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History of Accounting Education in Nigeria

In this article we review the History of Accounting Education in Nigeria. Accounting as a profession has a very important role to play in the economic development of any nation. And as such, in discussing the history of Accounting, you must have discussed the history of Nigeria.

Therefore, discussing the development of accounting in Nigeria cannot be undertaken without making reference to the development of Nigeria as a nation.

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Nigeria, commonly known as the giant of Africa with more than 150 million people is the most populous country in Africa. With one of the biggest democracies in the world and a presidential system of government, it has a dual economy, based on its rich natural resources, traditional agriculture and the trade sector.

Before the development of Nigeria, no one needed the services of an accountant. In fact, no one even knew what it was and how to apply it.

However, the introduction of a modern economy stimulated by international trade has called for a profession such as accounting to service the expanding modern sector.

Accounting as a profession, therefore, has a very important role to play in the economic development of any nation. It is used in measuring and reporting information.

Read Also: How To Become An Accountant in Nigeria

The profession can cover both micro economic activities and it consists of various subsystems which relate economic events and decisions. The subsystems are the major accounting fields such as, business accounting, government accounting, social accounting, auditing and taxation, all of which aids in economic planning, project appraisal, capital formation and a host of other socioeconomic activities.

Accounting as a profession originated from the need to have in place a system of recording financial transactions. In the past, man had employed accounting according to his needs to enumerate and control assets, as a reporting device of stewardship, tax-gathering and as evidence of trade, for the control of production, or the management of business.

The accumulation of wealth and the growth of capital, the expansion of production and trade, and development created the need for financial information and control.

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Accounting is therefore a response to the demand of economic and financial demands of the society.

After Nigeria gained its independence, the thought of establishing a professional accounting body was borne in the mind of few accountants who coordinated the establishment of “The Association of Accountants in Nigeria”

The main objectives of the Association were to provide a central organization for accountants in the country, to maintain a strict standard of professional ethics, and to provide for the training, examination and local qualification of students in accountancy.

Read Also: 10 Accounting qualifications to boost your CV

It was not until 1965 when Chief Akintola Williams played a key role in establishing the first professional accounting organization ICAN.

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) was established by Act of Parliament No. 15 of 1965 to:

(i) determine what standards of knowledge and skill are to be attained by persons seeking to become members of the accountancy profession and to raise those standards from time to time as circumstances may permit

(ii) secure in accordance with the provision of the Act, the establishment and maintenance of the registers of fellows, associates and registered accountants entitled to practise as accountants and auditors and to publish from time to time a list of those persons;

(iii) perform, through the Council of the Institute, all other functions conferred on it by the Act.

As the foremost professional accounting body in the West African sub-region, in 1982, ICAN initiated and contributed significantly to the formation of the Association of Accounting Bodies in West Africa (ABWA). Apart from being in professional practice, ICAN members are engaged in the three tiers of public service as well as the private.

As at the time it was founded, ICAN had 250 members but has overtime grown to about 38,000 certified chartered accountants.

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) was the only professional body regulating the accounting profession in Nigeria until 1st January, 1979, when another accounting association known as the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN) was founded to perform duties similar to those being performed by ICAN.

The Association of National Accountants is Nigeria is the only chartered professional accountancy body in Nigeria empowered by law to teach as well as examine all its students. Besides, it is the only body having the absolute power to advance the science of accountancy.

The Association was formed on 1st January, 1979, incorporated on 28th September, 1983 and was finally chartered by Decree 76 of 1993 on 25th August, 1993. The Association is a truly national accountancy body with education and training programme reflecting the national environment which would meet internationally accepted accounting standards.

Read Also: 20 Best Accounting Software for small and medium sized businesses

It was born out of a burden shared by a number of well meaning Nigerians for a home grown and home spun professional body. It sought a thoroughly Nigerian and community based approach to the definition of accountancy standards and practices.

Its vision is to make ANAN a Premium Brand of Choice in Professional Accounting Practice in Nigeria, and to impact on accounting education and practice in a profound and comprehensive manner.

The association of National Accountants in Nigeria is working towards advancing the Science of Accountancy in Nigeria, pioneering a multi-disciplinary emphasis in the production of well rounded, well blended, and well-honed professionals, profound in knowledge, skillful in practice, and ethical in conduct.Other professional accounting bodies have been birthed since then.


Accounting education describes the process of giving systematic instruction to enlighten the accountants. It is giving the instructions deemed necessary for potential accountants to acquire in order to gain their professional qualifications.

This education is undertaken in an effort to update and increase the scope of the knowledge of the accountants.

It takes training, education, consistency, skills and hardwork to become a successful accountant in Nigeria.

Accounting education, therefore, should evolve from a continuing relationship and dialogue between academic on one hand, and the accounting profession on another.

It should not be seen as an end in itself, especially in the production of competent accountants, but as a means of an end, which is to facilitate accountability in both public and private sectors of the economy.

Nigeria, being a developing country, needs a well-developed accounting profession to aid her development process.

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Juliet Israel

Juliet Israel is a Content Developer at InfoGuideNIgeria.com. InfoGuide Nigeria is a team of Resource Persons and Consultants led by Ifiokobong Ibanga. Page maintained by Ifiokobong Ibanga. If you need a personal assistance on this topic, kindly contact us.

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