CAUSES OF FRAUD AND WAYS OF PREVENTING IT IN NIGERIA’S PUBLIC SECTORS
1.1 INTRODUCTION/BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The problem of fraud in the public sector has assumed immense proportions with the increase in the volume and complexity of the organizations within this sector. No organization appears free from this malaise and there is clearly the need to address the problem seriously. The essence of. this is to equip organizations with a good knowledge of the subject matter and as such perfect them on how to cope with it.
According to Uzoka S..A; (1990,p20), fraud is the number one enemy of the business world, no company or organization is immune to it. It is a complex phenomenon. Cases of fraud and forgeries both in the private and public sectors have not only become incessant, but have also increase in recent years to the extent that Nigeria’s economic and financial mainstay have in recent times been going through palpable travails.
Despite the numerous laws, decrees, enactments and edicts by the various governments, there has been a continued increase in the number of reported cases of fraud in the public sector. The trend has shown that cases of fraud are either in form of embezzlement, misappropriation of public funds by highly placed officers, forgery or even manipulation of figures by junior officers in the sector.
Overtime, various panels of inquiries have been set up to investigate cases of fraud. Such panels more often than not end up with little or no result. The consequence of this is that at the end of the day, the public knows little or nothing about public funds and what they are actually used for. Major implication of this continued trend of fraud is that a major element in a system of financial management is lacking. This shows that much remains to be done in terms of financial control, reporting and public financial accountability.
Financial reporting in the Nigeria public sectors have not attain a high level of efficiency. In fact, there is yet no recognized framework in Nigeria beyond that set in the 1958 Act. In most parastatals say Nigerian National. Petroleum Corporation, it is apparent that virtually no report is prepared and if prepared at all, it shows little or no basis for which financial management decision can be reached and adequate financial control taken by the appropriate authorities. Accountability is much more than just stewardship. According to Anyanwu W.O (1988, p6), it refers to the responsibility for one’s action to someone else.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The level of fraud in the present day Nigeria has assumed an epidemic dimension. The causes and effects have continued to increase in leaps and bounds. It is generally believed that most frauds in the public sectors are with the active connivance of a group of officers in various offices.
For years and for every successive government, the cry has always been that of lack of accountability on the part of public servants. In spite of the numerous decrees, enactments and laws to guard against fraud, there has been an increase in the number of reported cases of fraud and misappropriation of public funds and properties.
The general opinion is that there are no accurate records or proper financial reports of government activities in almost all our ministries, departments and parastatals, which is an indication or the level of lapses that exist therein. Base on the above issues, the questions are:
(a) What is responsible for the increasing cases of fraud in the public sectors?
Are there lapses in public accounting reporting systems that have given
room for fraud?
(b) In setting panels to check fraud in these sectors, of what effect have they made in checking fraud in the public sector?
(c) What then can be done to check and arrest the fraud syndrome in the public sector?
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The objective of this study is to examine the likely causes of fraud and ways of preventing it in Nigeria’s public sectors with special reference to Nigerian National Petroleum corporation (NNPC). In the course of doing this, the study will equally centers on the following:
(i) To identify reasons/factors responsible for increasing cases of fraud in Nigeria.
(ii) To identify culprits in “fraud cases” in Nigeria.
(iii) To examine the financial laws and procedures with the view to correcting or improving on them.
(iv) To ascertain the utility of fraud probe panel reports
(v) To proffer fraud prevention measures.
However, it is believed that the inadequate reporting of accountability and stewardship of public officers, sustains and exacerbates economic malaise, This project further tends to examine the major set of components and mode of financial reporting in the public sectors and how this can be improved upon for proper accountability of government activities, mainly in the area of public funds.
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study has become very necessary when one considers the high rate of fraud in the public sectors. The significance of this study therefore lies in he fact that prevention of fraud calls for the establishment of an adequate internal control mechanism, training and retraining of staff, keeping abreast with new developments as well as the acquisition of new technology to facilitate early detection and prevention of fraud. It therefore goes without suggesting that every conceivable means must be brought to bear on this cankerworm called fraud.
Again, this study will be of great significance in attempt to provide valuable information to public officers on how to prevent fraud. It will also serve as a means of measuring performance of the efforts at reducing the incidence of fraud and forgeries in the public sector. Consequently, this study will equally be of great importance to student who will want to carry out research in similar issues in future.
1.5 SCOPE AND LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
This study is intended to cover some of the financial techniques available to, and used by public sector organizations. It was concerned with the ways in which the result of these techniques are reported it also concerned with the major documents m which detailed public expenditure proposals are presented and accounted for, with a view to understanding the nature and fundamental concepts of public accounting. This work thus presents a summary of the study, draws conclusion and makes recommendation based on our data analysis.
In carrying out this study, the researcher encountered some limitations. Firstly, this research is relatively new and as such very few literature available. Those that are available are not related to the Nigerian situation.
Secondly, not much information could be gotten form public office holders as every information is classified as “top secret” and no “good” civil servant is expected to divulge such secrets.
Thirdly, the non-availability of data in respect of pub1ic expenditure from the federal office of statistics posed a serious limitation to the efforts of the researcher.
Lastly, time constraint, financial constraint and the non-chalant attitudes of the respondents in giving information required formed other factors that limited the ability of the researcher to carry out an in-depth study of the research. However, it is hoped that the researcher’s efforts will serve as an attempt into finding solution to the issue of fraud in public sector accounting.
1.6 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
HO1: Non compliance to financial regulations is to responsible for fraud in public sector accounting in Nigerian.
HO2: There is no significant relationship between fraud commitment and the growth of the public sector in Nigeria.
HO3: Fraud cannot be prevented in the public sector
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
For a better understanding of this study, it is pertinent to define certain terms that might not be in common use in every day communication, as this is a technical professional study, certain words are therefore used with a high degree of biases. Hence, their definitions are crucial since this work may have a general consumption.
GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTING: According to Oshisani and Dean (1985,p6), government accounting is defined as the process of recording, analyzing, classifying, and summarizing all government transactions in order to mow how judicious the resources of the government are spent.
PUBLIC SECTORS: Are firms owned and controlled by the government in order to provide essential services to the general public.
FRAUD: These are forgery, manipulation. Embezzlement misappropriation and theft which may be carried out through different methods by management and the employees.
MANAGEMENT: These are top officials in an organization charged with the responsibility of planning, coordinating, supervising and controlling the affairs of the organization in order to achieve their objectives.