Government not serious in anti-corruption fight, says SWAIAP President, Nzechukwu

…Calls for passage of Bill on Internal Auditing

From Cyriacus Nnaji, Lagos

President of Society for West African Internal Audit Practitioners (SWAIAP), Noble Patrick Nzechukwu has maintained that the government is not serious in its anti-corruption war.

He also called on the national Assembly to consider and ensure speedy passage of a bill he wrote on Internal Auditing practice in Nigeria.

Nzechukwu who is a chartered Accountant by profession and pioneer President of SWAIAP, took the stance at the Inaugural Induction/Investiture and Fellowship Award of SWAIAP at Lagos Airport Hotel, Ikeja-Lagos on Saturday, September 25, 2021.

The theme of the event was ‘Internal Auditing: Effective Tool for Anti-Corruption, Risk Management, Controls and Corporate Governance.’

Nzechukwu who was also formally installed as the President/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SWAIAP said “I want to say it again that our government does not have the will to fight corruption, anything that could checkmate them, they step down on it.”

Speaking on the Bill he wrote and submitted to the national assembly on how to protect the internal auditor from victimization and enhance the effectiveness of financial reporting in organizations and ensure corruption is reduced to the barest minimum, Nzechukwu disclosed that in 2013 he came up with a bill called ‘Nigerian Internal Audit Regulatory, Practice and Administration Agency and Other Related Mattes Bill.

“This is a bill I personally wrote in 2013, and I have submitted this bill to the National Assembly and also the Presidency,” Nzechukwu revealed.

He also disclosed that if the internal auditor is allowed to work unhindered the organization would benefit more “It is widely believed that the internal auditor if allowed to function without interference to its independence will reduce wastes, minimize fraud to the barest minimum; mitigate risks by identifying and recommending appropriate controls; enthrone good corporate governance and ensure compliance to policies, procedures, extant Laws and regulations.”

Noble Patrick Onwura Nzechukwu who wrote the book, A to Z of Internal Audit Practice also spoke on how best to fight corruption Nzechukwu said “It is wrong to start fighting corruption when the deed has already been done, because that for me is not effective enough. If you want to go after treasury looters or people that have done wrong, you spend more resources, to catch a thief you must put some measures in place, but if you want to stop a thief you put preventive measures, as internal auditors we don’t emphasize on curing a disease, we emphasize on preventing a disease, for me is the most effective way to fight corruption, instead of waiting till money has been looted, then you spend more money again to go after those that have looted it. The best thing is to stop them from looting, that is what we are doing.”

Nzechukwu said that internal auditor will add to what the external auditor has doing before now, because what the external auditor has been doing before now is to tell whether the financial result coming out from the organization represents the correctness of what was done, “but when we bring in an internal auditor into the fold, we are talking about how efficient, how effective and how economical the result you produce are.  It will add more value to what the external auditor is doing”.

Incorporated on the 22nd of June, 2018 with a vision to institutionalize internal auditing in West Africa as a foremost tool for anti-corruption, mitigation to the barest minimum of inefficiencies, ineffectiveness, wastes and other forms of financial and non-financial risks and to improve business processes and performance both in private and public sectors, SWAIAP also has the mission to review the current internal auditing practices in West Africa in comparison with global best practices.

Nzechukwu said it is unfortunate that the role of this dynamic and ever knowledgeable agent, serving the purpose of every functional area of any organization and adding values to them is seldom appreciated, adding “In some quarters like the public sector, they’re relegated to the background as inconsequential. In the private sector, some see them as overzealous and household enemy. This is one of the reasons we are here to dialogue the roles of this agent and its future in the contemporary society”

SWAIAP is designed to bring together the various assurance providing fields under one umbrella to offer a holistic assurance providing skills at affordable rate but not taking anything away from quality.  “We train and certify members in following four level categories: Student Technician for West African Internal Audit (STWAIA), Associate West African Internal Auditor (AWAIA), Certified West African Internal Auditor (CWAIA) and Fellow West African Internal Auditor (FWAIA). Each level has an average of 45 modules to be completed in four quarters at ridiculously average fee of NGR 4,500 per module.” He added that to undergo the same training with foreign professional bodies will cost nothing less than NGR 50,000 per module.

He added that some activities lined up in the coming months and years include: West African Inter-State Annual Conference; West African Inter-State Annual Dialogue on effectiveness of GRC practice; West African Women Internal Auditors Forum; Schools Unite for Effective Corporate Governance, Risk Management and Compliance/Internal Control (GRC) Implementation; Dialogue with MDAs (both Federal and States) on the relevance of Effective GRC; The relevance of effective GRC for Corporate Organizations.; Walk for Life Health Assurance and Achievers Annual Dinner Awards Night, all these to drive down the institutionalization of internal auditing across West African State in particular and Africa in general and possible globalization.

Nzechukwu called for attitudinal change in the country saying “Another problem we need to address is our value system which is currently nose-diving. Emphasis is on money and money worth. There is no problem if we acquire wealth through legitimate means nurtured in moral values. But what we have today is get rich at all costs and by any means. This has hyped corruption at the highest level with our moral values relegated to the background. Today, industries and money bags promote activities that negate our moral values.”

He thanked the Executive arm of the association saying ”I appreciate all the members of the Executive Council, who through their financial, mental and moral supports have brought us to this juncture. In particular, I want to thank Noble Cletus Oweh whose inclusion to the Executive Council in 2020 has relieved my burden by as much as 30%. He also appreciated his beautiful wife for helping him realize his vision.

Highlight of the occasion was the conferment of Fellowship to some members of the group; they include Noble Patrick Nzechukwu; Noble Cletus Oweh; Mr Jack Mbreh; Akinbode Ayobami Raji, among others. There was also award of certificates to those who have satisfactorily passed SWAIAP examinations. Best performing students were also given award.

There was also the unveiling of the SWAIAP logo at the occasion.

He gave gratitude to the Almighty God who by His mercy and compassion gave the vision and directions to pilot the affairs. Indeed, the Holy Scripture is right, whoever He calls, He will equip. I am a living witness.

He said the reason for his writing a book on Internal Audit saying “The decision to close the gap created by the Accountancy profession in Nigeria, led to the writing of the book A to Z of Internal Audit Practice, which led to the formation of WAIAF which metamorphosed into SWAIAP which brought all of us here today.

“Let me reiterate that it is my firm belief that if we are able as a nation to adopt an effective internal audit culture, much of our problems with corruption in both private and public sectors will be significantly reduced.”

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