In this interview, the head of department, Accountancy, Babcok University, Ogun State, Prof Rufus Akintoye bears his mind on Nigeria’s 2018 budget, Treasury Single Account policy of the federal government, his achievements since he took over as HOD, among others.
What can be done to curb the alarming corruption rate in the country?
To me, corruption is a state of mind and I believe the first approach is to enlighten the mind through positive orientation about life, living and significance rather than mere relevance in value creation. Our orientation as a people have been centered on value relevance leading to inordinate accumulation of resources rather than being significant in the history of future making and value creation for generations yet unborn like our forefathers.
How can accountants bring their competencies to bear in the current fight against corruption in Nigeria?
Accountancy all over the world is moving away from the positive theory platform to normative leading to emphasis on professional ethics. This is being integrated into accounting curricula all over the world including Nigeria. It is therefore compulsory for any accountant that will be relevant in the scheme of any economy to be ethical in his or her dealings, otherwise, short term successes, wealth accumulation and professional infidelity will be short-lived by the shining light from global torchlight. This practice will necessarily address some of the menace of corruption being currently experienced.
How will you describe the TSA policy by the federal government?
The Treasury Single Account policy of the federal government is a good monetary tool to address some of our economic challenges and make control of monetary instruments easy for government. The only advice to government is proper preparation for the administration of every new policy so as to develop shock absorbing capacity for immediate adverse effect before stability.
What do you think are the implications of budget passage delay in the country?
Except for the adoption of medium term expenditure framework which allows the extension of a budget beyond 12 calendar months, many prospective economic activities are usually dependent on budget figures as a driver, therefore, the movement of the economy is delayed in terms of markets, industries etc. Therefore, budget delayed is economy delayed.
Sir, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, ICAN, recently warned against proliferation of accountancy bodies in Nigeria. Do you think we have enough accountancy bodies in the country?
To me, proliferation is a relative term, what is important is the value you are bringing to the table for the consumption of the entire populace. Every person is free to associate with any group of his choice. However, a rational thinker should be interested in being identified with right values necessary for significance rather than relevance as stated earlier. I am happy to belong to ICAN, CITN, and NIM for value creation in Accountancy, Taxation, and management respectively.
Mrs Olutoyin Olakunrin, first female chartered accountant recently lamented that the accounting profession is no longer as clean as it was, what can be done to maintain the integrity of the profession?
While not doubting or supporting her claims, I do not have sufficient statistics to judge this statement. However, it is important to state that this challenge is not only limited to the accounting profession but worse in many, including political arena. To me as earlier stated there is the need for the education of the mind through positive orientation about life, living and significance rather than mere relevance in wealth/material acquisition.
You were appointed to steer the affairs of the department of Accountancy in Babcock University especially for the running of the postgraduate programmes, MSc and PhD, tell us the journey so far?
I was invited by Professor James Kayode-Makinde, the then President/Vice-Chancellor of Babcock University in December 2012 to join the team in the Department for the running of postgraduate programmes of MSc and PhD Accounting. The MSc programme continued till 2014 when I was appointed to steer the ship of the department of Accounting. With personal vision and clear set of goals, I immediately repositioned the Department, working with two other Professors to pursue the PhD Accounting which the NUC earlier denied commencement approval but was approved in 2015. I immediately introduced the Collaborative programme which was in place at the University of Cape Town, South Africa when I was concluding my PhD which I benefitted from.
The model was to invite scholars from about 10 Federal, State and Private Universities every semester to participate in assessing all PhD students in every course and seminar(70%); only 30% are assessed internally. This model considered strange to the Nigerian environment initially met with criticism and rejection by almost every internal faculty staff but was eventually adopted by the University as a model on the PhD Accounting. The programme was advertised and 54 candidates immediately applied but were admitted in phases for propriety of supervision in line with NUC guideline of maximum of 5 candidates per supervisor.
In addition each candidate was allocated to three supervisors with a professor as the lead and others with a PhD not less than three years in the areas of specialization for the students, where necessary, external co-supervisors were appointed. This gave birth to the current 19 graduates convocating on June 3, 2018 as the first set. It is also important to mention that candidates went through rigorous title defiance in adherence to best global practice and contemporary discourse in accounting and allied matters which led to three of them immediately winning research grants of 500,000 Naira each in a PhD competition by the ICAN and three others winning best conference paper presentations at the University of Lagos and Covenant University respectively.
At this juncture, let me reiterate that this success story looks almost smooth but definitely not without nightmares, sleeplessness and agony of a pregnant mother. There were temptations at the peak of confrontations/agitations to even resign my job, but to the glory of God, He sustained me to this time, this is also partly due to the constant encouragement I received from Professor James Kayode Makinde, Professor Ademola Stephen Tayo and pungently my direct boss, Professor Iheanyichukwu Okoro who was there day and night for me in all circumstances.
What makes Babcock University Accountancy programme unique?
The uniqueness of the PhD Accounting programme at Babcock University is in the use of the Collaborative model where 70% of all courses and seminars are assessed by external assessors assembled from about 10 different Federal, State and Private Universities in Nigeria, while only 30% are assessed internally. This model among others has made it possible for the University to produce the history making 19 PhD candidates within the NUC stipulated period of 6 semesters with qualitative PhD theses some of which have already won grants.
Tell us about your collaboration with ICAN, ACCA and the accounting industry?
The University went into collaboration with ICAN by running an integrated curriculum for five years and allowing our BSc graduates to write the final level of ICAN professional examinations in year five. This was on till 2014 when there were agitations from some members of ICAN to cancel same on the account of likely watering down the ICAN examination standard which took some of them more than 10 years to complete. We won our argument against cancellation of the MoU through a court injunction preventing the planned monitored discussion at the ICAN AGM of May 2015 to allow our students already admitted to complete while planning alternative strategies.
It is on record that through this MoU, many of our students did not only get chartered before leaving school but won first, second and third overall best prices from diet to diet which informed the council of the institute to reinstate the commitment to continue with the MoU which is on today but now under a new name of Mutual Cooperation Agreement with Tertiary Institutions. It is on record that many of our students are performing excellently well at work from the feedback received.
During the course of agitation by ICAN members on the MOU, we went into collaboration with the ACCA of London, operating in 184 countries of the world including Nigeria as an alternative which was applauded by our parents. This step meant to create opportunity for our students turned a big issue in our hands which on integrating our curriculum with ACCA’s entitled our students to 8 exemptions out of 14 examination paper structure to qualify as global accountants in 184 countries, gave Babcock University the first Silver status in West Africa and internship opportunity for all our students from 100 to 400 level in about 40 designated organizations. As at now, many of them are on internship for the next 3 months which in the end would have exposed them to about 2 years practical work experience at the completion of their programs giving them an edge over their peers from other Universities in employment. We make bold to say that the industries are happy with us in our collaboration with them beyond academic matters tasting our products from time to time.
Expatiate on the Chattered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria’s Professorial Chair in BU?
As part of our ten point agenda for the department on my assumption of office as the HOD, I approached the Institute with write up on ‘Endowment of a Professorial Chair in Babcock University’ which was successfully defended in February 2016 at Dover Hotel, Lekki Peninsula, Lagos, voted by the Institute at the May 2016 AGM at the Taxation house in Lagos. The Launching was done at the VC’s Chamber in Babcock University on November 17, 2016.
In 2017, the selection process to appoint a Chairperson commenced with the constitution of a Selection Panel Headed by Professor Isa Kabiru Dandago FCA,FCTI,, a Professor of Accounting & Taxation From Bayero University, Kano, Professor Abiola Sanni FCTI, a Professor of Tax Law from University of Lagos, Professor Adekunle Owojori FCA,FCTI, a Professor of Accounting & Taxation from Ekiti State University, two other council members with the Registrar and HR Team of Babcock headed by the Director, Dr Abiola Makinde. After the interview processes, a letter dated November 7, 2017 was sent to the President/Vice-Chancellor of Babcock University appointing me as the successful candidate at the interview well contested by seven candidates from Federal, State and Private Universities. Acceptance letters from the University and the candidate have since been forwarded to the Institute.
Activity on the Chair commencing with research and training is ongoing especially with some of our PhD Accounting students specializing in Public Sector Accounting & Finance(Taxation & Fiscal Policy ). This Chair attracts an annual grant of 8.5 million and payment of the professorial chair occupant salaries and allowances with additional research grants from time to time. I can confirm that the first year salaries and allowances with effect from June 2018 have been paid to the University by CITN. The implication of this is that the yearly payroll of Babcock University is now subsidized by CITN through payment of a Professor’s salary and allowances for all the years this MoU will be in place which is a big financial relief.
What is the 30/70 PhD Accountancy Model and how were you able to break the record by producing about 19 PhD graduates at once?
The 30/70 model is a collaborative model where 70% of all courses and seminars are assessed by external assessors assembled from about 10 different Federal, State and Private Universities in Nigeria, while only 30% are assessed internally. This model among others has made it possible for the University to produce the history making 19 PhD candidates within the NUC stipulated period of 6 semesters with qualitative PhD theses some of which have already won grants.
Research, curriculum, and funding among others have been highlighted as part of the challenges of accounting education in the country, what is the way forward?
Let me start by saying that our post graduate programme of MSc and PhD accounting are structured to contain about 8 different seminars where it is mandatory for all students to write and present papers on contemporary issues in accounting based on global debates. In addition, every MSc and PhD student is expected to review 80 and 120 journal articles respectively in accounting and allied matters, identify gaps in knowledge before title approval to bridge any of the identified gaps.
The review is done chronologically in reverse order starting from the current year. This has positioned our PG programmes on a competitive global pedestal leading to publications in high impact journals all over the world by our students. Every MSc and PhD student is expected to publish 2 and 4 journals articles respectively in reputable indexed journals before oral examinations. As stated earlier, we run an integrated curriculum on the best practices all over the world. Our funding regime is not only limited to allocation from the University but also from various grants from local and international agencies. The NUC which we are in constant touch with on our programmes should make some of these models as part of the minimum Academic Standard currently used for accreditation
How can technology be used to enhance the Accounting profession?
ICT is already part of our entire curriculum from undergraduate to post graduate level. We have in place one of the best accounting laboratory with current accounting software on which our students are compulsorily trained and must passed examinations in addition to internship experiences. We are proud to say that we are online worldwide. We also recommend this model as part of NUC BMAS for accreditation.
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