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Corporate Governance is a big deal in the private
sector today, stakeholder and shareholder interests are constantly at daggers
drawn, accountability and transparency are now mandatory values in corporate
institutions and effectiveness in managing organisational wealth is considered
paramount. These procedures are of immense importance to the financial growth
of institutions and boost economies in the long run. However, one vital part of
national economies is being ignored in this drive for better corporate
governance, which is the public sector.

Public sector driven institutions i.e. institutions
that provide services for the people must also be better regulated in order for
them to provide the dividends of democracy to the citizenry. With critical
examination of Corporate Governance in Nigeria, an African country which is
rated 3rd world and largely underdeveloped with a population of
about 160, 000,000 (one hundred and sixty million) people, these statements can
never be more of a reality.  The Nigerian
public sector is generally admitted by Nigerians themselves as definitely not
functioning at optimum capacity, there are various lapses by government agencies
which contribute to poor governance and in extension underdevelopment. It is
both a truism that no nation develops beyond the capacity of its public
service, and there is broad consensus amongst Nigerians that our public service
is broken and dysfunctional. Corporate governance principles must not only be
promoted in the private sector but also be applied to managing government
institutions and parastatals.

Good public governance seeks to promote:
– being answerable for decisions and having meaningful mechanisms in place to
ensure adherence to all applicable laws, regulations and standards.

/ openness – having clear roles, responsibilities and procedures for making
decisions and exercising power, and act with integrity.

– enhancing the value of entrusted public assets.

– applying the best use of resources to further the aims of the organization.

– promoting an entity-wide commitment to good governance starting from the top (Wadie, 2013).

The role of corporate governance in the public sector
of a nation cannot be over emphasized as it deals with the management of the
country’s resources and how they may be transformed into social and economic
benefits for the citizenry both in the long and short term.  This involves making laws, empowering
security and financial agencies, supporting small scale business industries or
SMEs, providing adequate infrastructure such as adequate transportation means,
providing employment, equipping health facilities and ensuring that the rule of
law is supreme etc. Generally, this is only achievable when government is held
accountable and there is transparency in governance.

Currently in Nigeria, there are various laws and rules
which aim to promote and strengthen corporate governance, most of these codes
are however private sector focused. Various government organisations have been
mandated to implement laws and codes which will strengthen good corporate
governance ethics, these produced several codes regulating good governance in
the Nigerian public sector including:

of conduct for public officers
Securities and Exchange Commission
Central Bank of Nigeria
Affairs Commission
Pension Commission
Insurance Commission

There are a number of factors affecting the promotion
of good governance in Nigeria, they include but are not limited to: Corruption;
Lack of accountability; Ethnic and Tribal sentiments; Leadership and high cost
of governance; Weak social justice system;

That there is inordinate delay in the administration
of justice in Nigeria is a pedestrian statement. What is however difficult to
understand is how Nigerians have been able to live with this phenomenon for
several decades without proffering a lasting solution. Very often, we see
ordinary cases of unlawful termination of employment or even those for the
enforcement of fundamental rights lasting between three to five years or even
more (OKOGBULE, 2013).

The right to effective and speedy trial is enshrined
in the constitution as a fundamental human right. Article 36 (paragraph 1) of
the 1999 Constitution which provides that: “In the determination of his civil
rights and obligations, including any question or determination by or against
any government or authority, a person shall be entitled to a fair hearing
within a reasonable time by a court or other tribunal established by law and
constituted in such manner as to secure its independence and
However, the law does not specify what a reasonable
time means, the Supreme Court in the case of Gozie Okeke v. The State (2003) 15
NWLR pt. 842 p. 25 in its judgment stated that “the word “reasonable” in its
ordinary meaning means moderate, tolerable or not excessive. What is reasonable
in relation to the question whether an accused has a fair trial within a
reasonable time depends on the circumstances of each particular case, including
the place or country where the trial took place, the resources and
infrastructures available to the appropriate organs in the country”. As the
court and prison system is underfunded, under-manned and over populated,
without adequate facilities, it is safe to say that one may be trapped in a
Nigerian centre for many months.

In order for Nigeria to reach its true potential, the
current Government must introduce codes and policies meant to strengthen
corporate governance in the public sector.

Adedunmade Onibokun

Adedunmade is the Managing Partner of Adedunmade
Onibokun and Co, a firm of Barristers and Solicitors in Lagos, Nigeria. 

Adedunmade Onibokun. (2012). CODE OF CONDUCT FOR
Last accessed 4th July, 2013.

Audu Jacob (2007), The role of external forces on the
corporate governance in Nigeria, a paper presented at the 2nd international
conference of the school of management and social sciences, Babcock University.

Nasir El-Rufai. (2011). Reforming Our
Dysfunctional Public Service.
Last accessed 13th September, 2013 .

NLERUM S. OKOGBULE. (2013). Access To Justice And
Human Rights Protection In Nigeria: Problemns And Prospects.
Available: Last
accessed 30th Oct, 2013.

Salisu Suleiman. (2009). Nigeria: Why the Public
Sector is inefficient.
Last accessed 25th Oct, 2013

Rami Wadie. (2013). Corporate governance in the public
sector. Available:
Last accessed 5th July, 2013.