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1.1 Background of the Study

Fraud and corruption represent formidable challenges to the effective functioning of governments worldwide, with detrimental implications for economic development, social cohesion, and political stability. Johnson-Rokosu (2023) assert that  fraud and corruption are gargantuan twin brothers that have limited the growth and infrastructure of many nations and led many firms to the road of bankruptcy. Fraud is rarely seen but the symptoms of fraud are usually observed. Corruption the twin brother of fraud is the misuse of entrusted power for private benefit and includes; bribes, cronyism and nepotism, political donations, kickbacks and artificial pricing and fraud of all kinds. Corruption in Cameroon has been a significant problem for many years, inhibiting investment opportunities.

In public sector, Kasum (2020) emphasizes that financial irregularities represent a grave global concern, particularly impacting developing nations where they have become ingrained as a normative aspect of life. Albrecht (2019) contends that while fraud in public sector itself may not always be overtly evident, its symptoms are typically observable. Thus he defined fraud as the deliberate misrepresentation of truth aimed at manipulating or deceiving a company or individual, often surfaces in instances where severe financial distress results in bankruptcy, implicating senior management, a multifaceted issue is commonly categorized into three main forms: asset misappropriation, corruption, and fraudulent financial statements.

On the other hand, lies corruption a pervasive social and professional practices that undermines the smooth operation of governments and institutions manifested in embezzlement, kickbacks, cronyism, and extortion, in recent times,  has become a serious concern in developing nations and a major obstacle to effective government, particularly in Africa. As a deterrent to both domestic and international corrupt practices in business, Kolk & Tulder (2020) added that the majority of developing democracies have experienced this phenomenon, despite their governments' continued aspirations to fully join the modern global markets that set high ethical standards for corporate her operations, the annual cost of corruption is over one trillion dollars and accounts for up to twelve percent of the gross domestic product in countries such as Nigeria, Kenya, and Venezuela (Nwabuzor, 2021).

  Unarguably, Cameroon, like many countries in the Global South, faces considerable governance challenges, with corruption permeating various levels of the public sector. According to Business Anti-Corruption Portal (BACP), Corruption in Cameroon has been a significant problem for many years, inhibiting investment opportunities. Recent trends, however, demonstrate the Cameroonian government's willingness to address a number of corruption-related issues. Ndoumbe (2018) provided additional support for this claim by pointing out that the nation's past of concentrated power and authoritarian governance under President Paul Biya's administration—which has ruled the country since 1982—has contributed to the concentration of wealth and power among a small political elite and created an atmosphere that is favourable to corruption. Furthermore, corrupt practices have been sustained by the complex interactions between political patronage, nepotism, and rent-seeking behaviour According to (Ngomba, 2020), fraud and corruption manifests in various forms, including embezzlement of public funds, document forgeries, bribery, nepotism, and cronyism, with public officials often exploiting their positions for personal gain .At the end of the day, public resources are frequently misappropriated for personal benefit rather than used for the greater good. this has had a negative impact on attempts to reduce poverty, create infrastructure, and provide public services. It has also been shown to exacerbate social inequality and erode public confidence in government institutions. Although efforts to combat fraud and corruption in Cameroon's public sector have been met with mixed success. While legislative reforms and anti-corruption initiatives have been initiated, the lack of political will, institutional capacity constraints, and entrenched vested interests pose significant obstacles to meaningful progress ,

1.2 Statement of the problem

Corruption represents a deeply entrenched and multifaceted challenge within the public sector  of Cameroon, inclusive of the  Judicial System; Police; Licences, Infrastructure and Public Utilities; Land Administration; Tax Administration; Customs Administration; Public Procurement and Contracting; and Environment, Natural Resources and Extractive Industry. Acccording to Chuta  (2018), the detrimental impact of fraud and corruption on Cameroon's development trajectory cannot be overstated. Scarce resources earmarked for essential services such as healthcare, education, and infrastructure are siphoned off through corrupt practices, exacerbating poverty and inequality. Moreover, fraud and corruption undermines public trust in government institutions, erodes the rule of law, and distorts decision-making processes, hindering effective governance and impeding efforts to promote socio-economic progress .

Succintly, Ngomba, (2020) pointed that the increase in FAC practice in doing business in Cameroon is partially due to the immunity enjoyed by the corrupted and the corrupters, the degradation of the living conditions of workers, lack of commitment of leadership, low salaries in the public sector, economic problems (inflation/ High cost of living), Social inequality/ Wrong values, and Self-serving tendencies/ Get-richquick syndrome. Udombana (2023) added that even though, Efforts to combat fraud and corruption in Cameroon's public sector have been met with mixed success, there is need to question the effectiveness of punitive action against corruption and enabling law in Cameroon especially National Anti-Corruption Commission (CONAC) which is the main anti-corruption agency with capacities to investigate, gather and analyses allegations and information about corrupt practices. But cannot freeze, seize or confiscate assets, nor does it have the power to refer cases to court or other disciplinary institutions as CONAC lack independent and is under the authority of the president and the chairman, making the impartiality of the institution questionable.

Although studies abound in corruption as a menace to developing economies like Nigeria, there is insufficient empirical evidence on investigation of fraud and corruption practices in  Cameroon's public  sector as gargantuan twin brothers that have limited the growth and development of the nation. Against this backdrop, the researcher delved into the study.

1.3 Objective of the study

The aim of this study is focused on investigation of fraud and corruption practices in  Cameroon's public  sector.  Specifically, the study seeks to

To examine the  extent and nature of fraud and corruption in cameroon's public sector.

To investigate the root causes and contributing factors of fraud and corruption in Cameroon public sector.

To determine the implication of fraud and corruption on Cameroon's Public sector performance.

1.4 Research Questions

What is the  extent and nature of fraud and corruption in Cameroon's public sector?

What are the root causes and contributing factors of fraud and corruption in Cameroon public sector?

What are the implication of fraud and corruption on  Cameroon's Public sector performance?

1.5 Research hypotheses

Ho1: There is no significant effect of fraud and corruption on Cameroon's public sector performance.

Hi1: There is a significant effect of fraud and corruption on  Cameroon's public sector performance.

1.6 Significance of the study

This study holds significant implications for both academic scholarship and practical policy making in Cameroon. By providing a comprehensive analysis of corruption and transparency within Cameroon's political system, the study offers valuable insights into a critical issue that affects governance, economic development, and social cohesion. The significance of this study can be outlined as follows:

Practically, the findings of this study can serve as a crucial resource for policymakers, government officials, and international organizations involved in anti-corruption efforts in Cameroon. By identifying the root causes of corruption, evaluating the effectiveness of existing measures, and highlighting the role of civil society and media, the study can inform evidence-based policy interventions aimed at strengthening transparency, accountability, and good governance.

Theoretically, This study contributes to the existing body of literature on corruption and governance in developing countries, particularly in the context of sub-Saharan Africa. By conducting empirical research and employing rigorous analytical frameworks, the study generates new knowledge and insights that can enrich academic scholarship in fields such as political science, public administration, and development studies.

1.7 Scope of the study

While this study aims to provide a comprehensive analysis of corruption and fraud  within Cameroon's public sector. Geographically, the study seeks to incorporate diverse stakeholder perspectives, including government officials, with reference to  Ministry of Economy and Planning and Ministry of Public Contract. By engaging with multiple stakeholders, the study aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of corruption and transparency dynamics in Cameroon.

1.8 Limitation of the study

One significant limitation of this study is the potential challenge of accessing reliable and comprehensive data on corruption and transparency within Cameroon's political system. Limited transparency and data availability may hinder the depth of analysis and the ability to draw definitive conclusions. More so, given the sensitive nature of corruption and transparency issues in Cameroon, there may be limitations on the extent to which certain stakeholders are willing to openly discuss these topics. Fear of reprisal or retaliation could lead to self-censorship, affecting the depth and accuracy of the data collected. The study's temporal scope is limited to contemporary issues, focusing on recent developments and trends. However, this temporal constraint may overlook historical contexts and long-term trends that could provide valuable insights into the root causes and dynamics of fraud and corruption within Cameroon's public sector and as well affect the generalization of the study.

1.9 Definition of Terms

Fraud: These are forgery, manipulation. Embezzlement misappropriation and theft which may be carried out through different methods by management and the employees.

Corruption: Corruption refers to the abuse of entrusted power for private gain, encompassing a wide range of illicit activities, including bribery, embezzlement, nepotism, and influence peddling. In the context of this study, corruption specifically pertains to unethical conduct within Cameroon's political institutions and processes.

Transparency: Transparency refers to the openness, accessibility, and accountability of governmental processes, decisions, and actions. It involves the disclosure of information to the public, enabling citizens to scrutinize government activities and hold officials accountable for their actions.

Public Sector: The public  encompasses the institutions, processes, and actors involved in governmental services such as the military, law enforcement, infrastructure, public transit, public education, along with health care and those working for the government itself, such as elected officials.

This material content is developed to serve as a GUIDE for students to conduct academic research

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