The Nigerian budget has been something of a saga of late. At first the budget was declared missing, when found it was shown that it was weighted down with extortionate allocations. Some workers who do not exist were on the government’s payroll, some allotments were repeated albeit with different wordings to conceal its real purpose.
In a recent audit of the budget, more than 20,000 ghost workers were removed leading to the saving of 2.29bn naira (£8.3m), Nigeria’s finance ministry confirmed.
The review made use of biometric data and Bank Verification Number (BVN) to determine the holders of the accounts into which the salaries would be paid. The audit revealed that most names documented on the budget did not correspond with the names on bank accounts and some individuals were shown to be receiving salaries from different sources.
The special adviser to finance minister Kemi Adeosun, Festus Akanbi said, “The federal government has removed 23,846 non-existent workers from its payroll,
“Consequently the salary bill for February 2016 has reduced by 2.293bn naira when compared to December 2015 when the BVN audit process commenced,” said Akanbi, adding that those removed had been paid by ministries, departments and agencies.
The ministry also confirmed that budgets and payments, and newly employed civil servants will be placed under close examination to prevent future discrepancies.
Fighting corruption is a part of the president’s Change agenda.
“The ongoing exercise, which is part of the cost-saving and anti-corruption agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, is key to funding the deficit in the 2016 budget,” said Akanbi.
Akanbi also added that the ministry is working with the financial crimes agency and Nigeria’s pension commission to deal with any irregularities that may have risen as a result of the deleted non-existent workers.
Nigeria’s economy is experiencing a set back as a result of the dwindling price of oil, its major export. The president plans reduce government personnel expenditure rather than cut jobs to tackle Nigeria’s dwindling economy.