Efficiency is doing things right. Effectiveness is doing the right things… P.F.Drucker
I had always thought that ’’ghost workers’’ were fictitious names on payment vouchers whose salaries are paid into a ’’real person’s’’ account(s). It was recently I became exposed to a second category of ghost workers! These are real persons who are employees but are not available to perform their duties. Reasons for this ’unavailability’ are several. Some of them are still in primary or secondary schools and are therefore under aged. The other group are too old as they are mummies and grannies. The third group are working elsewhere i.e. they have other jobs or are full time self-employed. The only day you will see these categories of ghost workers attending to their duties is when there is a screening exercise to fish them out. They appear from all parts of the state or country, from all nooks and crannies of the local government, from unexpected families and abodes. They emerge to sup on our common wealth, devour our common sense and insult our sensibilities with their smiles of innocence.
Meanwhile we are inundated with reports of 5000-7000 or more ghost workers from the states and even higher numbers from the federal ministries. This implies we can accommodate from the local governments 1000 ghost workers giving 774, 000. From the 36 states and the FCT, using an average of 6,000 per state, gives 220, 000 while from the ministries, using 5000 from 42 ministries gives 210, 000. These add up to a mere 1.2 million who can be on government payroll without us feeling the pinch. Rather than let the salaries of these ghost workers go to unscrupulous elements and greedy individuals we can make these ghosts workers real persons and convert their salaries or earnings to social security payments.
The conditions for enjoying the social security payments can be set at being above the age of 18 and either being a graduate or a secondary school leaver. With the minimum wage at N18, 000.00 and the ghost workers happy with N10, 000.00 as salaries, we can double the number to be placed on social security to 2.4 million or more. This will take the pressure off government officials and allow those who are true workers to do their jobs.
It is not enough to rightfully employ people who will never work for the establishment, it is better to pay real workers well and pay approved allowances to the unemployed. If government officials must employ ghost workers to survive or augment their earnings, let them place such relations who are qualified on social security payments and do away with the corrupt practice of employing either non-existent persons or persons who will never do the work for which they have been employed. It is comical that by the time some people retire from service at 60 years, they would have been earning salaries for over 50 years!
We must also address the issue of child hunger in Nigeria by paying some child upkeep allowance to non-working parents. This can be N3, 000 to N5, 000.00 a month. A recent incident really unnerved me during my recent visit to Abuja. I had just been brought home by an official car when a little boy, aged 6-7 years approached us requesting we buy the roast groundnuts he was hawking. We told him we were not interested ad asked him to go. To our surprise the little boy broke down and started crying. I asked the driver to find out why he was crying and he told me, after interrogating the boy, that the boy said he has not eaten since morning and no one has bought any groundnuts. He is very hungry but cannot go home as he has not sold even one. This was about 6.00 pm. We had to give him some money to go and eat. When I think of the fate of such children, I shudder. Child hawkers must sell before they can eat apart from the other risks they face while going about into more distant locations to sell their wares often times not worth more than N500 to N1000.00. This is worrying in a country where opulence and squander mania coupled with huge sums of money mentioned in corrupt practices abound and are showcased daily.
To affect lives in Nigeria we must be effective by doing the right things first: fight hunger, provide homes and educate our children. Government should start paying social security and child upkeep allowances using proceeds saved or recouped from weeding ghost workers or earners from our various payment outlets including workers salaries and pension schemes.