The non-appointment of a new state Auditor-General in Anambra State is wreaking havoc on the lives of recently retired civil servants.
The Anambra State House of Assembly confirmed Mr. Daniel Okeke as the Auditor-General on November 4, 2022. However, Okeke retired from service in July, leaving the crucial position unfilled. Four months into Okeke’s retirement, Governor Prof Chukwuma Soludo has not yet appointed a successor, leaving the fate of retirees in limbo.
Typically, retirees start receiving their pensions immediately after retirement, while their gratuity is computed. However, with the Auditor-General’s position vacant, the final approval necessary for pension disbursement is in a standstill.
One affected retiree expressed frustration, stating, “I have not been getting anything because, despite the processing of my papers, it is at the Auditor-General’s table, which is the final stage. But right now, Anambra does not have an Auditor-General. What it means is that we will keep waiting until a new one is appointed.”
The office of the Auditor-General revealed a backlog of files awaiting the Auditor-General’s signature for retirees to access their pensions. A staff member lamented, “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 paperwork, after which it comes to the Auditor-General for his signature.”
Despite the crucial role highlighted by the former Auditor-General in building public trust, Governor Soludo has not signaled any urgency in appointing a new Auditor-General. Calls to the Head of Service, Mrs. Theodora Igwegbe, for information on the government’s plan were unanswered.
Civil society activist Mr. Chris Azor noted an individual in an acting capacity but emphasized the need for a permanent appointment to alleviate the plight of retirees. As the governor delays action, newly retired individuals face increasing challenges amid the country’s harsh economic conditions.