With a rather poor ethics and compliance culture ravaging the land and the attendant dire consequences seen mostly in the loss of huge investment opportunities to other climes, Compliance Institute, Nigeria is stepping in as a catalyst for corporate compliance in Nigeria with the aim to change the old narrative, Ikenna Ekwerike writes
Indiscipline among Nigerians may have reached an intolerable stage in the early 80s, becoming a countrywide embarrassment. The political response to this social ill then was the invocation of the war against indiscipline (WAI) policy to arrest the situation. But the extent of success which the physically coercive method attained remains a subject of intense public debate.
Be that as it may, indiscipline remains a stark reality that stares Nigerians right in the face, even today. Indiscipline is expressed in flagrant disregard for generally acceptable codes of conducts, whether written or unwritten. The danger which the culture of non-compliance portends for the individual and society at large is very grave. Many believe that indiscipline is that egg out of which corruption is hatched.
Arguably, the present government at the federal level, practically rode into power on the wings of the promise to fight corruption. This it appears to have been seemingly pursued vigorously without a conclusive and definitive outcome resulting from this exercise.
Similarly, relevant stakeholders are not leaving anything to chance as far as this fight is concerned. One of such stakeholders spearheading the culture of compliance with a view to putting Nigeria on the global map, is the Compliance Institute, Nigeria (CIN).
Precisely, Saturday, December 9, 2017, a new crop of Nigerian professionals, armed with the compliance culture, were commissioned and charged to give a boost to the war against corruption, money laundering and terrorism financing beginning with the financial sector, by the CIN through an oath of allegiance sworn at its inaugural investiture ceremony in Lagos.
With its first ever induction and investiture ceremony for over 700 pioneer members that cut across the three membership categories of Fellow, Compliance Institute, Nigeria (FCIN), Associate, Compliance Institute, Nigeria (ACIN) and Designate Compliance Professional (DCP), CIN is set to encourage, promote and revive the consciousness for compliance within and outside the financial industry in the country.
Outside the shores of Nigeria, Nigeria and, indeed, Nigerians are perceived to be â€œfantastically corruptâ€ due to the shortage in compliance culture. Consequently, no serious-minded investor would want to commit resources into an economic environment that does not play strictly by the rules of the game.
Thus, expressing confidence that CIN was well positioned to become a major catalyst for change in the way things are done in the corporate environment, the president, CIN, Mr. Pattison Boleigha said the activities of the institute would further help to salvage the image of Nigeria abroad.
â€œWe also intend to use this to create professionals who will help all institutions in the country to be able to come up with policies to monitor crime: to monitor money laundering, corruption and even terroristsâ€™ financing. So, we are heading towards the right direction and we believe with these we will begin to gain more respect in the international community and open more doors for companies and industries in Nigeria who would no longer be considered as high risk as it is today,â€ Boleigha stated.
While the institute is currently open to those in the financial services sector alone for now, the president hinted that plans were underway to incorporate other sectors, too. He noted that government and the public service will not be left out.
He said: â€œWhen we started we actually wanted to have a compliance institute for the entire spectrum of compliance but we needed to start somewhere so we had to start from the financial industry. Today, we have as our coverage financial institutions and the non-financial institutions, designated non-financial businesses and professions which include lawyers, accountants, hoteliers, car dealers and so on. In the near future we intend to involve the oil and gas, the telecoms, manufacturing, food and beverages, medicine, aviation and all the rest because compliance is everywhere and compliance is needed everywhere.â€
In an investiture lecture, former director general, Inter-Governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa, Prof. Shehu Abdullahi, said the appointment of a Compliance Officer in any financial institution is a mandatory regulatory requirement, as well as a requirement of international standards.
Speaking on, â€˜The Role of the Compliance Officer in Achieving Business Sustainabilityâ€™ Abdullahi said â€œwithin every financial institution, the Compliance officer plays critical roles, including ensuring that the organisation has systems of internal control that adequately measure and manage the risks that it faces, and providing an in-house compliance service that effectively supports business areas in their duty to comply with relevant laws, regulations, internal procedures and international standards.â€
He, however, highlighted that â€œfor the compliance function to achieve its objectives it should be independent and sufficiently resourced; its responsibilities should be clearly specified, and its activities should be subject to periodic and independent review by the internal audit function.â€
He warned that an efficient and effective compliance function is not achievable without the right Compliance Officer who would ensure that the organisation is conducting its business in full compliance with all national laws and regulations and international standards.
Their preparedness to champion compliance culture could never have been in the least doubt. Dressed, mostly, in black corporate dresses and suits with white inner shirts and suitable tie designs and colours to match, for the men, members filed out gracefully, to take oaths of allegiance to the noble institute; to drive compliance.
Barr. Obot Udofia Akpan, a Fellow, CIN, who accepted the responsibility, on behalf of other inductees, said for professional compliance officers, there would never be the fear of unemployment provided they lived up to public expectation in the discharge of their duties. He advised they avoided every act capable of running down the reputation of the young institute.
Similarly, Mrs. Isioma Gogo-Anazodo, a member of the board of trustees (BOT), visibly overwhelmed with joy at the successes the institute had recorded, charged the members not to relent in their efforts to bring about a new Nigeria where discipline and ethics would be the watch words.
On the heels of its inaugural investiture and induction ceremony, which members adjudged to be successful, it held, by the side-lines, its election of new board members at its first annual general meeting, same week. From that meeting, the following individuals emerged as members, BOT, CIN, to pilot the affairs of the institute for the next two years:
Pattison Boleigha was elected President of the Institute, Aminu Buhari Isah as Vice President, Raheem Owodeyi as Treasurer and Abimbola Adeseyoju as Publicity Secretary. Three other Trustees were elected into the board namely: Mrs Isioma Gogo-Anazodo, Mr. Rotimi Omotayo and Mrs. Oluyemisi Olukoya.
In all, 615 Professional Members, 42 Associate and 69 Fellows were inducted into the Institute.