States lose billions to ghost teachers, schools

No Comments » August 5th, 2016 posted by // Categories: Nigeriawatch



 

States lose billions to ghost teachers, schools

 August 5, 2016

Folashade Adebayo

The gale of staff audits and verification exercises at the local, state and Federal Government levels has uncovered thousands of ghost teachers and ghost schools who have reportedly fleeced successive administrations of billions of naira.

Our correspondent gathered that the scam, which also involved ghost pensioners and other categories of civil servants, were perpetrated with sundry methodologies, including working with fake certificates, injecting the names of minors into government payroll or posing as Diaspora workers. In one instance, the Plateau State Government traced 1,832 teachers to one individual.

In June, some 250 ghost teachers were said to have been uncovered in Ebonyi State, with 57 others reportedly on double salaries. Similarly, the Enugu State Post-Primary School Management Board announced the discovery of 212 ghost teachers, just as the Niger State Government also declared recently that 22 ghostschools have been benefitting from state funds.

However, Benue State appears to lead the pack, with the announcement, last year, that as many as 10,000 ghost teachers and 80 ghost schools were on its payroll.

Faced with dwindling federal allocation and the inability to pay workers, many state governments are resorting to auditing of their payrolls to reduce wage bills and tame fiscal expenses. Findings by our correspondent show that the development has given rise to stringent recruitment and screening measures.

But the states are not alone. The Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit, headed by Mr. Mohammed Dikwa had, last month, told journalists that a scrutiny of finances of federal ministries, departments and agencies had led to the discovery of ghost workers, including ghost teachers who had collectively fleeced the Federal Government of N6.4bn monthly.

“In terms of ‘ghost’ workers, we have found about 43,000 ‘ghost’ workers so far and as of May 30, we had N4.2bn that is saved on a monthly basis. But as of June 30, we were able to make more recoveries of N2.2bn, which has led to an additional savings of N6.4bn monthly,’’ he had said.

In Adamawa, the Commissioner of Finance, Mr. Mahmood Yunusa, said a recent verification exercise showed that there were 12,000 ghost workers, including teachers, in the state who lined their pockets with N500m state money every month.

Similarly, the Kogi State Government had, last month, announced that N213bn has been lost to 18,000 ghostworkers, inclusive of teachers in 13 years. An indignant Governor Yahaya Bello had expressed shock, vowing that the verification exercise which exposed the fraud would continue.

“My administration was amazed at the level of corruption going on in the state where only two per cent of the population was sharing the entire resources meant for the whole state with a population of over three million. The state under my watch will be making super efforts to ensure that genuine and hardworking citizens of the state were paid as at when due. The backup review exercise will be ongoing until the state civil service is totally fee from ghost worker syndrome,” the governor promised.

However, the Nigerian Union of Teachers has called on state governments to prosecute anyone caught in the scam. The president of the association, Mr. Michael Alogba-Olukoya, who spoke in a telephone interview with our correspondent on Thursday, decried repeated verification exercises by the states, which he said had not resulted in prosecution.

“I am not in support of monthly verification exercises; it should be a bi-annual thing because when you have fraud thriving in state despite the monthly verification exercises, then the system should be overhauled.  What has come out of the monthly exercises being done in various states? How many people have been prosecuted? This is government talking from the two sides of the mouth.

“We have always maintained that any clique, any staff, no matter how powerful, that is caught in the web of fraud should be prosecuted. The governors should exhibit political courage and determination to prosecute the offenders. The moment this is done, we will begin to see the end of the trend.

“And when you talk about ghost schools, where are the school managers? Have school management departments been doing their work? Do they have all the resources to work with? Why should a ghost school be discovered only at the point of verification? It shows that supervision from the government is not there,” he said.

Also, an educationist, Mr. Nelson Ayodele, has called on state government to embrace electronic registration, which he opined would eliminate scam in the payment system. He added that using the Biometric Verification Numbers used by banks would assist in eliminating payment fraud in the system.

“There is an urgent need for re-registration or accreditation of teachers in the employ of state governments. It should also be an electronic registration. Right now, every teacher should have a BVN. I also think that there should be a monitoring team that would ensure that teachers on the payroll are physically present,” he said.

But, as far as Mrs. Bimbo Obasuyi, another educationist is concerned, there should be a re-orientation of all Nigerians to embrace the values of integrity and honesty.

“Even if you have electronic registration, it will be subject to fraud and abuse. The machine will not operate itself. Humans will upload and download information on it. So, this is a fundamental problem and it cuts across all sectors. We are losing our values of integrity and honesty. What we need is re-orientation,” she said.

 

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