Tension is brewing in the office of the Auditor General the Federation (AGF), following alleged moves by the retiring occupant of the office, Anthony M. Ayeni, to have his tenure extended by the Federal Government.
Investigations revealed that Ayeni is due to retire from public service on October 25, when he is expected to attain the compulsory retirement age of 60.
By the extant Civil service rules and the constitutional provisions, the AGF was supposed to have tendered his letter of retirement on July 25 and ought to have proceeded on retirement leave. The AGF has however, stayed on the job and did not proceed on terminal leave, it was learnt.
Although Ayeni is believed to have tendered his letter of retirement, the process has been shrouded in secrecy as sources at the Civil Service Commission, Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation and the Office of Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) said the AGF’s letter could not be traced in the system.
It was also found out that the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee of the House of Representatives, Hon Wale Oke, was yet to be briefed.
According to the source, the Chairman and his committee members were all in the dark even though the AGF reports to the National Assembly through the Committee in the course of his duties as provided in the 1999 constitution as amended.
Our source said that Ayeni had deliberately kept his retirement processes as a matter of top confidentiality to enable him lobby his way to extension of tenure.
The source also pointed to the fact that Ayeni has continued to discharge his duties normally and has done nothing yet regarding his handing over.
“The AGF has not briefed his Directors on the interim succession plans,” the source disclosed.
Similarly, the source disclosed that there was no arrangement yet for send-off ceremonies, with barely three weeks to the exit of the AGF.
The source explained that this was contrary to tradition, where elaborate arrangements went underway several weeks to the retirement date of previous holders of the office.
Last week, Ayeni himself allegedly gave a hint to his tenure extension plan when he told an international audience that his retirement “is not certain” even though he is supposed to exit by October 25.
The AGF was a participant at a ‘Roundtable Discussion on Supreme Audit Institutions Strategic Level Responses to COVID-19 Pandemic’, which was attended virtually by Heads of Audit institutions around the World.
During the session, it was announced that four Heads of National Audit institutions including Mr Kimi Makwetu, Auditor General of South Africa and Ayeni of Nigeria were billed for retirement.
However, a source said that Ayeni stunned the international community when he said he retirement was not certain, when called upon to make a farewell speech to his colleagues.
Since his public statement on the matter, tension has been mounting at the Audit House as a group, which called itself “Concerned Senior Staff” has said that it
would not cooperate with the retiring AGF or take orders from him if he fails to hand over after October 25.
“This is a constitutional position, it is different from normal administrative office. We want the right and proper thing to be done to protect the integrity of the office,” the source quoted a member of the group to have said.
The source also said the group was rooting for the appointment of a career person in the system as the next AGF.
“We want to support President Buhari’s war against corruption and the Auditor General is central to this anti-corruption fight, so this is no time for experiments, we appeal to the Federal Government to promote a culture of internal succession for institutional memory, continuity and transparent audit of government finances and offices,” the group was quoted to have said.
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