Financial market experts have stressed the need for operators in both public and private institutions to ensure accountability and adherence to corporate governance in their operations.
The said this while speaking at the 2018 Audit Committee Conference with the theme, â€œCultivating the Conscience of Stewards and Gatekeepers- Key to responsible governance and control,â€ that took place in Lagos.
Speaking at the event, the President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), Alhaji Razak Jaiyeola, disclosed that the institute had developed an ICAN Accountability Index, which aims at improving the process of accessing public finance and governance practices across the three tiers of Nigeriaâ€™s public sector. This, he said includes the federal, states and local governments.
â€œSome of the specific objectives of the index include to encourage accountability and transparency in public financial management in Nigeria, to improve quality of governance and compliance with the Fiscal Responsibility Act.
â€œWe are working to ensure that the first result of the accountability index is released by September this year,â€ the ICAN boss explained.
He revealed that the institute has also been working closely with the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria on the move to re-introduce the National Code of Corporate Governance.
â€œWe have put in place some machineries to support the anti-corruption campaign and promote good governance in the country.
â€œFor instance, in 2015, a N50 million whistle-blowing fund was launched to reward its members who report any act of misconduct by members in public and private sector,â€ Jaiyeola added.
According to him, to entrench good governance, the human conscience would be required to play prominent role in the success of such efforts.
â€œIndeed, remove ethics and morality from any government policy and programme and what you will have left will be mere text of typed papers.
â€œInterestingly, the accounting profession is arguably one that requires high level of adherence to high ethical standards among its practitioners.
â€œThe pervasive level of corruption in the Nigerian policy has raised several integrity questions on accountants, especially the auditors.
â€œWhat it takes to be a good auditor goes beyond technical competence. In addition, to technical competence, the conscience is also very important.
â€œA society that is sick with corruption and bugged down with the siphoning of public wealth by privileged few cannot be productive.
â€œThe absence of trust makes governance and control costly. At ICAN, these issues continue to keep us awake,â€ he said.
Earlier, the organiser of the conference and Chairman, Audit Committee Institute (ACI), Mr. Christian Ekeigwe, described conscience as â€œsomething that is inside of you. It is the seat of judgement and it is there that every judgement takes place.â€
â€œIf you groom your conscience wrongly, it results in something that the society will not be proud of. Your conscience is superior means that your conscience is available to fairness.
â€œIt is one thing for the conscience to be there and be warning you, it is another thing for you to notice it,â€ he added.