By Emmanuel Elebeke
The Association of National Accountants of Nigeria, ANAN says Africa is losing more than $50bn every year in illicit financial outflows as governments and multinational companies engage in fraudulent schemes aimed at avoiding tax payments to some of the world’s poorest countries, impeding development projects and denying poor people access to crucial services.
The Association dropped the hint at its 3-day International Fraud Summit themed: Fraud Summit: Driving Sustainable Economic Development Agenda for Africa’’, held in Abuja.
Delivering his address at the occasion, the Chairman, International Summit, Prof. Adebayo Adejola said
the place of leadership in combating fraud and driving sustainable economic development cannot be overemphasized and stressed the need for the enthronement of leaders ‘‘who can neither be bought nor sold, leaders who in their inmost souls are true and honest, and are true to their duties as the needle to the pole, leaders who will stand for the truth, even though the heavens fall’’.
‘‘Africa is losing more than $50bn every year in illicit financial outflows as governments and multinational companies engage in fraudulent schemes aimed at avoiding tax payments to some of the world’s poorest countries, impeding development projects, and denying poor people access to crucial services.
‘‘A great need of the moment in the fight against fraud is the need of leaders who can neither be bought nor sold, leaders who in their inmost souls are true and honest, and are true to their duties as the needle to the pole, leaders who will stand for the truth, even though the heavens fall.’’
For Africa to be free from misappropriation embezzlement, diversion of funds, bribery, gratification, and using office or position for an unfair advantage, Prof. Adejola said financial frauds, business frauds, graft agencies like EFCC, ICPC, etc have major roles to play.
He challenged ANAN members to take the lead as watchdogs and not dogs to be watched in combating the cancerous growth of fraud hindering Africa’s march towards economic development and greatness as a continent.
‘‘Time there was when the teacher found singular satisfaction and took great pride in teaching his students; Time there was when architect dreamt dreams before he put his pencil to paper; Time there was when the banker’s sole satisfaction consisted in assisting an entrepreneur through to success without seeking any way to be induced to do his duty; Time there was when physician saw his patient as a human being whose broken limbs has to be put together as a matter of prime necessity and urgency without insisting on his fees being paid first; Time there was when the auditor/accountant expresses an unbiased opinion on financial statements. All these are gone with the wind.
‘‘Today, perpetrators of frauds are using sophisticated and unimaginable means in defrauding their victims. It is, therefore, pertinent that our Association takes the lead in opening the eyes of members and stakeholders to see and lay hold on modern tools required to detect and prevent fraud across the continent of Africa,’’ he noted.
According to him, ‘‘development in Africa is impaired not because of the paucity of funds, not as a result of scarcity of natural resources, not as a result of opportunities to be explored with potentials of development, not as a result of a deficiency in technical knowhow, not as a result of the shortfall in support from foreign institutions saddled with the responsibilities of development globally but majorly as a result of the monster called fraud, perpetrated by old and young, leaders and followers, professionals and quacks, to mention but a few’’.
Earlier in his remarks, the President and Chairman of the Council of ANAN, Rev. Canon Benjamin Osisioma said the pervasiveness and destructiveness of fraud and corruption in most part of the world, particularly in Africa informed the need for the Association to put the summit together, with a view to driving sustainable economic development agenda for Africa.
Rev. Osisioma said, ‘‘In today’s financial environment capital flows freely around the world in nanoseconds, rewarding economies with functioning financial systems and avoiding those in which the normal risks of investment are compounded by the possibility of fraud, corruption, and manipulations.
‘‘Nigerians are almost unanimous in decrying this cankerworm, and most have at some time or the other wished the economy at least less of it, yet the scourge still rages on unabated.
‘‘We understand that fair and honest financial dealings are important pillars of economic growth for countries of every size and in every region. And we understand that only by collaborating in pursuit of those fair and honest financial engagements can we bring them about. We all benefit when we are able to fight and limit fraud, corruption, and manipulations, and we all suffer when even a few segments of society are tainted by greed and graft’’.
He challenged participants at the summit to begin to think more deeply about how fraud and its attendant implications affect society. He also encouraged them to remain committed to change and about how even small steps toward fraud reversal and improving the business climate can change the dynamics of driving sustainable economic development agenda.
The summit drew a strong core of the national and international network of experts and professionals, who partook in the shared pursuit of a global agenda that benefits the world at large, in the quest to drive sustainable economic development agenda for Africa in general and Nigeria in particular.