INVESTIGATION: How Soludo’s non-appointment of Auditor-general affects lives of new retirees
THE RAZOR investigation has revealed how the non-appointment of a new state auditor general is taking its toll on the lives of newly retired civil servants in Anambra State, who just left service and looking for a way to continue normal life.
Anambra State House of Assembly had on November 4, 2022 confirmed the appointment of Mr. Daniel Okeke as the Auditor-General of the State, but Okeke had in July this year retired from service, leaving the office vacant as a new auditor general is yet to be appointed.
Four months into Okeke’s retirement, the Anambra State governor, Prof Chukwuma Soludo is yet to appoint a new auditor general, and there are no indication that he is ready to do so anytime soon.
This has left the fate of civil servants who retired from service from the time he left office to this day in the balance.
THE RAZOR gathered that once it is time for a civil servant to retire, the establishment where they retire from, begins processing their entitlement, such that the civil servant, begins to draw pension immediately they retire, while waiting for the computing of their gratuity, which is a larger sum.
An affected retiree who denied being named said: “I just retired from service. The practice is that months before your retirement depending on your office, you have already started processing your papers, such that once you retire, from the next month, you can start receiving your pension.
“The idea is that since you are out of service and will no longer be receiving salary, the pension can sustain you, while you look for something you can be doing; especially for those who are still healthy.
“But as it stands now, I have not been getting anything because despite the fact that my papers have been processed, it is there now at the auditor general’s table, which is the final stage. But right now, Anambra does not have an auditor general, so what it means is that we will keep waiting until a new one is appointed,” the retiree lamented.
During a visit to the office of the auditor general, which is situated at Ukwu Orji, behind the Government House, a staff of the office revealed that loads of files are waiting for the signature of the auditor general, for retirees to begin to draw pension.
The staff who begged not to be named as he is not mandated to speak said: “Truth is that nothing is moving in this office presently.
“The former auditor general retired some months ago, and since then, no new appointment has been made. If you see the number of files that are waiting to be signed, you will marvel.
“The way this thing works is that close to your retirement, the office where you are retiring from now begins to process your papers. Once they are done, it moves to the office of the head of service for further paper work, after which it comes to the auditor general for his signature. Once these are done, you can now begin to receive your pension.
“All that is needed on those files is the signature of the auditor general. We have a most senior officer here, but he cannot sign those files, else it would be void. We don’t also know when Anambra State governor will appoint a new auditor, so the fate of many people who are retiring from the point when the former auditor general retired, and to the point when a new one will be appointed, are hanging in the balance.”
The former auditor general, Mr Okeke had in a workshop organised by the Anambra State House of Assembly committee on auditor engagement forum and accountability dialogue in July, shortly before his retirement harped on the crucial role of audit work in building public trust and confidence in government financial transactions.
This underscores the importance of the office, and the need to ensure that no vacuum is left in the audit office. But there is not hope yet that Governor Soludo will appoint a new auditor general anytime soon.
Attempt by THE RAZOR to know what the office of the Head of Service, Mrs Theodora Igwegbe is doing to help newly retired civil servants to start getting their pension, pending when a new auditor general would be appointed, was not successful, as she was said to be in a meeting and not disposed to speak.
Several calls spanning two days, which were made to his mobile phone were not taken and not also replied.
A civil society activist, Mr Chris Azor who reacted on the matter said: “I don’t have all the information, but I’m aware that there is someone in acting capacity. I was a member of the budget committee, and about two weeks ago, the auditor general’s office appeared before us, and someone who I have known for sometime, introduced himself as being in acting capacity.
“That was even when I knew that the former auditor general, who was also my friend had retired. The man who said he was in acting capacity gave his name as Akosa.
“I’m not holding brief for the governor, but for me not to know that the former auditor general, who was close to me had retired, then it is a recent thing, and not up to the number of months you are saying. So, I think the governor is bidding his time, to do the needful and then name a new auditor general.”
As the governor continues to ‘wait to do the needful’, new retirees will continue to face hard times, including the harsh economy of the country.