The Senate confirmed Anthony Ayine as the new Auditor-General of the Federation on Wednesday, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.
Mr. Ayine was confirmed in a voice vote after being screened by Senator Andy Uba, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Accounts. The Senate also deliberated on petitions written against him.
NAN reports that the petitions alleged Mr. Ayine was unqualified for the post, as his previous role of Auditor-General for a local government area in Cross River State was too minor compared to a federal government position.
“The petitioners said that Ayine was an Auditor-General of a local government in Cross River and that if he was to be converted to Federal Civil Service, he would be on grade level 14 and that he ought to be on level 17,” said Senator Binta Masi.
Other petitions emphasized Mr. Ayine’s relationship with Winifred Oyo-Ita, the Head of Civil Service, which some senators believed constituted a conflict of interest.
“Also, that the Head of Civil Service, Mrs. Oyo-Ita, is a cousin [of Ayine] and that Ayine and acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Mr. Walter Onnoghen, both hail from Cross River negates the spirit of Federal Character,” she added.
Senator Godswill Akpabio, however, defended Mr. Ayine’s appointment, saying that he was well qualified for the position.
“The position was advertised nationally and internationally, and he was the best in terms of qualification, capability and others,” he said.
“The appointment of an Auditor-General from a local government does not mean he is for one local government but all local governments combined. Equally, where he comes from does not matter. He came on top in written and oral interviews,” Mr. Akpabio said.
Senate Leader Ahmed Lawan recalled that similar petitions were filed against him when he was Senate Chairman on Public Accounts, but such petitions lacked credibility.
Mr. Lawan supported Mr. Ayine, saying that his work as Auditor-General of a Cross River State local government area adequately prepared him for the position.
“That he is even the Auditor-General makes him very qualified for the position because it is the most complex work to do,” he said.
Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu congratulated Mr. Ayine on his appointment, saying that his work will be valuable in the government’s fight against corruption.