Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief
The federal government’s decision to remove Mr. Chukwuyere Anamekwe, as Acting Accountant-General of the Federation was to punish him for saying that the government was borrowing to pay salaries.
An informed source in the presidency told Vanguard, in Abuja, Tuesday, that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari was highly embarrassed by Mr. Anamekwe’s comment.
He told the Cash Management officials that the federal government was augmenting its paltry revenues with borrowed funds, an effort to drive home the need for greater discipline in the management of government funds.
Mr. Anamekwe had spoken at a retreat organised by the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF) for members of the Technical Sub-committee On Cash Management (TSCM), on June 14, 2022, in Nassarawa State.
The theme of the of the retreat was, “Enthroning fiscal discipline in Nigeria’s public Financial management: A Clarion Call to Stakeholders”
He was quoted as saying, “Due to dwindling revenues, the treasury had to resort to other sources in order to augment for the payment of federal government public servants. It is absurd. Ordinarily we shouldn’t borrow to pay salaries.
“These issues call for an articulated deployment of fiscal discipline and strategies that will help mitigate these challenges
“Now that these challenges stare us in the face, you are all expected at this gathering to come out with ideas that will push us through.
“Therefore, we must all, at this retreat strive towards identifying the challenges to revenue generation and other means of enhancing inflow into Federal Government coffers; ensuring the cutting down the cost of governance in the most acceptable way and ensuring synergy amongst and within stakeholders in the sub-committee”,
As learnt, the moment the comment became public, top officials of the administration took a decision to remove Mr. Anamekwe as his position was considered anti-government, as the government had insisted in the past that its borrowings were for investments in various sectors of the economy.
In a matter of days, it was gathered that the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan, was directed to commence the process for the appointment of a substantive AGF to replace Mr Idris. Ahmed who was suspended following his arrest and detention by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over an allegation of an N80 billion fraud.
In less than a week after the Anamekwe comment, Dr. Yemi Esan issued a memo, inviting Accountants of Grade Level 17 in the service to apply for the job.
The memo reads: “Following the approval of Mr. President, the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation is commencing the process of the appointment of a substantive Accountant General of the Federation from eligible Directors (Accountant) in the pool of Accountant General of the Federation.
“Consequently, all accountants in the mainstream Federal Civil Service In the pool of Accountant General of the Federation who have attained the position of Substantive Director (Salary Grade 17) on or before 1 January 2020 and are not retiring from the service earlier than 31 December 2024 are eligible to participate in the exercise.
“Officers undergoing disciplinary proceedings are however excluded from the exercise.
“Permanent Secretaries are requested to forward the list of eligible directors on SGL 17, confidential and personal files of all eligible directors, 5 copies of Curriculum Vital of each of the eligible directors, brief on each of the eligible directors in the attached format to be produced in Microsoft Word and in both hard (5 copies) and soft copies.”
Although there were reports of allegations of corruption against Mr. Anamekwe, it was learnt that it was not the reason for his removal, as he was redeployed to the Federal Civil Service Commission and not suspended or sacked, as would have been the case.