Impact Of Accountability On Public Sector Financial Management In Nigeria

Project and Seminar Material for Accountancy / Accounting

Impact Of Accountability On Public Sector Financial Management In Nigeria


Abstract


Fiscal accountability is central to public financial management. Public financial management cannot be realized without effective fiscal accountability. The study examined impact of accountability on public sector financial management in Nigeria (a case study of selected local government areas of Lagos state). In specific terms, the study investigated the extent to which regulatory laws, compliance reporting and legislative control influence financial management of the Nigerian public sector. The study sampled seven public agencies in Nigeria namely NDLEA, NERC, NOA, NDIC, BPE, DMO and NPC. Questionnaire was used to collect data from respondents, who are accountants and auditors in selected agencies. The descriptive statistics and multiple regression analysis were employed for the analysis of data. Findings revealed that regulatory laws, compliance reporting and legislative control strongly drive financial management of selected agencies. The study suggested amongst others that Government should put in place strategic structure that enables building of fiscal accountability framework and make enabling regulation that protect whistle blowers and creating enabling environment generally for fiscal accountability. These truly have the capacity to enhance financial management in public sector in Nigeria.


Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background of the Study

Financial management focuses on decision making about the use and management of the finances of an organization or corporation. Financial management is a subset of managerial activities that concentrates on how to plan and control the financial resources of an organization. Financial management also involves the sourcing and optimal utilization of funds for the smooth running of an organization. Financial management centers on the identification of possible ways of maximizing the net-worth of an organization, allocation of scarce productive resources between competing demands and execution of strategies to attain the stated objectives of such organizations. To this end, public financial management can be describe as process of sourcing, controlling, planning, coordinating, organizing and directing the financial resources of government’s parastatals. These parastatals can be federal ministries, state ministries, local councils, government agencies and departments.

The local government is the lowest level of government which is closest to the people. Local government in this present dispensation emerged from the pre-colonial transitional system of government which was highly localized according to peculiarities of the state. The local council represents the basic unit through which any nation administers her people at grass-root level. The implication of its constitutionally guaranteed governance structure and its proximity to the people necessitate the need for accountability in financial management, and their norms in governance, more evident at this level (Adiogu, 2013). But contrarily, local governments in Nigeria are often recognized as a breeding ground for barefaced corruption and near absence of accountability in the conduct of public service. Local government council however, instead of discharging their functions as development centers to the people at grassroots, acquired notoriety for corruption, fiscal indiscipline and gross financial mismanagement. Agbo (2012) maintained that lack of integrity; accountability and transparency at the local government level constitute a set-back to the wellbeing of the people. In addition to these, stealing, embezzlement, nepotism, misappropriation of public funds, ill-use of public assets and circumvention of financial and non-financial issues has become customary in Nigerian local governments.

Public accountability is a characteristic of a modern-day democratic society. Accountability in the public sector across the globe is given maximal attention because public fund is in the hands of the government. Those in authorities assume fiduciary status with attached responsibilities requiring them to render stewardship accounts to those for whom the authority is held in trust (Haruna, etal, 2015). Public officers are expected to be accountable by demonstrating effective use of public assets and funds in the discharge of services and pursuit of government’s objectives.


1.2 Statement Of Problem

The public sector is saddled with the responsibility of harnessing public resources, collection of monies (revenue) and their expenditure for the betterment of the populace. The principle of accountability is based on trust, faith and resources vested on the management of an organization (private accountability) or government (public accountability). There is a strong need for public officers that are accountable to the general public to deliver complete, relevant and accurate information about the management of public funds. The public sector which is regarded as the manager of public resources, statutes and mechanisms for national development has lost its goodwill in the eye of the citizenry due to lack of proper accountability.

Haruna, etal, (2015) alluded that government ministries, agencies and departments are not duly adhering to the tenets of accountability. This assertion conforms to that of Akinbuli (2015) who stated that the duties and trust vested on public officers are not effectively and efficiently performed. There has been disrespect for accountability in public sector. Majority of public parastatals in Nigeria do not keep good records of account and they rarely publish annual reports and audited financial statements as at when due. Financial mismanagement, inefficiency, ineffectiveness, maladministration and negligence have been identified by scholars as the characteristics of public sector in Nigeria.

The problems associated with lack of accountability in public sector financial management especially in local government councils are employment racketeering, corruption in procurement, siphoning of funds meant for infrastructural development into personal bank accounts, stealing of public assets, illegitimate internal revenue collection, award of contracts to wrong contractors, friends and families, payment of salaries and allowances to ghost workers, lack of documentation of overhead expenditures, misappropriate of funds by council executives for illegitimate personal gains, destruction of documents that are not favorable to the council chairman or officer-in-charge to avoid prosecution after service, nepotism, etc. Most of government parastatals are not totally complying with the principles of accountability. Little wonder, Appah (2012) averred that accountability is very difficult to achieve in the Nigerian public sector.

To this end, this study examines the impact of accountability on public sector financial management in Nigeria – a case study of some selected local government areas of Lagos State.


1.3 Objectives of the Study

The main objective is to examine the impact of accountability on public sector financial management in Nigeria.

The specific objectives of the study are:

  1. To examine the impact of regulatory law on financial management in public sector in Nigeria.
  2. To assess the impact of legislative control on financial management in public sector in Nigeria.
  3. To investigate the impact of compliance reporting on financial management in public sector in Nigeria.

1.4 Research Questions

The questions of interest in the study are:

  1. To what extent has regulatory law influenced financial management in public sector in Nigeria?
  2. To what extent has legislative control influenced financial management in public sector in Nigeria?
  3. To what extent has compliance reporting influenced financial management in public sector in Nigeria?

1.5 Research Hypotheses

The research hypotheses guiding the study are stated as follows:

H01: Regulatory law has no significant impact on financial management in public sector in Nigeria.

H02: Legislative control has no significant impact on financial management in public sector in Nigeria.

H03: Compliance reporting has no significant impact on financial management in public sector in Nigeria.


1.6 Operationalization of Variables

The study examines the impact of accountability on public sector financial management in Nigeria. Accountability represented by regulatory law, legislative control and compliance reporting on financial management in Nigerian public sector. The dependent variable is financial management and the explanatory variables are regulatory law, legislative control and compliance reporting. The functional form of the model can be expressed as:

Y=f(X)…… (1.1)

Y=f(X1, X2, X3)….. (1.2)

Where:

Y= Financial management

X= Accountability, proxied as regulatory law (X1); legislative control (X2) and compliance reporting (X3).

Model One: Impact of Regulatory Law on Financial Management

Y=f(X1)…… (1.3)

Y=β0 + β1X1+ µ………… (1.4)

Model Two: Impact of Legislative Control on Financial Management

Y=f(X2)………… (1.5)

Y=β0 + β1X2+ µ…… (1.6)

Model Three: Impact of Compliance Reporting on Financial Management

Y=f(X3)……… (1.7)

Y=β0 + β1X3+ µ……… (1.8)


1.6 Significance of the Study

This study through its findings will help to identify the possible factors attributable to improper accountability in financial management in the Nigerian public sector. It is equally expected that the study will provide relevant suggestions that will improve the stability, effectiveness, efficiency and service delivery of public sector in Nigeria.

The study will be of substantial benefits to accounting practitioners as it will help them improve on their routine work and as regard the effective management of the finances of their respective parastatals. Financial analysts will find this work invaluable as it serves as a basis for advising their clients on investment decisions.

Furthermore, this research work will propel the management of local government councils, state and federal ministries, agencies and departments to formulate policies that will enhance the process of accountability, transparency and probity in their operations. It will also assist various agencies established by the government in fighting corruption within their parastatals. Students will equally find this study as a guide in their future research undertakings on the subject matter.


1.7 Scope and Limitations of the Study

This study examines the impact of accountability on public sector financial management in Nigeria by prioritizing on selected government areas of Lagos State. Five local government areas of Lagos State were selected as case study and they include Alimosho LGA, Badagry LGA, Kosofe LGA, Eti-Osa LGA and Lagos Island LGA.

The limitations encountered in the study are time constraint, cost constraint and unwillingness of respondents to provide the necessary data.

The time allotted to carry out this study is relatively short considering other academic engagements of the researcher. Due to paucity of funds, the study’s coverage was limited to only five local government areas of Lagos State. Furthermore, the respondents, who are account officers in the selected LGAs were somehow unwilling to participate in the survey exercise. Nevertheless, a robust and fact-finding research is carried out.


1.8 Definition of Key Terms

The definitions of key terms are presented as follows:

Accountability

This refers to a relationship based on the obligation to demonstrate and take responsibility for performance in the light of agreed expectations.

Financial Management

This is concerned with making decisions about the provision and use of a firm’s finances. It is a managerial activity that centers on planning and controlling a firm’s financial resources.

Public Sector

This refers to the fraction of the economy that is controlled by the government. It further includes the organizations, ministries, departments, parastatals and agencies established by the government.

Local Government

This is the third tier of government in Nigeria. It is the government at the lower level that controls the local affairs of the people at grassroots levels.


Chapter Five


Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations:

5.1 Introduction

This chapter summarizes the findings on the impact of accountability on public sector financial management in Nigeria, Lagos State as case study. The chapter consists of summary of the study, conclusions, and recommendations.


5.2 Summary of the Study

In this study, our focus was on the impact of accountability on public sector financial management in Nigeria, Lagos State as case study. The study is was specifically focused on examining the impact of regulatory law on financial management in public sector in Nigeria; assessing the impact of legislative control on financial management in public sector in Nigeria and investigating the impact of compliance reporting on financial management in public sector in Nigeria.

The study adopted the survey research design and randomly enrolled participants in the study. A total of 100 responses were validated from the enrolled participants where all respondent are staff of selected LGA inLagos State.


5.3 Conclusions

With respect to the analysis and the findings of this study, the following conclusions emerged;

Accountability is a central concept for governance. Accountability requires that those who hold positions of public trust should account for their performance to the public or their duly elected representatives. Accountability, therefore, implies that decision makers are monitored by, and are responsible to, others, each of whom is, in turn, responsible to the people of the country. In respect of public financial management, there are several mechanisms through which accountability is enforced such the auditor general, public account committee, and the ombudsman. These accountability mechanisms must be strengthened to reduce the level of corruption in the country. The nation’s annual budget must be an instrument of accountability, a stewardship report of what was done in any given financial year and just a reflection of how money was allocated, unspent and subsequently returned to the coffers of the government or even wasted. Therefore, accountability is the hallmarks for good governance, if Nigeria is to a member of the twenty most developed nations of the world by the year 2020, political office holders, citizens and all stakeholders in the Nigerian project should embrace integrity, transparency and accountability in the management of public funds.


5.4 Recommendation

This study contributed to the body of knowledge through the empirical evidence generated on the influence of fiscal accountability on national development. Therefore, it was recommended that

  1. Government should put in place a strategic structure that enables effective financial accountability framework in Nigeria. In effect, government input into accounting infrastructure, review of the accounting regulatory framework and national assembly oversight is overdue.
  2. The government should partner with approved professional accounting bodies to strengthened the accounting infrastructure to boost fiscal accountability in Nigeria
  3. Penalty should be awarded to MDAs for deliberate non-compliant with financial accountability. Due to the limitation of this study, one federal ministry were used as the population. Therefore, it was suggested that further research should be carried out to include state and local governments. This would enable a global picture of the effect of fiscal accountability on national development.

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