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1.1       Background to the Study

In most developing countries including Nigerian government participation in economic activity is usually significant. One of the ways through which government has intervened in Nigerian economy is through the establishment of public enterprises and statutory bodies operating service of an economic or social character on behalf of the government (Kanu, 2012).

Since the colonial era, especially after independence 1960, Nigerian public enterprises have witnessed a steady growth unit recently. Beginning as a trickle in the period between this era  of the second world war and Nigeria risen to flood level since independence the  establishment of public enterprise in Nigeria  are many add to available rational capital for the support of development and welfare programme, making to be controlled by a few individual, it possible for important profitable enterprise to be controlled by a few individual or group organization certain critical activities national survival and economic stability and providing employment opportunities  (Ademolukun, 1983). However, after a long period of growing starts intervention in the Nigeria economy through public enterprises, the 1980’s onwards had witnessed a reversed which has sometimes been dramatic in public opinion therefore public policy.

This has been brought by the persistent losses which state enterprises that trivet been running over fears. Consequently, there has been a willingness to look at alternative policy strategies for the achievement of economic development. At the forefront of these strategies is the minimization privatization of public enterprises.

In Nigeria, public enterprises are engaged in a while spectrum of economic activities including agriculture, mining, construction, manufacturing, commerce and services. The classification of public enterprises in Nigeria has been made according to varieties of criteria by different authorities. The public service review commission (2009) classified public sector into public utilities, regulatory of service body, financial institutions and commercial and industrial enterprises

Being a mixed economy, individuals also own and operate private enterprises. A firm classified as private enterprises when it is founded and managed by an individual and or a group of individual. These firms are expected to be registered in the local government within which they operate. The rational for the establishment of private enterprises are numerous just like establishment of public enterprises (Osumbor, 2001). The author continued that they include amongst others; provision of employment opportunities generating income for the owner of the enterprises, government interest in profit growth of the enterprises which performance of the public sector through competition. Osumbor(2001) further mentioned that moreover, the general public is concerned with contribution which makes towards social enlistment which is exhibit to the environment in which the business is loaded and its willingness to contribute to the development of the environment.

The activities of the public enterprises have been on the increase in recent times which necessitated the introduction of the accounting practice to check and monitor the financial activities of these enterprises. Bimage (2005) posited that accounting is defined as a process by which data relating to the economic activities of an organization are measured recorded and communicated to interested parties for analysis and interpretation. Bimage (2005) continued thatthe earliest methods of accounting records were kept in physical quantities. These records came from the Eastern (early) civilization which involved in the countries around the Mediterranean Sea such as Mesopotamia, Egypt, Crete, Italy etc. Money was recorded as soon as money took the place of barter as a medium of exchange and unit of accounting practice has been closely related to the economic development of the country. If the business organizations grows in size and complexity management and outsiders groups which include owners of the firm (stock holder) creditor, government, employer and the general public (Kanu, 2012).

The differentiation necessitated the need to have accounting department in the enterprises to give accurate financial of the management and to satisfy the outside demands or the general public who are already interest on whether the enterprises in  growing or not. The role of accounting in public enterprises in Nigeria is primarily to ensure accurate accountability in these sectors and present the time and fair financial position of the enterprises (Kanu, 2012). The role is of utmost importance in any organization. An organization can only grow or profit when the resources can only be well managed if accounting department of the organization give accurate financial information to know how much the enterprises having. It only when this is done that the firm allocate its resources and knows what is to be done. The role of accounting seems to be more pounced in the public enterprises. In recent times, there are cases of misappropriation of funds in the public enterprises and improper accountability (Ostisumi, 2014). These factors as indicated by Ostisumi (2014)have led to a lot of public enterprises go into oblivion, if the government has reorganization the role of accounting, all these feeble should not have risen. No enterprises can more forward without having a well-organized financial department to give accurate financial, information about the firm. This is because if improper accounting records are not minimized or where possible eradicated these is bound to be cases of public enterprises failure. Consequently, staff of such enterprises will force out of their job. This will result to economic and social activities in the society (Kanu, 2012).

1.2       Statement of the Problem

            Obviously, every privates and public entries in Nigeria has their accounting department and there are increase cases of financial mismanagement in virtually all the public and private organization in Nigeria. However, in the case of Nigeria, there are more cases of accounting mismanagement in public enterprise than most other countries in the world. The management of public enterprise in Nigeria has been very poor. A quick survey into public enterprises will show that with ease. The problem of this study lies on how the managers of these enterprises are able to recognizes the role of accounting in their enterprises so that these cases of improper accountability will be minimized or if possible its total eradication in our society.

1.3       Research Questions

            Based on the above stated problem, the following questions were raised;

i.                    To what extent has accounting records controlled the effect of expenditures in public enterprise?

ii.                  What are the factors that prevent the accounting department from carrying out their functions as expected?

iii.                What are the government policies which promote accountability in public enterprises in Nigeria?

1.4       Objectives of the Study

            The broad objective of the study is to examine the role of accounting in the control of public expenditure. In order to achieve this broad objective, the following specific objectives were raised;

i.                    To determine the extent to which accounting records has controlled the effect of expenditures in public enterprises.

ii.                  To find out factor that prevents the accounting department from carrying out their function as expected.

iii.                To determine government policies which promote accountability in public enterprises in Nigeria.

1.5       Hypotheses of the Study

Based on the research questions and objectives above, the following hypotheses were formulated.

Ho1: Good accounting records have no significant effect on the control of public expenditure

Ho2: There are no factors that prevents the accounting department from carrying out their functions

Ho3: There are no government policies that promote accountability in public enterprise in Nigeria.

1.6       Justification for the Study

Numerous researches have been carried out similar to this subject such as Kanu (2012), Ostisumi (2014) amongst many others. This study set out to examine the role of accounting in the public sector in this country, Nigeria in which the study set to distinct itself by highlighting the inherent problem encountered in the account department of most organizations. It is expected that this work will be of interest to the owners of business enterprises, the government, students and the general public. To shareholders, owners of enterprise, interested persons and the government, this study is expected to kindle their interest the more and they will take note of various recommendations mentioned here and help steer the management team towards forming a study organizations to present an accurate financial information of their firm. This study will also help to serve as literature to individual or corporate bodies into want to carry on further research on the role of accounting in the public sector in Nigeria.

1.7       Scope of the Study

Due to financial constraints, time and mostly academic workload, this research will not be able to cover the entirety of public enterprises in the country but will limit its scope to the axis of the researcher’s location, Kwara State. The study will also constrain itself by only examining the state of the public enterprises and expenditures within the years 2011 to 2015.

1.8       Plan of the Study

            To ensure orderliness of the study, the plan of the study was carried out and reported chronologically, in five chapters. Chapter one which is the introduction to the study provided the background to the study, statement of the problem, research questions, justification for the study, objectives of the study, hypothesis of the study, scope of the study, definition and terms and plan of the study. The second chapter contained the review of relevant literatures while the research methodology is presented in the third chapter and it included the research design, population of the study, sampling techniques, method of data collection and methods of data analysis. The fourth chapter contained the data presentation analysis and discussion of result obtained from the field survey. Chapter five covers the summary, conclusions and recommendations.

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