My understanding is that a ghost worker is somebody who draws salary at the end of the month from a company, organisation or business where he does not work. In simple terms he steals money at the end of each month from somebody for whom he does not work.
I think it will be difficult for that to happen in a private company. But anything is possible in this neck of the woods, this jungle. It is rampant in the public service and the civil service. Dr Joe Abbah, the Director General of the Beureau of Public Sector Reforms (BPSR) in his interview in the Saturday Vanguard of 23rd April, 2016, enlightens us that the public service includes the army, police, all agencies and parastatals, the teachers, the legislators, the judiciary. Altogether they have a total work force of one point nine million (1,900,000), and I quote, `.. but we expect that the figure will come down when we apply IPPIS across the board. Our own estimate in the Beureau is not more than one point three million (1,300,000).’ On the number of civil servants, those actually working in Ministries he gives the number as eighty nine thousand five hundred and eleven (89,511) who were paid last month. I presume March.
In the Vanguard of Wednesday, April 20, 2016, the chairman of the EFCC said that the Federal Civil Service had 37,395 ghost workers which led to a loss of about one billion naira. He was quoted as saying that `The figures will definitely increase as we unravel more ghost workers buried deep in the Federal Civil Service payrolls.’ I assume he means the public service otherwise he would be contradicting Dr Abbah. In any case there is contradiction. Not only does Abbah say that they had saved the Federal Government N185 billion by weeding out 65,000 ghost workers but the linking of BVN to IPPIS would exposed a further 23,000 ghost workers in the Ministries.
But I am intrigued as to how the loss from 37,395 ghost workers would lead to a loss of about only one billion naira. It assumes that nearly all of them are on minimum wage. Somehow that stretches the imagination. Minimum wage workers are unlikely to have the access to fiddle the accounts. But what is more important is that we have not been told for how many months these ghost workers had been drawing salaries before being found out. Who are they? Is anybody recovering any stolen money?
What is more alarming of course is that the Beureau estimates that there are about 600,000 ghost workers in the Public Service! In effect Nigeria could be losing at least 600,000 x N18,000.00 = N10,800,000,000.00 monthly to unnamed citizens. That estimate is based on minimum wage again. And I would insist it is an underestimate. The judges in Niger State recently forced by the NJC to refund salaries collected for months after they retired are obviously not on minimum wage! They were ghost workers, part of the Federal Civil Service, part of the 600,000.

When will Nigeria be saved from ghost workers? Never? People retire and their salaries are still being paid? Who is responsible for the lapse? People die and are still being paid. People who have nothing to do with government have their names smuggled into the payroll by relatives or cartels. After all, Nigeria’s money is public money, like Afolabi told late Bola Ige, `You were invited to come and chop but instead you are making noise.’ The answer, is, collect your money, chop, clean your mouth and nobody will do anything. The worst that will happen is that when they find out your name will be removed from the payroll. After all, no ghost workers’names are published anywhere. There is no punishment for being a ghost worker. My queer thinking is that ghost workers names will not be published because it would read like a list of the `who is who’ in Nigeria. Nearly anybody who has passed through the public service is likely to be on the register. 

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