Simple, elegant, and highly cerebral are just the right words that capture the essence of the personality of Mrs. Comfort Eyitayo, the Immediate Past President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN). Learn more about her and her perspective on how Nigeria can fare better in the management of its abundant resources and potential in this interview with Ademola Akinbola.
Please tell us more about your birth, parentage, and early years.
I was born in Ogun State. I lost my father early in life and had to grow up under the tutelage of my beloved mother and grandmother (both of blessed memories). I was not born with the proverbial ‘Silver Spoon’ in my mouth. So, I learnt early in life the need to be focused, self-confident, and hard-working, in order to achieve enduring prosperity (no shortcut to riches).
Where did you grow up, and what was childhood like?
I grew up in my hometown, Ijebu-Itele under the loving guidance of my mum and grandmother. The two Amazons were my mentors and role models. Early in life, I was involved with all the different enterprise ventures of the family and that strengthened my character and resolve to succeed in life. I quickly embraced the spirit of entrepreneurship early enough. As a matter of fact, I can affirm that entrepreneurial spirit is inborn.
What are your philosophy of life and what values do you subscribe to?
Do unto others what you would want them to do unto you. Be fair and just to all as practicable as possible. I subscribe to impacting positively the lives of those around me and that of future generations. Positive outcomes and positive impacts of great achievers motivate me.
How did you climb the ladder of success? What were the challenges you faced in your life, and how did you surmount them?
With all modesty, I can safely say I have achieved great milestones in life and professional career, and for a fact; none came on a platter of gold but by dint of hard work and the special grace of the almighty God. I see challenges as part of life and I have faced quite a few in the journey of my life but instead of allowing them to deter me, they actually spurred me to greater feat as I approached each challenge as an opportunity to excel.
You are an Accounting guru. How can the principles of Accounting be applied to current efforts to revive and reposition Nigeria?
There are a number of Accounting Principles but the most notable ones that can be applied to current efforts to revive and reposition Nigeria will include Revenue Recognition, Consistency, and Materiality, Going concern, Economy Entity, Full Disclosure, Matching, Conservatism, Monetary Unit and Reliability amongst others. A short description of some of the accounting principles stated above would give an insight on how applying them can revive and reposition Nigeria.
The materiality Principle ensures due attention is paid and proper account is taken of all major expenditure/revenue heads for completeness. Guiding against the frittering away of major resources that could help to strengthen fund reserve (locally/internally) will in return strengthen the currency’s purchasing power/parity against major currencies of other countries that the country transacts business with.
The consistency Principle is applicable to both government policies and other operations of government. Consistency of policies would enhance reliable economic planning and improve positive outcomes. By extension, this will strengthen the economy which will cascade down to major enterprises of the private sector and the economy in general. Organizations are then able to plan better for sustainable enterprises which would also help to improve the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) indices.
The Matching Principle which is based on the concept of double entry for bookkeeping helps to recognize the matching of cost to every revenue head. Applying this principle can help the nation not to squander revenue generated as if it is all consumable without making allowance for the cost of generating the resources and the sustenance of the same in the future.
Going Concerns Principles ensure sustainability and survival of the economy as the principle would ensure that the nation’s operating cost is not higher than the revenue generated. The same is applicable to conservatism. Spending will be in moderation within the limit of available resources. This can help reduce the penchant for excessive indebtedness.
The reliability Principle will encourage activities that will foster trust in governance and encourage foreign investment in the economy as the government would be seen to be trustworthy. Other economic activities in the country will flourish as businesses can plan on calculated risks for better investment outcomes. Good governance is enhanced as there is trust that endears reliability.
The full Disclosure Principle is fundamental to transparency; accuracy and integrity which would reduce if not totally eradicate corruption.
How would you review your tenure as ICAN President? What were your milestone achievements?
To the glory of God, my tenure was characterized by visible impact. I walked the talk. There was a practical demonstration of good and novel initiatives. My tenure reawakened the ‘giant’ in ICAN, to make ICAN great again. This mantra (To make ICAN great again) was the focal point of the tenure; it was pursued and accomplished during the tenure.
What is your assessment of the Accounting profession in Nigeria? How has the “silent rivalry” between ICAN and ANAN affected the industry?
The practice of the profession has not enjoyed its full potential in Nigeria and this has to do with inappropriate/inadequate government policies that did not endear the citizens/business community to the services of accountants except for the quoted entities unlike what obtains in other climes. The two bodies (ICAN and ANAN) are recognized by the law of the land. The perceived rivalry is being narrowed down due to more collaboration on the professional front in recent times which should affect the industry positively.
What are your current professional engagements?
Now that the presidential year is over, I am more than excited to announce my active return to the private and public practice space. I am now available for consulting roles and briefs, training, and accounting-related work at all levels. It is my desire to assist more individuals and organizations (local and foreign) to deliver on their desired outcomes. I am ready to provide more value in the areas of speaking engagements, training, advisory and consulting services, board membership/appointment, research, and audit-related work. I am positioned and ready to deliver superior value with a rich combination of expertise, exposure, and leverage. I resolve to do more and to provide more value-based services within and around my sphere of influence. To this end, I look forward to activating a rewarding professional engagement and service delivery experience consistently in this new phase I am beginning.