The Hidden Epidemic of Ghost Workers in Nigeria’s Civil Service

The Hidden Epidemic of Ghost Workers in Nigeria's Civil Service
Getty Images

Surprisingly, some ex-public servants in Nigeria are allegedly still collecting wages even though they resigned from their employment; some of them are even employed overseas. President Bola Tinubu has responded to this alarming news by directing a strict crackdown on this fraudulent behavior.

The Enigma of the Phantom Employees
It seems to many Nigerians that once one leaves a job, their salary should also end. Nonetheless, there are a fair number of ex-government employees whose names have remained on the payroll while taking jobs elsewhere, sometimes in completely different countries. President Tinubu has taken notice of this wrongdoing and has promised to ensure that those responsible pay back the funds that they have wrongfully obtained.

What Happened with Sabitu Adams
Someone like Sabitu Adams, who goes by a pseudonym to avoid detection, is an example of this. Even though Adams left Nigeria two years ago to drive cabs in the UK, he is still paid a monthly income by a government organization where he is a junior official. He saw President Tinubu’s remarks as a hollow threat and showed little worry about losing this income. Adams stated that he does not find it difficult to live on his present income of 150,000 naira ($100; £80) per month because he makes much more than that. He chose not to officially resign so that he could still be considered for a return to his government post.

Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu ordered a crackdown into those getting paid in the civil service for doing no work

At the National Level
There are many more cases like Adams’s. As a result of the naira’s depreciation and the dearth of available jobs, more than 3.6 million Nigerians have left the country in the last two years. The increasing disappointment among young Nigerians is reflected in this enormous migration, which is called “japa” (a Yoruba word meaning to escape).

The Reaction of President Tinubu
Reports from the head of the civil service regarding employees who had relocated abroad but were still receiving salaries without officially retiring shocked President Tinubu. He has demanded a return of the funds, an investigation, and punishment for all parties involved in the fraud. Everyone in a supervisory or administrative role who may have helped the fraud happen falls into this category.

A Look Inside
Adams revealed that he was able to depart without formally resigning because he and his supervisor had an understanding. This understanding allowed him to continue receiving his paycheck. With the help of an HR official, it is not uncommon for a supervisor to secretly split the employee’s salary with the absent worker. It was easier to game the system in Adams’s instance because his boss was a relative.

A More Comprehensive View
Thousands of non-existent workers are still being paid in Nigeria, a major problem that has persisted despite multiple crackdowns on the practice. This scam can continue because there are not enough strict checks and balances. It has never been proposed before that individuals who have emigrated are receiving substantial remuneration.

Economic Consequences
Retired financial director Auwal Yakasai of the information ministry of Kano state admitted to hearing about such occurrences, but he never managed to catch anyone in the act. Yakasai was privy to several tales of people receiving payments following job changes or relocations during his 32 years of service in the government.

The collapse in the value of the naira over the past year is pushing more young Nigerians to seek opportunities elsewhere

The Agency’s Dedication to Transformation
As soon as he took office in May of last year, President Tinubu committed to cut spending on government operations and waste. At state and international events, he ordered a 60% reduction in official entourages. Skepticism regarding the administration’s conduct persists despite these assurances. Some have pointed out that Tinubu and Kashim Shettima’s plans for new multimillion-dollar jets are contradictory, while the vice president’s official mansion in Abuja is set to be launched at a cost of $13.6 million.

In summary
A major threat to Nigeria’s administration and fiscal stability is the practice of “ghost workers” in the country’s public sector. It is still to be determined whether President Tinubu’s crackdown will lead to substantial action and responsibility, although it is a positive development. This shows how serious reforms are needed to make the Nigerian government more open and efficient.


Related Posts

Illuminating the Promise of Africa.

Receive captivating stories direct to your inbox that reveal the cultures, innovations, and changemakers shaping the continent.