Joseph Ogbonnia arrived in South Africa from Nigeria in December 2017, having just retired from a highly successful career as a senior executive in the oil and petroleum business in his home country. His full name is Ogbonnia Nnanna Oko-Joseph, though he is better known as Josef to his colleagues and friends.
Born and raised in Ebonyi state in the east of Nigeria, he later moved to the capital city of Abuja after starting his career as an accounts clerk with the Austoma group of companies at Markudi Benue State, Nigeria.
Over the next 25 years he rose through the ranks, eventually assuming the position of group general manager in charge of Naira 150 million in assets, five group companies and more than 1,000 staff.
Austoma is involved in marketing and distribution of petroleum products, with a portfolio of about 50 petrol stations across the country.
So what brought Josef to South Africa?
“God called me here,” he says. It turns out Josef is also a pastor who has dedicated his life to missionary work, first in Nigeria and now in SA. He opened the Christ Victory Life Chapel at 501 Jorissen Street in Pretoria, and has watched it grow in leap and bounds over the last year, attracting parishioners from every imaginable background: immigrants, locals, and people of every ethnic background.
“I had a great life in Nigeria, with a great salary and I still have several properties there. But it was God’s calling that brought me here, and I love South Africa and feel very comfortable here.”
Josef is married to Comfort and has three children: Praise, Devine and Dominion.
He joined Saiba in 2018 as a member of its technical committee. This involves liaising with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) on behalf of Saiba members and representing their interests.
He has been lobbying on behalf of Saiba to have accounting officers with the BAP (Business Accountant in Practice) designation given the authority to conduct audits and offer assurance services to clients.
Fully aware that the accounting profession is going through a crisis with so many accounting scandals bleeding through the daily press, Josef says it is time to recalibrate the profession around its guiding principles of ethics and honesty. “If I have any word of advice for accountants it is to maintain your integrity and be God-fearing. This goes down to the smaller things in life. If, for example, you say you are going to be at an appointment at 12pm, be there at 12pm. Then it goes to the bigger things, like guiding clients along the path of truth. Do not get involved in anything that will compromise your integrity, because that could ruin your life.”
It’s good to know that Saiba has a safe pair of hands in Josef, and he takes his role seriously as a member of the Saiba technical committee, ensuring that Saiba members have a voice at the top levels of government.