The newly appointed Auditor-General of the Federation, Mr. Anthony Mkpe Ayine, recently unveiled his roadmap as he assumed office following Senate’s confirmation, reports Ndubuisi Francis
The Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation (OAuGF) is a separate and independent entity whose existence, powers, duties and responsibilities are provided for under Section 85 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.
Section 85(2) of the 1999 Constitution provides that the public accounts of the federation and of all offices and courts of the federation shall be audited and reported on by the Auditor-General who shall submit his report to the National Assembly; and for that purpose, the Auditor-General or any person authorised by him on his behalf shall have access to all the books, records, returns and other document relating to those accounts.
Similarly, Section 85(4) of the Constitution stipulates that the Auditor-General shall have power to conduct periodic checks on all government statutory corporations, commissions, authorities, agencies, including all persons and bodies established by an Act of the National Assembly.
Section 301 also vests the Auditor-General of the Federation with the power to audit the account of Area Councils in the Federal Capital Territory.
Flowing from these constitutional provisions, it is obvious that the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation is saddled with an enormous responsibility.
It was, perhaps, in realisation of this huge mandate that the newly appointed Auditor-General of the Federation, Mr. Anthony Mkpe Ayine recently challenged the management staff of the OAuGF, on assumption of office.
Addressing the management staff of the Supreme Audit Institution (SAI) at the Audit House, the official headquarters of this critical institution in Abuja recently, Ayine noted that integrity remained key in the federal government’s anti-corruption crusade, urging them to uphold that virtue.
Ayine said besides President Muhammadu Buhari’s zero tolerance for corruption, an auditor, anywhere in the world, would be nothing without integrity.
His words: “I emphasise integrity because integrity is the key for an auditor. As an auditor, if you take away integrity, you are completely gone.
“So for us to fit in, in the anti-corruption crusade of the federal government, we must have the important virtues of integrity, transparency and accountability in our lives, before we go out to tell others to be transparent and accountable,” he said.
Continuing he said, “it must start with us because this office is the office that has the constitutional authority to carry out this anti-corruption crusade even more than any other institution of government.”
While commending the anti-corruption work of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as well as the Independent
Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offices Commission (ICPC), Ayine reminded his management staff members to realise that those two institutions were making a great impact.
According to him, they derive their powers from Acts of the National Assembly while the Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation derives its own from the Constitution, hence greater the need for greater demand to be made of those in charge of the supreme audit institution.
Ayine noted that if the OAuGF is doing well, “we have that constitutional role to impact and even build strong institutions for the country.”
He also told the management staff to always respect the office rather than just the person occupying it, adding that it was not the individual that occupies an office that matters most, but the institution.
Drawing from the recent inauguration of Mr. Donald Trump as President of the United States of America, he harped on the importance of the office
“Look at during the inauguration of Donald Trump, see past presidents that were there; the office of the president in the U.S. is respected, and this is because they believe in strong institutions. Once a president has emerged, they work to respect that office; it’s not the individual that is there, but the office.
“And, I would like to urge us, as we have said that this is the supreme audit institution in Nigeria, we should therefore work to project the image of the supreme audit institution in the country. Because this office is the symbol of the institution; so we must see that we build and work to project the image of the office,” Ayine stressed.
Paying respect and making reference to Nigeria’s National Pledge, he admonished the management staff to in particular imbibe the virtues of faithfulness, loyalty and honesty as a true reflection of the country’s Pledge.
His words: “We have a constitutional mandate that working together we are able to realise and to achieve that constitutional mandate that this office has. When we recite the National Pledge, the importance of some key words of the Pledge should not be lost on us. Let us reflect on what the Pledge says: I pledge to Nigeria my country, to be faithful, loyal and honest.
“So, in our duty faithfulness, loyalty and honesty, all those virtues are required of us, management staff, so that we can serve our nation well; we must realise that those virtues are very, very important in the discharge of our duties, including commitment and the need for a high sense of responsibility,” he added.
He urged the management staff to exhibit discipline and commitment at all times, noting that if indiscipline was found in the management staff, it will pass the wrong message to the personnel at the lower rungs of the ladder.
He stressed that discipline and commitment must start with the management.
Born on October 25, 1960 in Bokalum, Boki Local Government of Cross River State, Ayine graduated with B.Sc (Hons) degree in Accounting from the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria in 1986 and later bagged a Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Calabar, in 1993.
He had also emerged the Best Graduating Student in the Department of Business Studies in 1982/83 in the Cross River State School of Basic Studies, Akamkpa, where he obtained the IJMB ‘A’ Levels.
His professional career is replete with sterling qualities quite early in life.
Having passed the final qualifying examinations of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) in November 1998, he was admitted Associate Member of the Institute (ACA) in 1999 and was further elevated Fellow of the Institute (FCA) in 2010.
Of note is that he is a Certified Forensic Accountant (CFA) and an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN) as well as the Nigerian Institute of Management (NIM).
He began his working career in the then Audit Department (now office of the State Auditor-General) of Cross River State in May 1988 and served until 1992 as Auditor 1 when he moved to join the then State financial institution, Equity and Investment Company Limited, in Calabar where he progressed to the position of Principal Manager in charge of Finance in 1999. Realising the importance of his expertise, skill and experience, the Cross River State Government invited him back to mainstream Government Civil Service to take charge of the Ministry of Finance Incorporated (MOFI) in the State Ministry of Finance.
In September 2001, Ayine was subsequently appointed Auditor-General for Local Governments, a position which saddled him with the task of auditing accounts of all the 18 local governments of Cross River State.
This was the position he held until he was appointed Auditor-General for the Federation on January 12, 2017 by President Muhammadu Buhari after emerging tops at a rigorous, mandatory written and oral interviews as set out for the position in accordance with the Federal Civil Service Commission,
In the course of his professional career and tour of duty, he has attended several courses and training locally and internationally which have expanded his professional horizon and enriched his competences.
A thoroughbred professional, Ayine has also served in several special and strategic committee assignments, all of which fittingly prepared him well for the tasks and challenges at hand.