By Ralph Madugu
Business Integrity and Information Disclosure: A Panacea for Success and Sustainability and Integrity and Compliance Management: The Role of Internal Auditors were the topics that dominated discussions at the just concluded 9th edition of the annual Internal Stakeholders’ Forum for Zero Tolerance for Fraud in ECWA held at the ECWA Headquarters, Jos, for the north and south zones.
In a paper presentation on the topic, “Business Integrity and Information Disclosure: A Panacea for Success and Sustainability,” Elder Duniya Yusuf said that what people chose to disclose or not disclose has a direct or indirect impact on the success and sustenance of any business and cited instances where strong and established conglomerates went down due to non-disclosure of information for various reasons.
He gave the example of Enron, one of the world’s leading electricity, natural gas, communications and pulp paper companies which went bankrupt in 2001.
Elder Yusuf explained that the collapse was triggered by a revelation that its reported financial condition was substantially sustained by institutionalized, systematic and creatively planned accounting fraud.
He maintained that God was looking for honest people to showcase His glory as contained in Jeremiah 5:1 where God instructed Jeremiah to search throughout the city to see if he can find one just and honest person so that He would not destroy the city.
He noted that when a person lives a life of honesty and integrity, many look at such an individual as being foolish because he did not take advantage of his positions to enrich himself of favour some of his relatives.
“I agree that it may appear as being foolish and one may even suffer for his honesty and integrity but at the end, God rewards the honest,” he admonished.
He declared that it is not a fat bank account, luxury cars and mansions that make a man wealthy but his integrity, discipline, self-control and the fear of God.
“Leave a good heritage for your successors, children and the next generation by building a good name. Know that money fades, fame goes, cars and houses get out of fashion but a good name stays on forever,” he stated.
In his paper on the topic “Integrity and Compliance Management: The Role of Internal Auditors,” ECWA Audit Director, Olusegun Samuel Aiyeribe, acknowledged that organisations that lack integrity and compliance are bound to face financial and reputational risks and have everything to gain by adopting such management best practices.
Aiyeribe, who opined that integrity means “doing the right thing at all times and in all circumstances; it means upholding the values of ECWA,” submitted that a “leader is to consistently operate with integrity to promote the culture of transparency and accountability.”
He maintained that “integrity is behaving in an ethical manner, performing all duties with professionalism, accountability and competence.”
Said he: “The main objective of this presentation is to reawaken the consciousness of stakeholders on the need to constantly conduct ECWA businesses with high integrity and accurate disclosure of both financial and non-financial information.
The ECWA Audit Director disclosed that a compliance strategy is founded on conformity with externally imposed norms as according to him, such third party regulation can refer to either the law or to stakeholders-specific claims.
He however cautioned thus: “The management should not abdicate its responsibility to the Internal Auditor by claiming ignorance of accounting knowledge whereas compliance management extends beyond the possession of an accounting qualification.”
Mr. Aiyeribe concluded that in today’s competitive business landscapes, transparency is essential to building trust among customers, employees and stakeholders hence adherence to laws put in place to ensure fair and civil business practice is in an organization’s best interest.
Earlier in his opening address, the ECWA President, Rev. Dr. Stephen Baba Panya, said that the country had been ravaged by an economic downturn, heightened insecurity and agitations for secession with the Corona virus pandemic and increased corruption compounding issues.
The cleric added that the society was in need of men and women of integrity and transparency who would “walk their talk” and manage the nation’s dwindling resources for the benefit and blessing of the increasingly impoverished populace.
Describing integrity as the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles, the cleric noted that dissemination of information through adequate disclosure was critical to transparency.
Citing the example of King David in Psalms 78:72, the ECWA President said, “One of the greatest leaders and kings of all times that became a yardstick for measuring other kings of Israel was king David. He was commended for shepherding God’s people with integrity of heart and skillful hands. This connotes both honesty as well as competence of king David.”
He added: “Some of the worst cases of fraud were perpetrated by very intelligent and competent crooks, such that much as they portrayed an outward business success, they were not at all transparent, but successfully covered up the decay inside, which continued to eat up the organization, and by the time the truth was exposed, it was too late to save the organizations or corporations.”
On zero tolerance for fraud in ECWA, Rev. Dr. Panya said: “In the light of all the scandals in the Church and society, leaders are presently under intense scrutiny. Therefore, leaders ought to walk with integrity. Too often, people live divided lives in which they do not practice what they preach because, as Jesus said, they are whitewashed on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean.”
The cleric who reiterated the prayer call for revival in ECWA, Rev. Panya tasked Christians to “cry and pray for revival so that society can feel the impact glory of God, especially that the pervasive lack of integrity and transparency in the Church shall be stemmed.”
“Revival is the key to a glorious ECWA and the restoration of greater integrity and transparency Churchwide, and revival can only come through God’s enabling grace and power. Revival comes about when God’s people retrun to the intense study of the word of God and prayer.
“In His mercies and grace, we pray that God would bless us with great and mighty revival in ECWA in Jesus’ name! May God’s revival in ECWA lighten the society with truth, impeccable integrity, and mission-mindedness in Jesus’ name! May it result in enhanced integrity and transparency in all facets of our individual, family, communities, and national lives in Jesus’ name.”
In a keynote address, ECWA General Secretary, Rev. Yunusa Sabo Nmadu, said that the theme was a recommendation as it was broad.
The ECWA scribe maintained that if businesses, departments, institutions and units build on integrity and transparency, they would be successful and sustainable.
He warned that ECWA could not continue to be a global organization if while her leaders were beset with “rural mentalities” characterized by tribalism, nepotism, sectionalism and other inclinations that bred retrogression, hence the need to factor in what he termed “key ingredients with ECWA’s DNA” to ensure that trust and integrity is built into its institutional framework.