Chairman, Zenith Bank Plc, Jim Ovia says professional accountants owe it as a responsibility to make discipline, transparency and good knowledge of the profession the hallmark of their practice. “To be able to ensure the Nigerian economy functions very well, there has to be discipline in the accounting profession. There has to be transparency, proper leadership, mentoring, rule of law, knowledge of what you are doing and sacrifice,” Ovia who was the lead presenter at the ongoing 48th Annual Accountants Conference of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) said.
Ovia recently launched a new book on his banking and business success. Ovia also challenged the professional accountants to constantly carry out research reports that students would be able to learn from. He said such reports will help to document principles and precedents capable of guiding the conduct of professional accountants in Nigeria. “There is the death of research reports done by accountants that students should be able to learn from.
I want to challenge chartered accountants here, particularly elder statesmen. They should write research papers to document certain things we need to do as chartered accounts in this country.’’ He, however, acknowledged that accountants play a significant role in nation building. They support accurate compilation of taxes.
But they need to do more in terms of ensuring that the informal market is also formalized. Mr Ovia said if the informal sector is digitalized and brought to the formal market, FIRS will be able to collect more than they are generating today. He was speaking on the topic: ‘Professional Accountants: Building a greater Nigeria through innovation, technology and entrepreneurship’. Ovia remarked that embracing technology is very important. “If we had embraced technology in Nigeria, we would have been talking about $1 trillion by now. Information technology made Zenith Bank the largest bank in Africa,” he added. He also said technology should be embraced in terms of the payment system.
In his welcome address, ICAN President, Razak Adeleke Jaiyeola said, “the fundamentals of the business are redefined and the concept of development is changing, with considerations for the present and future generations simultaneously occupying the front seats in all social, economic political and cultural discourses. This year’s conference has the theme: “Securing our Shared Future: a Collective Responsibility”. Mr. Jaiyeola said ICAN annual conference is not just the largest gathering of professionals in Nigeria but the largest single audience of accountants in Africa.