Ethics is differentiating between right and wrong behaviour personally and professionally. As accountants, there is the expectation that we act objectively, with integrity, and competently.
Ethics is increasingly a significant part of most professional accountancy exams, but there seems to be a disconnect between theory and application in Nigeria.
Vanguard newspaper reported the 10 year jail-term judgement on the Chairman and Managing director of Ontario Oil & Gas Ltd. for oil subsidy fraud, of which the Managing Director is currently serving her jail term. Understandably, culture hugely influences an accountant’s perception of right and wrong, but the generally accepted basis for professional ethics is the laws of a country. Outside the role of the EFCC* in prosecuting the crimes of the directors of Ontario Oil & Gas, not much is known of the role of the accountants of Ontario Oil & Gas. Did the accountants of Ontario Oil & Gas display professional competency? Did they act with integrity?
Living in Nigeria, it is common knowledge that the country is in a recession, and the average employee has little or no job security, and these sort of conditions impact on professionalism; but should professional competence and ethical behavior be abandoned for self-preservation? Perhaps accountants in Nigeria may begin to make more professionally ethical decisions if they are held accountable in cases such as Ontario Oil & Gas Ltd.
*EFCC – Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.