From Cyriacus Nnaji, Lagos
Society for West African Internal Audit Practitioners (SWAIAP), an organization established for the institutionalization of Internal Auditing across West Africa has advocated preventive strategy as an antidote for corruption in Nigeria.
Patrick Nzechukwu, President/CEO, SWAIAP, made the disclosure while speaking to Journalists at a pre-event press conference announcing the inaugural induction, investiture and fellowship award of SWAIAP, at the Corporate Headquarters of the Association in Maryland- Lagos on Wednesday, September 15, 2021.
Nzechukwu who took up the challenge of writing a book on internal auditing because he could not find one on the local book shelf, attributed the decay in the system to the neglect of what should have been a preventive measure to all the risks, whether it is called corruption or fraud.
Patrick Nzechukwu, a chartered accountant by profession and the first author of an official Internal Auditing book in Nigeria said “We are here to tell the world that we are launching a professional body called Society for West African Internal Auditing Practitioners, these are internal auditors and every professional in the assurance industry, including intending professionals in the assurance industry.”
Nzechukwu who will be officially installed as the Executive President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SWAIAP said that solution to corruption in the country is adopting internal mechanisms that can prevent corruption than the much mouthed strategy in the name of anticorruption fight by the Federal government. He is also of the opinion that the government is not sincere in the fight against corruption, saying if they were, there should be overt commitment to encourage internal audit in ministries, departments and agencies.
He decried the relegation of Internal Auditing to the background and obscurity.
Nzechukwu stated that the forthcoming event which will hold on September 25, 2021, at Airport Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos has the theme ‘Internal Auditing: Effective Tool for Anti-Corruption, Risk Management, Controls and Corporate Governance”.
He also disclosed that what SWAIAP is doing is to train and scale up internal auditors and other professionals in the assurance industry.
“We discovered that over the years Internal Auditing was relegated to the background, it has been in obscurity. We don’t have, both at tertiary institutions and professional level, nobody was given attention to internal auditing, meanwhile internal auditing has been a professional body since 1976 or thereabout, while the first institute was formed in 1942, after the first World war, in the united State of America.”
While decrying the pre-eminence given to external auditing, he said “We were told that the only aspect of auditing that has legal backing and requires professional certification is external auditing, they said Internal Auditing; we learn it on the job; that was the impression. So nothing was done on internal auditing as a professional course. Most of us practising internal auditing today are using the external audit standard. He said even though the process in the two professions is very similar but the scope is not the same. “The external auditors cover only the financial aspect of the business, they also look at the internal control system, though this is not mandatory, but internal audit deals with every aspect of an organization both financial and non-financial,” he said.
Speaking further on how SWAIAP began, he said he brought the internal auditors together in 2018, which commenced with creation of a Whatsapp group “I called it the West African Internal Auditors Forum, from there I started to draw the internal auditors together and today we have grown in leaps and bounds. It has been a rigorous journey but God has been with us.”
“We have been able to train the first batch of our members, in three categories basically, associate members, certified members and the fellow members. We call them, Associate West African Internal Auditors, Certified West African Internal Auditors, and Fellow West African Internal Auditors; these are the three major categories. We also have the student technicians for West African Internal Auditors but they are not among those we are inducting into the society on the 25th of September, 2021.” In all 38 members are going to be inducted this year.
On the methodology of the training he said “We are inducting the first batch after training them for four months, but that is just a launching pad, our syllabus is very comprehensive, each level supposed to undergo four quarterly training, there are four exams in a year for each category, because our syllables is quite comprehensive, it covers all professional courses in assurance profession, it is not just limited to internal auditing.”
He also spoke on the desire to make things easy for those who desire internal auditing certification “Our desire is to, not just to do what people are going outside to pay so much money to acquire, but we want to show we can do much more than that at a very subsidized rate, we all know the problem we have in the country today, in the area of FOREX, as at yesterday the Naira was sold at N600 per dollar. We can then imagine if one wants to write exam the outside.”
Nzechukwu said the association helps to equip members with Assurance and Consulting services skill, preparing members for professional assurance examinations, helping organizations to establish standardized internal Audit Department, educating stakeholders on the imperative of effective internal Auditing, consulting services, investigation, among other critical and impactful roles.
Among those expected to speak at the event are Dr Adeyemi Dipeolu (Special Adviser to the president on Economic matters and Chairman, Presidential Committee on Illicit Financial Flows), he will be the Chief Guest Speaker, while the Keynote Guest Speaker, will be Dr Rabiu Olowo, Commissioner for Finance, Lagos State; Pharm. Matthew Azoji, MD/CEO of Neimeth International Pharmaceutical, Lagos, Mrs Ogunkoya Margaret Iyabo, Acting Director of Internal Audit, Lagos State University, Ojo and Edirin Jeroh (PhD) Associate Professor of Accounting & AG Head of Department of Accounting & Finance, Delta State University, Abraka, Nigeria.
Other speakers include includes Dr Andreas G. Koutoupis (Associate Professor of Financial Accounting , University of Thessaly & Chairman KnR Governance, Risk, Compliance and Internal Audit Services, Greece); Hossam Elshaifel of Board of Internal Audit Foundation at the Institute of Internal Auditors Inc, Egypt) and Olanrewaju Suraju, Chairman HEDA Resources Centre, Lagos; among others.