Fireworks at ICAN Dinner Night in Port Harcourt

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– And the inner minds of professional accountants

* Others eat the money; we sit for endless hours going through figures

* There is tension in the job; we must find time to unwind

* We advise RIRS to allow both manual and e-filing to go on for some time

* We encourage girl-child accounting education to add value

* We work closely with Rivers State Government, RIRS, to improve IGR

By Silver News Team led by Obinna Nwachukwu

Introduction

Accountants are regarded as taciturn in nature because those who with figures talk less than merchant of words. When a journalist is searching for tips and information, he would rarely look to the accountants. They seem to know more but say less, if any. But if the spirit can lead any journalist to places such as Swiss Spirit Hotel on Stadium Road in the Garden City to trace professional or chartered accountants and their Fellows where they may gather to wind down the year, such newsman may hear things. He may unlock the minds of those conservatives who view every figure with suspicion.

This is what happened on December 15, 2018, when Silver News team traced members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), Port Harcourt and District Society led by a female Accounting Fellow, Dr/Mrs Felicia Jones Ayuwo. It was the second edition of their Dinner night Series which this year added awards to the bargain. It was a night of galaxies with fun, fare and banters. Many items were won through open lottery and one past chairman carted away the star prize, a refrigerator.

In interviews by Silver News team at the sidelines of the event, the professionals allowed their sealed minds open a bit, and revelations tumbled out. For instance, it is now confirmed that while other departments especially procurement and marketing run around spending companies funds thinking they have covered all tracks, the Accountant is watching but waiting, until you turn in your invoices.

Voices:

The chairman and some few members of the organizing committee managed to speak into our tapes despite being sieged, and truly, they spoke their raw minds. The chairman of the District, however, spoke as the leader. Thus, hers is run last.

Sir Tim Konye Osondu (FCA)

* Others spend (eat) the money, we spend long hours going through the figures

* Let RIRS allow manual filing to run with e-filing for some time

(Sir Osondu is the Principal Partner, Konye Timi & Co, and chairman of the Annual Award/Gala Night for two years running)

I was the chairman of the inaugural edition in 2017 but the executives and members said it was an outstanding performance and asked me to do it again this year.

We found that accountants are filled with job stress, so, there must be time to unwind and ease tension. That’s the idea behind the annual gala nights.

On tension, more tension?

Yes, you know accounting is such a noble profession. People eat the money in organizations and ours is to go back to historical records, dig through a lot of things. As you do that, things come up. You can sit in one place for over four hours looking at records upon records. It is full of stress, it is has mental exertion and we have a lot of stress from it.

On new accounting methods coming up

The world we are living in is dynamic and you must move with the trend. Accounting cannot be left out because everything is changing everyday. ICAN has MCPE (Mandatory Continuous Practice Education) and every member is mandated to attend those sessions where new knowledge is introduced and we are refreshed. If you do not update, you will be left behind. ICAN has also partnered with the International Financial Reporting Council (IFRC) which is a global body. This helps to update our professionals.

On RIRS and RIVTAMIS

All of this is under digital transformation scheme. The RIRS has e-filing in VAT, Tax Clearance Certificate, etc. So, Rivers State has queued in too. They may have drawn inspiration from Lagos State which seems to be a role-model in these matters. But, we are skeptical because of network challenges and all that. You cannot just do automatic transformation. It should be parallel so that you do the old and new methods until the new becomes perfect. You will need to do it concurrently until the old phases out. That, to me, is the best approach.

Mrs Ihuaku Ekeke; Member of the Gala Night Committee

REWARDING ACHIEVERS IS VERY IMPORTANT

Today is our annual dinner/award night. This event happens in Lagos but Port Harcourt just started it in 2017 and it will be annual. In this event we recognize our members that have done well in active practice, in public service, and other non-ICAN members that have made big impact in the society.

It is also an opportunity to network. We come together as members and meet other well-wishers, colleagues and friends. Because it is end of year, we use the time to wind down, relax, and have fun with one another.

Challenges

Accounting is a very interesting profession and there is no profession without challenges. It is fulfilling especially if you are cut out to be an accountant. If not so, you will struggle and may veer into things. Challenging as it may be, accounting is fulfilling.

I just want to thank the media for making time to be with Accountants and relay what professionals like us are doing. We look forward to objective reporting unlike what happened last year.

Mrs Chinedu Nwachukwu, SWAN chairperson, PH Chapter

(SWAN: Society for Women Accountants of Nigeria)

IS THERE FEMALE ACCOUNTING?

Every profession is regarded as one body but we also know that in as much as ICAN is one body, there are women in their midst. There is need for feminine touch; thus the women section was carved out from this very big umbrella body.

Promoting girl-child interest in Accounting career

That is actually the main focus of SWAN, to encourage more girls to look the way of the Accounting profession. Mothers today play crucial roles in the professions, especially those professions that were seen as man’s world. We now see that women anchor well in these professions. So, we do a lot of enlightenment campaigns to attract more girls. We go to schools and give talks and counseling. We have even extended it to the universities.

Every year we carve out programmes that would benefit the girl-child and make them to add value to themselves. A lot of people look down on women and wonder why they should read so much or even take to accounting.

Some people see Accounting as a strenuous job; figures and figures of money that people had eaten, but we find fun doing it as a profession. It goes to show how active our brains are matching those of men-folk.

In SWAN, we take care of the girl-child. We help them to add value to their homes, society and the nation.

My message to SWAN members in 2019

We appreciate that we have done very much in the years past, the changes and all the things going on in the society especially in the financial/accounting sector, I encourage our members to go back and prepare to face the new year with greater professionalism.

Dr/Mrs Felicia Jones Ayuwo (FCA)

Chairman, ICAN PH and District Society

ACCURACY,INTEGRITY, OUR WATCHWORD

Today marks the end of activities for 2018. It has been an eventful year. We have to call out our members this evening, this time not for figures or debit and credit but to wine and dine. We will also give awards going to some of our members who have distinguished themselves in the profession; we will give out items through lottery, and many other things.

Assessment:

I think we have done well this year. We have made some progress with some programmes. It has been a good year.

Assessment of the economy: Those outside Port Harcourt have this impression that Port Harcourt is not peaceful, people are running away, there are killings, troubles, but we here have enjoyed peace. People still live and do business in Port Harcourt. The state government has done much to ensure safety, but other states have their own insecurity. Yes, some kidnapping here and there but the government is on top of its game.

Solution: Yes, if you close one hole, the rat opens another. So, the government will continue to adjust its measures. My advice is, government should continue to take proactive measures to beat them to their game. Government is trying and they can checkmate the criminal elements in the society. They should continue to deal with these people.

Our way: The motto of our profession is ‘Accuracy and Integrity’. My advice to chartered accountants is to uphold the integrity of the profession because the figures and records we keep guide investors. We should not be seen to be misguiding them. We should be honest and upright in what we do.

On Rivers State Government and tax policies from January 2019: Yes, we work hand in hand. At the end of the day, whatever tax laws come into place, we will also be part of the implementation. Most of our members are also members of the Chartered Institute of Taxation. You know, after oil, tax is the next biggest source of revenue to the government. So, we are working together with the Rivers State Government and even the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to ensure that we implement their programmes to enhance revenue collection.