1.1 Background of the Study
Owing hugely to widespread public demands for transparency in governance and the global outcry against corruption, accountability is now of serious concern in many countries including Nigeria. One of the critical issues dominating public sector management in Nigeria, as Addison (1996) rightly observed, is lack of accountability and transparency.
Lack of accountability in the public sector creates opportunities for corruption with its attendant negative consequences. For instance, through corruption the commonwealth of Nigerians is being diverted by a few, leaving the nation at a loss. Due to the poor culture of accountability, corruption has become a way of life in Nigeria; to the extent that it is trite to say that officials are not only corrupt, but corruption is official. The scandalous revelations of large scale corruption and mismanagement of public funds by government officials contained in the audit report recently released by the office of the Auditor General of the Federation on the Accounts of the Federation of Nigeria for the year ended 31st December, 2009 lends credence to this assertion.
The aforementioned audit report (Nigeria, 2009) found that virtually all Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) of the Federal Government bureaucracy had contravened the Public Service Rules, Financial Regulations, and Due Process procedures in spending government funds. The audit report also found that massive fraud occurred in revenue calculation, collection, and remittance to the federal government by revenue generating agencies and oil firms in the country. It is obvious that corruption remains unabated in Nigeria despite the purported efforts by successive administrations particularly since 1999 (when the country returned to democratic rule) to stamp it out by strengthening public accountability. Usually, political leaders in Nigeria talk the talk but do not walk the walk as far as combating corruption is concerned – the management of the fight against corruption is still cosmetic. Perhaps democracy as a system of governance offers the best hope for entrenching and enhancing public accountability in a society. This is because accountability is one of the basic norms of democratic rule. Since government functionaries who manage the public sector wield enormous public powers with potential for abuse, the challenge to tackle is how best to ensure that these officials are held accountable for their deeds. As one of the efforts in creating a good governance can be done by utilizing the maximum government resources. In addition to effective, efficient, efficient and effective management of government components. Governments are required to be responsive, participative and professional in carrying out basic tasks and functions for the sustainability of government. The need for information about the implementation of government is actually necessary to ensure public openness about how the process of making, implementation and results achieved by the government in every government activity. Therefore, the principles of transparency, accountability, responsiveness, and professionalism in creating better governance conditions need to be applied consistently and continuously. Therefore, cooperation between the government, the public, and the private sector is required. One of the important things of the existence of such cooperation is the availability of publicly accessible information, which demands the government’s role so great in maintaining public trust. Accountability is one of the steps that must be taken to maintain and increase public confidence in government performance. Talking about accountability is defined as the ability to provide answers to higher authorities over the actions of a person/group of people to the wider community within an organization.
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