Not Enough: Nigeria’s Fight Against Ghost Workers is Weak

Kemi Adeosun

As Nigeria apparently ramps up its fight against corruption, the world will still not take us serious if the major pillars of corruption is not totally destroyed and purged, hence the menace of ghost workers.

On average, Nigeria pays N18,000 ($90.3) monthly as minimum wage. In 12 months, Nigeria must have at least been defrauded of N2.3 billion ($11.9 million) to over 34,000 ghost workers.

Less than two months ago, Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun announced that they discovered about 23,846 ghost workers on the payroll of the federal government. As usual, she threatened that those found culpable will be referred to law enforcement agencies. Not up to a month after her statement, another batch of 11,000 workers were discovered on the payroll. Previous administration claimed they discovered over 60,000 ghost workers and there was no drastic step taking to prosecute the guilty. The new government came to power with a toga of change, there should be a change from impunity to justice. Sadly, as at the time of writing this piece, no concrete direction has been given on when and how this monumental fraud will be brought to justice.

In case you do not comprehend the damage ghost workers have wrecked on the Nigerian economy and people, let us do a simple math and you will be breathless.

On average, Nigeria pays N18,000 ($90.3) monthly as minimum wage. In 12 months, Nigeria must have at least been defrauded of N2.3 billion ($11.9 million) to over 34,000 ghost workers.

On average, Nigeria pays N18,000 ($90.3) monthly as minimum wage. In 12 months, Nigeria must have at least been defrauded of N2.3 billion ($11.9 million) to over 34,000 ghost workers. Working with actual figures on payslips, Nigeria must have lost more than five fold of this amount to ghost workers in just a year. To finally calculate it based on the total number of years the fraud had persisted, will make you dumbfounded.

Based on investigative reports, most ghost workers are basically fictitious names inserted into the payroll systems, the remaining are few individuals who are family and friends of federal civil servants in charge of the system.

The Minister’s decision to only delete the names and issue a mere threat to prosecute perpetrators is not enough. Nigeria’s fight against corruption can only be holistic if such economic fraud is not only stopped but made to face justice and all those found guilty are punished.