ACCOUNTABILITY: ITS DILEMMA IN PUBLIC SECTOR REPORTING (A CASE STUDY OF ENUGU STATE POST PRIMARY SCHOOL MANAGEMENT BOARD)
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
At, the onset of the oil boom in the 1970’s, many were convinced that the era of scarcity has given way to abundant resources. A major problem was how to plan for the societies to be confronted with the vast increases in material wealth and leisure. The national priorities shifted rapidly as Nigerians embrace the increased material wealth with poor planning and abundant waste. The cost of running the government enlarged bureaucracy and social programme increased tremendously as money realized from the oil boom was squandered with impurity. Inflation, affluence and ostentation life- style became the habits of Nigerians.
A decade later, in the 1980’s the fail i8n oil prices presented a big blow on the Nigerian Economy. The financial plight of the nations’ book on crises, inflation, lack of liquidity and unfavorable balance of payment forced the government to introduced several economic survival package such as: the economic stabilization and reconstruction of policy, by the shagari administration and numerous reforms and commissions set up to bring spending sanity on the populace to a lower level for improvement of the situation in the near future. For these reasons accountability or the demand for public offices to give account of public resources, be it funds, properties, public statement, personal behaviors, actions, performance will continue to be of great concern to government policy makers.
As the public continues to feel an increasing painful economic pinch, the management practices of public officers will be under great scrutiny. If government and public officers cannot account for the way they use resources, then there will be a complete loss of confidence and trust on programme, necessary resulting to general apathy and discontent among the populace and even a breakdown of law and order. Thus, the inherent problem, facing the government is to device ways and means of making public officers accountable to the taxpayers for the scarce resources under their care and for their actions while discharging their duties. In essence, accountability in public administration refers to efficient management of resources for the general welfare of the citizens. This idea will be fully developed in the proceeding discussions.
However, the modest intention of this paper is to examine several government policies aimed at inability accountability among public officers, determine environmental factors that militate against accountability, and postulate strategies for prudent financial management and propriety among officers. Pursuit of these objectives wills necessitates relevant discussions of accountability corruption, as a mechanism for controlling waste, property values and efficiency in the management of public of fund.
In Nigeria today, accountability has become of great concern to both the government and the taxpayers. Accountability to public administrators refers to prudent in financial or materials management of scare resources. It connotes the idea of doing more with little and being able to account for every aspect of the resources involved in the process.
To max Weber, accountability entails “mental revolution” of the workers so as to embrace every fact of the efficiency theory. Thus, accountability involves a process by which a public officer can be able to give account of his performance through a process model of input-process-output.
Accountability refers to a situation where; “a public officer takes charge of the property belonging to the public. This implies that there is a contractual agreement either by verbal or written or simply understood that a public officer must give an account of his actions in regard to the property to the owner (the public, government or his representatives).
If anything has bothered careful observers in recent times, it is the manner in which public finances and properties are wasted with impunity either by embezzlement, arson, accidents, mismanagement or inefficient application one can stop for a moment to wonder whether the abandoned machineries, equipment cars found littered all around our government house and the government ministries belonged to one person, wouldn’t the person immediately repair them and put them back into use? The view expressed by Ejiofor in his writing is similar to the above he stated thus, “that smart massagers, clerks, administrators, executives, ministers, commissioners, military, governors and even head of state were found guilty over alleged criminal, and, man over of public fund, material and resources’.
Likewise Ugwu in his own contribution said “that civil service is notable for waste and inefficiency which can be attributing to bureaucratic straight adherence to routines and procedures.”
In the past, cases of embezzlement involving millions of naira have been uncovered in various ministers in the local government, state which the attitude of public officers and government towards the offence has been luke-warm. This in effect encourages more embezzlement, as punishments methods on offending public officers are lesser than the offence committed.
Most Nigerian have grown to accept and conceive public offices as a “money making machine.” There is nothing new in public officers making one millions of naira after one year of office whereas his salary is not to two hundred thousand naira annually. The extent to which corruption has infested and infact polluted our public institution is far unimaginable. A panel constituted by the government was saying “there were 10 to 70 outstanding audit quarries inn connection with expenditure vouchers for federal non-accounting ministries and local government covering the eight year period 1965 to 1972.” Ejiofor summarized the issue on accountability in his theory as follows:
(a) The average Nigerian is corrupt, dishonest, nepotism, tribalistic and lazy and is all the time seeking for the opportunity to defraud and cheap his employer.
(b)The Nigerian society does not reward hard work, diligence, objectivity, selflessness, patience and inventiveness; the emphasis is on shortcuts, self-satisfactory, now-now and quick.
(c) The environment in Nigeria is not conducive for effective and efficient running of organization(s), a pre-condition for Notional development
In this study, which is meant to the dilemma of accountability in public sector reporting with particular reference Enugu state Post Primary school management Board. Who can be accountable for their actions and behaviors and also for the resources under their care?
A nations development and growth potentials are measured by the ability of its’ public officers level of accountability both while in the office and long after when they have left office.
Hence, accountability should be critically examined to provide some guide towards the transformation of the economics growth and development in our country, Nigeria.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM.
Accountability has a very large effect on the Nigeria economic growth and development. In Nigeria today, accountability has become of great concern to both the government and the taxpayers. Accountability in public administration refers to prudence in financial and, material management of scare resources for the general welfare of the citizen. It is concerned with the idea of doing more with little and being able to account for every aspect of the resources involved in the process.
Many factors militate against accountability in our nation. These factors are instruments of mismanagement of public funds instability of tenure officers, hereditary influences, administrative loyalty and eye –service syndrome and institution inefficiency. The contains poor accounting conduct in our public sector is contributory to the under development of both local and the nation as a whole. The conations poor accounting conduct in our public sector is contributory to the underdevelopment of both local and the nation as a whole. The extravagant attitude exhibited by public officers who have amassed public finds and the socio economics effects of their acts have been a subject of national concern in recent time.
Thus the inherent problem facing the government is to device ways and means of making public officers accountable. A number of public financial ethics have evolved to support the need for adequate account ability in the management of public finals; these affirmative ethical principles include in department integrity and objectively include all proper transaction from the view point of generally accepted accounting principles and possession of competence and technical standards.
1.3 THE OBJECTIVES OF STUDY
The aim and objectives of this study include;
i. To identify the various factors that militate against accountability in Enugu state post primary school management board.
ii. To determine the dilemma of accountability in public sector accountability.
iii. To determine the attitude of Nigerians towards accountability
iv. Finally, to suggest based on the findings some remedies for appropriate accountability among public officers
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The research questions are:
i. What are the dilemma for efficient accountability and the cause of inefficient accountability?
ii. Whose responsibility is it to ensure that effective and efficient accounting system operates or exists?
iii. What are the prospects of accountability in public sector in order to circumvent the inherent causes of inefficient accounting system.
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
In order to reflect on the relevant ideology needed in the research work, based on public sector accounting, the research work is enclosed on the following hypothesis. These are built into Null hypothesis, Ho and alternative hypothesis, Hi.
Ho: Improper management and accountability of public fund had not led to unemployment and uneven development among various states of Nigeria.
Hi: Improper management and accountability of public fund has led to unemployment and uneven development among various states of Nigeria.
Ho: There is no positive relationship between the amount of tax paid and the benefit derived from the payment.
Hi: There is positive relationship between the amount of tax paid and the benefit derived from the payment.
Ho: The public fund has not been wisely utilized towards maximizing their collective benefit in Nigeria.
Hi: The public fund has been wisely utilized towards maximizing their collective benefit in Nigeria.
1.6 THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
Research data from this study will add more facts to the existing body of knowledge. It will show the causes of poor accountability attitude and lack of proper adequate accounting system of our public officers in Nigeria. This study will also provide a way of tackling such problem.
It should be noted that accountability applied both to the obligation to perform work and to exercise authority. This means that accountability is always an upward activity this study should be of immense importance to all the financial studies students. The accounting students need this study should be of immense importance to the entire financial studies student. The accounting student needs this study for their continuous learning while other departments need it for the understanding of monetary policy. It can also of valuable use to the following: -
(1) To the student, it will provide a compliment to the few exiting text on monetary and material resource accountability
(2) To researches, it will serves as a valuable source of data
(3) To the policy makers, it highlight the mechanism or methods of enforcing account ability in public administration, against achieving set of goals and objective, it also analyses and suggest solution to the problems facing accountability in public sector.
(4) To the investors, it serves as a guideline on the effect of accountability on public sector of the economy in which their funds can be invested and finally.
(5) The study of accountability helps the bankers in analyzing the effect of government activities on the overall economy and how it will improve the rate of economy growth and development in Nigeria.
1.7 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
However, this research is vividly restricted to Enugu state post primary school management Board. The research topic is broad, theoretical and analytical in nature and can be undertaken with respect to any part of the local government for example, cash management, internal control performance and efficiency. This is the reason for the limitation of the study in the below aspects.
The limitation of this study can be emphasized by the following:
i. General Financial arrangement
ii. The restriction of data pertaining to public sectors of the economy. It therefore becomes difficult to assess the impact of accountability on public administration.
iii. The erratic nature of government, in Nigeria, there is a great deal of instability in government, therefore economic financial development policy are never stable. It makes accountability in public sector very difficult and impossible of achieving any economic growth and development since it keeps changing with the advent of each new government.
iv. The inability of the financial authority and administration to provide adequate statistics on the performance of accountability measures adopted by them.
This is largely, due to the problems of illegal actions of the officers / citizens who attempt to thwart the effect of the government in public sector.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
There are terms, which were frequently used in implementation, operation and execution of an efficient accountability in public sector and are defined and explained as follows:
a. Accounting: - By 1966, the American Accounting Association interpreted accounting as: the process of identifying, measuring and communicating economic information to permit informed judgments and decisions by the users of the information. Accounting is also concerned with quantification of economic events in money terms in order to collect record, evaluate and communicate the results of past events and to aid in decision – making. This definition embraces the local government accounting. I’m pendley (1993) defined Accounting as a discipline for providing information and evaluation of such information. For the purpose of this research, the objectives of accounting are as follows:
Making decisions concerning the use of limited resources, including the identification of crucial decision areas and determination of objectives and goals.
Effectively directing the controlling of an organizations human and material resource. Maintaining and reporting on the custodianship of resources and facilitating social functions and controls.
b. Accounting system: According to Jawhar (1985) the accounting system includes the various techniques and procedures used by the accountant (prepare) in measuring, describing and communicating financial data to users.
C. Accounting Policies: According to statements of Accounting standards (SASI). These are those bases, rules, preparing and presenting financial statements judgment is required in the choice of the accounting policies which are appropriate to the circumstance of an enterprise and are best suited to present the true and fair view of its’ results and financial position
d. Internal control: According to R.N. Goyal and C.B. Gaur (1982), internal control, is a wider term. Internal control which also includes internal check is the whole process or system of controls, financial, management and otherwise established by management to enable business to function in an orderly manner, ensure the security of its’ cash and property as well as the keeping of accurate and realize records. The purpose of internal control is to present errors and fraud or discover them in time if they occur.
e. Economic development: According to Augustine E. Ejili (1996) Economic development is a process whereby the real per capital income of a given economy increases over a period of time. Economic development entails economic growth accompanied with solid institutional, political and other appreciable changes in the economy.
f. Public administration: According to marshal Dirneck, public administration is a process concerned with what and how of government. The coordination of all organized activities having as it’s purpose the implementation of public policy.