By the Blouin News Politics staff

Nigeria cleaning out ghost workers, fraud in federal gov’t

by in Africa.

Nigerian stamps with an anti-corruption message. (Source: Richard Claxton/flickr)

Nigerian stamps promoting anti-corruption. (Source: Richard Claxton/flickr)

Nigeria’s top anti-corruption official announced on Tuesday that 37,395 ghost workers had been detected on the payroll of the country’s federal civil service. Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Ibrahim Magu noted that while procurement fraud is widespread throughout governmental agencies, the issue of ghost workers is a serious one that is just starting to get unearthed.

The federal government lost over $5 million to them recently, according to current investigations by the EFCC, and Magu added “The figure will definitely increase as we unravel more ghost workers buried deep in the federal civil service payrolls.”

Blouin News has previously covered President Muhammadu Buhari’s zest for rooting out corruption in the government, making up for the “sickening” extent of graft during his predecessor’s rule. ($19 billion, or nearly half of the state oil company’s alleged revenue since 2012, did not make it into the government’s excess revenue account, and was apparently lost to corruption.) Buhari’s efforts are commendable, but corruption is so pervasive in Nigeria that they will take time to fully bear fruit.

Far from overwhelmed, the EFCC is ramping up its efforts. Magu added that the commission established a procurement fraud unit to handle the increasing number of petitions relating to such violations. Next will be suggestion boxes placed at designated locations for people to drop petitions and reports of corruption. And the audit of federal payrolls will continue through the end of the year to get an accurate count of real workers entitled to salaries.

These strategies fit right in with two of the key recommendations from the 2015 BCLS panel Global Corruption: Causes and Consequences: tackle all levels of corruption, not just the big fish, and have open tenders for public procurement, which will result in overall lower costs without corruption.

This housecleaning is long overdue.