political necessity to extend the power and presence of Government throughout a
political system is the primary justification for the establishment of local Government.
In Nigeria, this compulsive need has inevitably led the Government to accept
the principle of power sharing and distribution in the country's federal
structure. The study investigated the autonomy of local Government in Nigeria
with challenges they are facing and how they can overcome these challenges.
Descriptive analysis was employed for this research and the following
objectives were investigated: to assess the
challenges facing the autonomy of local Government in Nigeria, to investigate the efforts of the Nigerian Government in ensuring
successful autonomy of the local Governments and to inquire the levels of
readiness of local Governments toward their autonomy from the federal Government.
1.1 Background to the Study
administration in Nigeria has been in existence since 1972 and its primary function is to bring Government
nearer to the people at the grassroots. 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. The local Government councils are expected to serve the people’s interest in areas of road constructions, public markets, healthcare facilities, motor parks, building primary
schools, potable waters and so on. 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 grassroots.
Since the inception
of the system of local Government in Nigeria, there had been persistent clamour
for the autonomy of the local Government as the third tier of governance in the
federation. It is important to note that the federal Government has over the
years joined in ensuring that the local Government have its autonomy. In the
forward of the guidelines for the 1979 local Government reforms, it was clearly
stated that, the states have continued to encroach upon what would have been
the exclusive preserve of local Governments. In order to strengthen the
autonomy and philosophy of Government at the local level, The Federal Government
guaranteed the statutory nature of local Government by embodying it in the 1979
constitution. In section 7(1) of the constitution, it was stated that, “the
system of democratically elected local Government councils is under this
constitution guaranteed”. Even the military administration of General Ibahim
Babangida from 1986 took bold steps to strengthen the autonomy of local Government.
By January 1988, good measures of autonomy came the way local Government with
the scrapping of the state ministries of local Government throughout the
country thus removing the political control and bureaucratic redtapism
perpetuated by these state ministries.
Local Government is widely
acknowledged as a viable instrument for rural transformation and for delivery
of social services to the people. It is strategically located to fulfill the
above functions because of its physical and psychological distant between
officials of the other tiers of Government responsiveness, and simplicity of
However, despite the strategic importance of the
local Government to the national development process, its contribution has been
minimal. Some observers in the past attempted to provide reasons for the
ineffectiveness of local Government in the development process. While others
agree that the ineffectiveness of local Government derives primarily from
excessive Government control. Admittedly, states have undermined the financial
viability of local Government by diverting statutorily allocated grants for
local Governments as well as encroaching on their revenue yielding functions
like markets, Motor Parks, tenement rates, Liquor licensing.
Obviously, the current campaign
by the National Union of Local Government Employees’ (NULGE) and fears shown by
teachers against the Local Government autonomy are result of behaviour and
attitudes of the persons who operated the system, and treated local Governments
as a super ordinate and subordinate tier of Government.
Be that is it may, the Local Government
commission should be strengthened to coordinate, advise on periodic reviews of
structural arrangements set standards that would determine policies on local Government
More importantly, the state Governments’
involvement in local Government affairs should be acknowledged and appropriate
institutional arrangements made to regularize this involvement. Based on this,
a National local Government commission should be established among other things
coordinate the Inter-Governmental aspects of local Government affairs on a
continuous and permanent basis. Today,
the tendency to ignore the political factor in the Management of local Government
had reduced local Government to instruments of regulation and control Local Governments
which ought to be seen as instrument of mobilization is usually not complex and
generally does not really require sophisticated and highly qualified personnel
for effective performance.
Lack of autonomy is a central problem of the Nigerian local Government
system. There is a need for a local Government that is truly autonomous
vis-à-vis state and federal Governments. The state Governments exploited the
ambiguities in the provisions of the 1979 constitution and subsequent reviewed
constitutions to suit their selfish desires. They neglected aspects of the 1976
local Government reforms that they were displeased with and distorted those
that were merely convenient. For example, throughout the Second Republic,
1979-1983, no election was held into the local Government councils, only sole
administrators and caretaker committees were appointed. This was at variance
with the 1976 reforms and the 1979 constitution, which in section 7 provided
for democratically elected local Government councils.
All in all, the nearness of local
Governments to the people places them in a position where they can easily
articulate and aggregate the demands of the people.
A Government operating at the grassroots level
is indeed, more likely to be attached to the needs of the people, Consequent upon this, the National Union of Local Government
Employers’ (NULGE) and the teacher’s should pray and wait patiently for the
outcome of this all important resolution(s) from the various House Assembly.
1.2 Statement of
One of the major
defects of the pre-1976 local Government system in Nigeria was the whittling
down of their powers by the state Governments that continued to encroach upon
what would have normally been the exclusive preserve of local Governments.
Others were lack of adequate funds, in-appropriate institutions, inadequate
staffing arrangement and excessive politicking, which together made the
emergence of a virile local Government impossible. There was also the problem
of disconnect between the people and Government at the local level. The 1976
Local Government Reforms was therefore, introduced to address these problems.
Local Government, it was argued, must have defined and precise functions
designed to promote the development of local Government areas; they must have
assured finance to enable them plan their budget and carry out their functions;
and they must have adequate staff. These were indications that the reforms
sought to bring about the evolution of a local Government system capable of
internally evolving policies among alternatives without extraneous control in
the interest of its citizens. Therefore this study sought to investigate the autonomy
of local Government in Nigeria with challenges they are facing and how they can
overcome these challenges.
These are some of the questions the study is designed to answer:
the challenges facing the autonomy of local Government in Nigeria?
the efforts of the Nigerian Government in ensuring successful autonomy of the
the levels of readiness of local Governments toward their autonomy from the
of the Study
The objective of this study was to find out the autonomy of local Government in Nigeria with the challenges they are
facing and how they can overcome these challenges. The specific
to assess the
challenges facing the autonomy of local Government in Nigeria
investigate the efforts of the Nigerian Government in ensuring successful
autonomy of the local Governments
the levels of readiness of local Governments toward their autonomy from the
of the Study
The basis of local Government
is inextricably woven around the principles of decentralization. The
significance of this study was therefore to observe the autonomy of local Government
in Nigeria with challenges they are facing and how they can overcome these
challenges. Findings from this study will be useful for Government and the
general public in the area administration, centralization and decentralization.
It will also be useful in academic studies particularly in the area of local Government
studies in higher institutions.
of the Study
This study covered respondents like the Government officials, National Union of Local Government Employees’ (NULGE) and other
Government parastatals. The information derived from these respondents will be
subjected to data analysis.
of the study
The only constraint encountered by the researcher was finance. This
limited the researcher to print just one hundred and twenty questionnaires as
against the proposed two hundred and fifty questionnaires. The researcher, however, came up with findings that would be worth
making reference to in future and also contribute to the existing literature.
1.8 Definitions of
The following terms were
used in the course of this study:
the right or condition of self-Government, especially in a
the concentration of control of an activity or organization
under a single authority.
the transfer of authority from central to local Government.
Government: the administration of
a particular town, county, or district, with representatives elected by those
who live there.
Dr. Linus Ugwu Odo, (2012). The Challenges of Local Government Autonomy
Eme, Okechukwu I. & Izueke, Edwin, (2012). Local Government and Fiscal Autonomy for
Local Government in Nigeria
Shamsuddin Bolatito & Dr. SiddigBalal Ibrahim, (2017).
Challenges of Local Government
Administration in Nigeria; An Appraisal of
Nigerian Experience. International Journal of Science and Research
Victor Ilumah, (2017). Local Government
Autonomy the Way Forward. Retrieved from