By Christiana Ekpa and Ikechukwu Okaforadi
The Senate, yesterday, approved the nomination of Anthony Mkpa Ayine as Auditor-General of the Federation (AuGF).
Ayine’s confirmation follows the consideration of the report of the Senate Committee on Public Accounts, presented by its Chairman, Senator Andy Uba.
Presenting the report, Uba said, though there were petitions against Ayine but his competence was not disputed, leading the Committee to recommend that the nominee be confirmed “There were petition against the nomination of Mr Ayine, for the appointment as a auditor General for the Federation. The thrust of the petition are that: *there are Senior Director in the office of the Auditor General for the federation that are qualified for appointment as the auditor General;
*Mr Ayine Anthony Mkpa is an Auditor- General for Local Government with less scope than what he going to meet; *The appointment of Mr. Ayine Anthony will lower the morale of existing stall” “The nominee performed creditably during the screen exercise. He responded well to question, observation and comments of members of the committee. Members were therefore convinced that he is a fit and proper person to serve as Auditor General for the federation” However, Senator Binta Garba, (APC-Adamawa), attempted to frustrate Ayine’s confirmation, by disclosing details of a petition and arguing that he should be dropped.
Garba claimed that Ayine was a cousin of the current Head of Service of the Federation and functioned as Auditor-General of ‘local government auditor’ in his last appointment.
She said: “Given his position as ‘local government auditor’, he would be placed at Grade Level (GL) 14 after conversion to federal service, whereas the law specifies GL 17 as requirement for the office of Auditor-General of the Federation.”
But reacting in defence of the nominee, the Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, countered the Adamawa lawmaker, pointing the petition on which she based her claims was misleading.
Akpabio said Ayine was a “state’s auditor-general for all local government areas, not just one local government.”
He added that by virtue of Ayine’s position, he was on a level similar to a permanent secretary; therefore, met the GL 17 requirement.
Akpabio’s submission was backed by the Senate Leader, Ahmad Lawan (APC, Yobe North) and George Sekibo, (PDP-Rivers).
They argued that Ayine had gone through the constitutional process, including writing and passing required test before he was nominated by the president.
Consequently, the nomination received unanimous support when Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the session, put the confirmation to voice vote.
Ayine hails from Cross Rivers State, where he joined civil service in 1988 as Auditor II. The last substantive Auditor-General, Samuel Ukura, was also appointed from outside the federal service.