ENHANCING FINANCIAL ACCOUNTABILITY AND TRANSPARENCY IN NIGERIAN PUBLIC SECTOR

ENHANCING FINANCIAL ACCOUNTABILITY AND TRANSPARENCY IN NIGERIAN PUBLIC SECTOR (A CASE STUDY OF SELECTED PUBLIC SECTOR ORGANIZATIONS IN ENUGU STATE)

ABSTRACT

The Nigerian public sectors like their counterparts in the private sector have neglected fundamental principles that should be adhered to in ensuring accountability and transparency in their various sectors. This research work is aimed at looking at the various ways in which the Accounting officers: – Chief Executives, Accountants, Auditors and in fact the Financial controllers in our country help to enhance financial accountability and transparency in the public sector. A framework for understanding the relationships between the major financial administrators and their subordinates in Public sector financial accountability and transparency was established. A questionnaire, interviews and research methodology was adopted for this research. Each question was examined as a whole to obtain an understanding of the opinions and perspectives of the respondents from each individual, organization as to what are considered to be the important factors in this study. Then, chi-square was used to test the five hypothesis propounded. The results suggested avenues of enhancing financial accountability and Transparency in the public sector. The major findings from the survey are: (1) Public Financial Managers do not enhance the implementation of financial accountability and transparency in the Nigerian public sector. (2) Financial accountability and transparency is not yet improved in the Nigerian public sector and. (3) Public financial managers do not adhere to the laid down rules for the management of accountability and transparency in the Nigerian public sector. Finally the research concluded with the following major recommendations: The Nigerian value system must be changed so as to stamp out dishonesty and the use of double standard in handling government matters and that Regular workshops, seminars and trainings should be organized on regular basis for those public accountants who rose through the ranks. This will make them fit into the accounting duties properly.

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1       BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

Grand corruption is a cancer that has eaten deep into the fabric of the Nigerian polity. The general global perception about graft in Nigeria is that it is a pervasive phenomenon. It is generally acknowledged that corruption and corrupt practices are endemic and systemic in both the public and private sectors of Nigeria. Corruption has surely had debilitating effects on the country as it has had elsewhere. It is encountered in the routine processes of governance both in public and private sectors, and it pollutes the business environment generally. It equally undermines the integrity of government and public institutions.

            Nigerian poverty in the midst of plenteous natural resources is as a result of bad leadership, Leadership without skill and character. In formal democracy bad leadership is to a long extent a product of flawed electoral system. So an incredible electoral system is the beginning of poor leadership. Thus good governance is identified as a critical ingredient of political stability. However at the heart of good governance i.e. transparent governance is accountability. That is the idea that the governed retain the real opportunity to know what the governors do and call them to order when they derail. A country’s journey towards good governance in reality is measured by how much the management of the public policy is open to the scrutiny of the people the people are always disconnected with the leaders because of the institutional deficiencies of liberal democracy. The culture of accountability and its institutions are strong protection against conflicts and instability.

            Nigeria like the rest of African countries is caught in cusps of many conflicts including conflicts over political power. The real nature of political conflicts in these societies is that the norms and procedures for attributing between varying claims to power are incapable of restraining the tendency the overall system. Conflicts over access to political power are compounded by the oil economy which has created the resource course as a content of corruption, means that most politicians are interested in access to political powers as a pretext for access to the resources tap, weak accountability framework therefore makes it easy for leaders to gain personal control of public fund and utilize same for personal needs. The main problem with Democracy in Nigeria is lack of accountability and transparency, both cannot be easily separated.

            From a relatively mild manifestation at Nigeria’s independence, this cancer grew rapidly at an alarming rate through the Second Republic (1979-1983). During the epoch of military misrule, it became institutionalized and assaulted every facet of Nigerian socio-political life. In the words of Gboyega (1996:3), “it was as if the government existed so that corruption might thrive”. Corruption have accounted for the distortion and diversion of government welfare programmes and undermined the goals and vision of development. Indeed, it has continued to undermine the effectiveness of the political process, especially the capacity of the elections management body, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to achieve and institutionalize free and fair elections.

Accountability is a concept deeply rooted in political power and democracy. It is the bridge linking the People or the electorate with the Executive to whom enormous power has been entrusted. Accountability is the public servants report card on how public money is spent and used on behalf of the people. It therefore goes without saying that the notion of accountability and good governance are very connected. In fact, the first evidence of bad governance is the absence of accountability. In other words, it means saying what you mean, meaning what you say and doing what you say you are going to do – taking responsibility for words and actions.

            Transparency and accountability are critical for the efficient functioning of a modern economy and for fostering social well-being. In most societies, many powers are delegated to public authorities. Some assurance must then be provided to the delegators that is, society at large that this transfer of power is not only effective, but also not abused. Transparency ensures that information is available that can be used to measure the authorities’ performance and to guard against any possible misuse of powers. In that sense, transparency serves to achieve accountability, which means that authorities can be held responsible for their actions. Without transparency and accountability, trust will be lacking between a government and those whom it governs. The result would be social instability and an environment that is less than conducive to economic growth.

 Accountability is therefore the requirement that officials answer to stakeholders and publics on the disposal of their powers and duties, act and criticisms or requirement made of them and accept some responsibility.

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