By Oyeniyi Iwakun
One of the challenges confronting accountants and accountancy as a profession in Nigeria has been the management of loyalty to principals or organizations, confidentiality in terms of information and transparency cum patriotism in terms of handling issues of corruption and defaults in organizations. It is incontrovertible that corruption is rampant in both private and public organizations in Nigeria and accountants are often not confident enough to expose their clients, superiors, colleagues or even organizations when frauds are detected. In some cases, they are also compelled to join in the deal. As lucrative as the profession is, most Nigerians aspire to become accountants without visibly understanding the ethics and job description of the profession. Probably, it is on this note that the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) decided not long ago to enforce some moral codes and back its members to do the needful when issues of fraud are detected.
The 53rd chairman of ICAN, Alhaji Isma’ila Muhammadu Zakari, said in Lagos that when any fowl play is suspected during auditing, the Chattered Accountant must say it, as ICAN would be ready to defend its members.
Beyond that, there are also challenges as to how to go about achieving the dream of becoming a Chartered Accountant among young Nigerians. In most cases, this argument is often premised on the impression that the processes leading to attaining this height is too rigorous and tedious for a commoner because of its financial requirements. On the other hand, the examinations preceding the honour are perceived to be extremely difficult to pass, no matter how hard a student studies.
This has often placed a serious task on the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), not only to correct this wrong impression but also to guide and encourage young people to embrace the profession and project its objectives. Considering the fact that Accountancy is very crucial to the development of any nation’s economy, Nigeria as a country surely needs more qualified people in such professional body to effectively make economic and financial plans and also fight related crimes. Hence, the focus of ICAN to reach out to individuals and groups in other academic fields of endeavor, more importantly secondary school students and undergraduates to equip them with a discipline like accountancy which has been known for its outstanding professional status.
Among other districts in ICAN, the Lagos Mainland and District Society (LMDS) is basically known for its commitments to the objectives of the institute and resoluteness of its members in pushing the ideals of the profession to the outside world. However, this has taken a new dimension under the leadership of Mrs. Blessing Ngozi Osakwe-Ogo, the Chairman, LMDS.
The ICAN LMDS, last week embarked on orientation cum empowerment programme tagged “catch them young” for secondary school students in Lagos.
The educative seminar was an innovation aimed at exposing young people in secondary and tertiary institutions to the opportunities and prospects in the Accountancy profession so that they can develop interest and prepare as much as possible at an early age to become chattered accountants, according to the ICAN LMDS’s Chairman, Mrs. Blessing Ngozi Osakwe-Ogo who spoke with MMS Plus.
She said “It is a programme that is very dear to ICAN. Like we told the students, after their senior secondary School Certificates Examinations (SSCE), and passed, they write JAMB and once they couldn’t secure admission, they sit down and waste away. ICAN is now saying, you shouldn’t waste, come with your 5 O’ Level credits including English Language and Mathematics, not more than two sittings and take the Accounting Technicians Scheme West Africa (ATSWA) programme which would give you a certificate equivalent to National Diploma (ND) certificate and enable you gain direct entry into universities and also secure you employment.”
The event which held for two days, Wednesday June 20, and Thursday June 21, 2018 at Maryland and Yaba involved secondary school students in Education Districts II and IV respectively.
Mrs. Osakwe-Ogo further explained in her opening remark at the event that the idea was to catch the children very young, educate them on what a career in accountancy would be, avail them with the “modus operandi” in the profession and also to encourage them to apply for ICAN examinations so that they don’t waste away after secondary school, in anticipation of university admission.
While extending the goodwill of the president of the Institute to the audience, the District’s chairman gave a brief background about ICAN and its structures even as she encouraged the students to be committed, disciplined and dedicated to work in order to achieve their dreams in life.
Illustrating with her personal experience, the ICAN boss acknowledged that there could be challenges in the long run but urged that such challenge shouldn’t deter the students from pursing their passions and ensure that they succeed in life noting that at the end of every suffering and hard work comes success and elevation.
““Accountancy is a profession that gives prestige, and it is involved in a lot of disciplines and being a chartered accountant distinguishes you. So you must have a dream and great projections for the future.
“To be a great mother or father, you have to be successful and to achieve this, this is the time for you to read and study hard.
“I was also not born with a silver spoon. I lost my father at a very tender age and I had to sponsor my education myself. Don’t forget that I have my younger ones to also fend for. I also encountered serious challenges along the line but with God’s help, I was able to overcome them. This is to tell you that if I can succeed, no matter the situation you find yourself now, you can still succeed.
“Don’t invest your resources on phones and other flashy things that would soon become outdated and would add no value to your future.
Mrs. Osakwe –Ogo noted that everything about ICAN is good if the demands of the profession could be met even as she stated that such requirements includes precision and Mathematical aptitude, confidentiality, Accuracy, trustworthiness, among others.
In her address, the Director of education, District II, Mrs. Apaeze T.I welcomed the guests to the event as she appreciated the institute for dimming it fit to extend their generosity to the young ones in the society who would in turn become leaders in the future.
While admitting the role of the event in shaping the life of the students, the Education Icon assured that the education ministry would through the teachers under the district replicate the programme in their schools, using the student participants as facilitators.
She said “I know that all of us want to be accountants and have money because whenever accountancy is mentioned, what comes to mind is money. Today, we are getting vital Information about the accounting profession from the right source. I therefore urge us to go out at the end of the day to disseminate to others that are not privileged to attend.”
In his presentation, the resource person at the event who is also a chartered accountant, Mr. Okoro Ihendu began his lecture by taking the students through the meaning and operational structures of ICAN even as he harped on the imperativeness of the motto of the institute: “Accuracy and Integrity”.
Mr. Okoro explained the stages and processes involved in undertaking ICAN courses, the cost implication and tried to correct the impression among students that ICAN examinations are naturally too difficult to pass.
According to him, students with the required O’ level results can comfortably sit and pass the ATSWA examination with hard work and consistent study which would place them above their peers who are still seeking admission into universities through Joint Admission and Matriculations Board (JAMB). He explained further, that starting with ATSWA examination makes it easy to pass subsequent examinations that confer the Associate Chartered Accountant (ACA) qualification to the person having understood the processes from the scratch.
He said “with Association of Accounting Technicians West Africa (AATWA) certificate you can be considered with Direct Entry admission into higher institutions in Nigeria and West African countries like; Ghana, Cameroon, Gambia and others. You will also be considered for employment in these countries because the certificate is recognized by them.”
Reacting to the event, one of the participants, Miss Ibeh Chiota Cythia , SS2 student of Immaculate Heart Comprehensive Senior High School, Maryland, Lagos said she was impressed by the event she described as “very wonderful”. According to her, the seminar exposed her more to what ICAN stands for and what she stands to gain as a young girl if she picks a career in Accountancy.
“I have encountered the name ATSWA somewhere before but I didn’t know the meaning but with today’s event, I now know that ATSWA was introduced by ICAN and I know what it means.
“I have in mind not to just be an accountant but a chartered accountant. So, with this programme, I am convinced that indeed, I need to become a chartered accountant. I want to say a big thank you to ICAN.” She remarked.
Giving the votes of thanks, the ICAN LMDS Vice Chairman, Rev. Tunde Ayade, appreciated the students for their attentiveness and rare display of intelligence. While observing that, with the calmness and attentiveness displayed by the students during the lecture coupled with manner they asked questions, he is convinced that the students would excel if they remain focused.
Rev. Ayade gave out the contacts of the ICAN LMDS leadership and urged the students to approach any of them or the secretariat to get clarifications on issues or get assistance at any point in time.
Also featured in the event is interactive session where ICAN customized written materials such as books, pen and others are distributed to the students.