Local government administration under the 1999 constitution prospect and challenge


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1.1 Background of the Study
Local government administration in Nigeria has been in existence since 1972 but its inefficiency and ineffectiveness in addressing the primary needs and wants of the people at the grass root has made the thirds tiers of government irrelevance in the administration of the country lowest tiers of government to the people.
However, the efficient and effective provision of basic amenities and social infrastructures for the people at the grass root are key factors to the existence of any government. The local government councils are required to serve the public interest in areas of constructing roads, public markets, healthcare centres, drainages, transportation, motor parks, building primary schools, among others. This is because, local Administration is the concern of the grass root people in the provision of social and economic amenities to the rural area where they come from, making it government at the door step of rural inhabitants.
These functions of local government are well known and popularized by the constitution of the country. What seems to matter most to the people of the grassroots is to see tangible results of their taxes, contributions, labor expended and the judicious use of monthly allocation from the federation account to their local governments.
These local government councils are however faced with series of problems and difficulties, which in the long run constitutes their challenges. Identification of challenges which attend these processes will lead us to proffering or suggesting how they can be properly managed in the benefit of the people in particular and society in general. So therefore, this paper focuses on these challenges and suggests possible solutions to these challenges in a country of seven hundred and seventy-four (774) local government councils across the six geopolitical areas in Nigeria, in order to ensure development at the grass root level. This project adopts a descriptive approach in its presentation.
Local government administrations (LG) globally vary in size and structure and operate under different arrangements based on the system of government in different nations. However as observed by Mello, (2012) local governments globally strive to meet peoples’ demands for goods and services in a cost effective manner particularly at the lowest level of government or government at the grass root. Among the characteristics generally manifested by local government include that it is a subordinate system of government or subunit of a federal/central or state government and charged with powers to perform legislative, administrative and quasi-judicial functions as the case may be. It also has the power to formulate policies, prepare budgets and a measure of control over its own staff, with a view that it is rightly position to ensure unhindered and efficient service delivery .
Among the notable feature of local government in Nigeria is that it operates a unified administrative system and expected to have an elected. The 1976 Local Government Reform fixes the population of a local government not less than 150,000 and not more than 800, 000. In all, there are 774 local governments in Nigeria including the four area councils in Abuja. The Local Government Service Commission has been empowered to handle staff matters particularly those in senior category while the State Assembly has oversight functions on its operation. In addition, Governor’s office, the Ministry of Local Government and Finance Ministry exercise authority in respect of establishment matters. The Office of the Auditor General of the state among other performs some regulatory functions over the operations of local government.
Ajayi , Kolawole (1997) and Adewale (1990) argued that among other reasons for the existence of local government are the needs to toy in line with modern administrative practices. This position finds expression in the need for decentralization, democratic participation, speedy socio-economic development at the grassroot, bridging of communication gap and serving as a platform for training of future leaders.
Furthermore, to achieve these goals, for instance, Section 7(6) of the 1999 Constitution provides that:
(a)the National Assembly shall make provisions of statutory allocations of public revenue to local government councils in the federation, and (b) the Houses of Assembly of states shall make provisions for statutory allocation of public revenue to local government councils within the state.
As noted by Ovaga and Onah (1995.40), in spite of the fact that the 1976 local government reforms granted greater autonomy, powers and functions to local governments, they still have a long way to go towards the satisfactory performance of their functions in many areas. The above statement is in consonant with the state of affairs in the local government system in Nigeria.
The basic question central to this paper is why the local governments in other systems where there are no direct constitutional provisions and huge resource base as in Britain and United States of America are democratically run and efficient in service delivery while same is not true of Nigeria. What are the lessons that could be learnt from comparative analysis of local government administration in nations like France, USA, Britain and India?
Among previous related studies is Kyenge that focused on reasons for poor performance. He listed indiscipline, misplaced priority, unskilled staff, financial challenges and autonomy. On the other hand, Ejike, Adeyemi, Aina and Aluko partly focused on corruption while Gboyega among others concentrated on undue interference by the state Government and the personnel challenges. Ibok (2014) argued among other reasons that inadequate funding constituted a huge challenge. The focus of this paper is to examine lessons that could be learnt from comparative study of local government as to be able to overcome the challenges faced by local government administration in Nigeria.
In effect, the paper set as its objectives to examine the challenges of LG administration, previous efforts by the governments in Nigeria to address the challenges and lessons that could be learnt from other workable systems. The paper is descriptive while secondary data sources were used such as relevant books, journals, documentary evidences and Internet materials. The paper layout has introduction as section one, while conceptual review featured in section two. Section three discussed theoretical review while section four has historical perspective of local government with reference to previous government efforts to enhance the capacity of LG to be efficient and effective in service delivery.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Local administration in Nigeria predated colonial rule as each of the separate entity that make up the nation had a unique but relatively effective system. The Hausa/Fulani North were ruled by their Emirs and adopted emirate system but the territory were divided into districts and villages for ease of administration under the control of district or village head. The Oyo empire was ruled by the Oba/Alafin assisted by council of chief (Oyomesi) that had as its head Bashorun. The Are Ona Kakanfo was the military head stationed outside the capital Old Oyo to avoid distraction. Towns and villages were under the control of local Obas and village heads that were subservient to Alafin (Nigeria at 50 Compendium). Kyenge and Denga alluded to a decentralized administrative system in Ibo societies where there was lack of centralized head but largely based on compound, village and clan administrative system.
British rule came with Lugard introducing indirect rule system with the amalgamation of North and Southern protectorate in1914. The system revolved around recognizing the importance of local participation as a base for grassroot democracy because Europe was just emerging from World War II, the cost of administration would be too much for the home economy, the lack of sufficient man power and the success of indirect rule in India and elsewhere. In this arrangement, there was disproportionate sharing of power between the traditional rulers and the British administrator. This eventually gave birth to Native Authority system of local government Administration that was introduced as contained in the Native ordinance of 1916. The system was very successful in the North, relatively successful in the West but a near total failure in the East .
1.3 Research Question
The research question of this study are as followed:
1) What are the reputation of the Local Government performance in its quality social services?
2) What is the nexus between the third tiers of government and citizenry?
3) What is the issues mitigating against local government performance in Nigeria?
1.4 Objectives of the Study
The main objective of the paper is to examine the challenges facing the administration of local governments in Nigeria.
Other specific objectives include:
1) To examine the reputation of the Local Government performance in its quality social services.
2) To examine the nexus between the third tiers of government and citizenry.
3) To scrutinize local government delivery of high quality of social services in the Southwest from 2008 to 2012.
4) To examine issues mitigating against local government performance in Nigeria.
5) To suggest appropriate recommendations within the context of the identified problems.
1.5 Scope of the Study
Local government as the third tiers of government should not be scrapped or changed rather it should be strengthened, democratized and the federal government should enact laws that promote transparency and accountability at all level of governance, most especially, at the local level of governance. In this regard, it will, be crucial to strengthen institutions of horizontal accountability and empowerment of civil society organizations to monitor the performance of Local governments officials and report any found wanting to anti-corruption agent. Moreover, there is a great need to reform the structure of government at all levels (Federal, State and local government) in Nigeria to be accountable to the masses of the people that elect them to the political office.
The cases reviewed in this work are series of short-comings and mal-administrations of local government in Nigeria ranging from lack of initiative that improves the lives of the inhabitants reflecting the lost priority to provide better services like portable water, adequate good roads, drainage facilities, health care centres, and standard education with state of the art technologies, vocational training, and other social services as a means to attaining good services provisions to the masses of the people under their geographical area for effective development at the grassroots level. These, if done, will enhance efficient and effective service delivery at the grassroots level and sustaining its future.
As reported in the Sun online Newspaper, May 9, 2014; ‘The Committee on Political Restructuring and Forms of Government of the ongoing National Conference has recommended the scrapping of the local government tier of government, and the delisting of the 774 existing local councils from the Nigerian Constitution.
If that recommendation scales through, all the councils will be disbanded, and they will cease to be a constitutional third tier of government. They will consequently no longer receive statutory allocations from the Federation Account.
Responsibility for the duties now carried out by the councils would pass to the respective states, giving the country a twotier system of government comprising the federal government and the state governments.
1.6 Significance of the Study
Local Administration refers to the administration of a community by a body which is not responsible to the local people but to those who appoint them to govern the community. Ugoo. E. Abba et al., usually, such officers are appointed by the central government, and are seen as representatives of central government. However, local government is seen as government by local inhabitants freely elected to carryout programmes to improve the wellbeing of the people at the grass root. Administration perse, is getting things done, therefore local government Administration entails the whole process of decision making at the local government level or selected persons by central or state governments to carry out certain functions for the benefit of the local inhabitants.
Moreover, it is argued that without the local government, there cannot be considered any political system to be comprehensive and complete . Three distinct reasons are put forwarded in order to create the awareness about the vitality of local government and these reasons are as following:
a. Training platforms so that masses are politically educated,
b. Training foundation for the development of strong political leadership, and
c. System ensures that accountability of government is maintained.
These considerations even make more crucial and strengthen the role of local government. Therefore, these reasons are explained more in depth below.
(A) Mass’ political education’s training ground:
The foundation and formation of local government is affirmed and advocated because it is a fundamental source to train the masses about mobilization and political education.
Tocqueville states that, meetings of town are linked with freedom as the science is closely linked with the primary schools. Government is brought among people’s reach as it assists men toward using and enjoying the facilities. Marshall is more dynamic in explaining the following as: A sound and healthy political awareness is the fundamental objective cannon of local government. The member of mass public realizes to identify the inaccurate demagogue, citizens learn to avoid voting for the representatives who are incompetent or corrupt, they learn to debate on the agendas in more effective and healthy manner, to establish the relationship between the expenditures and revenue, and they also learn to think for future. According to Holm (1971: 61) Local government is seen as an another bureaucratic government organisation when masses directly participate in local politics and councillors of local government work in political consciousness by executing and aiming to intensify public awareness toward local politics.
(B) Political leadership’s training ground:
The basic foundation for political leadership is served in shape of training provided by local government, particularly for those individuals who intent to further prosper their career in national politics, and Laski suggests, “if M.P’s (members) prior to their entry were officially permitted, allowed to serve tenure of three years on local grounds, they would attain the experience of foundations so essential to prosper. There are few certain advantages in this reason, but it cannot be entirely conceived that law makers with a little experience in politics surrounded by local government are improved national legislators than those who lack it. Undoubtedly, the participation in local administration provides breakthroughs to councillors to avail experiences in politics, especially since the government is influenced by the involvement of councillors in the politicomechanism.
(C) Capacity of Government Accountability:
In general perspective, local government is viewed as a defence mechanism, especially against subjective power by government, which means that any unsound concentration of power merged at the centre can be unhealthy for progress and this is prevented by the local government. The oppression due to the power constrained at centralization is discouraged by means of local government as it claims to do so and therefore Smith argued that, “There is correctness in this regard that greater level of accountability can be restored by means of local democracy. It can be said that local democracy have greater control than public corporate, appointed agencies and field administration. The element of ‘elective’ relates citizens with bureaucrats who make the entire procedure more meaningful as accountability is more visible in local government. Activities of political nature inside local government, such as elections, pressure of political nature, formulating rules, public debate, publicity that bridges the gap among citizens and their responsible administration, as well as the provision of opportunities for the handling of grievances.”
1.7 Research Methodology
Doctrinal method and also empirical shall be mainly adopted in this research which will entail the consideration of statutes, textbooks of both foreign and local authors, journals, case laws conferences, materials form, collection of facts and data through questionnaires, internet and other relevant materials will be consulted
1.8 Limitation of the Study
This study is limit to the local government administration under the 1999 constitution prospect and challenge in Nigeria.
1.9 Definition of Terms
LGA: Local government administration
Prospect: an apparent probability of advancement, success, profit etc.
Challenge: a call to someone to participate in a competitive situation or fight to decide who is superior in terms of ability or strength.
Reform: make changes in (something, especially an institution or practice) in order to improve it.
Constitution: A constitution is a set of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is government.

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