Workers on a construction site in Nigeria. © 123RF
Workers on a construction site in Nigeria. © 123RF

Nigeria exposes 24,000 'ghost workers'

posted by Anna Scott
3 March 2016

Almost 24,000 “ghost workers” have been removed from the Nigerian government’s payroll after it used bank numbers to identify duplicate and other irregular entries.

Working with the Central Bank of Nigeria and Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement, the Federal Ministry of Finance used bank verification numbers (BVN) – numbers that identify every bank customer – to capture more than 30 million biometric and personal data records.

This data was then crosschecked against the Federal Government’s payroll in order to identify any inconsistencies, including duplicate payments, installments to dormant accounts, multiple deposits to a single account holder and non-matching of data provided, according to a statement from the Ministry of Finance.

The exercise is expected to save the government 2.3bn naira every month on its wage bill, Reuters reported.

The project began in response to the “slow pace of progress” in enrolling all public sector staff on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), with only 20% of employees listed on the system in the five years since it was introduced.

Finance minister Kemi Adeosun said that the Nigerian government was committed to “scrutinising its largest single expense item” – payroll – which accounts for more than 40% of its expenditure.

“We are therefore determined that everyone who collects a salary form the Federal Purse is on the IPPIS system,” she said.

“Using BVN has simplified and accelerated the progress of the project and at a lower cost than previously incurred,” Adeosun added. “We believe that the use of BVN rather than requiring physical presentation as a first-line check on the integrity of our payroll is a cost-effective and efficient measure. This will accelerate the pace of enrolment on IPPIS as well as identify anomalies which can be flagged for further investigation and review.”

The announcement comes after Nigeria’s president Muhammadu Buhari said in his budget speech last month that the Finance Ministry would set up a “Continuous Audit” team with the sole function of undertaking detailed, programmed audits on payroll, and strengthening controls.

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