ACCOUNTABILITY AND CORRUPTION IN PUBLIC ORGANIZATION
One of the greatest problems of Nigerian public service is the prevailing incidence of corruption. Corruption therefore has become a persistent cancerous phenomenon which bedevils Nigeria public sector. Misappropriation, bribery, embezzlement, nepotism, and money laundering by public officials have permeated the fabric of the society. Any attempt to understand the tragedy of development and the challenges to democracy in most developing countries (Nigeria inclusive), must come to grips with the problem of corruption and stupendous wastage of scarce resources. This is not to suggest that corruption and prodigality are peculiar to the developing countries. Certainly, corruption is neither culture specific nor system bound. It is ubiquitous.
However, the severity and its devastating impact vary from one system to the other. The impact is undoubtedly more severe and devastating in the developing world with weak economic base, fragile political institutions and inadequate control mechanisms. According to the Executive Director, Office of Drugs and Crime at the United Nations, Dr. Antonio Maria Costa, about US $400 billion was stolen from Nigeria and stashed away in foreign banks by past corrupt leaders before the return to democratic rule in 1999 (http://allafrica.com). Most people would argue that poverty definitely contributes to corruption. In many poor countries, the wages of public and private sector workers is not sufficient for them to survive (Otive, 2008).
It is ironic that Nigeria is the sixth largest exporter of oil and at the same time hosts the third largest number of poor people after China and India. Statistics show that the incidence of poverty, using the rate of US $1 per day, increased from 28.1% in 1980 to 46.3% in 1985 and declined to 42.7% in 1992 but increased again to 65.6% in 1996 (Obasanjo, 1995). The incidence increased to 69.2% in 1999 (CBN, 1999:95). If the rate of US $2 per day is used to measure the poverty level, the percentage of those living below poverty line will jump to 90.8%.
It is against this background that sectoral distribution of the nationwide corruption survey in the Nigeria Corruption Index (NCI) 2007 identified the Nigerian Police as the most corrupt organization in the country, closely followed by the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN). Corruption in the Education Ministry was found to have increased from 63 per cent in 2005 to 74 per cent in 2007, as against 96 per cent to 99 per cent for the Police in the corresponding period. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), was the only new organization identified as corrupt among the 16 organizations on a list which included Joint Admission and Matriculation Board, the Presidency, and the Nigerian National Petroleum
Commission (NNPC).While the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) and the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) have been identified as the least corrupt organizations with respect to bribe taking from the populace as at June 2007 (Abimbola, 2007).
Corruption has therefore reached an unprecedented level in Nigeria. It has pervaded every facet of the nation and has even metamorphosed into a way of life for most Nigerians. The Nigerian civil service has the potential to transform the collective challenge of Nigeria as a nation if its immense energies are properly harnessed; but the situation seems different after its radical reform between 1960 and 1976; during which period, the civil servants were in control of government political process due to the emergence of military rulers in political administration prevailing in the African continent then, coupled with their lack of experience of political leadership in governance. Some scholars blame the institutionalization of corruption in Nigeria on military rule. Amongst these scholars is Ribadu (2006:1) who asserted that:
The history of corruption in Nigeria is strongly rooted in the over 29 years of military rule, out of 46 years of her statehood successive military regimes facilitated the wanton looting of the public treasury, decapitated institutions and free speech and instituted a secret and opaque culture in the running of government business. The result was total insecurity, poor economic management, abuse of human rights, ethnic conflicts and capital flight.
Against the above views of Ribadu however, are also other contending postulations that did not restrict the issues of corruption in Nigeria to preponderance of military rule in Nigeria alone. In this regard, Yinusa and Akanle (2008:297) have asserted that:
Corruption has become a way of life in Nigeria, which no one can ignore. Corruption and cronyism have long haunted Nigeria while military has been castigated for generally misruling the country. It must be noted that the military did not emerge from another planet. They are made up of people who come from the various parts of the country and therefore are a reflection of the society. The first, second and third Republics failed essentially due to corruption from our political gladiators.
From the above views; it is evident that corruption has permeated every facet of our national life; and has remained unabated under both the military and civilian administrations in the country.
However, there have been efforts aimed at curbing the menace of corruption in Nigeria. This anti-corruption war in Nigeria dates to a very long time. The fight against corruption in Nigeria one must acknowledge, is one of the most daunting and challenging task to embark on, but with political will and commitment by her leaders and the right attitude by all Nigerians there is no doubt that someday, the Transparency International will in her report rank Nigeria as one of the least corrupt countries in the world (Ameh, 2007).
Every community in Nigeria has mechanisms for dealing with corruption with appropriate sanctions for corruption. The anti-corruption fight in the public sector came to the limelight in 1966 when the military identified corruption of the politicians as one of the reasons for taking over political power. Each of the past regimes contributed to the problem of corruption. According to Nwaka (2003), corruption became legitimized, especially during the Babangida and Abacha regimes (1985-1998), with huge revenues, but wasteful spending, and nothing to show in terms of physical developments.
Experience has shown that the military is probably more corrupt than civilian politicians. The military ruled Nigeria from 1966-1979 and handed over power to Alhaji Shehu Shagari administration in 1979. But barely four years later, the Shagari administration was overthrown by the Buhari/Idiabgon regime. The Buhari/Idiagbon regime launched a war against corruption, tried and jailed many politicians and dismissed many civil servants. But when the Ibrahim Babangida regime overthrew the Buhari regime, it released many of the politicians that were jailed by the Buhari regime and reduced the sentences of others.
In fact, it has been argued that “Babangida’s government was unique in its unconcern about corruption within its ranks and among public servants generally; it was as if the government existed so that corruption might thrive (Gboyega, 1996). Scholars no doubt agree that corruption reached unprecedented levels in incidence and magnitude during General Ibrahim Babangida’s regime. It is ironic that the regime also had its own re-orientation and anticorruption programme, christened MAMSER. By the time President Olusegun Obasanjo came back to power as a civilian President in 1999, corruption had reached unprecedented proportion that it formed a major portion of his inaugural speech.
Ideally, in a democratic setting like Nigeria, the public service consists of the civil service, parastatals and agencies with structure that is systematically patterned to serve as a lasting instrument through which the government drives, regulates and manages all aspects of the society. However, the Nigerian public service has performed below the expectations of the public as a result of corruption in the service. Thus, corruption has become a cog in the wheel of efficient and effective service delivery. Corruption has eaten so deep into Nigeria that corrupt practices are even encouraged in most businesses (private or public) nowadays. Nigeria is the major oil producer in the world, but the average Nigerian on the street is poor and there is poor infrastructure like power supply, roads, schools, hospitals etc. The Nigerian public service is filled with stories of wrong practices such as stories of ghost workers on the pay roll of Ministries, Extra-ministerial Departments and Parastatals, frauds, embezzlements and setting ablaze of offices housing sensitive documents and award of contracts without recourse to due process mechanisms (Okwoli, 2004). According to Bello (2001), huge amount of Naira is lost through one financial malpractice or the other in the country, which to say the least, drains the nation’s meager resources through fraudulent means with far-reaching and attendant consequences on the development or even socio-economic or political programmes of Nigeria. Billions of Naira is lost in the public sector every year through fraudulent means. This represents only the amount that is ferreted out and made public. Indeed much more substantial or huge sums are lost in undetected frauds or those that are for one reason or the hushed up.
Appah and Appiah (2010) argues that cases of fraud is prevalent in the Nigerian public sector that every segment of the public service, could seem to be involved in one way or the other in some of these nasty acts.
A cursory look at the Nigeria public service further indicates poor public service delivery which manifests in corrupt practices such as distortion of official records, forgery of official documents like collection of taxes with fake receipts in which such revenue is not paid into the public treasury but pocketed by the individual official, falsification of their official age, the insistence by public servants for monetary and material gratification from their client before carrying out their official responsibilities for which they are being paid still persist in the Service. Furthermore, civil service recruitments and promotions do not often go to the best qualified persons but to “political clients”, who keep their jobs not by being efficient but by “maintaining their loyalty.
In the light of the foregoing, the study examines the incidence of corruption in the Nigerian public service focusing essentially on Isiala Mbano LGA from 1999 to 2012.
One of the fundamental problems of contemporary Nigeria is corruption. It has thrived; progressed and flourished unabated .Corruption has been institutionalized to the point of accepting it as part of our system. This study examined the incidence of corruption in the Nigerian Public Service with particular focus on Isiala Mbano LGA from 1999 to 2012. Specifically, the study investigated whether motivational incentives provided for civil servants contributes to their greater involvement in corruption in Imo State from 1999 to 2012. The study also examined the impact of weak internal control mechanism on the incidence of looting of state treasury by politicians in Imo State within the same period. We predicated our analysis on The General Systems Theory, adopting David Easton’s Political System theory. As for method of data collection, the study employed qualitative and quantitative method of data collection. As for sources of data, we principally relied on primary and secondary sources. The data so generated were analyzed accordingly using Likert measurement scale. The findings reveal that motivational incentives provided for civil servants contribute to their greater involvement in corruption. Based on the findings also, weak internal control mechanism was identified to have contributed to incidence of looting of state treasury by politicians in Imo State. We therefore recommend adequate motivation of civil servants through improved salary,prompt payment of all their entitlements and good working condition, government should strengthen internal control mechanism to forestall incidence of looting of state treasury which could have been averted. These recommendations if properly implemented would be a panacea for eradication of
EDITOR SOURCE: Accountability And Corruption In Public Organization