Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja
The acting Accountant General of the Federation, Mr. Sylva Okolieaboh, has questioned the multiplicity of accountancy bodies in the country, saying this has had a negative impact on both professional standards and public perception of the value of accountants.
He also called on the nation’s accountants to rise to the peak of their professional functions and avoid a narrow perspective which negatively affects their relevance in a changing local and global environment.
Okolieaboh made the observations in a short but thought-provoking address to members of the newly inaugurated Unit of the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN) in the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF).
A statement issued by the OAGF noted that the Acting Accountant General recalled his contribution during a previous engagement with the leadership of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN).
He stated that the profession was confronting two key challenges, including “the noticeable disinterest of accountants in intellectual matters affecting the ability of accountants to rise above the routine” and “the diminishing appeal of integrity and ethics among accountants.”
The acting AGF therefore urged public sector accountants to emulate the noble examples of the first generation of Nigerian accountants who embodied “the very best of professional excellence, integrity and modesty”.
He also condemned the presumption, popular among public sector accountants, that their main function is payment which has led to a focus on a finite number of functions that culminate in payment either by cheque signing or raising online mandate.
Okolieaboh explained the consequences of this wrong mindset on the work of professional accountants.
“This reductionist view of the role of the accountant is equally dangerous. It is the reason anyone who can perform any of those routines considers himself an accountant.
“It is the reason everyone believes he can perform accounting duties… It is the reason, ladies and gentlemen, matters of financial management have been relegated to the background.
“It is the reason that the new generation of legal and routine accountants do not reckon with the very essence of our profession and calling: stewardship expressed in financial statements,” he said.