Corruption And Public Accountability In Local Government Administration In Nigeria

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Corruption And Public Accountability In Local Government Administration In Nigeria


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.

Chapter One

1.0 Introduction

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.

1.2 Study Problem

Corruption is a systemic and multifaceted problem which takes many forms and characteristics in the local government system in Nigeria. According to Section 2 of Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission (ICPC) Act CAPC 31 (Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (2004) and Okaba (2009:5), corruption includes fraud, embezzlement, forgery, false declaration of assets and income, over invoicing, over pricing, illegal/illegitimate monopolization, fraudulent boarding and sale of council’s vehicles and plants, swindling and land speculation, distortion of development plans and false accounting, demanding and receiving bribe, exercise of undue influence, diversion of official property, truancy, obtaining allowance for trip that would not be undertaken, lodging government money in private accounts, etc. Corruption in the local government impinges mostly on the financial resources. It is as a result of this that most observers regard corruption as the locus that eats the financial resources of the local government -(Emezi, 1988). It is evident in many forms, such as extra budgetary expenditure, fraudulent injection of payment vouchers with ‘ghost’ workers, use of fake receipts by revenue collectors, inflation of contract prices, extortion of cash from members of the public in rendering certain services, etc. According to Emezi (1988) corruption in the local government is premised on prebandalist orientations. The local government operators ideally perceive local governments as places of sharing out easy and cheap money without anybody questioning. The poor background of most of the elected or appointed political holders in the system also constitutes a major problem. They perceive the local government as veritable source where they can make quick money and amass wealth to make private investments which they can fall back on whenever their tenures expire because they are not likely to be re-elected.

The tendency, is therefore, once elected or appointed into office, they become desperate to amass wealth by all means to enhance their socio-political and economic status. Most of these political appointees such as the Chairmen and Councilors for instance do not have buildings in their villages and do not own viable economic ventures which can sustain them outside politics. It is assumed that corruption thrives where there is no accountability, or corruption connotes absence of accountability. In the local government system the negative impact of corruption is so pronounced that Ikhariate (2000:63) simply refered to it as “a dangerous cancer on the part of national development. For Olowu (1993:355) public sector bureaucracy, including the local government are not only highly centralized and unaccountable, but corrupt, self-servicing and insensitive to economic development.

1.3 Study Objective

The broad objective is to examine the problems of accountability in Local government system in Nigeria with specific reference to Southern Ijaw Local government in Bayelsa State.

The specific objectives are as follows:

  1. To establish whether Southern Ijaw Local government council have effective accounting control mechanism.
  2. To ascertain whether lack of prosecution of corrupt council officials induce non-accountability in Southern Ijaw Local government.
  3. To determine whether the absence of adequately maintained financial records contribute to financial problems of Enugu South Local Government Council.

1.4 Significance of the Study

The study has both theoretical and practical significance.

Theoretically, the study will fill the gap in knowledge and in literature which exist in public accountability in local government system in Nigeria. A sound system of financial management in our local government system is indispensable for the realization of their goals and objectives.

Practically, the study will ensure that policy makers at the grass root imbibe the virtues of transparency, thereby, promoting integrity and probity required in the handling of public funds, invariably promoting grass root development. The study is also designed to provide useful information to experts in local government financial administration on possible factors that may pose as a challenge in the management of public funds.

1.5 Hypotheses

This study is guided by the following null hypotheses:

  1. H0: Southern Ijaw Local governmentdoes not have effective accounting control mechanism.
  2. H0: Lack of prosecution of corrupt council officials induces non-accountability in Southern Ijaw Local government.
  3. H0: Absence of adequately maintained financial record contributes to financial problems of Southern Ijaw Local government.

1.6 Definition of Terms

a. Accountability:

The obligation of an individual or organization to account for its activities, accept responsibility for them, and to disclose the results in a transparent manner. It also includes the responsibility for money or other entrusted property.

b. Corruption:

Dishonest or illegal behavior especially by powerful people (such as government officials or police officers

c. Local Government Area:

The government of a specific local area constituting a subdivision of a major political unit (such as a nation or state).

1.7 Organization of the Study

The study is divided into five chapters. Chapter one deals with the study’s introduction and gives a background to the study. Chapter two reviews related and relevant literature. The chapter three gives the research methodology while the chapter four gives the study’s analysis and interpretation of data. The study concludes with chapter five which deals on the summary, conclusion and recommendation.

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Introduction

This study was undertaken to examine corruption and public accountability in local government administration in Nigeria.

In the previous chapters, the relevant data collected for this study were presented, critically analyzed and appropriate interpretation given. In this chapter, certain recommendations will be made which in the opinion of the researcher will be of benefits as regards the subject of discourse.

5.2 Summary

This study was undertaken to examine corruption and public accountability in local government administration in Nigeria. The study opened with chapter one where the statement of the problem was clearly defined. The study objectives and research hypotheses were defined and formulated respectively. The study reviewed related and relevant literatures. The chapter two gave the conceptual framework, empirical and theoretical studies. The third chapter described the methodology employed by the researcher in collecting both the primary and the secondary data. The research method employed here is the descriptive survey method. The study analyzed and presented the data collected in tables and tested the hypotheses using the chi-square statistical tool. While the fifth chapter gives the study summary and conclusion.

5.4 Conclusions

Many writers and scholars have written profusely on the twin concepts of corruption and accountability in the local government system in Nigeria. The solutions proffered to stem the menace of corruption and lack of accountability in the local government, and the copious reprimands and sanctions contained in relevant local government service guidelines have not altered the propensity of corruption and lack of accountability in the system. The researchers therefore advocate robust strengthening of the capacities of all the anti-graft agencies, such as Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to fight corruption at the local government level. Also the mindsets of all the key operators of the system – political office holders and career officials should be reoriented towards imbibing good morality, virtues and ethical conducts in the operation of the local government affairs. They should be prevailed upon to know that public office is a public trust. That as stewards, their primary consideration is to render services to the generality of the people at the grassroot.

5.3 Recommendations

Recommendations to Enthrone the Ethos of Accountability in the Local Government System in Nigeria:

  1. The higher tiers of government (Federal and State), should provide the enabling legislations, policies, and reforms that should put transparency and accountability at the center piece of governance at the local government level.
  2. The existing statutes and administrative guidelines that govern local government administration in Nigeria should be thoroughly reviewed and revigorated. This should be with respect to prescribing certain financial and organizational arrangement of local government and the procedures for the collection and accounting for revenue control and expenditure.
  3. The local government should be prevailed upon to adopt the provisions of both the Fiscal Responsibility law (2007) and Public Procurement law (2007) of their respective state governments.
  4. The local government officials, both political and career should be held liable or accountable for any breach of existing government’s rules and regulations in the conduct of the affairs of their local governments. Instruments or mechanisms should be put in place to reprimand any government official that flouts the laid down rules and regulations as contained in the Financial Memoranda (FAA) especially those relating to expenditure control as well as on contract, purchases, payments, and personal advances procedures, etc.
  5. All financial expenditures to be incurred in councils should be through written instructions and not verbal,
  6. The determination of the following individual monthly spending limits will also serve as a useful antidote to curb corruption and regularize expenditure of officials of councils.

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