The Federal government is investigating another potential 11,000 ghost workers in its payroll according to the Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun.
Briefing State House Correspondents after the Federal Executive Council Meeting (FEC) presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari,the Finance Minister said the council has approved the Presidential Initiative on continuous audit.
According to her, the continuous audit work should not just be limited to payroll, as there is actually the need to strengthen internal audit across government.
She recalled that the World Bank had in 2010 started an initiative to try and introduce real-space internal audit in Nigeria, but it wasn’t successful.
However, according to her, the World Bank has indicated its readiness to support Nigeria in this initiative again, but it recognised that it would about take six months to get the required legislation .
She said, on the issue of the ghost workers, of the 23,000 that we have removed our payroll has reduced by N2.29billion per month.
The update on that is that we are now investigating another potential 11,000. Again we are using computer techniques to identify those who we need to investigate, so we are now looking at the second batch and as we resolve those cases we would inform you of the amount saved and the number of people removed.”
“In the budget speech, the President said that we would introduce a continuous audit process, particularly of payroll and already that work has resulted in the elimination of about 23,000 fraudulent recipients of federal salary and more work is still on-going.”
“We felt that the continuous audit work should not just be limited to payroll, there is actually need to strengthen internal audit across government and to that extent, the world bank had in 2010 started an initiative to try and introduce real-space internal audit in Nigeria, but it wasn’t successful.
She added that “The World Bank has indicated its readiness to support us in this initiative again, but it recognised that it would about take six months to get the required legislation true.
“So as an interim we have agreed to do the Presidential initiative on continuous audits which will give backings to the work that we are currently doing and will allow us to extend this work beyond payroll to other areas of expenditure.
She stated that the FEC deliberated extensively about the need for this and agreed that the control framework over finance and spending of government’s money needed to be strengthened especially in anticipation of the approval of the budget, which is an extended budget.
“If we don’t strengthen our controls then there is a risk that that money would
leak or that be applied to the wrong things and therefore, the ability to go into various agencies without notice and check and do audits and updates to make sure that public money is being spent in accordance with our expectations and objectives.
“FEC approved the setting up of this initiative effectively using an executive order to create internal audit to enable us continue this work and to extend it to everywhere that federal money is being spent or received so that we can have better oversight.
On the role of existing internal audit offices, she lamented that the problem they have is that they actually report to the people that they are supposed to be checking on and so they are actually not able to be as effective as we would like.
“And also most of what we do now is computerised and we need special audit techniques, computer assistants to do the techniques and special techniques which some of these auditors do not have.
“We are not going to be recruiting any additional people, we are going to be using existing staff, qualified accountants within the office of the accountant general within the federal civil service and redeploy them to create this function which we believe will strengthen the controls of our public money, she added.
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