ETHICS AND ACCOUNTABILITY IN THE NIGERIAN CIVIL SERVICE: A CASE OF FE…
1.1 Background to the Study
A group of people, an association, organization or even a settlement stays together due to norms they accept as a binding guide. Every society forges ahead in its daily activities because it has some laid down rules (the dos and the don’ts) that guide the people. These rules may gradually become the way or pattern of lives of the people in such society. According to Feluni (1997), the rules are yardstick upon which members conduct or behaviors are adjudged as good (ethical) or bad (unethical). Hence, if the works we perform determine our entire survival, then we must have the right attitude to work (Ekhator, 2002). Civil servants, who are successfully practicing ethics, will be able to defend their actions and inactions.
The fact that the prevalence of ethical standards and accountability of civil servants in Nigeria is the veritable means of ensuring the commitment of Nigerian government to the norms of good governance and responsible leadership is very clear. Ethics and accountabilities are the criteria for good governance which brings about legitimacy and popular support from the people. The economy of any nation cannot develop when its members lack sense of duty and accountability. In creating an administration that will be responsive to the yearnings and aspirations of the people by the government, the role of ethics and accountability cannot be overemphasized. Ethics serves as amoral parameters within which the civil servant operates. It involves defending and recommending concept of right and wrong conduct.
Civil servants as officials employed rather than elected in the civil service capacity to carry out the statutory responsibility of service delivery in government can only be achieved if they are conscious of the rules of conduct established to ensure accountability and effective service delivery (Rasheed, 1995). This simply mean that accountability in the civil service can only be ensured if the regulatory mechanisms like the constitution and public service rules are put in place. Those who are expected to render services must account to the people for their successes and failures; and those who are entrusted with the custody and disbursement of public fund must appropriately account to the people for their use (Okigbo, quoted in Ozor, 2000).
Accountability in the above assertion can be informed if regulatory mechanisms are put in place. In our contemporary society, civil servants pay negligence to ethical conduct thereby engendering unaccountability, bribery and corruption, impartiality and poor service delivery in the civil service. The unresponsiveness of the civil servants to their constitutional assignment has received numerous adverse comments from the right thinking nationals of Nigeria. Ethical deficit and the problem of accountability feature noticeably in the action of the civil servants. Their dominant principle of action is selfish and mercenary interest.
A civil servant will employ bureaucratic bottleneck if he or she is not being gratified to carry out his responsibility. He will not submit a file to another person to work until some unofficial benefit are attached or is given. The unethical disposition of civil servants is primarily exacerbated by the weak institutional and wanton negligence for the practice of accountability by civil servants. Nwosu H. N (1977) viewed that student in politics and administration in Nigeria also commented upon the prevalence of corruption and other forms of unethical behavior on the part of civil servants because of the deplorable law standard of morality. It is in the light of the above that this study examines the state of ethics and accountability in the Enugu state civil service with concentration on Federal Inland Revenue Services, Enugu.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The permeating and pervasive influence of unethical behavior in the civil service like, embezzlements of public funds, bribery and corruption, tribalism, and other fraudulent acts portrayed by the civil servants have culminated in their poor image and service delivery. The aforementioned ethical deficit actions in the civil service have been worsened by weak institutional arrangement for enforcing ethical and accountability standard. They have not been effective in monitoring standards of professional ethics and accountability in the civil service (Thompson, 1985).
As a matter of fact, the poor working conditions and miserable pay of civil servants should not be shelved out. It has contributed to the loss of integrity and deplorable service record of Nigerian civil servants (Adamolekun, 1983). Lacks of trained and competent workers have also accrued into the existence of unethical behavior in Nigeria civil service (Agarah, 1989). As a result of lack of training which exposes them to rule of conduct, civil servants, therefore pay negligence to ethical conduct in carrying out their duties. The activities of the Nigerian civil servants is believed to be affected by corruption and other forms of unethical behavior like embezzlements of public funds, bribery and other fraudulent acts, this is assumed to result to lack of accountability the Nigerian civil service. The researcher wants to look into the activities of the Nigerian civil servants using FIRS from 2000-2010 as case study find out the above assertion.
Based on the above assertion, the question this research sets out to tackle are:
1. Are there cases of unethical behaviors and lack of accountability in Federal Inland Revenue Services, Enugu?
2. What factors lead to unethical behavior and lack of accountability in Federal Inland Revenue Services, Enugu?
3. What disciplinary measures are taken against those who engage in unethical behavior in Federal Inland Revenue Services, Enugu?
4. What can be done to improve ethics and accountability in Federal Inland Revenue Services, Enugu?
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The general objective is to examine unethical behavior and accountability in the Nigerian civil service. The specific objectives are to:
1. Find out if there are cases of unethical behavior and lack of accountability in Federal Inland Revenue Services, Enugu.
2. Find out the factors that are responsible for unethical behavior and lack of accountability in Federal Inland Revenue Services, Enugu.
3. Ascertain the disciplinary measures taken against those who engage in unethical behaviors in Federal Inland Revenue Services, Enugu.
4. Recommend what can be done to improve ethics and accountability in Federal Inland Revenue Services, Enugu.
1.4 Significance of the Study
The significance of the study can be viewed from two perspectives.
Empirical Significance: The study of administrative ethics and accountability is indispensable for good governance. And the knowledge of ethics informs accountability. This knowledge will help to proffer veritable course of action that can deter the problems of ethics and accountability in Enugu state civil service such like corruption, impartiality, absenteeism and other forms of unethical behavior. The greater the quality of accountability the greater the quality of good governance, and vice versa. The sound knowledge of this study will help law makers in making an outstanding and achievable law for the nation accountability in the state civil service. It will expose different cases of ethical and accountability problems in Federal Inland Revenue Services, Enugu and ways of shelving them out. It will also unveil the factors that caused these problems.
The research will serve as reference material for future researchers in the field of ethic and accountability in the Nigeria civil service. Academically, it contributes to the existing knowledge by explaining why civil servants exhibit unethical and lack of accountability behaviors in the discharge of their functions and their remedial measures.
1.5 The Scope and Limitation of Study
1.5.1 The Scope of Study
Researching on ethics and accountability in Enugu state civil service as a whole comprising of numerous ministries will be too complex and difficult if not impossible. As a result of this, the researcher reduced the scope of the study to Federal Inland Revenue Services, Enugu. The major factor for opting for Federal Inland Revenue Services, Enugu a unit of study is because the researcher is familiar with the area. Hence, it would be easier, less expensive and more convenient for the researcher to obtain relevant information from the sector to ensure efficient and effective research.
1.5.2 Limitations of Study
Initiating and concluding a research work successfully is not always a rosy ride to bliss. As a matter of fact a lot of factors acted as a clog in the wheel in the smooth research on ethics and accountability in Federal Inland Revenue Services, Enugu. These factors include:
1. Inadequate Literature: The inadequate materials on the subject matter really threatened the success of this research.
2. Attitude of the Respondents: Attitudes of the respondents in the various departments chosen for this study were discouraging. They were in many occasions very reluctant in supplying relevant information for security reasons as expression of being afraid to expose their vital official secretes.
3. Financial Cost: The researcher cannot overemphasized how problematic the cost implication of this research was. It was really a big task sourcing for funds as money was limited in supply, bearing also in mind that the researcher is a student.
4. Time: The fact that effective researcher needs ample time dedication is undoubtful. But to the researcher, dedicating such time must be at the expense of other numerous issues competing attention such as her course work, consequently, minute time was hared between the research and other contending issues. The researcher therefore, did not have the whole supposed time for this work as required. Despite all odds, the researcher made frantic efforts to collect sufficient data for the analyses upon which reliable inference was made.