‘Fraud examiners can help Nigeria curb corruption’
Mr Christopher Nyong was recently appointed to the International Accounting Standards Board by the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC). The first Nigerian and the third African to be so appointed, Nyong, who is currently the Auditor General of Cross River State, will serve on the Board for three years at the first instance. He speaks on how the appointment will impact on the accounting profession in Nigeria, among other issues
Mr Christopher Nyong, the current Auditor General of Cross River State had a humble but ambitious upbringing. He is his father’s first child and as such was inspired to achieve what his father could not. To the glory of God, he has been able to do that in many positive ways. His recent appointment to the International Accounting Standards Board by the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) has only added another feather to his already well-decorated hat.
With headquarters in New York, the United States of America, IFAC is the global organisation for the accountancy profession dedicated to serving the public interest by strengthening the profession and contributing to the development of strong international economies. It comprises over 175 members and associates in more than 130 countries and jurisdictions, representing almost three million accountants in public practice, education, government service, industry and commerce.
Nyong, the first Nigerian and third African to be appointed into the IAS Board by IFAC holds both first and Master’s degrees in Accounting, and an MBA. Professionally, he is a Chartered Accountant, a Chartered Public Finance Accountant and a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE). He is a member of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, U.S. and a Chartered Public Finance Accountant of the United Kingdom. A Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), he served on the Governing Council of the Institute from 2008 to 2011. Nyong also served as the Chairman, Body of Federal and State Auditor Generals in Nigeria from 2007 to 2015. He is currently a member of the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) as well as the Sub-committee on Implementation of International Public Sector Accounting Standards in Nigeria.
According to a letter signed by the Chief Executive Officer of IFAC, Fayez Choudhury, dated September 20, this year, Nyong’s appointment into the Board was in appreciation for his “support of the independent standard-setting boards”.
But Nyong, who believes in the maxim that the appreciation for a job well done is a harder job, sees the appointment simply as a call to duty and nothing to brag about.
“I feel really humbled to be the first Nigerian to be appointed by IFAC to serve on the International Public Sector Accounting Standards Board (IPSASB). It is a recognition of one’s little contribution to strengthening public finance management reforms in our country.
“I have been an advocate of institutionalising accounting standards in the Nigerian public sector for many years now. When the ICAN invited me in 2008 to assist in developing a brochure for its Mandatory Continuing Professional Education (MCPE), my focus was to use that platform to encourage the application of accounting standards in the public sector. Since then I have been involved in promoting the adoption of IPSAS in Nigeria. I believe this consistent advocacy attracted the attention of IFAC, as it were,” Nyong noted.
Speaking on his role on the Board and how it would impact on Nigeria, nay Africa, Nyong stated that it had been defined by the objectives of the Board.
He explained: “The Board’s broad objective is to serve the public interest by developing high quality accounting standards for the public sector and by facilitating the convergence of international and national standards, thereby enhancing the quality and standardisation of financial reporting around the world.
“Accounting is a universal practice, therefore the impact of my appointment on Africa and Nigeria is to the effect that Africa is a member of the global economy. It emphasises that the continent must imbibe global best practice.”
Nyong expressed strong support for the ongoing anti-corruption crusade in the country. “As a Fraud Examiner, I am quite aware of the damage corruption has done to our economy and the institutions of this country. I advice government to engage the services of fraud examiners in the design of accounting systems in the public sector. Fraud examiners can help government in the prevention and detection of corruption and fraud in the system,” he added.
Giving a peep into his career progression, Nyong acknowledged that “it was not easy getting to where I am today but in all, I saw the hand of God, lifting me little by little.”
He added: “There were many challenges which I cannot recount here – in the university, in my career, name it. I had a humble but ambitious upbringing. My father inspired me, as his first child, to achieve what he couldn’t. He was an illiterate and for him, his son should not be an illiterate. He sacrificed for us to go to school and by the grace of God all six of us are educated. I had lofty ambitions as a youth and as a Christian I was focused. I have first and Master’s degrees in Accounting, and an MBA. Professionally, I am a Chartered Accountant, a Chartered Public Finance Accountant and a Fraud Examiner.
Asked whether he had had the challenge of being wooed to give a favourable audit report in the course of his career, Nyong said: “I never had such experience because from day one, I let everybody know that I was a professional with integrity.”
He advised upcoming accountants to work hard on their competence and skills if they aim for the heights. “They should be people of integrity. Integrity preserves and promotes,” he noted.