President Goodluck Jonathan has urged Nigerians to place public interest above personal or private interest in the collective effort to build a strong nation, which would be pride of all.
Opening the 44th Annual Accountants Conference in Abuja, yesterday, he said although the nation was blessed with world-class professionals, some of them had failed to add value to the efforts toward nation building by placing their personal interest above the public good.
The President, who was represented by the Co-ordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said, “You must understand that professionalism means supporting good policy that is in the wider public interest even when it does not necessarily benefit the immediate interests of you or your own association.
“Professionalism also demands being constructive in criticisms of policies you do not support without personalising issues. In the course of this weeklong conference as you revisit the ethics and body of rules governing your profession, I hope you would also discuss these matters as they relate to the promotion of the public interest.
“Unfortunately, I have also come across some Nigerian professionals whose actions have fallen short of professionalism in the course of my work. There are professionals who resort to blackmail and abuse of government and individuals when they fail to win contracts that are competitively bid.
“There are individuals/professionals who have resorted to divisive ethnic and sexist sentiments to blackmail and undermine the government when policies did not favour their narrow interests. For example, so-called “professionals” have attempted to undermine new approaches designed to put this country in tune with international good practice”.
President Jonathan said his administration has made bold strides on several fronts in his transformation agenda, especially in the power sector, job creation, agriculture, as well as, oil and gas.
According to him, “in the oil and gas, we have completed work on important projects such as the 136km gas pipeline from Oben to Geregu, the 31km pipeline from Itoki to Olorunshogo and the acquisition of 250 square kilometers of 3D-seismic data for the Chad basin.
In addition, government has also initiated the Ogidigben Gas Industrialisation Project, which will provide a petrochemicals complex in Delta State.
On job creation, he said his administration created 1.2 million jobs last year and that the current focus on the power sector would change the fortunes of Nigerians.
In his address, ICAN President, Mr. Chidi Ajaegbu, charged chartered accounts in the country to defend the public interest in the discharge of their duties.
His words: “As conscience of the society, professionals and in particularly, chartered accountants are required to consistently act, promote and defend the public interest. Indeed, great societies are built by professionals driven, not by personal interest, but by altruistic service to all.”