AN EVALUATION OF THE STRATEGIES FOR ENHANCING FINANACIAL ACCOUNTABILITY IN THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT SYSTEM
1.1. BACKGROUND OF STUDY
In Nigeria, local government reform has been a continues exercise. No single regime-colonial or indigenous, civil or military, regional or state government that came to power passed without making attempt of reforming the local government system. Even though the 1976 reform has surpassed all its predecessors, it was in fact part and parcel of the continuing structural adjustment of the country’s political evolution and development.
On the whole, the 1976 reform was a major departure from the previous practice of local government administration; for introduce a uniform system throughout the country.The reform was first and foremost aimed at giving local government a definite role in the country by making it a functional thrift tier of government. The 1979 constitution indeed assumed the existence of local governments and provided adequately for its functions and powers in the second republic. Nevertheless, both it’s existence and functions were to be provided for in a law to be enacted by state government.
According to section 7(1) of the 1979 constitution. Ikwo local government came into existence in the year 1979 under Enugu state before the present mother state Ebonyi state were created in 1996.Since then, they have had up to 7 chairman, 10 sole administrator and 6 care taker committee chairman, in total 23 of them among which Mr. V.E Nwoo was the first (Sept. 19979) and Hon. David Onuoha the present. The subject, financial accountability is vital to any organization be it profit oriented or non-profit oriented. Lack of financial accountability results in embezzlement, fraud and misappropriation of funds.The peculiar nature of Nigeria economy has made any topic in accountability, financial or otherwise worth discussing.
The value our society attach to wealth, which nobody is concerned to how wealthy one is, has made many people to begin to pursue wealth by all means thereby ignoring the fact that they are accountable tot he public for the public funds and properties entrusted I their care.It is due to the problems mentioned above which are associated with lack of financial accountability in any organization that has motivated the researcher to choose the topic “strategies for enhancing financial accountability in the local government system in Nigeria through a system of control” Ikwo local government area in Ebonyi state has been chosen as a case study in trying to discuss how effective internal control will achieve financial accountability.Internal control system comprises the plan of organization and all co-ordinating method and measure, adopted within the management to safeguard the assets of the organization, check accuracy and reliability of its accounting data, promote operational efficiency and encourage adherence to prescribed managerial policies.
This research focus on finding if the reference organization has installed this control system and if so, how effective it is as to enhance early detection of mistakes, deliberate misappropriation and equally checks collusion, fraud or embezzlement of funds through proper authorization, reliability of financial records, safe guarding of assets and hence maintenance of financial accountability.However, the ability of any organization t enhance its financial accountability depends mostly on the type and effectiveness of it’s internal control system.
1.2. STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Every policy formulated or constituted would have been a success if they are being carried out.But adherence to planned policies by employees are the problems of managing organization. The problem of policy execution is further compounded by the evolution of large organizations. There is therefore, the need for an internal control system. Internal control is such an indispensable tool in the hard of management if it wishes to obtain adequate and useful information, protect organization assets and control successive operations which lead to enhancing financial accountability. Many control procedure whose effectiveness on segregation of duties are being circumvented by the collusion of the employees is yet another problem. The degree of compliance with the control procedures are often to deteriorate due to negligence of duty. Carelessness, mistakes and even personal factors.
These factors are problems to the organization and eventually undermine the effectiveness and efficiency of the internal control system if not taken are of:
1. How adequately are subordinates adhering to the internal control measure?
2. What measure should management adopt to test observance of internal control procedures?
3. Should internal auditing be an adequate means of checking circumvention of internal control measure?
4. Should management rely on internal auditing to appraise the efficiency and adherence to internal control?
5. Should the effectiveness of internal control be relief on for adequate financial accountability?
These questions prompt the need for a research study of the kind embarked upon ere, and they are further addressed in subsequent chapter of the project.
1.3. OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The objective of an organization that maintains a good internal control system is to maintain efficiency, profitability apparatus, viability prospects and of course accountability of the entire organization. It is the purpose of this study therefore, to have a close look and know if there is any system of internal control existing in the Ikwo Local Government Area. If there is, to know to what extent this has assisted in attaining financial accountability in the local government area.
The important areas which the researcher want to look into are as follows:
1. To ascertain the step taken, when inefficiency is dictated I the internal control system and to know the effect on accountability of the organization.
2. To know whether there is a system of adequate authorization and recording to provide reasonable accounting control over assets, liabilities, revenue and expenditures.
3. To ascertain whether there is adequate division or segregation of duties at various levels of management in the organization.
4. To understand a critical appraisal of the system generally and suggest solutions where the system is find ineffective.
5. To suggest ways of enhancing early detection of mistakes, deliberate misappropriation, checks collusion, fraud or embezzlement of funds.
1.4. SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
Financial accountability through different effective control has been much discussed in the recent days in Nigeria. Every programme and policy of organization has accountability as nor of the things that is to be achieved. Due to lack of internal control system, most people that were entrusted with public funds on many occasions embezzle them without being held accountable for the sum.Many has led to the folding up of some private and public enterprises, which local government areas also suffer. To save these ugly situations, investigations and corrections are to be made as regard those things that cause ineffective internal control.
This is because the effect of ineffective internal control is lack of accountability, increased losses and eventually reduction in the organizations level of profitability. A control are therefore devised and is this research, the importance of effective internal control system is emphasized to enhance financial accountability in the local government areas in Nigeria using Ikwo local government area as a case study.Effective internal control system, I believe will enhance financial accountability.
This is because effective internal control system which involves proper authorization that help management in planning, segregation of duties which leads to early detection of mistakes and deliberate misrepresentation, adherence tot he laid down policies of the organization which lead to an effectiveness, regular checks and supervision which make for proper accountability and adequate competitive measure will go a long way towards preventing some nefarious activities. Such activities s fraud, misappropriation, embezzlement and other social ills being perpetrated by some of the worker in the local government area.
1.5. RESEARCH QUESTIONS
Based on the problem and objectives of this research the following questions abounds:
1. Is effective internal control system possible control to enhance financial accountability?
2. Can effective internal control system eliminate fraud and enhances a prudent allocation of an organization resources?
3. Has Ikwo local government area being maintaining adequate division or segregation of duties at various levels of management?
4. Can Ikwo local government area boast of adequate authorization and recording to provide reasonable accounting control over assets and liabilities, revenue and expenditure?
5. Does effective internal control system enhance early detection of mistake; deliberate misappropriation fraud and/or embezzlement of management fund?
1.6. RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
The researcher has been able to formulate the following hypothesis from the above questions:
Ho: (Null hypothesis) effective internal control system does not enhance financial accountability.
Hi (alternative bypothesis0 effective internal control system enhances financial accountability.
Ho: effective internal control system cannot eliminate fraud and enhance prudent allocation of an organization resources.
Ho: Ikwo local government has not been maintaining adequate division or segregation of duties at various levels of management
Hi: Ikwo local government has been maintaining adequate division or segregation of duties at various levels of management.
Ho: Ikwo local government does not maintain adequate authorization and recording to provide reasonable accounting control over assets and liabilities, revenue and expenditure.
Hi: Ikwo local government maintained adequate authorization and recording to provide reasonable accounting control over assets and liabilities, revenue and expenditure.
Ho: Effective internal control system does not enhance early detection of mistakes, deliberate misappropriation, fraud and/or embezzlement of management fund.
1.7. SCOPE OR DELIMITATION OF THE STUDY
Internal control is made up of administrative internal control and accounting financial control. The former refers to the decision-making process leading to the management authorization’s objective.It is also basis of establishing accounting or financial control. This is because the administrative control sees to the employment of the right people and makes sure that they do their normal work assigned to their the safeguarding of assets and the reliability of financial records to ensure that transactions are executed with management specifications.
The areas the researcher covered include all the local government activities especially those that can be reduced to financial terms. The scope of the research is the accounting (financial) internal control maintain accountability, as the topic suggests. Ordering of revenue receipts and embarking on project revenue and expenditure incurred.
Though internal control is based concepts, the control measures will be the only one to be computed for analytical purposes. Respondents to the study will be spread over all the departments and even beyond the organization. However, a certain sampling procedure as will be seen later, is adopted to achieve a certain level of reliability a concerned with those who can provide financial instructions on information. The financial records will be studies to know the effectiveness of the internal control system in Ikwo local government area.
1.8. DEFINITION OF TERMS
There are many variables that need definition under this heading. It will however amount to exercise in question to use discernment to know in advance which words and phrases will occur in the process this research. Others will be added as they occur in the research findings and literature review.
ACCOUNTABILITY: This is defined as the obligation which one has to answer for one’s action in the process of discharging his duties. This means that one is held to account or be answerable for anything that is entrusted to his care anytime the need arises.This is used to check the exercise s of the employees in an organization as they are made answerable, accountable to their immediate head or any others assigned to conduct the check.
ADMINISTRATIVE INTERNAL CONTROL: This is concerned with the management process leading the authorization of transaction and seeing that they are carried out. This management function is aimed at achieving the objectives of the organization. It is the starting point for establishing accounting control of transaction.
ACCOUNTING INTERNAL CONTROL: Financial (accounting) internal control is concerned with the reliability of financial records. The safeguarding of assets and provision of reasonable assurance that there is accountability. This is done to be in accordance with General Accepted accounting Principles (GAAP). This is used for internal assessment and of help to find out variances.