KanoOnline Online Forum

General => General Board => Topic started by: Muhammad on August 24, 2003, 05:33:17 PM

Title: Ismaila Zakari: A True Muslim
Post by: Muhammad on August 24, 2003, 05:33:17 PM
Assalamu Alaikum
I came about this article in the Guardian yesterday. It talks about the an accountant out to make a difference. It makes for good reading. believe me.
Zakari...Builder Of Accountants In The North


We employ a lot of accounting graduates and others from other disciplines. What we find out here is that most of these graduates lack the basic communication skills, which comprise of the use of English Language and Mathematics. Ask them to write the simplest of reports, you end up correcting a lot of mistakes. I wonder why somebody who finished the university will still be struggling to write in English!


IN the entire Northwest zone of Nigeria, there are just two women who have passed the ICAN exams over the years. And out of about 18,000 ICAN members nationwide, the North may not boast of 1000 qualified accountants. Several reasons are responsible for this, chief among which are failure of students in ICAN exams and the people's ignorance of the immense opportunities that are at the disposal of a qualified/chartered accountant.

But all hopes may not be lost as a rescue mission is on the way. Indeed, the scheme to remedy the situation has begun under the auspices of Ahmed Zakari and Co. Chartered Accountants, Kano, which has sponsored

60 students of the Bayero University, Kano (BUK), to register and sit for the qualifying examinations of ICAN's Accounting Technician Scheme (ATS).

Besides, N10 million is to be extended to students of northern extraction studying in two other institutions namely, the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria and Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ATBU), Bauchi.

The prime mover of this noble gesture is Alhaji Ismaila Zakari, chairman of the Kano/Jigawa district society of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and senior partner of the Ahmed Zakari and Co. Chartered Accountants.

Without much ado, Zakari explains the benefit to the North from his firm's single-hand sponsorship:

"Let me tell you that we are talking about poverty alleviation in the North today. If we have more of our people qualifying as professionals, the multiplier effects will be surprising. The life styles of whoever qualifies and those around him will change because it is something that shows in their abilities. There will be gainful employment, one will have a lot of options to either work in the universities, public or the private sector."

Zakari and his firm of chartered accountants aim to catch the beneficiaries of the scheme young, assisting them to qualify even while still as school; rather than waiting to enroll after graduating from the university or polytechnic.

"After qualifying as a chartered accountant, we knew the rigours required to achieve the feat especially when candidates don't prepare adequately for the exams. We observed that our candidates in the North have problem qualifying as chartered accountants. They think the exam is difficult or is beyond them. Some even think that ICAN is not for them but we believe that anybody who works very hard will qualify as a chartered accountant. We thought that the best way to encourage youngsters in the universities is to offer scholarship to a handful of them at a very early stage to start the ATS scheme.

"The scheme offers the opportunity for anybody who has school certificate with a minimum of 5 credits including English and Mathematics. On the other hand, the main professional examination is opened to students that have graduated either with a B.Sc. or HND. We felt that if we have to wait for our students to graduate, the essence of arresting the failure rate of our candidates would not be really achieved. The way it is now is like catching them young because they are just coming into the university. If as at now, they start to sit for the ATS scheme, we believe that they will be able to qualify early," he clarifies.

On the consequences of the low number of qualified accountants in the North, Zakari says:

"The situation is very serious. It is a critical situation because right now, we have about 18,000 members in all in the country but I do not think that in the North, from Kwara up to Borno, you can find 1000 of us who are members of ICAN. This is unfortunate for the North. I think that the problem is that people do not know the value of the profession here in the North, as much as those in the southern part of the country. To qualify as an ICAN member is a bit difficult; so most candidates from this part of the country out of laziness will not want to go through the hard way to sit for ICAN exams.

"Again, if our candidates are not serious, it could be understandable because the motivation is simply not there. We do not have the kind of opportunities in the South, which ginger candidates to qualify as ICAN members. The industries are very few, the stock exchange is not like the one in Lagos and the head offices of most companies and organisations are all in Lagos, which is the commercial centre of this country. So, those who are chartered accountants have a wide range of opportunities and a way, the younger ones will naturally bring out the best in them to succeed in ICAN exams. This is a sharp contrast with the situation here in the North.

"There are training schools where private individuals in Lagos tutor students to prepare for ICAN and we don't have these schools here. But one good thing is that the council of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria has considered the North as educationally backward in terms of ICAN exams. A fact-funding mission came to Kano recently to find ways of encouraging candidates to pass the exams."

On whether there is a relationship between the rate of failure in ICAN exams and falling standards of education, Zakari retorts: "Certainly yes! You see, let me give you an example with my firm. We employ a lot of accounting graduates and others from other disciplines. What we find out here is that most of these graduates lack the basic communication skills, which comprise of the use of English Language and Mathematics. Ask them to write the simplest of reports, you end up correcting a lot of mistakes. I wonder why somebody who finished the university will still be struggling to write in English.

"As accountants, the entire work that we do has to go out in the form of report. It has to be read and understood by our clients. I will tell you that the quality of our graduates is below standards. A good graduate should be able to follow the guidelines of ICAN syllabus to pass, though as students, they have personal contacts with their lecturers and could even know the nature of the examination. But in ICAN it is a different ball game."

Zakari, also periscopes the business community in the North especially within the Kano/Jigawa axis and concludes that not much is happening in the corporate business world of the area. To him, little or no emphasis is placed on the need for managerial expertise in the few corporate outfits in the area.

"When you talk about the business environment here, you know that it is definitely not like the type you have in Lagos. The businesses here are not as successful as those of the southern parts of the country. The quality of management of the quoted companies must meet up with certain standards of management as corporate and board of directors, etc. But here in the North, we take these things for granted. We have more of one-man business and most of our people here don't take some of this issue of management and control very serious," he says.

Regardless, he says the Kano/Jigawa district society of ICAN whose membership is in the region of 1000, gets a fair share of the patronage of the business outfits, even though not as impressive as the case with accountants in the southern parts of the country.

"I will just say we get a fair share here but it is not like in Lagos because most of our businesses here are small. There is no large business in terms of turnover. What we do is smaller compared to our counterparts in the South. At the same time, even the compliance level with the requirements of auditing, taxation and so on, which are all our field, is not being complied with by our people. It is only when they are looking for business in the banks or if they want to buy land that they come to us asking for tax clearance certificates. People don't want to do things properly here. So, my colleagues or fellow professionals are having hard times in that regards," he adds.

The Kano Stock Exchange is not an exemption in this seemingly difficult situation. If the patronage of the exchange is anything to reckon with, it is definitely not a reflection of the volume of commercial activities in the city. A few businessmen, especially in the elitist class, are the ones taking advantage it offers. But why is it so?

Zakari explains: "The problem is that our people are not very aware of the opportunities the capital market offers and I think there is the need for a greater awareness. We have to create awareness in the people to gain confidence in the business of buying and selling of shares. People here are more concerned with physical stocks of goods or the physical money; they want to see their money or their goods. Now, if you tell somebody that he will make more money by buying shares of a company, you discover that very few people understand what you mean by buying shares. So, there is a lot of work to be done regarding the creation of awareness in the capital market. I think we will raise more capital if awareness is created. The activities of the stock exchange is limited to only a few persons who are enlightened about the capital market opportunities."

In the last decade, Kano had no fewer than 500 operational companies. But due to the downturn of the economy, their numbers depleted to about 100. The development is not helping matters for the Kano Stock Exchange as most businessmen think it is not safe to buy shares. According to Zakari, there could be some sense in the action of the businessmen:

"Now, if they see one or two companies, the shares of a particular company as an investment, you found out that they don't have a lot of confidence doing so. It requires a lot security, which the exchange commission can do, to make the businessmen know of safeguards to protect their interests. We all know that the Security and Exchange Commission is monitoring and policing the capital market to make sure that there are no fraudulent practices in the industry. With a measure like this, our businessmen should be confident to do business in the capital market. But they can only be aware of this reality if a lot of sensitisation is done."

He gives the government hard knocks for not doing enough to reduce the cost of doing productive venture in the country. "Government has made people to see it as if it is in business too. It collects very high duty and NEPA bills and so on. Government is not helping the economy to grow. I know that government is trying to do so much through the privatisation of public outfits but not much is being done in terms of reducing companies operational costs. They continue to pay all taxes as well as paying too high for energy and petroleum products.

"So, it will be difficult for business to thrive in the country. Our industrial goods cannot compete with those produced outside the country. I do know that government tried to ban some goods imported into the country but these goods still find their ways into the country. There is no control; government is yet to convince us it can tackle the problem," he asserts.

Alhaji Ismaila Zakari attended Kings College, Lagos (1977-1982) and the School of Basic Studies, Zaria (1982-1982. He obtained a B.Sc. in Accountancy at the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria (1983-1986). Before qualifying as an ICAN member, he worked at several organisations, including Equity Bank and the Everest Capital and Constructing Companies.


Title: Re: Ismaila Zakari: A True Muslim
Post by: gogannaka on August 29, 2003, 02:03:12 AM
At first when i saw this topic i thought it was too lengthy but i read it offline and i was thrilled......

Nigeria needs people like Mr. zakari

I think peolple need to read the piece.

Thanks amin for the post.....