1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Accountability and transparency have been critical issues in financial management of governments in Nigeria, particularly the local government. It has continually disturbed and hindered the effective running and performance of the council and this has always been a problem that is yet to be solved. What is currently referred to as local government in Nigeria evolved from the pre-colonial transitional system of government which was highly localized as adapted to the peculiarities of the areas. The local council or native authority presents the basic unit through which any nation administers her people at the grass-root level. The theory of local government therefore, is that for effective administration, there must be an administrative agency through which the central government governs the people in their respective homes. All over the world, the structure, form and functions of the local government are determined by the political beliefs of the people who control the central government. The local unit usually operates under a council which may consist of persons elected through a democratic process by the local inhabitants or through persons appointed by the government to run the affairs of the local inhabitants. Starting from the early 1950s, there have been lots of re-examination of the institution of local government in Nigeria.
There have been a large amount of military decrees, legislature and judicial activities and finally, reforms from committee’s recommendations. The 1976 Local Government Reforms entrusted political responsibility to the people at the grassroots level. It also desired to improve the social and economic development of, and the effective delivery of service to, the respective local population scattered all over the country. On these bases also, adequate arrangements were immediately made through the federal and state tiers for funds to be recouped monthly for the effective management of the local governments. But awkwardly, local governments in Nigeria are often seen as breeding grounds for brazen corruption and near absence of accountability and transparency in conducting public service. Instead of discharging their functions as development centers to the people at the grass root, local government council officials have developed notoriety for corruption, financial irresponsibility and fiscal indiscipline.
The lack of integrity, accountability and transparency at this level of governance definitely puts a heavy toll on the well-being and development of the people of local government (Adam 2001). Circumvention of finances and flagrant disregard for following due process in managing public funds in the Nigerian local government has been on an exponential increase. This issue and many others brought the need of this research to identify how much the local governments adhere to due process in carrying out their executive functions since their invention as a tier in the Nigerian government.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The main aim of this research work is to evaluate and investigate the problems associated with lack of accountability and transparency in financial management of local government councils. Local government councils have been riddled with such problems as corruption in procurement, internal revenue collection, award of contracts to the wrong contractors, amongst others. Government pays salaries and allowances to ghost workers without a due process to ascertain this transparent nature of such transactions. The accounting officers in this process go on in this act without adequate accountability of its responsibility. Overhead expenditures in the council are incurred without documentation, tender for bids are not observed as a process of procurement but contract awards have been on a man-know-man basis, and such ‘contractors’ are either political allies or financiers. These contractors either abandon or execute the contract to the extent to which they wish, in other to recoup their money invested in electing the council chairman, with the knowledge that nothing will be done to them. Consequent upon these, it’s the local council inhabitants that suffer the most especially since the federal government presumes that the introduction of accountability and transparency in government activity through due process could put a check on these illicit activities in the financial transactions and disbursements of government down to the local government council activities. This research tends to access the efficacy of due process, accountability and transparency innovations of the federal government down to council activities as enshrined by the due process office.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The following are the objectives which this research work aims to achieve;
1) To find out if accountability and transparency have been upheld to check the circumvention of due process in financial and non-financial activities of the local government council in Nigeria.
2) To determine if due process has always been followed in the management of public funds in the local government.
3) To determine if the inhabitants of local government councils have benefited from the proceeds of accountability and transparency through the improvement of social amenities.
4) To establish whether the accountability and transparency have affected the financial behavioral attitudes of council staff in Nigeria.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The following research questions were designed to achieve the objectives of this work;
1) To what degree has accountability and transparency been able to put a check on the circumvention of due process in the financial and non-financial activities of the local government council in Nigeria?
2) Has due process always been followed in the management of public funds in the local government?
3) To what extent have the inhabitants of local government council benefited from the proceeds of accountability and transparency in the improvement of social amenities?
4) To what extent has the process of accountability and transparency affected the financial behavioral attitudes of council staff in Nigeria?
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
This research work is based on the following hypotheses:
HO: Accountability and Transparency has not put a check on the circumvention of due process in financial and non-financial activities of the local government councils in Nigeria.
H1: Accountability and Transparency has put a check on the circumvention of due process in financial and non financial activities of local government councils in Nigeria.
HO: The inhabitants of local government council have not benefited from the proceeds of accountability and transparency in improvement of social amenities.
H2: The inhabitants of local government council have benefited from the proceeds of accountability and transparency in improvement of social amenities.
H0: The process of accountability and transparency has not affected the financial behavioral attitudes of council attitudes of staff in Nigeria.
H3: The process of accountability and transparency has affected the financial behavioral attitudes of council staff in Nigeria.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
1. This research work will enable the researcher ascertain the possible factors which are responsible for causing improper accountability and transparency in financial management in the conduct of public sector in Nigeria.
2. This study will also help give a better understanding of due process and the ways through with its application will better help the smooth and efficient running of the local governments.
3. It is equally expected that, the research work will help to provide solutions to mismanagement of funds in the public sector, which will be applied in improving the effective running of the public sector. This study therefore, will expose the varied weaknesses of the local government council system.
4. It will serve as reference material to any scholar/student who is willing to know or to add to his/her knowledge and insight of what due process is and its applications.
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This study examines due process in accountability and transparency of financial management in the local governments with Agege local government area of Lagos state as a case study. The study takes a holistic approach in its research to unveil the challenges and problems hindering the proper accountability and transparency in financial management in local government and better ways of curbing them.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
LOCAL GOVERNMENT: In almost all contemporary states in the world, there are two, three or more recognized tiers government. In Nigeria, for instance, the tiers of government are local, state and federal governments. These tiers or levels also have distinct functions, powers and statutory allocation of public funds for their management. Local government is the lowest of the tiers. It is the grassroots government. The government that is nearer to the people, having daily and constant touch with the grassroots populace. Iwundu, (1997) defines local government in the words of Awa (1980) as a political authority for the purpose of dispensing or decentralizing political powers. This act of decentralization of powers may take the form of de concentration or devolution.
REVENUE: refers to the revenue of the government finance by means of participating in the distribution of the social products, which are the financial resources for ensuring the government to function. The contents of government revenue have been changed several times. Now it includes the following main items:
(1) Various tax revenues, including value added tax, business tax, consumption tax, land value added tax, tax on city maintenance and construction, resources tax, tax on use of urban land, enterprise income tax, personal income tax, tariff, stamp tax on security transactions, tax on purchase of motor vehicles, tax on agriculture and animal husbandry and tax on occupancy of cultivated land, etc.
(2) Special revenues, including revenues from the fee on sewage treatment, fee on urban water resources, fee for the compensation of mineral resources and extra-charges for education, etc.
(3) Other revenues, including revenue from interest, revenue from the repayment of capital construction loan, revenue from capital construction projects, and donations and grants.
(4) Subsidies for the losses of the state-owned enterprises. This is an item of negative revenue, consisting of subsidies to industrial, commercial and grain purchasing and supply enterprises.
ALLOCATION: Is a specified amount given or allocated to various local government in the country by the federal and state government to carry out their day to day.
MANAGEMENT: The achievement of organization and goals through an effective and efficient utilization of human and material resources.
COUNCIL: This means an area defined to carryout government functions.
DUE PROCESS: Due process is the means by which ethical constraints are placed on administrative decision making, (Alan 2008). It refers to the procedures and safeguards that constrain administrative decision-making, and a means by which we ensure the ethical use of power by administrative and judicial bodies. The constrain stands against inhuman treatment, intoxication and abuse of powers, out-law-ism and excesses.
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