By Amos Aar
BENUE State governor, Rev. Fr Hyacinth Alia, is reported to have removed two thousand, five hundred alleged ghost workers from the state’s payroll.
Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Tersoo Kula, who made this known in a statement on Thursday said the delay in the payment of salaries of teachers and local government workers was occasioned by government’s efforts to sanitise the payroll.
Apart from the issue of alleged ghost workers and ‘ghost schools’, other reasons said to be responsible for the delay in the salary payment include ‘salary padding’, ‘double dipping’, unlawful employment among others.
The statement however is silent on how much has been saved from the cleansing exercise.
According to the statement, workers who have been successfully screened will receive their salaries before the end of this week.
The statement reads: “Benue State Governor, Hyacinth Alia, expresses regrets over the delay in payment of salaries of teachers in primary and secondary schools, as well as the local government staff.
“The governor says the decision for the delay in the payment of salaries of the above-mentioned workers was taken after the government discovered mindless padding of the wage bill and other fraudulent manipulations on their payroll.
“The Governor says the decision became necessary after the discovery to enable the government sanitize and cleanse the payroll; to ascertain the true wage bill of the state and to know the genuine workers that are worth their wages.
“He reveals that the first phase of an extensive staff verification and payroll audit for all teachers and local government staff has just been concluded, and it has already uncovered over 2500 ghost workers that have already been removed from the payroll.
“He identifies ghost workers, ghost schools, double dipping, unlawful employment, salary padding, payment to dead or retired individuals, unlawful replacement, inflation of the wage bill, as some of the payroll infractions discovered from the audit.
“He assures that, workers who were successfully screened will receive their salaries before the end of this week, noting that government is not only fishing out ghosts workers and removing the padding associated with payroll fraud, but also putting in measures to ensure the systems are protected going forward”.