By Riccardo Pelizzo and Aminu Umar

Introduction

In the course of the past 10 years, there has been a sort of renaissance in the study of Public Accounts Committees (PACs). Long neglected, PACs have received from 2002 onward an increasing amount of attention. Three global surveys were conducted to collect information on the structure, the organization, the practices, the functioning of these committees. Two global reports have been produced (McGee, 2002; Stapenhurst, Pelizzo and Jacobs, 2013), several regional analyses have been conducted. Some studies have adopted a qualitative approach (Pelizzo and Stapenhurst, 2008); others have relied more extensively on quantitative methods (Pelizzo, 2010; Pelizzo, 2011). Some have adopted a synchronic focus, other have adopted instead a diachronic focus (Degeling, Anderson and Guthrie, 1996).

This plurality of data, approaches, methods, and foci has generated several lessons that could be grouped into three basic categories. The first category groups together all those lessons that could be regarded, for lack of a better world, as institutional. Specifically, the success or the failure of PACs is attributed to institutional factors, namely to the way in which these committees are institutionalized (the norms under which they operate) and/or to the range of powers that are place at their disposal. The second category groups together all those lessons that attribute the failure or the success of PACs to their organizational characteristics such as their size (the number of members serving on the committee), the percentage of opposition MPs serving on the committee, and the presence/absence of an opposition chair. The third category groups together all those generalizations that links PACs’ success/failure to the resources at their disposal, such as, for example, the size of the support staff at the disposal of the PAC and funding of its activities.

Given the importance of these institutional, organizational and contextual factors, each of the three surveys conducted in the course of the past 15 years has attempted to gather some information on each of these aspects. The most recent effort to track PACs’ characteristics was conducted by Stapenhurst, Pelizzo and Jacobs (2013) who reported that the word of PACs had changed in some respects but not in other.

For instance, they reported that the world of PACs had evolved in three major ways. PACs could now be found in several countries that had no institutional or historical connection with the Westminster system, that they were remarkably more active and proactive, and that in an increasing number of cases had the mandate to consider budget estimates.

In other respects, however, the new PACs look very much like the old PAC. The size of the PACs and the percentage of countries with an opposition chairperson had remained roughly the same.

The purpose of this research note is to investigate Nigerian PACs in global perspective.

 

 

Part One. The institutional Characteristics

Institutionalization

The literature has long emphasized the importance of institutional factors in explaining the performance of PACs.  The attention to institutional conditions and factors is hardly surprising. For the last few decades, with the work of North and the emergence of neo-institutionalism, few approaches or paradigms have enjoyed more popularity than neo-institutionalism. Institutions were invoked or evoked to explain a wide range of phenomena (social equilibria, solution for collective action problems, development,…) by a large variety of research traditions (historical institutionalism, rational choice,…) that had little to nothing in common other than an emphasis on institutions. The notion of institutions eventually came to be used to denote a wide range of phenomena and the use of the term became somewhat imprecise. For instance, the term institution was used to denote both the policy adopted by the government and implemented by a government agency as well as the institutional body, or agency, in charge of implementing the policy.

The confusion in the use of technical terms and in the use of the notion of ‘institutions’ has also affected the study of PACs. A large consensus emerged in the literature on the fact that the performance of these committees was largely due to institutional factors, but there was much less agreement as to what such institutional factors actually were.

Two basic positions emerged in this debate. One stream of scholarship suggested that the institutional factor responsible for the performance, failure or success of the PAC, is represented by the nature of the normative dispositions that are responsible for the creation and the functioning of the PACs—what is generally known in the PAC literature as the institutionalization of the PAC.

The scholars who have argued that the institutionalization of PACs is what ultimately explains their failure or success took two distinct views. Some argued that the effectiveness with which a PAC operates is enhanced if the PAC is created by a constitutional disposition, other scholars have suggested that the effectiveness with which a PAC operates is greater when a PAC is established by an act of parliament because such an act could signal parliament’s commitment to making PACs work well, while a third group of scholars argue that PACs work best when they operate under a multiplicity or norms and regulations, that is, for example, when their existence is constitutionally sanctioned, when their power are set by an act of parliament and when their functioning is regulated by  the parliament’s standing orders.

All the Nigerian PACs are established and operate under constitutional dispositions, operate through standing orders of the parliament (i.e. through the committee system).

Powers

The capacity of PACs, or rather the powers of the PACs pertain to three different areas, we will group the powers into three distinct categories: the right of access, accounts and operations and PACs reports.

 

The right of access concerns the range and the nature of institutional bodies that public accounts committees have the power to oversee; the accounts and operations category concerns what PACs are enabled to do, that is whether the can launch and conduct their own inquiries, whether they can examine public accounts, whether they are consulted in the making of the budget, whether they can oversee policy implementation; the AG reports category concerns the nature of AG reports that a PAC is allowed to consider and whether a PAC has the authority to refer matters to the AG.

 

In the course of these section we will review how the powers pertaining to each of these three categories vary across Nigerian state trying to understand whether and to what extent such variation is or can be accounted for by geo-political factors as indicated in table 1.

 

Table 1: Nigerian Federating Units

S/No Surveyed PACs   (States) Geo-Political Zone States or Regions under each Geo-Political Zone
1 **National Assembly  **National Parliament (Senate and House of Representatives) **Federal Capital Territory (Seat of Central Power) – Abuja
2 ABIA South-East  Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo, Abia and Anambra States.
3 CROSS RIVER South-South Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, Edo, Cross River, Rivers and Delta States
4 Kano North-West Kaduna, Kebbi, Zamfara, Sokoto, Kano, Jigawa and Katsina States
5 Niger North Central Kogi, Niger, Benue, Kwara, Plateau, Nassarawa states and the Federal Capital Territory.
6 Ogun South-West Oyo, Ogun, Lagos, Ondo and Osun States.  
7  Adamawa North-East Taraba, Borno, Bauchi, Adamawa, Gombe and Yobe States.

** Emphasis is not on the National Assembly, rather the surveyed State PACs i.e. 2-7 above

 

From the table1, one can notice that Nigeria is divided in  six geo-political zones. PACs can be found both at the federal level and well as the subnational level. The Nigerian National Assembly is the National parliament made up of ‘360’ member seats in the House of Representatives and 109 Senatorial seats for the senate. Emphasis in this study was on the ‘36’ unicameral state assemblies across Nigeria.

 

Right of access

In terms of the right of access, we found that Nigerian PACs are all well-endowed and that they have on average more powers than most PACs around the world. The PACs from Abia and Kano have all the nine powers, the PACs from Cross River and Niger have 8 out of 9 powers, while the PACs from Ogun and Adamawa have only seven of the nine powers. See table 2.

Table 2. Right of Access

  Abia Cross rivers Kano Niger Ogun Adamawa
Government agencies within the finance portfolio Y Y Y Y Y Y
Government agencies outside the finance portfolio Y Y Y Y Y
Statutory authorities Y Y Y Y Y Y
Government owned corporations Y Y Y Y Y Y
Local government authorities Y Y Y Y Y Y
Parliament (and its expenditures) Y Y Y Y Y Y
Parliamentarians’ expenditures (eg. Staff) Y Y Y Y Y Y
Government service providers Y Y Y Y N N
Government funded non-government organizations Y y Y N N Y

Legend: Y means that the PAC has this power, N means that the PAC lacks this power

Obviously some powers are more common than others. For example the right to oversee government agencies within the finance portfolio, statutory authorities and government owned corporations, local government authorities, parliament and parliamentarians’ expenditure is enjoyed by all the PACs included in our sample. The power to oversee the government service providers or to oversee NGOs is enjoyed only by four of the six Nigerian PACs for which data were collected,. In other words, the percentage of PACs having a power varies from a minimum of 66.7% in the case of the power to oversee NGOs’ accounts and service providers to 100% in the case of seven powers.

The comparison between Nigerian and the rest of the world reveals that Nigerian PACs have on average more powers than their counterparts around the world. See table 3.

 

 

 

 

 

Table 3. Right of Access. Nigeria and the rest of the world

     
Power % of PAC that enjoy this power unconditionally in the world % of PACs that have this power unconditionally in Nigeria
Government agencies within the finance portfolio 94.4 100
Government agencies outside the finance portfolio 96.3 100*
Statutory authorities 85.2 100
Government owned corporations 85.2 100
Local government authorities 56.6 100
Parliament (and its expenditures) 85.4 100
Parliamentarians’ expenditures (eg. Staff) 73.2 100
Government service providers 55.6 66.7
Government funded non-government organizations 41.5 66.7

Legend: * of valid answers, Cross rivers did not provide an answer as to whether it has the power to oversee government agencies outside the finance portfolio

Accounts and Operations

The evidence presented here concerns the activities performed by a PAC, namely whether it can examine accounts; consider budget estimates; assess the efficiency, economy and effectiveness of a given policy; the efficiency and the economy of policy implementation, the effectiveness of policy implementation, and whether it has the power to undertake self-initiated inquiries.

In fact section 88 & 89 of the 1999 Nigerian constitution as amended empowers each House of the National Assembly or State’s House of Assembly to conduct investigation into any matter within its competence. It empowers the legislative arm to conduct investigation into any matter with respect to which it has power to make laws, the conduct of any person, authority, ministry, or government agency charged or intended to be charged with the duty or responsibility for exerting or administering laws enacted by the (National Assembly or State House of Assembly) and disbursing or administering moneys appropriated or to be appropriated by the (National Assembly or State House of Assembly) (Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria – CFRN, 1999). Also, to prevent and expose corruption, inefficiency, or waste in the execution or administration of laws within its legislative competence and in the disbursement or administration of funds appropriated by it. In other words, these powers are very common. This finding is not terribly surprising, because the powers are also very common in the rest of the world, what is instead surprising is the fact that these powers are even more common in Nigeria than elsewhere as we are about to show.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table 4. Accounts and Operations

  Abia Cross river Kano Niger Ogun Adamawa
Examination of accounts and financial affairs y Y y y Y Y
Consideration of budget estimates (other than Audit Office) y N y y y N
Efficiency, economy and effectiveness of government policy y N y y y Y
Efficiency and economy of policy implementation (value for money) y Y y y y Y
Effectiveness of government implementation (delivery of outcomes) y Y y y y Y
Undertake self-initiated inquiries y Y y y y Y

 

The data presented in table 4 reveal that some powers are more common than others. The power to examine the accounts, the efficiency and the economy of policy implementation, and the effectiveness of the implementation as well as the power to undertake self-initiated inquiries is found in each of the states under consideration. The powers to examine the efficiency, economy and effectiveness of government policy is found in 5 of 6 cases, while the power to consider the budget estimates is found in 4 of the 6 cases.

The implication is that while some PACs (Abia, Kano, Niger and Ogun) have all the powers pertaining to accounts and operations, the PAC from Adamawa lacks one of the six powers and the PAC from Cross Rivers lacks two of these powers.

While these data suggest that there is some variation in how common certain powers are and conversely in the scope of the ‘accounts and operation’ mandate of individual PACs, it is clear that Nigerian PACs are fairly well endowed as most of them enjoy a fairly wide range of powers. In fact if we compare Nigerian data with the values recorded globally, it is immediately apparent that Nigerian PACs greatly out power PACs operating in the rest of the world.

Table 5. Accounts and Operation Powers in Nigeria and in the world.

  Percentage of cases where this power is enjoyed unconditionally
  world Nigeria
Examination of accounts and financial affairs 96.4 100
Consideration of budget estimates (other than Audit Office) 22.2 66.7
Efficiency, economy and effectiveness of government policy 79.6 83.3
Efficiency and economy of policy implementation (value for money) 94.1 100
Effectiveness of government implementation (delivery of outcomes) 90.2 100
Undertake self-initiated inquiries 71.7 100

 

The evidence presented in table 5 sustains the claim that Nigerian PACs have more ‘accounts and operation’ power or powers than PACs in the rest of the world. While this claim is true in the aggregate, the data reveal some variation cross the individual powers. In fact, some powers are only slightly more common in Nigeria (examination of accounts, examination of value for money, examination of delivery of outcomes), some powers are phenomenally more common in Nigeria (consideration of budget estimates, undertake self-initiated inquiries) and one is less common in Nigeria (examination of efficiency, economy and effectiveness of government policy).

Auditor General Reports

The Public Accounts Committees in Nigeria is expected to submit a number of reports to the house in plenary which include among others report on the comments of the AG on annual account and auditor’s report thereon submitted in accordance with Section 85 (3)(b) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, report on routine status enquiry carried out by the committee on the expenditure of the MDAs to obtain value for money, session report submitted at the end of each legislative year, report of the annual reports of AG on the accounts of Government of the state submitted in accordance to Section 95 (5) of the 1999 constitution as amended  (Senate, 2013).

Given the importance of the relationship between the AG and the PAC, it is not terribly surprising that the third set of powers concerns the PACs’ ability to examine various types of AG’s reports o to bring matters to the attention of the Auditor General.

The three powers that belong to this category are the power to perform an examination of Auditor General compliance reports, an examination of Auditor General Performance reports and, finally, the power to refer matters to the Auditor General for investigation.

 

Table 6. Power concerning auditor general reports

Power to Abia Cross river Kano Niger Ogun Adamawa
Examine AG compliance reports y Y Y y Y y
Examine AG performance reports y y Y y y y
Refer matters to the AG y Y y y y

 

The evidence presented in table 6 shows that all Nigerian PACs have the power to examine the Auditor General’s compliance report, that all of them have the power to examine the Auditor General’s performance report and that all the PAC that provided an answer with regard to the power of referring matters to the Auditor General reported to have such powers. These powers are widely enjoyed by PACs worldwide, but they are even more common in Nigeria. The evidence presented in table 7 sustains this claim.

Table 7. Power concerning Auditor General Reports in Nigeria and the World.

Power to : Enjoyed unconditionally
Nigeria World
Examine AG compliance reports 100 94.4
Examine AG performance reports 100 90.7
Refer matters to the AG 100 83.3

 

The evidence presented in this section illustrates that Nigerian PACs have more powers then PACs operating in the rest of the world. The data also show that there is some variation in terms of how powerful are Nigerian PACs. For example Kano has all right of access, account and operations, and auditor general report powers, while Adamawa  lacks  1 right of access power and 1 account and operations power.

If we assign a score of ‘1’ to a PAC that has a specific power, a PAC may score at most 9 points for the powers grouped in the right of access category, 6 for the powers assigned to the accounts and operation powers, and 3 for the powers grouped in the auditor general report category. Hence, by adding these scores together we create an additive scale that ranges from 0 (zero) when PAC lacks all the powers under consideration to 18 if a PAC enjoys all the powers.

By computing this score that could be regarded as a sort of Formal Power Index, we find that in terms of formal powers, Nigerian PAC are clustered around the high end of the spectrum. Two PACs have a score of 15 out of 18, one PAC has a score of 16, two have a score of 17 and Kano scores a perfect 18. This implies that Kano significantly enjoys legislative power to scrutinize the activities of government than other surveyed state parliaments in Nigeria. This, may likely be among the reasons for government development strides in Kano State since the 4th republic elections (But, this is a partial explanation to the successes recorded in Kano, as one expect other States with closer ties to Kano to achieve same but seems not to have the same quality of development). We belief that leadership, funding, upholding democratic principles or peoples oriented government are also major contributory factors to this fact.

Does this distribution of power reflect the geographic distribution of the cases or the geographic location of the PACs? Does the geographic location of a PAC affects the range of powers at its disposal? To test whether this is or is not the case, we proceed in two steps. First of all, we create a 3-point scale for geographic location that takes value 1 for PACs located in the North, takes value 2 for PAC located in the central belt of the country and takes value 3 for PACs operating in the South. Then in the second step, we perform some analyses to test whether and to what extent powers and geographic location are related to one another. We will do so first by running a scatterplot and then by running a gamma correlation.

Fig.1 Scatterplot. Powers and location

 

Visual inspection of the scatterplot indicates that there is no real relationship between the variables. Northern PAC have both wide and narrow powers. Southern PACs have wide, narrow and middle powers. This conclusion is corroborated by the gamma correlation analysis. The gamma correlation yields a negative (-.556) but statistically insignificant score as one would have expected after looking at the scatterplot. This explains that PACs location from the Northern to Southern states or from Adamawa State to Lagos State, Borno State to Abia, etc, does not affect PACs’ ability to oversee the expenditure of public money. These powers are of the nature of the legislature and its ability to win over and utilize the probing powers for its self.  But, it is one thing to win over probing powers as rooted in the Nigerian constitution and standing rules of the legislature and another else to be able to fully exercise it for public good (Pelizzo and Stapenhurst, 2012; 2013). This is so as since the return to democracy in 1999, State legislators have played very little role to support the funding of the Auditor – General for the Federation and that of the States on the first – line Charge i.e. getting its funding directly from the federation account than relying on State governors or State Chief Executives. Likewise, PACs in State Houses of Assembly are more constrained to examination of public expenditure as they deal more with complex accounts of two levels of government that is State and Local governments; and the expenditures at the local governments are more complex (Lawan, 2013 ).

Part Two. Organizational Characteristics

The literature on PAC has repeatedly suggested from McGee (2002) onward that, to a large extent, the amount of activities performed, the success, the performance and the effectiveness of PACs reflect the organizational characteristics of the PAC. The size of the PAC, the adequate representation of opposition parties and the party affiliation of the PAC Chairperson have all been believed to create the conditions for the successful performance of PAC.

Size

One of the most evident characteristics of PACs is their size. The importance of size has received considerable attention in the course of the past 10 years or so. McGee (2002) noted that when PACs operate in small parliaments or when PACs are too small –they have few members – they are less likely to work well. In small parliaments/PACs government members may have government assignments, be unable to attend PAC meetings and prevent PAC from reaching the quorum. Second, in small parliaments PAC members may have other committee assignments. This fact has two implications. First, PAC members may have other engagements, maybe unable to attend PAC meetings, thus preventing the PAC from working. Second, PAC members may be so busy handling all their various committee assignments that they do not have the time, the energy, and the ability to perform their PAC duties.

Recently however, in a comparative assessment of PAC and other budgetary committees in South East Asia, it has been noted that the size of PAC may affect their performance in a second way. If the committee is too big, it may be confronted with collective action problems and these problems may undermine its ability to function. Hence, ideally, the size of a PAC should be neither too small nor too big.

The studies conducted by McGee (2002), Pelizzo (2011) and Stapenhurst, Pelizzo and Jacobs (2013) have consistently shown that on average national PACs have about 11 members. See Table 7.

Table 8. The size of PACs

  McGee (2002) Pelizzo (2011) Stapenhurst, Pelizzo and Jacobs

(2013)

Average size of national PACs 11 11.6 10.6

 

The evidence that we collected from six sub-national PACs shows that they are on average slightly smaller than the average national PAC but are considerably larger than ‘small’ PACs, that are defined as such when they have 4 or less members.  By Nigerian standard, a state parliament committee of 3-4 members is regarded as small, 5-6 members as medium and 8-12 as large. Likewise, an assembly of 22-24 members is regarded as small, 25-28 as medium and 29-31 as large (PARP, 2010). This imply that an assembly can have large size with medium or small size committees. The categorization are not in any way related to performance or efficiency but rather just numbers to situation or condition that relates to parliamentary operations. Also, there is no uniform approach to PACs activities across the states. Consequently, the decision as to the number, size, and composition of committees is left to the discretion of each Assembly. The data in table 8 show that there is however some variation in the size of subnational PACs. In fact, the PAC size varies from a minimum of 5 members in ADAMAWA   to a maximum of 13 members in Abia.

Table 9. Organizational Characteristics of Nigerian PACs

State PAC Size Percentage of opposition members serving on the PAC Partisan affiliation of the PAC Chairperson Seats in  parliament
         
ABIA 13 0 Government 28
CROSS RIVER 8 0 Government 25
KANO 6 33,3% Government 40
NIGER 8 37.5% Opposition 24
OGUN 6 50% Opposition 26
ADAMAWA 5 60% Opposition 24
Average  7.66  30.13%    

 

Opposition

The literature has noted that the adequate representation of opposition forces is even more important than PAC size in ensuring the effective performance of PACs. For instance, in his analysis of PAC mandate, organization and performance in the Commonwealth, Pelizzo (2011) reported that there is a strong, positive, and statistically significant association between the percentage of opposition MPs serving on the PAC and the amount of activities performed by the PAC. The number of PAC meetings held and the number of reports produced, which are essential for curbing corruption (Stapenhurst, Pelizzo and Jacobs, 2013), are higher in countries where there is a higher percentage of opposition MPs serving on the PAC.

In Nigerian PACs, for historical reasons, opposition forces are not represented as well as they are represented globally. In fact, while about 37 per cent of PAC members belong to opposition parties, in Nigeria only 30.1 per cent of the PAC members are opposition MPs.

Opposition chairmanship

The presence of an opposition Chair has long been held as one of the most obvious, self-evident truths about the organization, the functioning and the performance of PACs. McGee (2002) was adamant in his report about the fact that the presence of an opposition chair is essential for the good functioning and the success of the PAC.

Early studies tended to confirm this generalization, but they were based on opposition chairpersons’ assessment of the importance of having opposition Chairpersons. So, scholars analyzing these data should have been more aware of the fact, that the responses to this question could have overestimated the importance of opposition chairmanship.

In fact, more recent global analyses have shown that the presence/absence of an opposition Chairperson has little to no impact on the functioning of a PAC (Pelizzo, 2011; Staddon, 2013). The importance of an opposition chair is conditional. It matters only when opposition forces are not adequately represented.

Given the relatively low percentage of opposition MPs serving on Nigerian PACs, it’d be extremely valuable to have opposition chairpersons. But the data at our disposal reveal that only in 50 per cent of the cases for which data were collected, the PAC is chaired by an opposition member. This percentage is considerably lower than global average. Stapenhurst, Pelizzo and Jacobs (2013) reported that nearly 70 per cent of the PACs around the world are chaired by an opposition member. One major issue in this regard is the effect of the opposition chairmanship to the success of probity and accountability in Nigeria. The result especially from the National Bureau for Statistics (NBS) indicated that poverty is on the rise in the country over a decade after the functioning of the legislature or PACs. Though this may be a partial explanation to oversight and development, it gives a picture that the consideration given to opposition to chair PACs raises more issues than it seeks to address.

Likewise, Low retention rates discourages legislators from strengthening their own institutions and would unduly focus on altering compensation structures. A high turnover changes a legislator’s calculation of his or her expected tenure, and hence, alters his or her quest for incentives while in the office.  Thus the higher the level of turnover, the greater the rise in general expenditure and especially short term implementable programs. That, high turnover may also lead to waste in the expenditure process (Hamalai, 2013). This explains that the place of PACs chairman from opposition means very little in promoting accountability in the system. This is especially so as high turnover in Nigeria signals that the legislator will be more interested in belonging to the good books of power elites than exposing misdeed of the executive arm. The situation can indeed reflect both the opposition and party in power which implies that there is no significant difference whether opposition or ruling party chairs PACs affairs in Nigeria’s parliament, especially at the state level supported by the study.

Staff support

Bigger, with broader mandate and more extensive powers, Nigerian PACs are remarkably well staffed. In the course of our field research, we asked respondents to indicate the number of staff members working in/for their PACs. As we can see from the data presented in table 9 there is great variation in the size of staff. Only 1 staff member supports the PAC in ADAMAWA, 2 staff members support the PAC in Ogun, the PACs from Abia and Niger have respectively 2 full time staff members and 2 additional part time members, the PACs from Cross Rivers has 5 staff members each while in Kano the PAC is supported by a 42-member staff.

 

Table 10. The size of PAC staff

  Abia Cross Kano Niger Ogun Adamawa
staff 2+2 5 42 2+2 2 1

 

This means that the average number of staff members for a Nigerian PAC is 9.66. This is an astonishingly high value because the average number of PAC staff members in the world is 3.33. In other words, the Nigerian staff supporting a PAC is three times the size of the staff serving a PAC in the rest of the world. Of course, one could attribute such a major discrepancy to the fact that the staff at the disposal of the PAC in Kano is greatly oversized. If we treat the case of Kano as an outlier and we remove it from our sample, we find that the average size of the staff for the remaining 5 cases is of 3.2 members—a value that is perfectly in line with the global average. This means that if  we do not include  Kano in our sample, we find  that Nigerian PACs  have as much staff support as  PACs operating elsewhere.

Activity

The survey questionnaire asked respondents to report how many meetings and hearings were held by the PAC in the course of the year  We will use this variable to assess the level of activities performed by the PAC. Of the six states included in our sample, only 4 provided information to this question and if we perform a statistical analysis to assess the impact on region, formal powers index, size, size of support staff and party affiliation of the PAC chair we will find only insignificant coefficients and we will not be able to say whether the statistical insignificance of the coefficients is due to the fact that there is no relationship between the variables or to the fact that our sample is small.

What however appears to quite striking if eyeball the data, is the relationship between the presence of an opposition chair and the number of meetings held by the PAC.

If we run a simple gamma correlation between number of meetings and party affiliation of the opposition chair- a variable that takes value 1 when the Chairperson is an opposition member and 0 otherwise – we find that the gamma correlation yields a statistically significant gamma coefficient of -1.0 (sig. .000). In other words, in spite of the small size of the small, the gamma correlation generates reveals a strong, negative, and statistically significant relationship between the presence of an Opposition Chair and the number of meetings held by the PAC. As we noted above this finding is striking for it runs counter what the literature has repeatedly argued and assumed for the past decade.

In fact McGee (2002) suggested that an opposition chair makes a PAC more active, Pelizzo (2011) in his analysis of PACs in the Commonwealth did not find any evidence in support of this claim, but the Nigerian data tell an altogether different story. They make clear that when a PAC is chaired by an opposition chair holds fewer meetings and produces in a statistically significant way fewer reports—which are the real cornerstone of accountability. The production of reports is a necessary but insufficient condition for promoting good governance, minimizing the allocation of resources and possibly curbing corruption. Reports must be submitted but then action must be taken and this is not always the case. A recent report produce by the PAC in the National Assembly on 3.00% Development of Natural Resources Account, 1.46% Derivation and Ecology Account, and 0.72% Stabilization Account showed that they were 100%, 45% and 45% abused respectively indicating that there are no operational guidelines for the administration, regulation, approval and procedures for the release of money from the Funds (Seventh Senate, 2013). But, nothing concrete was done  to address the findings of the committee. Worse, the PAC had little ability to follow up or to impose fines and punishments—which is why in the end its resolutions were not implemented (Cislac/FEPAR, 2013).

 

Conclusions

In this paper we have performed a comparative analysis of Nigerian PACs. In doing so, we have attempted to perform two complementary tasks. First of all we have always sought to capture the variation within our sample in terms of structural characteristics, powers and amount of activities performed. Second, we have constantly strived to compare the Nigerian experience with the results of a global analysis conducted by Stapenhurst, Pelizzo and Jacobs (2013).

The main result of the present analysis is that, in spite of some variation across the various PACs in Nigerian, Nigerian PACs appear to be bigger, with support staff and wide powers than PACs operating in the rest of the world. We also reported that the percentage of opposition members serving on Nigerian PACs and the percentage of opposition MPs chairing Nigerian PACs are well below the world average. So, in some respects (size, staff) of Nigerian PACs are above average and in other respects they are below the world average.

But the most important or the most interesting result from the present analysis is that the presence of opposition members and opposition Chairpersons in Nigeria is detrimental for the good functioning of these committees as it lacks powers to deal with public expenditure abuse in all its ramifications, rather only report to parliament or make open its findings for public consumption or financial crime commissions (Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), Economic and Financial Crime Commission, etc.) to conduct further investigation/prosecute abuses, where possible. While the functioning of Nigerian PAC is not affected in any way by the other organizational characteristics, the range of powers, and geographic location.

 

 

 

 

 

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