Driving Economic Growth through Professionalism

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Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

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Speakers at the 44th Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria Annual Conference in Abuja acknowledge that involvement of professionals in the implementation of government policies will enhance the growth of the economy of any country

By Vincent Nzemeke  |  Sep. 22, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT  |

NIGERIA’s economic growth will be enhanced if more professionals are involved in the implementation of government policies. This was the view of Chidi Ajaegbu, President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, ICAN. Ajaegbu stated this on Tuesday September 9, 2014 while delivering his opening speech at the 44th ICAN Annual Conference in Abuja.

The conference, with the theme “Protecting the Public Interest; Enhancing Professionalism” attracted a number of dignitaries from government, business and other walks of life. “The involvement of more professionals in resource allocation and utilisation decisions and project implementation processes will inevitably enhance economic growth and development and by extension, the collective wealth and comfort of Nigerians,’’ he said.

He said that public interest could be served if allocation of resources was designed to promote the common good. Ajaegbu said that the rule of law should remain the foundation of governance, adding that constitutional provisions should allow free operations to promote healthy labour relations, security, peace and progress.

He said that merit should take precedence over mediocrity in employment and deployment of public officers “Appointment to public office is driven by philosophy of service rather than self-enrichment and public officers must be made to take responsibilities for their actions or inactions,’’ he said.

The president advised ICAN members to continue to act responsibly in the public interest by ensuring that members maintained the highest standard of professional conduct and competence.

According to him, chartered accountants must resolve to continue to provide stakeholders, including business communities with sound financial advice, credible and reliable financial and non-financial reporting.

“Through our attestation function, we will continue to lend not only credence to credible stewardship reports, but also raise red flags for observed improprieties. Since we have the capacity to simultaneously play a significant role in the complex art of managing businesses, corporate governance and wealth creation, we will continue to promote and enforce compliance to best practices in the economy,’’ he said. The president said the conference would be an avenue to reaffirm the commitment to the noble cause of serving the public interest.

Delivering her keynote address, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, minister of finance and coordinating minister of the economy, said the theme of the conference was significant to Nigeria’s economic development. She said: “I am also quite pleased with the theme of this year’s conference- “Protecting the Public Interest: Enhancing Professionalism”. “I think this is a very important topic particularly for Nigeria’s development. This administration recognises that Nigeria’s greatest asset lies in its wealth of human resources and the country’s regional prominence is in part a result of the size of our population and human resources. Whilst Nigeria’s rich natural resources give us potential, we recognise that it is our human resources and how we harness them that would enable us to reach that potential. I therefore congratulate ICAN for putting together this conference aimed at encouraging capable professionals across different fields in the joint goal of promoting the public interest and supporting Nigeria’s continued development.

The minister also noted that Nigerian professionals take their professions very seriously which is why they are highly sought after all over the world. “Unlike some other African countries, Nigeria is blessed with a rich network of professionals many of whom, such as ICAN, have existed for years. In the seven years that I have been a public servant in Nigeria, I have found with great pleasure, that the great majority of Nigerian professionals take their professions very seriously and act with the utmost professionalism.

“I am sure many of you would agree with me that the professionalism that some of our medical practitioners have exhibited in the past two months has been exceptional and inspiring as they have worked hard alongside the government to control the spread of  Ebola Virus Disease in the country.

“In the same vein, our bankers, many of whom are accountants and members of ICAN, have been instrumental in building and restoring confidence in our financial system which has played a significant part in Nigeria’s strong economic performance.”

On his part, Olusegun Aganga, minister of industry, trade and investment, , said that accounting was a hallmark of professionalism and played a major role in developing the society. He said Nigeria needed strong institutions for stable economic growth and development and urged ICAN members to uphold integrity and trust in the accounting system in the country.

Aganga stressed the need to have strong will from leadership, strong institutions and press freedom, among others, to ensure a stable economy. He urged members of the institute to always advocate for accountability so as to restore honour and credibility to the profession and make Nigeria a developed society.

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