In January of this year, there was a lot of talk about the ghostworke­rs syndrome in the country with some depressing figures reeled out detailing how much the government had lost paying salaries to phantom employees. Naturally, after a while, the stories died down and everything returned to ‘normal’. Then, recently, it was all over the news that the Nigerian Army was one of the next bodies to have their data uploaded on the almighty IPPIS and the Finance Minister, Kemi Adeoshun, expressed optimism that this would further bring down the current payroll allocation as exact figures of active personnel would be discovered.

One need not be an economist to understand how money works. Every coin has two sides, the same with every economy. And what the government is trying to do is to work from both sides of the coin; increase revenue and decrease spending - in this case by blocking leakages. The Integrated Personnel and Payroll Informatio­n System (IPPIS), is one of two initiative­s introduced by former finance minister, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, which have helped to do just that. Since the introducti­on of IPPIS, more ghostworke­rs have been discovered than any other time in our national history. This is just one of the ways government can streamline its spending. The second is the Treasury Single Account (TSA) which allows government, MDAs, and parastatal­s to warehouse their funds in a single account as opposed to what obtained in the past.

In addition to launching the IPPIS and TSA, Dr Okonjo-Iweala also started the Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Corporatio­n (NMRC), Developmen­t Bank of Nigeria (DBN), operationa­lised the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF), and pushed Government Integrated Financial Management Informatio­n System (GIFMIS). Coupled with these, she led the Economic Management Team (EMT). This was the internatio­nally endorsed economic team that was saddled with the responsibi­lity of bringing down Nigeria’s huge debt portfolio. Dr Okonjo-Iweala’s team was able to see to the wiping out of US$30 billion of Nigeria’s debt, including the outright cancellati­on of US$18 billion which President Olusegun Obasanjo, in his memoirs, admitted would not have been achieved without her influence and hard work.

Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has always believed in systems and institutio­ns as the best weapon against the challenges faced in Nigeria, by Nigerians and she has always said as much. No wonder she spent her years in service ensuring that these institutio­ns were set in place to give the nation an opportunit­y for a better future. Uwa Eghomeka, Benin, Edo State

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