One of Nigeria’s leading minds in accounting, Christian Ekeigwe, has harped on the need for accountants to exercise sufficient self-control as they play their gatekeeping roles in society. Ekeigwe, a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and Certified Public Accountant (CPA, Massachusetts), traced audit failures to lack of self-control in people holding critical governance and control positions in organisations, and yet accounting wisdom does not recognise this pathology. He, therefore, describes self-control as “accounting’s blindside”, which he said is the root cause of what ails it (accounting) and from where it suffers myriads of setbacks.
Ekeigwe who is the Chairman of Audit Committee Institute (ACI) and pioneered IT auditing in Nigeria decried the fact that “self-control has been unremarked in the accounting conversation in our society despite recent egregious audit failures, which he said can only be explained by flaws in human judgment due to insufficient self-control competence.”
Ekeigwe made these assertions in the third edition of his now sought-after allocution series to the accounting profession titled, A Letter to My Profession. He said that after four decades of training and working in the accounting profession, he has come to the conclusion that self-control, the “skill that matters most,” is the blindside of accounting. He argued that self-control is a blindside of accounting because it is not conceptually captured in the wisdom of accounting, despite the fact that its absence has resulted in a recent history of accounting that is punctate with, among other things, inexpiable audit failures. He asserted that failure of self-control is the root cause of what ails modern accounting, and that recognising the profound role of self-control will have equally profound impact on the survival and prosperity of individuals, firms and nations.
Accounting, he continued, must now include self-control as a deliberate competence that all accountants must consciously cultivate, recommending that accounting training should use instruction, examples and impressive imagery to inculcate self-control in the new generation of accountants to immunize them against the halo effect of hedonic histrionics of modern society.
Coommenting on the importance of self-control, Ekeigwe pointed out that empires, companies and individuals have collapsed as a result of poor self-control, noting that in all philosophies, religions and civilisations, self-control has been shown to be a critical success factor. According to him, the importance of self-control is well captured by Tony Schwartz, an American journalist and business book author, when he said “without self-control, we can’t accomplish almost anything of enduring value.” Stretching the argument, Ekeigwe said ‘in fact, civilisation itself advanced only after humans started exercising sufficient self-control which made trust and cooperation possible.