Fraudsters have been victimising people with their fraudulent activities. They are like predators who stealthily stalk their prey and strike at an unexpected point and time.
They tend to discover the leak and would take advantage of and exploit it, not temporarily but until they are discovered. Their scope is not limited to individuals or groups. As a matter of fact, the government in spite of its powers is not an exception from their corrupt activities.
I was bewildered and stupefied when it was revealed that over N700 million was paid to ghost pensioners within a year. This revelation was brought to the fore during a media parley hosted by the Bauchi State Governor, Senator Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed on Thursday, 10th September 2020 in Bauchi.
The parley had in attendance civil servants, labour leaders, elder statesmen, government officials, stakeholders and the media.
Recall that a few months back, there were groans and grumbles from some civil servants and opportunistic opponents of the incumbent administration of Governor Bala Mohammed concerning the delay and non-payment of some workers’ salaries and why despite death, retirement and no record of employment, there has been an exponential rise on the wage bill from N4.5 billion to N7 billion?
The Governor, despite having paid all salaries, yet these complaints never ceased. To be candid, Governor Bala during the parley said, “I made a promise to workers in the state that I would ensure prompt payment of salaries.
“This is because as a federalist and a core administrator in the federal service, I have empathy for civil servants. In Bauchi state, especially the workers are among the core group of my supporters…
“I promised workers during my campaign that I would sort out the mess associated with our salaries. Yes, I have kept my promise by ensuring that workers are paid as at when due. In fact, we pay salaries on or before 26th of every month… Hence, the need for the parley”.
Unlike the immediate past administration, where it left the whole of the exercise in the hands of same people who appointed the civil servants, thus, leading to what may be termed as ‘effort in futility’.
The Governor said, “my predecessors who attempted to sanitize the system, either lack of the courage, political will or they were frustrated by cartel or beneficiaries of this organized financial criminality”.
In order not to repeat same mistake, Governor Bala Mohammed contracted a financial consulting firm, DYNATECH Solutions Limited which has no link with any civil servant so as to ensure transparency, credibility and objectivity to sanitise its payroll and nominal roll. The engagement of DYNATECH has proven effective as it discovered that 700 million is being paid to ghost pensioners within a year.
While exposing skeleton in the closet of scammers to the government, DYNATECH said the sum of N744,000,000 has been siphoned out of the state treasury.
“Some of these pensioners are not the beneficiaries of the money. There are inexistence accounts of inexistence banks. One of the pensioners was supposed to be paid N34,000 but received over N1,500,000. Another one who was supposed to be paid N50,000 but got over one million. All these accumulated to over N700 million.”
I couldn’t help but fantasise what this amount of money would have spent on in service delivery to the common man if it hadn’t been defrauded out of the government’s treasury. Imagine if it was spent in improving the health sector, education, poverty alleviation programmes, security, economy, agriculture, infrastructure to mention a few.
However, a set of morally bankrupt individuals chose to deny the common man that dividend of democracy thereby enriching themselves to the detriment of masses and burdening governor with the blame.
The Governor further made it crystal clear that “the parley is not to malign any person or group of persons. It is not meant to ridicule or blackmail anyone. It is not a witch-hunt either.
Rather we must as a responsible government provide a platform of consensus-building on how to protect our commonwealth from a corrupt and decadent cartel that seems determined to enjoy illegal salaries while our workers and citizens sink deeper into abject poverty”.
“We must identify them, name them, prosecute them and if found guilty, jail them. We must recover the loot from them and their collaborators. Anything short of this will mean surrendering our future and generations yet unborn. Posterity will not forgive us if we just sit back and fold our arms.
That is why this Media Parley is apolitical. We have invited all stakeholders, political parties, respected technocrats, notable elders, financial experts, organised labour as well as the private sector and every citizens to discuss the way”.
Although Governor Bala Mohammed exhibited a great deal of determination to rid the system of anomalies, however, he shouldn’t fail to take into cognisance that, these fraudsters will not sit idle and watch their dirty works get exposed. They will attempt and employ all forms of chicanery and dirty play to thwart the exercise and escape justice.
No matter what, they should not be let to their ways.
Mahmud Yahaya can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org