The Benue State Government has attributed the issues of salary padding, ghost workers syndrome, double dipping, and inflation of the state’s wage bill to influential civil servants. The state government recently revealed that, following the initial phase of screening conducted by the administration, more than 2,500 ghost workers were identified on the payroll.
Mr. Tersoo Kula, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, expressed his concern during a meeting with members of the Correspondents Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, and Benue State Council. He emphasized that the discoveries made during the screening process were quite alarming, with some individuals receiving substantial monthly salaries despite not performing government duties.
He said, “At the end of the first phase of screening carried out by the government, over 2,500 ghost workers were discovered on the payroll. These are people who exist only on the Payment Vouchers, PVs.
“Some were seen drawing salaries from different Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs, of government. Their names are on the PVs of these different MDAs.
“The people in the civil service are the ones perpetrating this. These are people who collect millions of Naira when their salaries are paid.
“These are the set of people who may come out to claim that they have not been paid so far. But I can assure you that Governor Hyacinth Alia is not ruling out the possibility of handing this group of persons to anti-graft agencies.”
The Chief Press Secretary (CPS) revealed that the government plans to initiate the next phase of the screening process to completely cleanse the system. He highlighted that Governor Alia is a reformist, and as such, reformists often face opposition as they strive to bring about positive changes.
“And in the process of reforming the system, people might go through some initial difficulties, but all that would disappear in no time, and everyone would enjoy and be happier for it.”
Mr. Kula provided reassurance that the administration was committed in addressing the issue of insecurity in the state, and they are doing so in cooperation with traditional rulers. He mentioned that the government is implementing measures to revive community meetings in various localities across the state. These meetings will empower local leaders and residents to take charge of their areas and, if needed, report suspicious activities to the security agencies.
Mr. Kula acknowledged journalists’ vital role in society and expressed the government’s commitment to fostering a harmonious working relationship with media practitioners in the state.
The leader of the delegation and Chairman of the Chapel, Mr. Emmanuel Antswem, stated that their visit to the office was to congratulate Mr. Kula as a former Chairman of the Chapel and introduce the new leadership to him. He encouraged Mr. Kula to remain accessible to the media, so they can seek clarifications and confirmations on matters related to the Governor’s policies.