There is disturbing news coming from the National Service Secretariat (NSS), suggesting that some jobless New Patriotic Party (NPP) cronies of the acting Executive Director, Mustapha Ussif, have found their way onto the schemes payroll.
They are said to have been designated as his special assistants, and have been placed on the payroll of the NSS to be getting free money.
Meanwhile, the qualifications of the Executive Director and his two deputies, are currently a headache before the Public Service Commission, hence they are not collecting salaries.
The cronyism and the claim that, the reports of a possible return of ghost names, are said to have contributed significantly to the bloated number of service personnel on the NSS Payroll, and insiders are calling for a thorough audit of the 66,000 persons.
The scheme, has not gone beyond 45,000 students in recent times. The surge in the number of service personnel on the NSS payroll, has surprised many who mentioned that, the scheme could be returning to the years of Ghost Names.
To the insiders, “it may also be useful to ask whether there are sure the people they are paying are at post. For instance how many were posted? How many registered? How many actually reported? And how many went into self-supporting agencies and institutions including the private sector?
They asked government to also find “what is the regional breakdown and how does it compare with the previous year? What is the difference between the numbers paid in September 2016 and 2017 for same month? Adding many more questions remain unanswered”.
About two years ago, GH¢107 million of state cash, was stolen at the NSS through a Payroll fraud. It led to the arrest and criminal prosecution of the then Executive Director, Alhaji Alhassan Mohammed Imoro and 34 others.
The Herald’s information is that, there is a mysterious 21,000 names that has appeared on the NSS payroll, thus increasing government liability significantly.
This paper, was told that the highest number of personnel the Service got after the Ghost name scandal was around 45,000 for the 2014/2015 batch of students, hence the massive increment to 66,000 in the case of the 2016/2017 batch, is inexplicable.
It was further revealed that, in the immediate aftermath of the GH¢107 million ghost names scandal, the number of personnel, decreased from 80,000 to 41,000 for the 2013/2014 batch, suggesting that the NSS, could not have more than 50,000 personnel per a batch.
The feat was achieved through an elaborate biometric registration procedure of all students by the National Identification Authority (NIA), constant monitoring and regular auditing of the NSS payroll, as well as an E-zwich payment system.
The insiders raised the suspicion, following announcement by acting Executive Director, Mustapha Ussif, that the September allowances for some 8,000 National Service personnel across the country, have been withheld, however, allowances for 58,000 others, have been paid.
His numbers have left many asking questions as to the source of the huge increment and calling President Akufo-Addo to probe the numbers and avoid people having access to free money, as happened in the case of Alhaji Alhassan Mohammed Imoro and 34 others.
They are shocked that, the acting Executive Director, announced 66,000 names on the payroll, saying arrangements made after the discovery of the GH¢107 million ghost names scandal, reduced the number of personnel on the scheme to not more than 45,000 names at a time.
They disclosed that, the new management of the scheme led by Mustapha Ussif, Gifty Afia Oware-Aboagye and Henry Nana Boakye, had tried to reverse the biometric registration of all students by the NIA, the regular auditing of the NSS payroll and the E-zwich payment system, and replace it with the normal bank payment system, which brought the fraud.
The Herald learnt that, the Vice-President’s office, as well as the E-zwich, had queried the move leading to a reversal of their option.
Mustapha Ussif, a former Member of Parliament (MP) for Yagaba/Kubori in the Northern Region, explained in his statement last Saturday that, the suspension of the payment of the September allowances is to allow for investigations into the affected personnel, who are either suspected of impersonation or disqualified from doing national service.
He claimed that the September allowance for 58,000 other personnel, was paid after a month-long delay due to the process of authentication and validation.
“Service personnel are therefore required to go to designated e-zwich service points to load their cards to access their allowances,” it said, adding “…all national service personnel who have not biometrically registered were not captured for payment of the September, 2017 allowances.
“All such national service personnel are therefore advised to visit the designated centres in Accra, Kumasi, or Tamale without any further delay to complete their biometric registration for their names to be validated for payment of allowances due them,” it advised.
The Secretariat said the authentication and validation of all national service personnel across the country was necessary because it has exposed a number of irregularities. In the Ashanti Region, it said 22 people were arrested and put under investigation of whom nine are currently being prosecuted.
A total of 57 people have also been arrested and are currently under police investigation in Tamale in the Northern Region.
October 2017 allowance, it said auditing of payment vouchers for October 2017 allowances for personnel have been concluded, indicating, “Payment would be done immediately the biometric validation is also concluded”.
Management of the Scheme, has meanwhile appealed to the general public to assist them by providing information to the security agencies on people who are impersonating for national service.