Oyo State Government on Wednesday temporarily expunged the names of 16, 532 workers and pensioners from its payroll following their alleged involvement in collection of multiple salaries, elongation of retirement age and other infractions.
Those affected were drawn from a total 100,259 workers and pensioners screened from the ministries, departments and parastatals, as well as the teaching service, local government, Broadcasting Service of Oyo State, judiciary, Water Corporation and tertiary institutions.
The Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Olalekan Alli, disclosed this at a press conference held at the Parliament Building, Secretariat, Ibadan, on Wednesday.
Also at the briefing were the state’s Head of Service, Mr. Soji Eniade; Special Adviser on Communication and Strategy, Mr. Yomi Layinka; and Senior Special Assistant, Print and Broadcast Media, Mr. Akin Oyedele.
In a brief remark, the HOS said that the government was deploying technology to ascertain the true status of workers and pensioners on its payroll.
He said the exercise was aimed at monitoring workers’ attendance, efficiency, productivity and service delivery, calling on community elders and the citizenry to monitor workers and government facilities in their domains.
The SSG said the decision to wield the big stick was reached after a forensic verification exercise conducted by the renowned Nigerian Interbank Settlement Systems Plc revealed the likely existence of ghost workers within the system.
Alli said the exercise was part of ongoing efforts by the state to clean up its payroll of fake workers and pensioners fleecing the state of its commonwealth. He was emphatic that more heads would role when a planned biometric screening was conducted.
He, however, clarified that the affected 16,532 people would have opportunity to clear their names when they appear before a four-member panel being constituted by the government to authenticate findings by the NIBSS.
To erase doubts and allay fears of witch-hunting, he said that the panel would comprise representatives of the government, the consultants and the workers’ union, while the permanent secretary, ministry of finance, would serve as secretary.
The SSG said, “Further to the continuing efforts of Oyo State Government to eliminate fraud and errors in the payment of salaries, wages and pensions as well as to determine ghost workers, Oyo State government embarked on an employee verification exercise.
“We want to ascertain the actual number of employees in the regular employment of the state by various categories, determine who is a bona fide beneficiary of the salaries, wages and pensions being paid by government.
“We will ascertain the level of compliance in respect of mode and format of payment of salaries, e.g payment into bank accounts ensuring recipients have the mandatory Nigeria Uniform Bank Account Number (NUBAN) and BVN numbers.”
After the forensic computerized data audit, he said that the consultants from NIBSS Plc found many instances of inconsistencies, variations and entry details that did not tally involving 16, 532 employees, out of a total 100,250 workforce analyzed.
The SSG listed revelations from the audit exercise to include multiple salary payments into single account, multiple salary payment to single name, employees that have passed retirement age, invalid BVN, invalid bank accounts and name details and employees with mismatched names.
Alli said, “The salaries of the 16,532 employees will be immediately suspended pending further investigation; multiple salary payments would be determined; refunds pursued and legal actions embarked upon accordingly.
“We will recover all monies credited into accounts but not accessed for all categories. All the employees concerned should face a further verification panel to be constituted by His Excellency, Governor Abiola Ajimobi, with adequate time line.
“It’s the intention of government to resume regular payment of salaries to staffers that are deserving of payment while those with cases to answer would be given room to defend themselves.”
He promised that findings by the proposed panel would be made public, stressing that any of the affected people found to have been wrongly categorized as ghost worker would be reinstated.