The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), has accused some agencies of conducting illegal and unapproved recruitment exercises, resulting in padding of payroll.
Chairman of the ICPC, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye (SAN), levelled the allegation in his welcome remarks at a virtual policy dialogue on corruption and cost of governance, in Abuja.
According to Owasanoye, the “malfeasance” is perpetrated with the connivance of some staff of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS). This was as the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, hinted on review of payroll.
Apart from the said recruitment fraud, the antigraft agency also alleged that thousands of projects enjoyed annual repetition in budgets.
The Commission expressed worries over near absence of diligent scrutiny of need, as well as implementation. “ICPC ongoing investigation of some MDAs indicates that government ought to urgently take stock of areas of potential savings from budget abuse in order to forestall continuation of the practice.
“The second area of concern is payroll padding and the phenomenon of ghost workers and abuse of recruitment. “From ICPC findings, for example, from health and medical Institutions, many agencies still engage in unapproved recruitment without obtaining the consent of all relevant organs of government.
“It would appear such malfeasance enjoys the cooperation of few unscrupulous elements in IPPIS. Happily, government is looking closely at this towards corrective measures. ICPC is a part of that process,” the ICPC boss said. Speaking on COVID-19, the ICPC’s chair regretted that while the pandemic offered fresh opportunities many agencies diverted savings from budgetary allocations to things like COVID-19 palliatives and others.
He said: “Less than one year after adoption of these commitments. COVID-19 struck with negative Impact on the local and global economy and prospects of revenue generation thus forcing a review of government plans but increasing its determination to assuage the pains of the pandemic on lives and livelihood especially of the poor and vulnerable.
“Government and governance suddenly partially became digital with attendant forced acknowledgement that we can do more with less, travel less and deliver, run government with officers below level 12 staying home for months, yet being paid, governors, ministers and other high ranking political office holders could conduct crucial governance engagements virtually without hiring private jets getting on the road with convoys depleting the coffers of their struggling states, institutions or MDAs.
“In summary, necessity being the mother of Invention, COVlD-19 taught us that we can do things differently and at less the perceived cost.
“Regrettably, governments, in attention to this positive outcome, early enough resulted in many agencies diverting savings from budgetary allocation to things like COVID-19 palliatives even when they had neither authorization nor guidelines to do so.”
In her intervention, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, said: “We still see government expenditure increase to a terrain twice higher than our revenue.”
Ahmed said further: “We need to work together, all agencies of the government to cut down our cost. We need to cut down unnecessary expenditures. Expenditures that we can do without.
“Our budgets are filled year-in-year-out with projects that we see over and over again and also projects that are not necessary.
“Mr President has directed that the salaries committee that I chair work together with the Head of Service and other members of the committee to review the government pay rolls in terms of stepping down on cost.”
Among other senior officials of government that featured on the dialogue, were Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Dr. Folashade Yemi-Esan.