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Acceptance Speech by Mallam Muhammadu Zakari on his investiture as the 53rd President of ICAN

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Monday August 21st, 2017 9:00 AM


It is with humility and a great sense of responsibility that I stand before you this morning to accept my unanimous election as the 53rd President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria on Monday, 20th March, 2017, through a seamless, rancour-free succession process that has become an indelible hallmark bequeathed to successive generations of our members by our revered founding fathers.

I am indeed most thankful, full of praises and adoration to Almighty Allah for granting me the opportunity to be the main dramatis personae in this momentous event.

Let me sharply salute the wisdom of founding fathers of our Institute for this ingenious succession process and commend the entire membership of the profession for submitting to the discipline of this unique and noble tradition, which has positively served the interest of the Institute since 1965 when the ICAN Act number 15 was enacted.

My historic investiture today as the 53rd President of ICAN, is, without doubt, the crowning glory of my professional career as a Chartered Accountant and marks the beginning of a statutory one year term of office as the Institute’s flagbearer for the 2017/2018 Presidential year and the Chairman of its Governing Council.


I would like to dedicate this lifetime achievement, most heartily, to the memory of my late father, Alhaji Muhammadu Zakari (May Allah have mercy on his gentle soul) and my Mother, Hajiya Fatima Binta Muhammad, for giving me education and imbibing in me timeless values of integrity, perseverance and selflessness and to my dearest Wife and Children, for patiently enduring my long and sometimes very depressing absence from home due to my frequent travels on account of ICAN.

Today, I would like to speak about where our profession is headed during the next 12 months and beyond. 

But before looking ahead to the future, let me first look back to the year just finished and the outstanding representation of our profession by our 52nd President Deacon Titus Alao Soetan FCA as clearly presented in his valedictory speech. Titus, thank you for your leadership. I could not think of a better leader to guide us through the many issues we have faced as a profession this past year. I look forward to your advice and counsel as in the coming year.

When I joined the Council in 2004, I did not imagine that within this space of time, I would become the leader of the great multi-skilled and quintessential professionals. This is a great challenge and I am ready to forge ahead with your support.  As we officially commence the beginning of another administration in the Institute, let us all come together and chart a new course for our profession. The strength and vibrancy of an Institute is always in congruence with the quality of its members. Therefore, we need to use our God given talents and resources for the advancement of our profession and the Institute 

THE INSTITUTE AND PROFESSION
As an organisation that has been an integral part of Nigeria’s history, the Institute has continued to grow from strength to strength since our inception in 1965. Just as we have advanced in size from 250 members to 42,233, we have similarly extended our stature as a leading institute that shapes the regional accountancy landscape.  

As we enter our next phase of growth, it is crucial for ICAN to enhance its focus and relevance.

In this regard, our goal during this Presidential year is to enhance the profession and help strengthen the infrastructure of the accountancy sector while supporting our members in various ways, including through professional development and advocacy. We intend to take the ICAN brand to new heights, and to be able to fulfill our vision to be a leading globally recognised professional accountancy body that creates value for its stakeholders. 

Accordingly, the theme for the 2017/2018 Presidential year is “ICAN: On the Rise”. 

CALL TO SERVICE
For the records we intend to pursue vigorously the following goals:

1. Non Compliance with Laws and Regulation – A new Global Whistle Blowing Standard
The International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA) has recently issued new provisions which become effective from July 15th 2017, with elements concerning whistleblowing, to guide accountants (including auditors) in responding to any actual or suspected non-compliance with laws and regulations. In a nutshell, the standard expects accountants who are non-auditors to escalate internally to higher levels of authorities if they come across instances of actual or suspected non-compliance with laws and regulations. If the upper echelons do not take adequate and timely actions to address the non-compliance, the accountants will have to consider if further action is needed and these may include, inter alia, reporting the matter to an external authority or resigning from the organisations. Likewise, auditors are subject to similar requirements, except they will broach the issue with the appropriate level of management and if necessary, the Board of Directors or audit committees of their audit clients. Council will in due course adopt this standard in Nigeria and the Institute will widely publicise the new standard and accordingly provide guidance to our members.   

2.      Engagement with Regional and International Bodies 
As a founding member, the Institute has always established its presence in Accounting Bodies for West Africa (ABWA), Pan-African Federation of Accountants (PAFA) and International Federation of Accountants (IFAC). We will continue to strengthen our collaboration with these bodies by being in good financial standing and by encouraging our members to seek Board, Council and Committee positions in these bodies. 

3.      We are aware of the very keen competition in getting to those positions
But with the rising profile of our members in all spheres of human endeavour, we believe it is achievable. We will continue to let those in authority know that, indeed, Africa is a continent to be reckoned with and Nigeria has all it takes to occupy any position in those organisations.                  
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
4.      Strengthen the Small Medium Practices.
It is common knowledge that most of our members in practice operate small and medium-sized practices (SMPs) with all the associated challenges. Over the years, efforts have been made to ensure their continued relevance by exposing them to international best practices and standards through various technical support.  This is because what they do or fail to do has severe implications for the quality of financial reporting in Nigeria. This presidential year, more efforts will be made in this direction to hold regular interactive technical programmes aimed at enhancing their professional competence in rendering high quality services to the society. 

In this respect, I call on the well-established firms particularly the “Big 4” firms to collaborate with the Institute and work out deliberate policy to mentor this group of practitioners. The SMP’s should not be seen merely as competitors, but as worthy partners in developing the profession and generating employment for our members. If seen from this perspective, the issue of joint audit that generated a lot of emotions in recent time would not have been so.  Collaborative meetings will be held with both the “Big 4” and the SMPs with a view to further strengthening the profession in our jurisdiction for the benefit of all members. 

5.      Succession Planning for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs)
In the literature, most SMEs do not survive beyond the first five years of existence while those that managed to survive beyond this time frame often suffer from challenges associated with succession planning.  It is indeed very disturbing to see an otherwise well run and profitable enterprise not making it to the second and third generations. Accordingly, efforts will be made to bring SMEs into a round table to educate them on how to proactively embed succession planning into their businesses.  We will draw from the experiences of our Big 4 firms and other SMPs who have done extensive research work in this area.  

6.      Peer Review Mechanism
Practice Monitoring is one of the requirements of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) which its member-bodies like ICAN are obliged to undertake to raise and sustain the quality of professional practice in their jurisdiction. Indeed, the IFAC SMO 1 titled “Quality Assurance” requires member-bodies to carry out Audit Monitoring visits. The Institute commenced its Practice Monitoring initiative in 2009 and in this Presidential Year, we shall re-examine the process and procedures for desired effects and benefits. 

7.      Representation and Advocacy
During my tenure, we shall make sustained efforts towards building a good and harmonious working relationship with the National Assembly. The role of the National Assembly in Law making is of uttermost importance. We shall deepen our relationship and explore ways of partnering towards Law reforms that are in the best interest of Nigerians. We shall make our inputs into matters of national importance especially in the areas of financial reporting and good governance towards a better Nigeria. 

To achieve this objective, we shall among other measures, take a lead role in influencing public policy, standards and regulations; demonstrate leadership of the profession; engage active sabbatical participants for periodical studies and contribution to national and international debates; be a vital commentator and reliable source of trusted information for our members and the society.  

8.      Accountability Rating and Award Index
ICAN as a leading global body of accountancy profession dedicated to accuracy and integrity and without accounting there will be no accountability. Therefore, during my tenure, ICAN would be actively involved in evolving various indices for accountability measurement. This will culminate in the rating and assessment of  public sector organisations with a view to rating their compliance best practices in public Financial Management and international public sector accounting standards . We shall endeavour, on an annual basis, extend the level of analysis to all levels of governance, that is, the Federal, State and Local government. 

9.      Members’ Development
We shall improve communication with our members to sustain the enriched benefits of being a member of a global professional body. We shall collaborate with Professional Accountancy Organisation (PAOs) to achieve reciprocal membership where relevant. 

10.  Students’ Development
Our students remain one of our valued stakeholders providing a supply chain to our membership population. We shall continually align our syllabus and learning outcomes with the needs of industry and commerce in order to make our graduate relevant to the market place. We should continue to improve the quality of our learning resources by constantly up-dating study resources and support Tuition houses and tertiary institutions.  The professional syllabus will be due for a review during this presidential year to this end we shall proactively put all machinery in place to ensure that the new of scheme is comparable to international standards.

11.  Research Capacity and Collaboration
We shall strengthen our research capacity and also collaborate with external research units in order to produce research output which would assist in bridging the gap between practice and theory. We shall maintain the Institute’s extant policy on sabbatical appointment to augment in-house capacity. 

12.  Re-invigoration of  ICAN Secretariat
The Secretariat is the power house of any professional body. It is therefore of uttermost importance that the Secretariat should be equipped with all the necessary paraphernalia for optimum performance. We shall provide an enabling environment that is befitting for a professional body like ours. This includes stocking ICAN Libraries with current books that will serve as good reference materials.


We will continue to encourage, assist and empower our work force towards the achievement of a well trained professional secretariat. In order to achieve and sustain the status of a world class Institute, the Registrar/Chief Executive and his team will be expected to be proactive, forward looking and creative in providing excellent service delivery to our stakeholders. 

As 53rd ICAN President, I will pursue the programmes of the Institute with the strength of a bull, the speed of a cheetah, the tenacity of a lion and the wisdom of a serpent. I will not relent in my efforts in achieving our set goals and objectives.

I therefore solicit your support and loyalty as we pilot the affairs of ICAN to higher levels. There is no way I can do it alone without the support of my colleagues in Council, Body of Past Presidents, Management, Staff and the general membership of the Institute. I call on you all to join me in this arduous task of taking the mantle of leadership of over 42,000 chartered accountants in the next twelve months.

CONCLUSION

Distinguished guests, professional colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, let me end this address by appreciating all of you, once again, for finding time to be part of this landmark event in the annals of our Institute. I trust and pray that this Presidential Year will represent an inflection point for unity, cohesion, growth and development of our Institute as the flagship of professional bodies in Africa. With all of us working together as a team, I am persuaded that this would not be a forlorn hope.

This acceptance speech will be incomplete if I do not affectionately acknowledge the invaluable role played by family, my darling wife Hajiya Mairo Ibrahim Zakari and my wonderful children Muhammad Mustapha, Abubakar Sadiq, Abdurrahman and Ruqaiyya in the success story of today. Thank you for all the painful sacrifices you made. I love and cherish you all dearly.

Finally, I want to offer my respects and appreciation to all our Revered past Presidents. A number of them are here today. I would like to personally thank a few whom I have worked with in recent years since I joined the council. Each of them has brought a unique perspective to leadership, and yet each one has built upon the foundation of the previous leadership, creating a bridge of competence and commitment which carries all of us to stronger ground. 

Let me also express my gratitude to Mrs Onome Joy Adewuyi FCA, a distinguished Council member for preparing an excellently researched citation which she eloquently presented with lucid profundity.

Finally, I pray the Almighty God honour you, bless you and grant you all journey mercies back to your respective destinations.

Thank you and God bless.

Long live Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria 

Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria. 

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