Retired federal civil servants are being owed N293bn by the Federal Government, the Head of Service of the Federation, Winifred Oyo-Ita revealed on Monday in Abuja.
Oyo-Ita said this while fielding questions from journalists after addressing a press briefing in commemoration of the Civil Service Week, scheduled to commence on Wednesday.
She said the government is trying all it can to offset the debts.
Oyo-Ita further said the government was considering a phased payment formula, while the Presidency had directed the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, and the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation to explore ways of making the payments.
“On assumption of office, I met service-wide staff claims for promotion arrears, first 28 days, repatriation allowance, death benefits and other staff claims totalling about N293bn. The issue was presented to Mr. President and he expressed deep concern and immediately directed the Minister of Finance to address the situation.
“The payments would have been made but for the resource constraints of the government. We are working with the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation on the phased payment formula and would conclude in due course,” the HoCSF said.
Oyo-Ita also said some civil servants were being quizzed by the EFCC in relation to the issue of ghost workers.
She said this was the first time in the history of Nigeria that government would be paying strict attention to the issue of ghost workers.
She added that the introduction of the BVN had also helped in exposing the lapses.
“This is the first time the administration is tackling the issue of ghost workers like this. We are cleaning the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System and a lot of suspicious names have been detected. The introduction of Banks Verification Number has also helped in the detection of ghost workers. Many people are facing interrogation with the EFCC.
“You will just see them and later you won’t find them again; they have not been kidnapped but they are answering different questions from the EFCC,” she said in response to questions on sanctions for those involved.
She however denied that the Federal Government was planning to retrench some of its workforce due to economic downturn.