EHIME ALEX, in this piece, presents the tributes that flowed at the passing of Daniel Asapokhai, who changed the face of Nigeria’s financial reporting
A decade after the global financial crisis of 2008, markets suffered their worst decline. That year, 2018, the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria had its hands full on the Nigerian Code of Corporate Governance, carrying out public hearing/sensitisation on the NCCG across the six geopolitical zones of the country. Daniel Asapokhai was the man steering the ship of FRC.
According to a Reuters report, nearly $7tn was wiped off world stocks, as emerging markets were trampled on by a charging dollar. Even gold and United States government bonds were bruised.
“Traders will be glad to see the back of 2018,” the report had stated.
Formerly known as the Nigeria Accounting Standards Board, FRC, an organisation operating under the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, is charged with the responsibility of setting accounting standards in Nigeria. It is also responsible for developing and publishing accounting and financial reporting standards to be observed in the preparation of financial statements of public entities in Nigeria and for related matters.
When the remains of Asapokhai would have been laid to rest on Friday, September 24, 2021, this iconic financial reporting specialist and a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria would have gone, but his legacies as the executive secretary of FRC between January 2017 and November 2020 will live on.
Under his watch, the NCCG 2018 was unveiled and the registration process for Individual Professionals was fully automated.
On January 15, 2019, the Federal Government of Nigeria unveiled the NCCG 2018 to institutionalise best practices in corporate governance in the country, restore confidence in the economy and create an environment for sustainable business operations. The code provides a framework to ensure good corporate governance practices in the public and private sectors of the economy by articulating a broad set of principles on corporate accountability, transparency and sustainability for public and private companies in the country.
Before then were five sectoral codes of conduct, the Code of Corporate Governance for the telecommunications industry, 2016; banks and discount houses, 2014; public companies, 2011; insurance industry, 2009; and licensed pension fund operators, 2008. These codes were not uniform in corporate governance standards for all companies and across all business sectors, and companies were made subject to the codes of corporate governance applicable to the sectors in which they operate, thereby subjecting some companies to more than one corporate governance regime.
A 2016 study published in the Journal of Business Ethics by Louise Osemeke and Emmanuel Adegbite showed that conflict among the various codes contributed to reduced compliance by firms and ineffective enforcement by regulatory agencies, both impeded on good corporate governance in Nigeria.
“As the authors argued, the FRC should put together a framework to unify the existing codes into a single applicable code for the corporate sector,” they stated.
At the global level…
According to the International Monetary Fund, in the ‘October 2018 Global Financial Stability Report’, global near-term risks to financial stability increased, reflected and mounted pressures on emerging market economies and escalated trade tensions.
“An intensification of concerns about emerging markets, a broader rise in trade tensions, the realisation of political and policy uncertainty, or a faster-than-expected tightening in monetary normalisation could all lead to a sharp tightening in financial conditions,” IMF stated then.
However, good corporate governance is a key driver in the establishment of sustainable enterprise, said KPMG in a report. “Alignment with leading corporate governance practices will guide companies in establishing a framework of processes and attitudes that increases their value, builds their reputation and ensures their long term prosperity.”
FRC under Asapokhai’s watch
When the FRC reviewed the code of corporate governance in Nigeria, that code was at the very heart of business. In 2019, the organisation took a step further to ensure sanity among finance professionals, who handle financial reporting in the country. The move was the launch of a portal to enthrone responsibility and to check quackery in the financial reporting system in the country.
“We further request that you constantly verify on this portal the FRC registration numbers of professional accountants and other professionals engaged in financial reporting,” said late Asapokhai.
Also, in 2020, the FRC sought improved adoption of the International Financial Reporting Standards and NCCG 2018 for financial institutions in the country.
“FRC began the assessment of IPSAS application and implementation of appropriate financial reporting framework in the public sector entities of Nigeria, which is another critical area of concern,” said the Deputy Director/Head Directorate of Accounting Standards Public Sector, FRC, Dr Iheanyi Anyahara.
Asapokhai to be remembered
“He shared a lot of his experiences in the office [on the job], both at official and personal levels,” the incumbent FRC’s Executive Secretary/Chief Executive Officer, Shuaibu Ahmed, said in a tribute to the late Asapokhai, who passed on August 28, 2021 after a prolonged illness. “I will say that since I assumed duty as executive secretary of the FRC, I don’t think anybody has done same.”
Ahmed extolled the virtues and words of wisdom of the late Asapokhai, stating that he would continue to remember predecessor’s words for a very long time.
“The history of the FRC will never be complete without a whole chapter dedicated to Dan. Without doubt, he has left a very far-reaching legacy. The NCCG 2018 was brought about by Dan,” Ahmed said, adding that the legacy was not only for the FRC but for Nigeria as a country.
On how Asapokhai led the FRC staff in his four-year tenure, Ahmed said, “He led it with a lot of integrity that not a single scandal happened during the time of Dan’s tenure as the executive secretary of FRC.”
The former FRC Board Chairman, Sulaimon Adedotun, also in a tribute to Asapokhai, said, “As a professional in his capacity, he was the CEO of FRC at the time I was the chairman, and we aligned on what we needed done. He did the best he could in the circumstance, put in everything he got into the job. He has done his bit. He has run his race and has gone to rest. May his soul rest in peace.”
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