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Sunday, 21 May 2017

150 ghost workers discovered at National Assembly

150 ghost workers discovered at National Assembly

An ongoing staff verification at the National Assembly has led to the discovery of about 150 ghost workers, The Nation has learnt.

A hundred of the ghost workers were discovered in the House of Representatives, sources said.

“The verification exercise has turned up fundamental discoveries,” one source said.

The verification is part of the measures put in place to reduce the running cost of the legislative arm.

It was gathered that the debt profile of the National Assembly which is put at N17billion has been giving the leadership some concern.

The huge debt is understood to be largely responsible for the inability of the management to procure utility vehicles for the lawmakers at once, as well as upgrading of existing facilities and embarking on other projects.

A sum of N7b is earmarked for the purchase of utility vehicles for the lawmakers in the 2017 budget.

To address the debt and other management issues, following a protest by legislative aides, the management embarked on the staff verification exercise that commenced last year with legislative aides.

The legislative aides have been paid only one quarterly allowance of N75,000 per head since the inauguration of the 8th Assembly.

N9.6b including N150m for capital projects was allocated to Legislative aides by the National Assembly management in the 2017 budget.

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In a memorandum to all lawmakers, details of legislative aides attached to individual lawmakers were requested.

This was prompted by reports that some lawmakers employed fewer than the mandatory five aides.

The lawmakers were requested to provide the names, designation, cadre and other details of their aides.

The management has already reduced the number and salaries of legislative aides to the presiding officers and their deputies.

Between them, the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker have about 20 aides earning between N450,000 and N950,000 monthly.

Done with the legislative aides, the management embarked on staff audit exercise whereby all civil servants were directed to physically appear before a panel with their employment letters.

The completion of the physical appearance was followed by physical payment of salary which did not go down well with a number of workers.

The table payment of salary that began in April may last through till June, it was learnt.

This became necessary as it was discovered that some workers that turned up for the physical verification failed to show up for the salary table payment.

Sources said some names on the payroll are those of those “have either left the service or transferred from NASS.

“Some that have either retired or dead still maintain their places on the payroll.

“The discovery of all these was made possible by the physical audit exercise.

“It is now obvious that the management was just burdened by induced manipulations but I think by the time this is concluded and necessary sanctions applied on those found culpable, the fortune of the institution will begin to improve,” she said.

The staff verification exercise also became imperative following allegations of falsification of appointment details by some senior staff jostling for the position of the Clerk of the House.

The incumbent, Gani Ojagbohunmi has a year to retire from service, it was learnt.

Irregular inter-departmental transfer without documentations and approval was also cited as part of the reasons responsible for the staff audit exercise

Some Directors were alleged to have falsified their age in order to gain undue advantage for the existing vacancies in the management cadre.

According to the source, no fewer than five Heads of Departments, especially those seconded from other establishments have changed their records of service in order to prolong their stay in service.

Efforts to get reaction from the Clerk to the National Assembly (CNA), Mohammed Sani-Omolori failed as his security aides told our reporters that the CNA could only be contacted through phone.

They told our reporters to call the CNA.

After being told that the CNA’s phone numbers were in not in public domain, the reporters were later referred to Yahaya Dan Zaria, Director, Public Affairs (Office of the CNA), who also refused to see the reporters but asked Director, Information and Publication, Ishaku Dibal to interface with the reporters.

Dibal informed the reporters that answers to their queries could only be provided by the Secretary, Corporate Affairs, Bala Shehu Jabo who remained unavailable, despite several visits to his office.

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