While it is likely that the best pursuits in life for many have yet to be discovered, every person can however make his or her own job title. Therefore, the best quest in life, for each person, is the one that he or she believes in, and for which he would sacrifice every other thing. For Alhaji Ahmed Idris, the Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF), it appears he knew he could be a better accountant, a career for which he would sacrifice many other things. He pretty much only needed his hands and mind, this certainly being a lifetime mission for a results-oriented administrator in pursuit of excellence.
While it is difficult to come up with an accurate description of the daily life of an accountant, because the field is broad, no two accountants will spend their days doing the same kind of work. His job ensures he walks his talks; working with various ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs). As a government accountant, he could also audit individuals and private businesses, essentially when the need to do so arises.
As the AGF, Idris has made history as the first Nigerian in recent times to be appointed for two terms in office. This followed a letter signed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, conveying the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari for the re-appointment. According to Mustapha, Idris’ re-appointment is “in accordance with Section 171 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), and will take effect from June 25th, 2019.”
Under his watch, the Nigerian public finance management arena has undergone quite a number of reform initiatives such as the Treasury Single Account (TSA), which has resulted in improved revenue collection for the federal government and garnered national and international acclaim, and more.
He is also known for an aversion to the perfunctory sense of financial management. Making reference to the benefits and achievement of IPPIS, an ICT-driven project initiated by the government to improve payment of salaries and wages to FG workers while ensuring appropriate remittances of tax, dues and other payments, he said last year that the government saved N163 billion in two years, adding that the country is poised to rake in another N80 billion in the subsequent year.
On the rate of tax applied by tertiary institutions, Idris says prior to the migration to IPPIS, the rate of tax applied by tertiary institutions was not correct, leading to underpayment of Pay As You Earn (PAYE) tax. Also, he believes the deduction of 2.5 per cent of basic salary for the National Housing Fund (NHF) is another statutory contribution backed by the Act of the National Assembly, “from which the lecturers cannot be exempted.”
Yunusa Tanko Abdullahi wrote from Abuja.