Corruption And Public Accountability In Local Government Administration In Nigeria: A Case Study Of Southern Ijaw Local Government Of 1999-2010, Bayelsa State.
In Nigeria, about 75 percent of the populace are rural dwellers. As such, local government system was created to bring the government closer to the people at the grassroots. Functions which are to be carried out local government include provision of water, electricity, health care services, rural roads, primary schools, among others. Unfortunately, local governments have become an avenue for embezzlement, mismanagement, siphoning and misappropriation of funds thereby leaving the people at the grassroots to wallow in poverty and diseases. Against this background, this study investigates the impact of corruption and lack of public accountability on the incidence of poverty as well as infrastructural development in the Southern Ijaw local government area of Bayelsa State. Employing the theory of postcolonial state and observation technique, we generated, from the secondary sources, quanlitative and qualitative data that were analyzed using qualitative descriptive analysis. The analysis of data showed that the prevalence of political corruption accounts for high incidence of poverty as well as low infrastructural development in the Southern Ijaw Local Government Area. To this end, we maintained that the relevant agencies fighting corruption in Nigeria should trace and confiscate all proceeds of corruption and prosecute all those involved in corruption practices irrespective of their status.
1.1 Background Of The Study
The expediency for the creation of local government any where in the world stems from the need to facilitate development at the grassroots. The importance of local government is a function of its ability to generate a sense of belongingness, safety and satisfaction amongst its populace. All forms of government, regimes or political systems have so far ensured the attainment of these goals, such strategy for ensuring national administrative development and political efficacy is found in the concept of practice of local government. Whatever is the mode of government, local government has been essentially regarded as the path to and guarantor of national integration, administration and development.
In Nigeria’s socio-political context, with multiplicity of culture, diverse languages and differentiated needs and means, the importance of such an organization in fostering the needed national consciousness, unity and relative uniformity as well as preservation of peculiar diversities cannot be over emphasized. Central to the creation of local government, however, is its ability to facilitate an avenue through which government and the people intermix, relate and more quickly than any other means to resolve or dissolve issues that may have heated the system. Local government has been Perceived as panacea for the diverse problems of diverse people with diverse culture.
As important as this tier of government has been, there seems to be some impediments that have been infringing on its performance and functions in recent times. Corruption seems to be the most damaging factor. The social cankerworm called corruption has manifested in all facets of Nigerian public life. According to Nye (1967:47), corruption is behaviour which deviates from the normal duties of a public role because of private-regarding (family, close private clique), pecuniary or status gain; or violates rules against the exercise of private-regarding influence.
This includes such behaviour as (use of reward to pervert of trust); nepotism (bestowal of patronage by reason of inscriptive relationship rather than merit); and misappropriation (illegal appropriation of public resources for private regarding uses).
Johnston, (1991), sees corruption as a behavior that abuses societal legal or social standards as well as public role or resources for private benefit. These definitions, however narrow corruption to the public sphere because they are concerned with political corruption as against corruption in the private sphere. There are different types of corruption, such as political corruption, economic corruption, organized corruption, judicial corruption, religious corruption, moral corruption etc. Corruption takes its shape in so many dimensions in the Nigerian public service.
Such as over invoicing, conversion of public properties to private use, inflation of contract cost, kick-back paid to monitoring officers on contract awarded, distribution or sharing of public resources as patronage to certain individuals to secure political support. For instance, several allegations of corruption have been alleged and some investigated against government officers, both the elected and appointed members of the executive arm of government, since democracy returned to the Nigerian political space in 1999. The growing rate of corruption has been linked to some factors that makes it permissible.
They are: Poverty, weak administration, weak law enforcement mechanism etc.
The Southern Ijaw local government area which is an appendage ofthe Nigerian state has been a victim of this ugly disease called corruption. As such, all the forms of corruption indicated from the foregoing manifests in the Southern Ijaw local government area. Therefore, the focus of this study is to investigate the various manifestations of corruption in the administration of Southern Ijaw Local Government Area and to proffer solutions to address the social cankerworm for sustainable human development.
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