THE IMPACT OF PUBLIC ACCOUNTANT IN THE IMPLEMENTATION OF ACCOUNTABILITY, PROBITY AND TRANSPARENCY IN THE FEDERAL CIVIL SERVICES
The central idea of this study was to find out the impact of public
accountants (including bursars of unity schools) in the implementation
of accountability, probity and transparency in the federal civil
service, using the federal ministry of education Abuja as a case study.
In the literature review, a lot of government publications and other
related materials were consulted. This review was able to define who a
public accountant is as well as their role and problems.
A public accountant is a person or employee in the public sector who
works in the accounts division of any government organization which
covers ministry and extra-ministerial department including parastatals
at both state and federal levels. Decree No. 43 of 1988 on
professionalism further divided public accountants into three
i) The non-professional cadres covers account officers who rose through the ranks from GL04 to GL14 as their peak;
ii) The professional cadre’s covers account officers who pass
through the four walls of tertiary institutions and who read accounts
related courses. Their grade covers GL08.
iii) Other super professional cadre includes the professors of accountancy in the universities who is trained in the field.
1.1 Background of the Study:
Corruption and looting of public treasury was a major problem in the
public sector accounting. Report from office of statistics Lagos show
that our accounting records are balanced in arrears and our financial
records are hardly balanced daily, weekly, quarterly, half-yearly and
yearly basis as appropriate. This was evidenced by Chief Olusegun
Obasanjo during his first maiden address to the nation immediately he
was sworn-in as the President of the federal republic of Nigeria on the
29th day of May 1999. He stressed that accountability, probity and
transparency has suffered a lot set-back especially in the civil
service. He therefore suggested that some of the best ways to eliminate
this ill in the Nigerian public service are;
(i) The effective use of public accounts;
(ii) The use of effective legislation;
(iii) The effective implementation of government policies and programmes;
(iv) The effective use of auditors of the federal republic of Nigeria among others.
He therefore concluded by saying “when we consider how the public
accounting and auditing can grow and develop, we are concerned not only
with helping the public accountant or the auditor fill their position,
but also with helping the whole economy and the organizational structure
grow and develop” (Obasanjo). The concept should therefore make it wise
for us to look more closely at the relationship between Nigeria and
other countries of the world. And for Nigeria to be recognized as a
corrupt-free economy, the accounting profession must be in a position to
balance the financial records of the federal government daily, weekly,
monthly, quarterly, half yearly or yearly basis. This is because members
of the public and the international community want to see results, see
the economy grow and the profession produce the final output.
The same goes for other facets of the economy as indicated
military system of administration should be thrown to the winds as we
have evolved democracy like other developed countries of the world such
as United State of America, United Kingdom etc. It was in an attempt to
analyze the import of the president’s address on the 29th May, 1999 that
this topic, “the impact of accountant in the implementation of
accountability, probity and transparency in the federal civil service”
comes to mind.
1.2 Statement of the Problems:
Public sector accounting in a corrupt society is a very big problem
to the economy of the nation. This is because the financial records do
not reflect the true and fair view of the accounting records. There are
lots of collaborations in the utilization of public funds to the extent
that funds allocated through the budget are not properly utilized. The
annual for the public (government) income and expenditure are at times
late. What ever is the position with timeless of delivery, these budget
are never reviewed in time and deviations are not investigated to ensure
prompt remedial action which will re-direct and re-orientate plans
towards budgeted levels.
Another shortcoming is the threat to continually of production of
qualified accountants who will replace older retiring hands. This
systems form a number of factors like inadequate infrastructures (for
example, training materials, computers, library facilities etc)
necessary for such programmes. This point drives to a large extent from
the very poor and unrealistic remuneration paid to the practicing
accountant in form of salary.
Public accountants are placed on government determined salary scales,
unlike their professional chartered counterparts whose fees for
auditing and other professional services rendered are self determined.
The implication of the forgoing deliberation is that while a
professional body like Institute of Chartered Accountant and its various
programmes aimed at monitoring more closely the curriculum of their
counter-parts in the government employment are poorly taken care of.
Another shortcoming is the quota system in the federal service. The
quota system has introduced mediocre and unethical practices in the
accounting profession. In a bid to fill in vacant positions in the
federal civil services, most of the unqualified personnel (mainly from
certain ethnic group of the country) are employed to the detriment of
the job, hence giving loopholes for embezzlement and financial
misappropriation. Merits were thrown to the winds.
In fact, meritocracy has given way to mediocrity. All this, helped
the administrators and some members of the society to look down on the
accountants as mere “house helps” and “rubber stamp” in the system.
1.3 The Objective of the Study
i. To determine the degree of implementation of
accountability transparency and probity in the public sector especially
in the state and federal civil service.
ii. To determine the best way to improve on accountability, transparency and probity in Nigeria economy.
iii. To determine the actual role of the public accountants in the implementation of this programme;
iv. To determine whether public accountant in collaboration
with their chief executives utilize judiciously all the allocations made
from the budget.
1.4 Significance of the Study
This study will be of immense help to the policy makers in the
federal civil service of Nigeria who will be able to know and assert the
adequate role of the public accountant in the service with a view to
showing up the programmes of accountability, probity and transparency of
the present administration.
“Nigeria” for the purpose of this paper means” the Federal Republic
of Nigeria including any area outside the territorial waters of the
Federal Republic of Nigeria which in accordance with international law
has been or may hereafter be designated under the laws of the Federal
Republic of Nigeria concerning the continental shelf, as an area within
which the rights of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with respect to the
sea-bed and subsoil and their natural resources may be exercised”.
Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999).
The policy makers should see the public accountants as playing the
role of a coach who exposes the skills and tactics and allows the
players to play the game. This is because in everything an individual or
a group of individuals in varying professions, do, there is a reason
and purpose. For example, in a private organization this reason or
purpose is referred to as an objective or goal. Therefore, government
(public service) whose realm of operation is popularly referred to as
the public sector has as its objective the governance of her people.
This implies the tremendous responsibility to grannies resources and
allocates same towards fostering economic growth and improving the
standard of living of the citizens of the nation. Again government is
empowered by the laws of the land (constitution) to engage in
contractual arrangements for the purpose of increasing the resources
available to her in order to meet the requirements of governance, since
it holds the wealth of her nation in trust for that nation. To this
extent, the government of a nation owes her citizens the duty to account
for the stewardship in the effective disposition of the resources
entrusted to her (This is accountability).
For the government or the public sector to discharge her
responsibility or stewardship effectively, there is the need to maintain
proper records of the value of all programmes, activities and services,
synthesize and analyze the effect of government financial transaction,
classify, summarize and communicate such information for purposes of
future decision-making or assessment of performance.
Ho: Public accountants in collaboration with their directors
(including principals) utilize judiciously all the allocations made
available to them.
Hi: Public accountants in collaboration with their directors
(including principals) do not utilize judiciously all the allocation
made available to them.
The testing of the hypothesis can be carried out through the use of
the draft of the federal government of Nigeria 1999, a year 2000 budget
estimate on recurrent and capital expenditure using unity school’s
allocation in the south-east geo-political zones on personnel cost and
overhead cost respectively.
A study carried out shows that a total sum of one hundred and
fifty million, six hundred and fifty thousand and twenty four naira
(N150, 650,024.00) was allocated to the ten (10) unity schools in the
south east geo political zone in 1999 as against one hundred and seventy
six million and seventy two thousand five hundred and eighty naira
(N176, 072,508.00) in year 2000. Yet each of this schools had one
problem or the other in the payment of teachers and non-teaching staff
salaries and allowances as at when due.
In overhead cost, a total sum of fourteen million seven
hundred and twenty two thousand two hundred and twenty two naira twenty
kobo. (14,722,222,20) was allocated in nineteen ninety nine as opposed
to seventeen million and thirteen thousand eight hundred and eight naira
eight kobo. (17,013,888.80) in the year 2000 (reference table C and D
in chapter four). But this research discovered that most of the staff
who where engage in official journey to their headquarters have not
received their duty tour allowances and other claims on flimsy reason
that funds were not available.
1.6 Scope and Limitations of the Study:
This study attempts to establish (i) whether the directors of
departments utilize judiciously all the allocations made available to
them or not; and (ii) to examine the impact of public accountants in the
implementation of accountability, transparency and probity.
Traditionally, and in common usage, the term accountability means
answerability for one’s action and behaviour within the emphasis that
public officials should be legally required to be answerable to the
public for their stewardship. For purposes of this thesis, the author
wishes to confine himself to financial accountability which is normally
associated with stewardship accounting. This simply refers to rendering
the accounts of the affairs of any organization or enterprise to the
owners of the resources of the enterprise. In the public service,
financial accountability relates to the right of the owners of the
public wealth (tax payers and the general public) to question whether
those entrusted with the application of such wealth have done so, with
the greatest possible degree of efficiency, effectiveness, probity and
prudence to achieve broadly accepted national goals, (Iwok (2000) ).
While accountability implies a compulsion on the part of those who
are custodians of public wealth to give account to their trustees; those
who act in that capacity should recognize the obligation to submit
inquiry concerning their stewardship; such recognition and the
willingness and readiness to submit inquiry or examination bring about
the concept of transparency. To confirm that the activities of the
stewards are clean and without doubt they must be certified as true and
fair by the trustee of his appointment agent who should be of proven