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Accountants and public perception

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By Mark Mbam Jnr.

People belong to different kinds of jobs and  careers for one reason or the other. Whereas some  take to particular trades owing to their natural endowments, others  do same in the course of  training. Some researchers believe that one’s  lifestyle can influence his choice of career; others argue that one’s career also influence his or her life style. However, the same values that relate specifically to your work can permeate all other aspects of your life. Thus, it is likely, therefore, that your choice of career path could affect your life style at different levels.

In this piece, the  focus is on the  accounting profession. Stereotype gives out those in accounting profession as being economical (stingy) with giving.

Miss Ngozi, a three hundred level student of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, had this to say: “Ah! Accountants, they can never give you a dime and it is almost like that with all of them. And even if they want to

Otunba Olufemi Deru

give you money, they will scratch their pockets and bring out rejectable notes mostly in lower denominations, and swear that that is all they have”.

Emenike, a cab driver in Enugu, narrates his experience with a passenger who he later discovered  to be an accountant. According to him, he owed the balance of N5, to the passenger (accountant) and which was not readily available with him, but to his chagrin, he (accountant) preferred the over forty-five minutes he spent to get the N5  than  allowing him (cab driver) go with the money.

Kayode  a medical student, Lagos State University, Akoka, also showed his experience, “To me some of them are actually stingy while some are not. I think it depends on individual lifestyle. You can even find a stingy person  in  other professions.”

Idris, a Kano-based petty trader, exclaimed: “Walahi, accountant e – no dey give money”.

Mrs. Irhabor, a Port-Harcourt-based business woman, married to an accountant, while reacting to the issue, (laughs)  said, “My brother, wetin you wan make I talk? Sometimes, my husband go give me only N1,000 make I make a pot of soup when he – no say we reach five for house plus one girl wey we dey live with us. No be six persons? When I tell am say the money no go do, im go say make I manage. But me I no say Mama

Okey husband, ordinary lorry driver dey carry more than N5,000 dey go market. Na so dem be oo”.

DEFENSE

But in his reaction, Mr. Sampson Eze Okike, an Enugu-based chartered accountant, while dealing on the issue noted that an accountant performs a wide range of managerial roles related to financial functions, such as collection, accuracy, recording, analysis and presentation of the financial transaction of a business

organization. He added that financial accounting is important because it provides an organization’s stakeholders with business statements while allowing them to know if the organization is making or losing money.

His words: “Because of our strategic role in the stability of any business organization, even in government, we are bound to strictly follow the ethics and principles of the profession which are anchored on independence, integrity, objectivity, competence and technical standards. That is why most people misunderstand us and may erroneously tag us stingy people”.

Dennis Heineken, a Bayelsa-based accounting professional, noted that finance and accounting are the life of any business organization and, in so doing, strict measures must be applied in the control of its income and expenditure.  He said, “When we apply these strict measures in tune with the dictates of the profession, the public sees it the other way round. Let me tell you, in terms of socialization and giving, I think we are the most biblical cheerful givers but we do not believe in waste of funds and that is because of our training”.

Mrs. Funmi Bukola, who works in one of the new generation banks in Abuja, argued: “How can they term us to be stingy people?  I have four persons who are not even my relatives in the universities and I pay their fees because I believe that life not lived for others is worthless. The truth is that we are professionally trained to manage resources and, come to think of it, in a civilized society, money is not given without any cogent reason. Traditionally, people should  engage in meaningful and legitimate activities to earn a living. In my opinion, those who tag accountants as stingy people are just being lazy”.

To Sir Gabriel Onyendilefu, a career civil servant, who rose through the ranks of the civil service to become the Accountant General of Abia State and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, “accountants are just the best people in terms of public relations”. He added: “I think the problem is anchored on the decay in the attitude of people. What is obtainable in our today’s society is rush-rush syndrome where people are impatient to strictly observe due process in getting what they want”.

Onyendilefu recounts that for any business organization or government to achieve its meaningful objectives, financial managers of such organization must be upright in terms of strict adherence to financial rules and regulations.  “We are making progress in Abia because the leader of the state in the person of Dr. Okezie Victor Ikpeazu, is nothing but a symbol of prudent financial management. The governor would always stick to the rules. One of the challenges we face in this part of the world is that people no longer like to be told the truth such that they find it difficult to follow due process but rather would expect to bridge the rules. And when you insist on the rules, which is the right thing, you become a bad person”.

A university don, Dr. Emenike Eze Okike, applauded the dexterity of the financial managers of Abia especially as the nation goes through turbulent economic period.  Okike noted that although no human system is perfect, his experience with Onyendilefu leaves him with high hope that Abia is moving forward.

The don stressed that no leadership of any organization or society can  succeed without the support of the people and urged  Abians to continue to rally round the state administration  to achieve its desired objectives.

“The truth is that we must have one leader at a time as a state. Before now, we had governors who came and made their marks. Today,  it is Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu and I think it is only God who knows why he is the governor and it is in our own interest to support him”, he stated.

He urged Ikpeazu’s lieutenants to be upright and objective in their advice to the governor but was excited in the Accountant General for his ability to shoulder the storm of public pressure in the course of his official responsibilities.

SPIRITUAL VERDICT

Although various opinions about accounting profession have been  x-rayed, clerics believe that it is only God who can judge a man. According to Pastor Taiwo Odukoya, relying on the Holy Bible in Mathew 7 verse 1 – 5, man shall not judge so that he may not be judged too. Therefore, whether accountants are stingy people or not may not be unrelated to individual differences.

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