Yes! This is not hearsay. I actually saw and heard our lovely Minister of Finance, articulate, English accent (possibly Cockney), while defending her budget before the Senate say that by the introduction of the Bank Verification Number they discovered twenty three thousand ghost workers in the service of the Federal Government of Nigeria. Incredible! Oh Nigeria!
If she said it who am I not to believe her? Twenty three thousand ghost workers! I got my calculator out. Let us assume that the twenty three thousand were collecting minimum wage – we know that cannot be possible but we leave that for later. 23,000 x N18,000  = N414,000,000.00 monthly. That is what we have been losing?

But lowest paid workers may not be in the position to manipulate the federal pay roll. They will simply not have access to the computers and records in the appropriate offices to do that. Higher officers must be involved, managers, directors, assistant directors and so on. And these people earn substantially more than minimum wage. So if we believe her figures we could have been losing up to a billion a month to these ghost directors, ghost assistant directors and perhaps ghost director generals!  Of course we have not been shown any of these ghost workers. After all, ghosts are invisible. They cannot be arrested. But thank God we have removed their ghost mouths from the milk bottle – the national cake. We must congratulate ourselves.
But lest we rejoice too much too soon there must still be thousands of other ghosts to be fished out – in the thirty six states, seven hundred and seventy four local governments, the national assembly, the senate and the Abuja Capital Territory. The Federal Government recently bailed out several states of the Federation with billions of naira to meet salary arrears. I hope these states are not using this money to pay ghosts too. Each state should come out and tell us how many ghosts they have fished out, correction, stopped from eating part of our national cake. After all, Bank Verification Numbers also apply to workers in the states and local governments.

I listened to some trade unionists challenging the Honourable Minister to arrest and produce some of the ghost workers. This is surprising. They should know that ghosts are invisible and cannot be produced. But this is Nigeria, you never know. 

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