The Federal Government says it has rid its payroll of 50,000 ghost workers and saved Nigeria 200 billion Naira.
The government also disclosed that 13 billion Naira has been taken off the payroll monthly from February to December 2016.
The spokesman to the President, Mr Garba Shehu, made the announcement at an interactive meeting with reporters on Tuesday to mark the end the year.
Mr Garba revealed that 11 persons championing the syndicate of ghost workers have been handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for interrogation.
“The flagship programme of the Muhammadu Buhari administration to rid the system of fraud and instill good governance is on course. Through a notable initiative, the Efficiency Unit of the Federal Ministry of Finance, the government has embarked on the continuous auditing of the salaries and wages of government departments.
“When the committee was constituted in February 2016, the Federal Government monthly salary bill was 151 billion Naira, excluding pensions. Now the monthly salary warrant is 138 billion Naira, excluding pensions. Which means that the government is making a monthly saving of about 13 billion Naira (that is from February 2016 till date),” said the President’s spokesman.
Mr Shehu added that “the pension bill was 15.5 billion Naira monthly as at February. Now it is down to 14.4 billion Naira, which means average monthly saving made is of about 1.1 billion Naira”.
He said that the total number of ghost workers so far removed from the payroll was about 50,000, stressing that some of those allegedly championing the syndicate of the ghost workers were already undergoing trial.
Federal Government Adoptees
Mr Shehu further noted that the recently-released 21 Chibok girls were being treated as adoptees of the Federal Government, but revealed that there was a lot of local and international interest in the future plans of the girls.
“A black American billionaire, Mr Robert Smith, who is currently sponsoring the education of 24 girls from Chibok, among them the first set of escapees from Boko Haram at the American University of Nigeria, Yola has offered to pay for the education of the 21 released through negotiations and is offering to take responsibility for all the others who will hopefully be eventually set free. The Murtala Mohammed Foundation in the country is equally interested,” he said.
Shehu also responded to complaints by some of the parents of the 21 Chibok Girls that they did not have enough room for interaction with their daughters brought home for Christmas by the Department of State Services (DSS).
He admitted that there were some hitches arising from a lack of understanding of the objective of the trip on the part of some security operatives but that following the receipt of the complaint, a directive had been given from the headquarters for the access by the parents to be eased.
“If the situation persists, please let us know so that the higher authorities will make a further intercession,” he stated.
Issue Of Interest In APC
The President’s aide also addressed an issue of interest to a lot of the members of the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) concerning appointments into boards.
He assured the public that the process would be fully back on track at the beginning of the new year.
“You know that the reconstitution began methodically, from sector by sector. You should expect that to resume at the beginning of the New Year. The President has given directions on what to do,” he told reporters.
Favorable Environment For Diversification
On the agricultural programmes of the administration, Mr Shehu said that President Muhammadu Buhari’s persistent call for a return to farming was yielding good results.
“The talk about agriculture has driven people to the farm. This year, there is a huge boom in the rural economy. We have witnessed an excellent harvest. Farmers are getting value for their output. What has encouraged farmers the more is the increasing availability of extension services. New farming techniques are helping farmers to do their occupation better. The readiness of off takers to buy the produce is also a major boost.
“When you put all these together with the systematic move to curb importation, as they boost local production through the restriction of the available foreign exchange to critically important sectors of the economy, you have favorable environment for the diversification of the economy.
“As we speak, several of the country’s major manufacturing industries are actively backward-integrating- Nestle, Unilever, the breweries are using what we have as local materials, changing their formulations to maintain production levels and keep their share of the market.
“Manufacturers, who are hooked on import of raw materials, are advised to re-strategise and take full advantage of local raw materials. The future belongs to those who employ the use of local raw materials,” the spokesman added.