By Bashir Bello
A Northern group under the auspices of Northern Youth Assembly has on Sunday kicked against calls that the Accountant General of the Federation, AGF, Ahmed Idris must be retired from office on account of attaining 60 years of age.
The Group’s Assistant National Publicity Secretary, Comrade Mohammed Hussaini Bauchi in a statement condemned what it described as a gang-up against AGF, Idris.
Bauchi said the AGF is currently serving as a political appointee and not a civil servant that should retire at the age of 60 and therefore his appointment and renewal of the tenured appointment of the AGF is a prerogative of the President, Muhammadu Buhari.
According to the statement, “We have recently been following with keen interest the hot air balloon created by some selected and selfish labour unions in concert with some shadow political forces that, the current Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris must be retired from office on account of reaching 60 years of age.
“While we understand that this is a deliberately created political smokescreen designed to spark unnecessary confusion about an issue that is already constitutionally very clear, we feel duty bound to set the records straight. It is quite obvious that this misleading campaign was inspired by old political prejudices, because the current AGF Ahmed Idris hails from the much despised Northern extraction
“After our careful examination of all the pedestrian arguments being bandied on the media, notably the desperate move to convert the traditions of a political appointment into civil service rules, we wish to make our unequivocal position clear at this point.
And unlike the apologists of this hasty campaign to forcefully boot out AGF Ahmed Idris through the back-door, we would rely on the provisions of the constitution, which makes both the appointment and renewal of the tenured appointment of AGF a prerogative of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“It is common knowledge that the AGF is currently serving as a political appointment but not a civil servant that should retire at the age of 60. It logically follows, that his appointment in 2015 was projected as a civil servant who served within the age bracket of a mandatory retirement age of 60 years, and enjoyed the tenure within the mainstream civil service guidelines supervised under the office of the Head of Civil Service.
“His re-appointment for a second term in June last year, was predicated under S. 9(1),(2), (3) of the 1999 Construction where the President is empowered to appoint any person into any position of authority regardless of the age bracket, and therefore prompted the second appointment through the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation then what is the fuss about retirement age here?”
The group added, “The question begging for an answer is this: what is the underlying agenda of this broad daylight campaign against an appointee who has been passionate about his responsibility, to the excitement of The Presidency, which ( in the first place) has the prerogative of appointing, removing him; reappointing him or replacing him out rightly?
“It is surprising that these unions and groupings are fighting a lost battle against the AGF and their sponsors are chasing shadows and leaving the substance. If they are not out for cheap recognition or hiding behind a questionable campaign of calumny to secure the AGF’s office for their kinsmen, they should have done something more holistic in approach.
For instance, why are they turning a blind eye to the overdue retirement of the nation’s service chiefs? Or is it because some of the service chiefs are from the Southern parts of the country? If we decide to check the actual retirement dates of senior civil servants especially CEOs of federal agencies (not the pretentious type they are indulged in at the moment) how many southerners would have been found to be overdue for retirement?
Why waste resources and energy bickering over an AGF who is merely serving as a political appointee and you are trying to project him as a civil servant? If there are 200 directors qualified to take his place, so what? Is that sufficient justification to stampede a hardworking appointee out of office?
And those 200 directors being bandied about, which part of the country are they from? We won’t be surprised to discover they are mainly from the South, since this is precisely the kernel of what the current campaign of stampeding the AGF is all about.
“In the recent history of the Nigerian political journey, the current AGF was the only AGF who has through his professional expertise championed some reforms in the process of revenue collection, management and disbursement of public funds, by the institutionalizing a practical model which succeeded in blocking leakages, enhances transparency, accountability and openness in Government financial dealings, the reforms include: Single Treasury Account, IPPS, and many more
“We wish to advise the labour union and its affiliates to be wary of being used by politicians with selfish interests to dent the integrity. of dedicated appointees with a view to having the kinsmen of a certain region illegitimately occupy the same office
“We also wish to at this juncture inform the bundles of these seemingly unfocused unions to withdraw from their planned conspiracy to invade the office of the AGF, or we shall be forced to confront them,” the statement however reads.