The Federal Government is investigating additional 11,000 workers to know if they are ghost workers, Minister of Finance Kemi Adeosun said yesterday.

About 23,000 such workers were uncovered recently, saving the government N2.29 billion monthly.

Briefing State House correspondents, Mrs. Adeosun said the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved continuous audit process, particularly on the payroll.

According to her, the audit would be extended to other areas of government’s expenditure to block fraud.

She said: “The approval of a presidential initiative on continuous audit. In the budget speech, the President said we would introduce a continuous audit process, particularly of the payroll and that work has resulted in the elimination of about 23,000 fraudulent recipients of federal salary and more work is still on.

“We felt that the continuous audit should not be limited to payroll, there is actually need to strengthen internal audit across government and to that extent, the World Bank in 2010 started an initiative to try and introduce real-space internal audit in Nigeria, but it wasn’t successful.”

Stressing that the World Bank indicated its readiness to support Nigeria in the initiative, she added that it would take six months to get the required legislation through.

As a way forward, she said: “So, in the interim, we have agreed to do the presidential initiative on continuous audit, which will give backing to the work we are doing and will allow us to extend this work beyond payroll to other areas of expenditure.”

The minister explained that FEC deliberated about the need for this and agreed that the control framework over finance and spending of government’s money needed to be strengthened, “especially in anticipation of the approval of the budget, which is an extended budget”.

She added: “There was a discussion on the role of existing internal audit offices, the problem they have is that they report to the people they are supposed to be checking on and so they are not able to be as effective as we would like.

“Also, most of what we do now is computerised and we need special audit techniques, computer assistants to do the techniques and special techniques, which some of these auditors do not have,” Mrs. Adeosun said.

She said the government would not recruit any additional people to do the auditing work.

“We are going to use existing staff, qualified accountants within the Office of the Accountant General within the Federal Civil Service and redeploy them to create this function, which we believe will strengthen the control of our public money,” she added.

On the earlier 23,000 ghost workers and the new investigation, she said: “Our payroll has reduced by N2.29 billion per month. The update on that is that we are now investigating another potential 11,000.

“Again we are using computer techniques to identify those who we need to investigate. So, we are now looking at the second batch and as we resolve those cases, we would inform you of the amount saved and the number of people removed.”

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