Imo State governor, Hope Uzodinma, has said his administration has detected close to three thousand (3000) fraudulent payroll entries otherwise known as ghost workers from the state’s Civil Service.
He also said an average of two billion naira (N2bn) is being saved monthly from plugged leakages in the Civil Service, Public Service and Pensions payrolls.
Uzodinma spoke at a stakeholders’ meeting on Friday in Owerri, the state capital, to celebrate this year’s Democracy Day.
He alleged that a cabal in the state had been feeding on the payroll fraud for many years.
The governor who stated that it was against this backdrop that his administration took time to scrutinize the payments system and plug loopholes, added that he had insisted that all forms of government payments conform to international best practices.
“That right thing was, still is, stopping a gluttonous greedy few from institutionalizing Aristocracy and or Familocracy as the system of government in the state. Put differently, my mission was to restore true, undiluted, democracy,” Uzodinma said.
“It is this backdrop that informed my determination to live by my oath of office; hence my insistence that in this modern internet age, government payments of any kind and volume must meet the standards of international best practices.
“With due diligence, we scrutinized the payments system and have been able to plug those loopholes, which criminally minded officials have hitherto exploited to siphon public funds.
“Through this exercise, our administration has detected close to 3000 fraudulent payroll entries or ghost workers if you will. Hitherto the payroll manipulators would smuggle in as many names as they can into the payroll. But with my insistence on BVN, account number and phone numbers as well as tax IDs before salaries are paid, we have beat them to it.
“I can also proudly announce to you that we have managed to save an average of N2billion every month from this exercise, reflecting plugged leakages in the Civil Service, the Public Service and the Pensions payrolls.
“This will increase as the months go by and heads of various ministries, departments and agencies imbibe the new culture of transparency and probity,” he said.
Gov. Uzodinma, however, admitted that he knew his efforts to clean up the state’s Civil and Public Service would be misunderstood.
“I was equally aware that I could be misunderstood initially and worse still, that the opposition could catch in on it to blackmail and disparage me. But I was not daunted for one second.
“No one fights a cabal and expects it to raise its hand in surrender. That is unthinkable. They have been fighting back in many ways than one. The opposition has gone into unholy marriage with them to label my administration with a legion of fabrications to incite the public against us.
“But I have remained unshaken because I know that light will always triumph over darkness. Because I have truth buckled around my waist and integrity for a breastplate, I fear neither conspiracy nor blackmail. It is only those who to equity with unclean hands that doubt their vindication by history.
“I am confident that sooner than later light will prevail over darkness and our people will appreciate the fact that not succumbing to doing business as usual was in the best interest of the majority and democracy.”
The governor empathized with Civil Servants and Pensioners whose wages and entitlements had been delayed.
“We empathize with our civil servants and pensioners whose salaries and benefits suffered undue delay because of the slow response of financial officers and heads of departments to the new payment protocols that we have introduced.
“I am however very confident that sooner than later they will appreciate that the delays were inevitable, and in their interest also. Henceforth the payments system in the state will be in auto pilot,” he assured.