Wednesday, 28 December 2016

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FG saves N200bn from 50,000 ghost workers

The Federal Government said it has saved about N200 billion since it stopped the salaries of 50,000 ghost workers detected on its payroll.
This is even as the 11-man syndicate behind the ghost workers’ scam were
arrested and handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu said the detection resulted in the Muhammadu Buhari’s administration saving N13 billion monthly from February to December in the year under review.
He stated that the monthly wage bill was brought down from N151 billion excluding pensions in February to  N138 billion currently.
“The flagship programme of the Muhammadu Buhari administration to rid the system of fraud and instill good governance is on course. Through a notable initiative, the Efficiency Unit of the Federal Ministry of Finance, the government has embarked on the continuous auditing of the salaries and wages of government departments.
“When the Committee was constituted in February 2016, federal government’s monthly salary bill was N151 billion, excluding pensions. Now the monthly salary warrant is N138 billion, excluding pensions; which means government is making a monthly savings of about N13 billion. That is from February 2016 to date,” the Presidential media aide said.
Shehu further disclosed that the pension bill, which was N15.5 billion monthly as at February was now down to N14.4 billion, saving an average of about N1.1 billion monthly.
He explained that the total number of ghost workers so far removed from the payroll was about 50,000, and that 11 persons championing the syndicate of the ghost workers have been referred to EFCC with some of them already undergoing trial.
On the welfare of the recently-released 21 Chibok girls, Shehu said they were being treated as adoptees of the Federal Government in collaboration with some local and international bodies interested in the girls’ future plans.
“A black American billionaire, Mr. Robert Smith, who is currently sponsoring the education of 24 girls from Chibok, among them the first set of escapees from Boko Haram, at the American University of Nigeria, Yola, has offered to pay for the education of the 21 released through negotiations and offered to take responsibility for all the others who will, hopefully, be set free, eventually. The Murtala Mohammed Foundation in the country is equally interested,” the Presidential media aide said.
On complaints by some of the parents of the 21 Chibok girls that they did not have enough room for interaction with their daughters brought home for Christmas by the Department of State Services (DSS), Shehu admitted there were some hitches arising from a lack of understanding of the objective of the trip on the part of some security operatives, “but following the receipt of this complaint, a directive has been given from the headquarters for access by the parents to be eased.”
He, however, advised the parents,  “if the situation persists, please let us know, so the higher authorities will make a further intercession.”
On concerns being raised that more of All Progressives Congress (APC) members were being appointed into federal boards, the presidential media aide assured that the process would be fully back on track at the beginning of next year.
“You know the reconstitution began methodically, from sector by sector. You should expect that to resume at the beginning of the new year. The President has given directives on what to do.”
On agricultural programmes of the administration, Shehu said the president’s persistent calls for a return to farming is yielding good results.
“The talk about agriculture has driven people to the farm. This year, there is a huge boom in the rural economy. We have witnessed an excellent harvest. Farmers are getting value for their efforts. What has encouraged farmers the more is the increasing availability of extension services. New farming techniques are helping farmers to do their occupation better. The readiness of takers to buy the produce is also a major boost.
“When you put all these together, with the systematic move to curb importation as a boost, local production, through the restriction of the available foreign exchange to critically important sectors of the economy, you have favorable environment for the diversification of the economy.
“As we speak, several of the country’s major manufacturing industries are actively backward-integrating- Nestle, Unilever, the breweries are looking at what we have as local materials, changing their formulations to maintain production levels and keep their share of the market. Manufacturers, who are hooked on import of raw materials are advised to re-strategise and take full advantage of local raw materials. The future belongs to those who employ the use of local raw materials,” he said

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