Liz Fisher, journalist

ACCA has announced the winner of its Public Sector Advocacy Awards in Nigeria. These awards recognise members who have acted as powerful advocates for ACCA and the accountancy profession, and made a real difference in their workplace and their communities, including working to nurture and encourage the next generation of talent.

Haruna Yarima Abdullahi, executive chairman of Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory Internal Revenue Service, won the award for his work in promoting the brand in Nigeria.

’Twenty years ago, there was no real ACCA presence in Nigeria, so I had to go abroad to study,’ he says. ‘Today, in my spare time, I teach and mentor the younger generation taking the ACCA exams. The potential here for someone with the qualification is huge.’

‘Being an ACCA isn’t just a title for me; it’s a badge of honour’

His own ACCA journey, he says, has opened doors and made him a global citizen. ‘I’ve made lifelong friendships and meaningful connections across the world thanks to ACCA. It has given me a global mindset and encouraged me to bring a global perspective in everything I do, while still valuing my local roots. Being an ACCA isn’t just a title for me; it’s a badge of honour. I am a poster child for what ACCA can do for someone.’

Professionalising public finance

Reforming the public service in Nigeria and ‘reshaping its mindset’ has been a priority for Haruna throughout his career. ‘The work ACCA does towards professionalising the public finance workforce and elevating public financial management resonates deeply with my own convictions,’ he says.

This year’s winners

The overall winner of this year’s Public Sector Advocacy Awards is Caroline McNulty. Read her story and watch the video where she shares what the award means to her.

The other country winners for members in the public sector are:

  • Canada: Syed Imran Zia FCCA, Fraser Port Authority, Vancouver
  • China: Relinda Rui Zhang FCCA, Shouyi Healthcare Group, Beijing
  • UK: Winifred Sarbah FCCA, NHS, London
  • US: Cheryl Clarke FCCA, United Nations Resident Audit Office, Kuwait

Haruna is currently among the few senior officers in Nigeria’s public sector who holds ACCA as his exclusive professional qualification. ‘When I joined public service in Nigeria you needed to have a local accountancy qualification to sign off financial statements,’ he says. ‘Although ACCA is recognised globally, there are still local barriers for ACCA members in Nigeria. We are therefore still advocating to bring this into the spotlight.’

‘It’s amazing to receive recognition for something that makes me happy’

Receiving the award, Haruna says, is ‘the icing on the cake’. ‘I’ve never wanted to be recognised; I just wanted to add value, to think globally and act locally. It’s amazing to receive recognition for something that makes me happy.’

Commitment and pride

Speaking about this year’s winners, Anthony Harbinson FCCA, one of the judges, chair of ACCA’s Global Forum for the Public Sector and a former ACCA president, says: ‘What is clear from our winners is that each of them is fiercely proud of their ACCA qualification and the opportunities that it has brought to them.

‘The range of advocacy work that our winners have exhibited, and their commitment to promoting ACCA around the globe, is inspiring and reflects the pride that they feel in their membership. But what is also striking is the personal fulfilment that they gain from their role as advocates. We hope that their experience will encourage others to follow in their path.’