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Corporate environmental accountability in Nigeria: an example of regulatory failure and regulatory capture

Abdurafiu Olaiya Noah (Department of Accounting, School of Economics, Finance and Accounting, Centre for Finance and Corporate Integrity, Coventry University, Coventry, UK)
Pawan Adhikari (Essex Business School, University of Essex, Colchester, UK)
Babafemi O. Ogundele (Salford Business School, University of Salford, Manchester, UK)
Hassan Yazdifar (Bournemouth University Business School, Bournemouth University, Bournemouth, UK)

Journal of Accounting in Emerging Economies

ISSN: 2042-1168

Article publication date: 10 September 2020

Issue publication date: 26 January 2021




The purpose of this study is to investigate how state regulations become ineffective in holding corporations accountable for environmental degradation in an emerging economy context, with a specific focus on oil and gas and cement industry in Nigeria.


The study draws on capture theory to bring out the factors that have rendered redundant the state intervention to make corporations accountable for their environmental activities. The research setting is the oil and gas and cement industry in Nigeria. Data for the study are derived from both documentary analysis and semi-structured interviews and analysed using a thematic technique.


The findings of the paper demonstrate a regulatory failure to hold corporations to account for their environmental activities. A lack of political will, outdated regulations and the manipulation of the regulators, all have played a part in preventing corporations from being accountable for their activities. In addition, the widespread elite corruption in the country has provided corporations with leeway to manipulate their environmental accountability practices. The study emphasises the need for continuous review of the regulations and efforts to reduce corruption in order to promote corporations' environmental accountability in Nigeria.

Research limitations/implications

The research is limited to Nigeria, oil and gas and cement industries. The theoretical lens can be used to address problem of capture of the regulations and institution in the country.

Practical implications

The practical implication is that it would enhance environmental regulations in Nigeria and emerging economies. It will also provide support from researchers emerging markets on the adoption of capture theory in future research.

Social implications

It will promote corporate best environmental practices in the country. It will reduce the issues surrounding environmental accountability practices and create awareness on environmental issues among the populace. It will create the impression that corporations will be held accountable for their environmental activities in the country and the need to have improved environmental regulations in the country.


The study adds to the debate on corporate environmental accountability practices engendering insights from the Nigerian oil and gas and cement industry. The paper demonstrates how companies in emerging economies can capture state regulations and how rendering environmental accountability becomes more of rhetoric than a reality with little impacts on the welfare of people and society.



The authors would like to thank Kelum Jayasinghe and Pik Liew for their initial feedback on earlier versions of this paper. The authors are grateful to the Guest editor for his insightful comments and the two anonymous reviewers for their constructive criticism that has helped to refine and significantly improve the quality of the paper.Funding: We wish to state that this paper was not funded by any organisation.


Noah, A.O., Adhikari, P., Ogundele, B.O. and Yazdifar, H. (2021), "Corporate environmental accountability in Nigeria: an example of regulatory failure and regulatory capture", Journal of Accounting in Emerging Economies, Vol. 11 No. 1, pp. 70-93.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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