎She added that banks that connived with the workers to pad the Federal government payroll are going to be prosecuted too and the committee members concurred, by urging her along with the Attorney-General of the federation, to fast track action in that respect.

“‎What the IPPIS-BVN registration has shown us has been a real revelation, we have identified that there are people who appear on our payroll multiple times.

“BVN links all the accounts of that person, so we are seeing in our payroll, 20 names to one BVN number. We have had a meeting on how we are going to clean them off, the process will be that we will suspend that person from the payroll pending the investigation.

As we speak now, we have about 23,000 that we need to investigate: those whom either the BVN is linked to multiple payment or the name on the BVN account is not consistent with the name on our own payroll.

“If we are able to get everybody onto the BVN platform, we will be able to save a considerable amount of personnel cost. Not only will we remove those people from our payroll, but we will also be going after the banks involved to collect our money.

“So some of the information that we are getting is how long has this person been on the pay roll, how much has he been getting.

“In some getting the accounts are held by the same bank and in some cases all were opened on the same day.

“If we are able to prove that banks have colluded with people to pad our payroll, we are not only going to stop those payments but we are also going to try and recover our money”. She said

When asked what will happen to defaulting Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs)‎, the minister said:

“My job is to get them off our payroll, what happens from there on goes to the investigative agencies; we will pass our files onto them and they will take a decision as to what sanctions they will take.

“Mine is that I do not want to pay them anymore and whatever they have taken must come back, so we are going to hand our files onto EFCC and the relevant agencies.”

Adeosun also explained how the use of the Banks Verification Number (BVN) had assisted the Integrated Payroll Personnel Information System (IPPIS) in checking against ghost worker syndrome.

“The IPPIS programme funded by World Bank started about five years ago and what it required was for every officer to come physically for biometric data capture.

“Over the five years unfortunately we have only been able to capture about 295,000 federal civil servants which represent less than 20 per cent of the total personnel on the federal pay roll.

“We realized that if we can get more people on IPPIS, our salary costs will come down and so we needed to get more people on IPPIS.

“So I looked critically at it with the director of IPPIS and we decided to change the strategy, rather than getting the person to come physically which has always been the problem we will take the payroll that we have and the bank account of everybody who is being paid.
So from that bank account we will get the BVN, from the BVN we can get the biometric data, so that considerably accelerated the process of getting people unto IPPIS.

“I can tell you that within the last two months that we have been on this programme we have been able to enroll 320,000 onto IPPIS using BVN, that is compared to 295,000 in five years.

“We are very confident with our programme that we will now be able to get every federally paid civil servant onto IPPIS by June, we are aggressively chasing after June.”‎



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