Niger State Commissioner for Finance, Hon. Lawal Adamu Maikano, has said that the issue of ghost workers in the civil service was one area the state government wanted to thoroughly checkmate as it has been identified as one of the areas where government resources were being wasted due to overblown staff strength.
The Commissioner, who stated this while interacting with journalists in his office on Monday, said that if need be for staff verification, technology would be deployed to ensure that civil servants were verified from the comfort of their homes without any stress, adding that Gov. Umaru Bago was passionate about civil servants and he wants them to be happy and work comfortably.
The Commissioner also said his desire was to see that civil servants in the state get their salaries by the 25th of every month and, if there was any issue, by the 27th, which he said he was hoping to commence by January 2024.
"You know, His Excellency Umar Mohammed Bago likes the civil service more than anything else. He wants the civil servants to be much more comfortable and happy doing their jobs. You know you cannot be happy doing your job when you are hungry.
"So, he is putting all measures in place to ensure that whenever it is due for salary release, it is done," explained the Commissioner.
Hon. Maikano pointed out that the ministry would collaborate with the state planning commission to ensure that the present administration spends within the budgetary provisions of the state.
He said the administration of Hon. Mohammed Umaru Bago was determined to ensure that all capital projects embarked upon had a direct bearing on the people.
He disclosed that they intended to abide by the provisions of the budget, hence their determination to focus on providing basic social amenities to the people of the state.
The finance commissioner revealed that they will identify waste and do away with it so that there will be enough resources to execute projects that will positively impact the lives of Nigerlites.
He added that the desire of Gov. Umaru Bago was to ensure that the basic amenities were available to the people, which include good healthcare services, a road network, portable water, and a good education system, among others, which according to him can only be obtainable through judicious use of state resources.
"We want to ensure that those things that are not necessary are done away with.
We have identified a lot of wastages, and His Excellency, Hon. Mohammed Umaru Bago, is doing everything necessary to take away those wastages. Once those wastages are taken away, you will see that there will be enough funds available for projects that will impact the lives of the people of Niger State," said the Commissioner.
On improving internally generated revenue (IGR), the Commissioner disclosed that there was a retreat earlier organised by the state revenue board on revenue harmonisation, which was signed by the immediate past administration.
He revealed that going forward, no agency will be allowed to generate and spend revenue because any revenue generated and spent cannot be counted as revenue because it didn't get into the government coffers, adding that they want all the revenue collected to be in one purse and that agencies will be well funded to carry out their statutory functions from that purse.
The Commissioner disclosed that they want to harmonise the revenue collection process in the state because they are targeting a hundred billion naira annual revenue generation in the state, which he said was possible through the introduction of technology into the revenue collection process as well as the blocking of all loopholes.
For his plan to ensure that staff of his ministry are in tune with the new vision of the ministry, the Commissioner said there are plans for capacity building for staff of the ministry in order to be on the same page and to be effective and efficient in service delivery.
High level of insecurity that has bedeviled Niger State was the reason behind contractors abandoning ongoing road projects, as many workers, especially expatriates involved in the construction have either been killed or kidnapped for ransom.
Some Chinese construction firms such as Gilmor, CBC, HMF and ENERCO Contrucruon Companies, had to abandoned the roads for three years or more pending when the security agencies would clear the bandits from those sites.
Niger State Federal Controller of Works, Engr. Samotu Moshood, who made this known in an interview with Newsline, however said very soon, work will begin on the sites as soldiers have been mobilised to mount guards on all the federal roads.
"Minna-Zungeru, Kontagora-Rijau road and Kontagora-Bangi roads have been awarded since 2013 but there is nothing the contractors could do because bandits chased them out of the sites, especially Kontagora-Bangi.
"But fortunately for us, the contractor handling Kontagora-Rijau road have resumed to site after running away for close to three years.
"Also, Kontagora-Bangi road, they are about to resume because two months ago, the soldiers were deployed to the place and we have seen now that they are ready to resume, they have promised us and I even held meeting with them two weeks ago.
"But this one you mentioned Mokwa-Tegina Road, the same thing, bandits chased them away but it has been re-awarded and the contractor will resume," Moshood said.
Niger State has the largest number of federal roads in the country and most of them have remained in a deplorable condition because the construction firms awarded the contracts have been afraid to send workers to the sites because of the fear of bandits who abduct their workers.
Moshood expressed confidence that with the deployment of military personnel to the sites, the contractors will be ready to conclude the work.
He, however pointed out that the incident in which some bandits in Niger State killed about 36 soldiers recently, would dampened the morale of soldiers and the construction workers, stressing that something have to be done to ensure that the workers returned to site.
"Actually, it can affect their morale, but with encouragement from us and when government is involved, I think it will help the situation.
"And then, the government too is trying to make sure that those areas are free of bandits. I think it will not affect them much. But there is no way it will not affect them at all.
"The workers will be protected. For instance that section 2 that I mentioned, they are giving them 35 military personnel and I think some of the other sites have similar deployment.
"Niger State will soon enjoy good roads, the past government actually tried because we have NNPCL funding about nine of the roads.
"Then, apart from the main budget and then the one that SUKUK is funding, if the contractors follow the plan, in the next three to four years, you will see Niger state will have very good roads," he added.