Kayode Fasua, Director General, Nigeria College of Accountancy, a training arm of the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria, in this interview with Rotimi Ojomoyela, explains the age old rivalry with its sister organization, ICAN, exonerated Accountants from the pervasive corruption in Nigeria… Excerpts
What do you do?
As the Director General of the college, I administer the affairs of the college. The college is a training ground of the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN). ANAN is one of the two statutorily recognised professional accountancy of Nigeria and ANAN is also a member of the international Federation of Accountants. ANAN is the only professional accountancy organization in the world that has a college that trains its candidates for the examination of the association.
The way the college operates is that; anyone that want to be a member of ANAN must first and foremost be admitted into the college either as a full-time student that we run in 9 months or a part-time student which we called a mature program that runs for 21 months. When the candidate successfully conclude with the college, the college will now present the candidate for the examination of ANAN. The college is situated in Jos..
Do you operate like ICAN?
ANAN do not operate like ICAN. ANAN is quite unique among all professional accountancy body in the world by simply having the Nigerian College of Accountancy. Before you can come in as a student into the Nigerian College of Accountancy, you must first and foremost be a graduate of accounting or aligned discipline. ANAN has the monopoly of the accountancy profession.
The accountancy profession has also taken its que from the accountancy training in the United Kingdom (UK). In the UK alone, there are about nine professional accountancy organizations that are all members of the International Federation of Accountants.
The founding father of ANAN believes that if there is no competition, there will be some level of mediocrity in the operation of production of professional accountants in Nigeria. Secondly, at the rate that ICAN was producing accountants too at that time, it wasn’t commensurate with the development of the nation at that time by every standard.
All company quoted in the Nigeria Stock Exchange for instant must have professional accountants and all through those period, probably ICAN was able to produce probably 20% of the accountants we needed. Of course their reason was that they have standard and the standard must be met.
Generally, all over the world there are general standard for everything and so ANAN came on board, observed what ICAN was doing and believe that we can complement the production of Accountants in Nigeria to contribute to the development of the economy. ANAN decide to come in with something superior and so first and foremost, for you to become our member, you must be a graduate in the first instance, so you can’t be talking of low standard when you are bringing graduates as the foundation or the raw material of your end products.
ANAN does exchange visits with ICAN at the council level, invitations are given to ICAN; to ANAN , when both have programs and at least there has been a good collaboration between ANAN and ICAN. So, technically speaking, I will say there is no war for now.
There is this saying that; ANAN is just like NECO to WAEC that when you have shortcomings in passing WAEC, you proceed to register for NECO. What can you say about this?
You have somebody that is already a graduate of accounting , he is writing ANAN and you have somebody who is a graduate of history or who is a school certificate holder on Religious studies who is writing ICAN and the accounting student of ANAN passes his exam and the history graduate of ICAN fails his exam and you say that exam is not important.
As a matter of fact, the two set of people writing the exam are not on the same pedestal. It’s just like going to law school, you must be a graduate student of law before you can go to law school but the standard of professional accountancy is regulated by the International Federation of Accountants and so the fact that, ANAN is a full member of the International Federation of Accountants and there is a group in International Federation of Accountants called Edibong group, ANAN is a member of Edibor group of IFA and this organization is the one that regulates accountancy profession all over the world and you now say one of them is cheaper to another, it’s just trying to find something to say.
So, it’s not true. ANAN is everywhere, we have members who are bank managers, bank directors, we have them in the public sectors as well. For instance now, among all Accountants General of the States, ANAN has nothing less than 70% of them and the Auditor general of the states, nothing less than 70%. The Accountant General of the federation is ANAN member, minister of finance is ANAN member, don’t tell me that all those guys are not sound, they are very sound.
Go to academics, among all the professors of accounting in Nigeria, ANAN can boost of over 60% of them. It is ANAN that believes in the education aspect of training from the beginning to end above our sister’s bodies. Our sister’s bodies use to say in those days that “Accountancy cannot be learnt in the classroom” but today, we know that it can be learn in the classroom.
So, ANAN started by saying accountancy can be learn in the classroom and started reckoning with Ph.D holders in Accounting, Professors of Accounting and academics in Accounting. So, you won’t just come and tell me about practice, any practice that is devoid of the foundation of theory is going to be a whitewash. ANAN takes both the theory of accounting and the practice of accounting together to have what we called professional accounting.
Why is it employers prefer ICAN graduates to ANAN
I will dispute that.It’s probably of the perspective of those employers. For instance, the law of the federal Republic of Nigeria says that there are two professional Accountancy organizations that we have recognised. These two professionals accountancy organizations recognised by the law of Nigeria are also recognised internationally. So, if I own a company XYZ Nigeria limited and I decided to have a preference for ICAN members, I must have had my bias.
My bias could be that I have a friend who is an ICAN member for instance or it’s what I have heard. That’s XYZ Nig. Ltd. You will not find that in institutions that are created by law because they are created by law and they must also obey the law, you will not find such organization saying that it must be only ICAN members. CBN will not do advert and tell you they need only ICAN, but ICAN and ANAN; NNPC will tell you ICAN and ANAN; FIRS will tell you ICAN and ANAN. So, sometimes I see as part of the mischiefs on part of people or misinformation on their part.
What are you doing to bring ANAN to public consciousness?
The truth of the matter is that the public awareness is as strong as it should be. There is no organization that is worth itself that does not know that ANAN is in existence. ANAN is pacesetter for most state in Nigeria. Today, most professional organisations do what they called their CPD, their mandatory continue professional education, ANAN pioneer that program as far back as 1995, 1996; every other body is doing it including our sister body but we started it. When we do that program, we take it across the states in Nigeria.
For instance, in this year 2021 program, we have done the one for South-South, we were in Calabar for One week, we are doing the one for North Central in Lafia by next week, immediately after Easter, the next one we will be doing in Owerri for South East, we will be doing in Kaduna and probably for Kebbi state and finally in Ado-Ekiti for South West by December.
Tell us the prospect of ANAN graduate in labour market?
The prospect of ANAN in labour market is the same prospect that everybody in labour market has. When your proficiency is there, the first thing you need in Nigeria today is the requisite qualification and they have the requisite qualification.
Just like we said earlier, if an employer of labour has sentiment against ANAN, he is going to make ANAN qualification as requirement for employment in the organisation but I am saying that generally speaking, the generality of labour market operators will always consider ANAN and our graduate has been getting jobs both in the private sector and the public sector and mind you, many of them are already workers, they just need certification to progress in their discipline that is why they are getting professionalised.
So, I will say that the prospect is good of course, it can be better but we are working always constantly towards making it better for our graduates, don’t forget they are basically graduates of accounting first and foremost.
Are we looking at a mono university where you will teach Accounting alone?
I can tell you on authority that when we applied to the Nigeria University Commission (NUC) for that university, we asked for ANAN university for accountancy. But when NUC came, carried out its duties and finished everything, NUC approved ANAN university and that the reason was they said that we don’t want to give us mono university that in the nearest future you may want to have other disciplines apart from accountancy. And I am sure we will probably be about the one of the few if not only that will be among the 20 universities that will be kicking off immediately. We are not waiting for next academic session.
We are starting with Post Graduate programs so we are offering PG, Masters, that is professional Masters and M.Sc that is Academic Masters and P.hd but we are doing them presently in Accounting and Accounting discipline so we are going to be having like PGD in MA, M.Sc, P.hD in maybe forensic accounting, oil and gas accounting, M.Sc audit and investigation, PGD financial Management and MSc public sector accounting, MSc public and fiscal policy. Different specialisation in Accounting and that is the first institution university that we will be having like such.
Since you started operation, How many Accountants have you been to train in the country?
Since the college came into existence in 1987, when the ANAN act was promulgated in 1993 the college kicked off in 1994. Between 1994 and now our admission in the college has been over 55,000. Yes, we have been able to produce over 55,000 as graduates from the Nigeria college of Accountancy.
There is a believe that Accountants are the ones aiding and assisting corruption in both private and public sectors. What is your take on this assertion?
I will say that Accountants are not the ones aiding and abetting corruption, corruption is with us here in Nigeria. I keep telling people, it’s easy to look for where to point accusing fingers and say that it is from you. Of course, the accountants should be the foreguard at the end because it is expected that no money will move out without the knowledge of the accountants.
It is more complex than that, what I think has made corruption to continue to thrive in Nigeria is the Nigerian people themselves. The accountants for instance by themselves will not initiate corruption and execute it somebody somewhere is pushing and asking for that. But what the professional accountancy body is in Nigeria have done is much. Let me specifically talk about ANAN of course I know that ICAN too is doing its own best in curbing corruption but what I know is that ANAN has been able to do, is to continue to train and retrain members on anti-corruption practices.
To continue to train and retrain her members on the ethics of the profession which all our members are aware of. Our accountants have been trained on what to do in that kind of situation. Keep your head very high, make sure you stay in line with ethics of the profession, when things are really getting out of hands, have your documentation somewhere that you can be able to use to defend yourself.
But corruption in Nigeria is not about the accountant, is about the average Nigerian, is about how we think, is about how we need to have a re-orientation as a people.
Even the children that we have today that are even in primary school the parents are already corrupting them. You want to send your child on an errand you give him a tip before he goes. You do that today you do that tomorrow each time you are sending him he is expecting something from you before he goes so already we are building it in them. And so they are not seeing it as corruption practices again so we need. We even need anti-corruption as a course from primary school in Nigeria, yes that is what we need.
We are corrupt to the extent that we don’t even know we are corrupt. But the accountant is the fore guy so he falls for it all the time. I am not saying the accountants are not involved, accountants are involved but just as much as every other disciplines are involved.