By Abdallah el-Kurebe
Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto state has revealed that fraud discovered in the local governments’ salary vouchers had put on hold the inauguration of the elected officials about two months after they were elected.
The governor who made the revelation on Monday during a Media Chat held at the Government House on Monday, said that the discovery of irregularities in payment vouchers was responsible for the delay.
According to Tambuwal, the state government had recovered over N300 million in one month from the payrolls of the 23 local government councils as a result of the ongoing verification exercise, adding that “in only one local government council in the state, an official sold 200 appointment letters to a contractor in Zamfara state.
“This fraud was discovered when the contractor sent a text to the Secretary to the Sokoto State Government, complaining that he had an agreement with an official who sold 200 appointment letters to him on an agreement that salaries of the 200 persons would be remitted to him, monthly.
“When the official could not send salaries of a particular month to the contractor in Zamfara, he then sent a text to the SSG while we were together. The SSG showed me the text message, which informed our full-scale investigation into local government salary system,” Tambuwal told Journalists.
He lamented that since all the local government areas had their payrolls padded with ghost workers, it was only reasonable for the state government to do staff audit and handover clean payrolls to the new local government officials.
“Federal allocation to the local government councils have not been sufficient to pay staff salaries over the months. We have had to look for money to top up for them to be able to pay,” Tambuwal disclosed.
The governor, who expressed sadness that most of the workers in the local councils were idle and fraudulent, also disclosed that the state government discovered incidences where some staff collect salaries from different local government councils. “In fact, we found out that one staff was collecting salaries in four various local government areas,” he said.
Tambuwal said that similar verification exercise was going on in the state civil service, to curb the menace of ghost workers.