Ghost Workers: Abia’s wage bill drops to N2.1bn
Abia Government said its monthly wage bill had dropped to N2.1 billion from about N2.8 billion it was in 2015.
The state governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, made this known when he featured on the Newsmen Forum in Abuja.
He said the prevalence of ghost workers in the state’s public service accounted for the huge monthly wage figure, adding that such workers were everywhere in the service.
The governor, however, said that the government was able to check the syndrome and reduced the wage bill when it adopted “wage bill management’’ approach to the problem.
He disclosed that one of the measures adopted in stemming the ghost workers prevalence was directive that every worker must provide Bank Verification Number (BVN).
He said that through the strategy, faceless workers were currently being weeded out, and expressed optimism that if the momentum of approach was sustained, the bill would further drop to about N1.7 billion.
According to Ikpeazu, salary payment in Abia is regarded as `wage bill management’ which ensures that only deserving workers are paid.
“The syndrome of ghost workers has both political and economic dimension. If you allow ghost workers, they are the people who are never around, never seen but have names on the payroll.
“Those of them who manage to be around in the state are those we sit or stand under the tree and in times of protest or agitation, they are the ones who continue to say `we no go gree’.
“They are elements that should be thrown away; they are the people who do fraud with payment vouchers.
“They are the people who instigate others, create all kinds of problems within the system as well as undermining whatever plan you are doing.
“We see the wage issue in Abia state from the angle of wage bill management; it’s not payment of salary, but workers’ wage management.
“The salary is like throwing food to the dogs, but wage management means ensuring that only those who are working get paid and negotiation must be with those who are working.
“We are now trying to install devices in offices where you can clock in with your finger print and clock out.
“This is because some people are not even ready to put two hours honest day’s job on their duty; that a worker is entitled to his wage, is it not when he works?
The governor refuted claims that the state owed salaries to workers and said that at some point, 100 per cent of the second tranche of Paris Club refund was used for workers’ salary.
He said that he did that to demonstrate his commitment toward reward for labour.
Ikpeazu, however, recognised that gaps exist in the salaries of primary school teachers in the state and assured that the government was working to salvage the situation.
He revealed that his administration was working assiduously to improve the state’s Internal Revenue Generation (IGR) profile to complement allocation from the Federal Government.
“The strategy for economy development of any state today as dictated by the present day reality is that you must grow your IGR with your right hand and force down your overheads with your left hand.
“That is what we are trying to do. Our IGR is not static, it fluctuates; in my time it had gone beyond N1billion and at times, it has fallen below N700 million.
“It keeps fluctuating but we have arrived at a point where I think today, we can target two billion as IGR in Abia and achieve it.
“Ultimately people believe that Abia can make five billion naira as IGR and I share that optimism but that hasn’t happened yet.”