Nigeria: Of Ghost Workers And Living Bandits, By Waheed Saka?
In one aspect, yes, I believe in ghosts, but we create them. We haunt ourselves – Laurie Halse Anderson
The Punch Newspaper 28th March 2016 edition reported how leading opposition party in Nigeria, the People’s Democratic Party pays her employees in cash due to discrepancies otherwise known as ghost workers. It is the lowest point of a party that presided over our commonwealth for sixteen uninterrupted years to now start discovering ghost workers. Indeed, living bandits in the name of ghost workers have taken billions of Naira off our commonwealth; sometimes they took such money in hard currencies, and our news is almost incomplete without mentioning ghost workers’ exploits.
Yerima Ngama, Minister of State for Finance, announced to a shocked nation and astonished world recently that a total of 45,000 ghost workers earning over N100billion had been uncovered from about 251 ministries, directorates and agencies through the application of the Integrated Payroll Personnel Information System, IPPIS. It is that bad, so sad.
The debilitating phenomenon of ghost workers is not limited to the Federal government, state government are also battling the same scourge. Recently, in my home state, Osun, a government directive to employ 302 workers by a teaching hospital, ended up in employing 676 workers .They are no ghost, though living parasites!
The story is the same, the numbers only varies, Niger State uncovered 7000 ghost workers, Kano 8000, Bauchi 10,000, on and on, ghost worker stories continue. However, there are no ghost workers anywhere; here is the headquarters of living bandits.
We may forever be powerless against ghost workers who are getting paid for doing nothing, if we cannot exterminate the living bandits who create and nurture ghosts. For emphasis, no ghost worker anywhere, living bandits are everywhere, they are no respecter of party ideology, religion or ethnic, when it is about sharing bounties, they jettisoned those little barriers.
Yes. Living bandits are everywhere in Nigeria: in the police, in the ministries, agencies and parastatals, among academics, among career officers ,in the executives, Legislatives and judiciary, the living bandits are imposing ghosts on the rest of us thereby making many Nigerians a living ghost.
Ghost never spends Naira and Kobo, only the living bandits spends dollar in Naira economy. Ghost doesn’t live in mansion, only the living bandits built mansion here, bought another in Dubai, UK and US. Ghost doesn’t drive cars, only the living bandit owns as many as tens of cars in their garage. I insist no ghost anywhere, living bandits’ lives here.
Living bandits care less if they are making their evil cash either from ghost workers or dead citizens. They don’t fear God why will they fear men? North Eastern part of Nigeria is today a land of ghost, living and dead, not because our military are no longer patriotic but because a living bandit has stolen the fund to prosecute the war on terror. Nigeria was and remains under the evil forces of bandits from left, right and centre, we cry more about ghost workers when we are supposed to wage war against living bandits at all levels.
Let me take you through an imaginary journey of our national banditry. Imagine that you are the parents of that young man who was educated enough to serve his fatherland in Rivers State and the electoral bandit from whatever party shot him in the course of his civic duty, how will you feel? This is electoral banditry!
Imagine, that you are that young national footballer, who worked very hard abroad and kept a chunk of your earning at a local bank in Nigeria, and the financial bandits in banking sector mismanage your hard-earned money on frivolous political and hegemonic investments, how will you feel? It is economic and financial banditry
So many things to imagine, If some living bandits didn’t conspired and shared security fund in the Northeast, maybe the Chibok girls will be home today, maybe we will have no IDP camps, maybe terrorist will not be harnessing our territory and maybe my brother and comrade will not die in the northeast fighting insurgents with obsolete weapons, just maybe … This is security banditry
As for me, I don’t fear ghost workers but our collective fear of the living bandits in our midst may be the beginning of extra wisdom to sanitize our system, President Muhammadu Buhari can do little but the people can do more, we must name and shame all living bandits among us, that is when we will have a police that will not hype our offence and make extortion seem natural. That is when our military will know a top officer is not digging a hole in his compound to safe the loot from security fund. That is when the cost of constructing our roads will be international acceptable standard. That is when a living bandit will not be collecting salary of 500 ghost workers. That is when our bank will operate according to international best practice. This is a world of living bandits not the ghost workers.
Finally, If we have Nigeria without the exploit of living bandits of today, Nigeria will be able to provide a world-class hospital, conveniently meet the 26% UNESCO funding benchmark for education, provide stable electricity to homes and companies, establish new production line that will engage teeming unemployed youths. However, we can still salvage our nation, it is a battle we cannot afford to lose, we must name and shame all living bandits regardless of their status, religion or their ethnic group, because ghost workers are their creation, otherwise, we may all become living ghost in the hands of living bandits.
Waheed Saka is the State Coordinator, Nigerians United for Democracy. State of Osun. You can interact with him @wahidsaka on twitter