ETHICS AND ACCOUNTABIITY IN CIVIL SERVICE A CRITICAL EXAMPLE OF KOGI STATE LOCAL GOVERNMENT SERVICE COMMISSION LOKOJA
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1.1 Background to the Study
There are some internal mechanism and control measures in place to ensure that the civil service conducts its business within some ethical parameters. These internal mechanisms not only provide an ethical environment within which the public service is expected to perform it responsibilities but also act as a form of accountability measures for the service. These are the Civil Service Rules (CSR) which replaced the general orders bequeathed to the service by the colonials and the civil service Hand book. The civil service rules are the ground norm for service conduct and it covers from appointment to separation from the service, discipline salary, leave and reward for performance (Amanda, 2016).
The civil service hand book acts as a reference book and guide for all levels of personnel in the service. the scope of the hand book is quiet exhaustive, dealing with all salient features of the service, the role of the civil servant in government and the manner in which government business should be conducted in order to have an efficient and effective administrative system capable of winning public confidence in a chapter titled code of ethics in government business, the values of discipline, loyalty, honesty, courage, courtesy, cooperation, tact, industry, honesty, courage, courtesy, cooperation, tact, industry, fairness and equity were emphasized. In a bid to have an ethically upright and accountable public service the hand book and the CSR are further complemented by the following documents the guidelines for appointment, promotion and discipline issued by the civil service commission, the code of conduct bureau whose mandate covers behavior of both political and public servants alike (Ayee, 2015).
However, an association, a group of people, 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. As stated by Feluni (2016), the rules are yardstick upon which members conduct or behaviors are adjudged as good (ethical) or bad (unethical). That’s why, if the works we carry out settle on our entire survival, then we must have the right attitude to work (Ekhator, 2015). 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, 2014). 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 (2013) 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 Kogi state civil service with concentration on ethics and accountability.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The pervasive and ubiquitous influence of unethical civil service conduct, misappropriation, stealing, embezzlement, bribery, tribalism and other fraudulent acts described by officials have resulted 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 been a failed to monitor standards of professional ethics and accountability in the civil service (Thompson, 2016). 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, 2014). Lacks of trained and competent workers have also accrued into the existence of unethical behavior in Nigeria civil service (Agarah, 2016).
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 Kogi state Local Government Service Commission.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The general objective is to examine unethical behavior and accountability in the Kogi state local government service commission. The specific objectives are to:
1. Find out if there are cases of unethical behavior and lack of accountability in Kogi state Local Government Service Commission.
2. Find out the factors that are responsible for unethical behavior and lack of accountability in Kogi State Local Government Service Commission.
3. Ascertain the disciplinary measures taken against those who engage in unethical behaviors in Kogi state Local Government Service Commission.
4. Recommend what can be done to improve ethics and accountability in Kogi state Local Government Service Commission.
1.4 Research Questions
- Are there cases of unethical behaviors and lack of accountability in Kogi state Local Government Service Commission?
- What factors lead to unethical behavior and lack of accountability in Kogi state Local Government Service Commission?
- What disciplinary measures are taken against those who engage in unethical behavior in Kogi state Local Government Service Commission?
- What can be done to improve ethics and accountability in Kogi state Local Government Service Commission?
1.5 Significance of the Study
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 Kogi state Local Government Service Commission 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 Kogi state Local Government Service Commission 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.
1.6 The scope of study
Researching on ethics and accountability in Kogi 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 Kogi state Local Government Service Commission. The major factor for opting for Kogi state Local Government Service Commission 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.
1.6 Limitations of study
Limitations of study include: The inadequate materials on the subject matter really threatened the success of this research. 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.
The fact that effective researcher needs ample time dedication is not doubted, but to the researcher, dedicating such time must be at the expense of other numerous issues competing attention such as his 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.