November 30, 2022

Calls for appointment of substantive AGF grow

… as NIGH urges Buhari to act

By Nnamdi Ojiego

Following the arrest and subsequent dismissal of former Accountant-General of the Federation, AGF, Ahmed Idris, over alleged money laundering and diversion of N80 billion in public funds, there have been calls for the appointment of a substantive one.

Recall that immediately after the dismissal of Idris, President Muhammadu Buhari approved the appointment of Mr Chukwuyere Anamekwe in an acting position for that office.

However, Anamekwe was unceremoniously removed and quietly appointed Mr Okolieaboh Sylva, who worked formerly as Director of Treasury Single Account (TSA) and who is due for retirement in the first quarter of 2023.

Statutory Function

The Accountant General of the Federation is the administrative head of the country’s treasury, and the office holder is often appointed by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to serve a four-year term as the constitution stipulates.

The office holder is charged with the responsibility to manage receipts and payments of the country and to ensure that a proper system of account exists in every department of the nation’s treasury and to exercise general supervision over the receipts of public revenue and over the expenditure of the Federal Government.

However, Sunday Vanguard gathered that those calling for the appointment of substantive AGF are worried over the prolonged delay in concluding the process that commenced over six months ago.

They accused the Head of Civil Service, Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan, of stalling the appointment process.

The Federal Government through the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, had on 16th June 2022, commenced the process of appointing a substantive AGF.

Due Process
In line with that directive, a service-wide circular was issued inviting eligible directors (accountants) on Grade Level 17 in the pool of Office of the AGF to apply.

One of the criteria for the aspiring applicants is that such must have held the position of director for not less than two years and have not less than two years left in service.

The criteria were adequately followed and at the close of submission of applications and security clearance by relevant security agencies, it was gathered that eight aspiring directors qualified for appointment into the position.

It is expected that having concluded the process of selection, the next stage would be the appointment of the substantive AGF from the qualified directors.
But this was not to be as the HoS has written to the president to hold on to the appointment until the first quarter of 2023.

Stalling allegations
The action of the HoS has prompted a pressure group, the National Intervention Group of Nigeria, NIGN, to write President Buhari urging him to probe the activities of the HoS over alleged stalling of the selection process to appoint a substantive AGF.

The accusation was contained in an open letter by the group to Buhari which was obtained by our correspondent.

“We learnt the Head of Service of the Federation, in gross disregard for Your Excellency’s earlier directive and subsisting criteria for selection has proposed that the process be extended to the first quarter of 2023 to accommodate an unqualified interest who became director in 2021 and also allow the director currently overseeing the exalted office, Mr Okolieaboh Sylva, who is due for retirement, to be appointed in acting position for that office.

“Sir, according to the Head of Service of the Federation’s proposal, it then means the almost completed process would be stalled until the first quarter of 2023 when the interested candidate would be qualified to take over from Mr Sylvia: A corrupt practice which will dab indelible dirt on your integrity and your government’s anti-corruption drive”, the letter read in part.

In light of the foregoing, NIGN, urged the president to do the needful by appointing a substantive AGF from the pool of the qualified candidate already screened.

In a statement last Wednesday by its National Coordinator, Akinloye Oyeniyi, the NIGN said: “In the interest of our dear country, Nigeria, her smooth running and supremacy of Section 1(2) of the 1999 Constitution, we, hereby, respectively call on Your Excellency to appoint a substantive Accountant-General of the Federation from the pool of the qualified candidate already screened.”

Therefore, to avoid this matter from escalating further, President Buhari should waste no more time in appointing a substantive AGF.