By; Sunday Ode, Abuja.
Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, on Wednesday announced that the Federal Government was investigating additional 11,000 suspected ghost workers on its payroll.
It could be recalled that the Federal Government had recently uncovered 23,000 ghost workers, saving it some N2.29 billion monthly.
At a press briefing on the outcome of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting held in the Aso Chamber of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Adeosun said FEC had approved a continuous audit process, particularly on the payroll.
She noted that the audit would also be extended to other areas of government’s expenditure to block such fraudulent practices.
Her words: “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 ongoing.
“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.”
The Minister added that the World Bank had indicated its readiness to support Nigeria in the initiative. She however said that it would take about six months to get the required legislation through.
“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.
“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 may 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.
“There was a discussion on the role of existing internal audit offices, 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.” She said
According to her, government was not going to recruit any additional people to do the additional auditing work.
“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 stated.
By; Sunday Ode, Abuja.