Cross River State, Nigeria – In a startling revelation, the Cross River State government has unearthed a staggering number of ghost workers within its civil service, with more than 3,000 individuals suspected of being fictitious employees.
This revelation comes as the state grapples with serious financial challenges, including mounting debts, substantial wage bills, and significant deductions from the Federation Account to service these debts.
To address this crisis, Governor Bassey Otu initiated a comprehensive personnel audit, enlisting the services of an external audit firm to determine the true extent of the workforce within the state’s civil service and local councils.
While the official report of the personnel audit is yet to be released, confidential sources have indicated that the number of ghost workers is alarmingly high.
An anonymous source revealed, “From the state civil service alone, I think we may have about 3,000 ghost workers.
The figure may increase or reduce once the audit of the local councils is factored in, along with input from labor unions.”
The audit firm has completed documentation and physical verification within the civil service and has now commenced the physical verification process in local councils.
Governor Otu first raised concerns about the burgeoning wage bill during a press briefing to mark his 100 days in office.
He emphasized the need for a proper audit to determine the accurate staff count.
He also hinted at potential reforms, stating, “I think it is only then that we would be able to strike a balance, and we have gone very far with that.”
Although Governor Otu did not specify the exact number of suspected ghost workers, he deemed it “outrageous” and pledged to bring the audit to a “very logical conclusion.”
The state’s financial woes have been exacerbated by substantial debt burdens, with the state experiencing deficit allocations from the Federation Account during Governor Otu’s initial months in office.
Otu expressed, “We have succeeded in restructuring our debt, because that was the first issue that confronted us as a government, which almost threw us to the ground.”
Particularly concerning was the debt owed to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
Otu highlighted the state’s financial challenges, stating, “Suffice it to say that since I took office in May, we had a negative ₦1.9 billion deficit after allocation in June, and in the second month, we had about ₦480 million deficit.”
The discovery of thousands of ghost workers in the state’s civil service poses a severe challenge to Cross River’s financial stability and calls for urgent measures to address this issue and restore fiscal integrity.
Governor Otu is determined to tackle this crisis and implement reforms that will enable the state to overcome its financial hurdles.
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