In a Federalist state such as Nigeria, governmental power is shared between the central government and its component regions. The local government in Nigeria is the third tier of government, with the state government being the second. The local government was particularly created to bring the government closer to the grassroots so that the needs of the people can be better addressed and so they can have a sense of belonging. There are 774 Local Government Areas in Nigeria. This article is about the problems of Local Government in Nigeria and solutions to these problems.
Problems of local government in Nigeria and Solutions
The first problem of the local government in Nigeria can be traced back to the constitution that authorized its existence. In the constitution, there is no set and clear distinction of the boundaries and constitutional powers of the Federal and State governments in regards to the establishment and operations of the local governments. This is why we often see the federal and state government encroaching on some of the functions of the Local Government. According to the 1999 Nigerian constitution, the local government must have a special account into which all allocations from the Federation and state account shall be paid. This law does not allow for the financial autonomy of the local government as the Local Government then has to depend on the other tiers of government for funds. The 1999 constitution has also failed to address other major problems of the local Government which include: Qualification and Tenure of local government Chairmen and Councillors, Local Government creation processes, the functions of the Local government Services Commission, Qualifications of Local government employees, etc.
As mentioned earlier, the local Government depends heavily on funds given by the Federal Government (Statutory Monthly Allocation) and revenue generated from the State Government. Usually, the Local Governments do not get what is due to them from the State Government because of corruption and embezzlement. The constitution needs to make provisions so as to enable the Local Governments to be self-sufficient so they will not have to rely on the other two tiers of government for funds. The state governments should be made to remit all the funds due to the local government.
Undue Interference from the State Government
Some functions of the local government as spelt out by the constitution includes:
- Making recommendations to a State commission on economic planning in so far as the areas under the authority of the council are affected,
- Collection of rates, radio and television licenses;
- assessment of houses and properties for the purpose of levying rates
Sadly, state governments have taken over some of the functions of the local governments especially when it has to do with revenue collection. The revenue that the local government is supposed to make is then diverted to the state government. Because of this, the local government is perpetually broke and always find it difficult to pay their workers and carry out other basic projects. The Nigerian Constitution has to be reviewed so there can be proper distinctions between the powers and functions of all three tiers of government. The State and Federal government should also be deterred from encroaching on the functions and operations of the Local Governments.
Corruption is a major vice that has done no good the Nigerian democracy as well as federalism. Corruption is found at all levels of government in Nigeria. Many even believe the local government is the most corrupt of all three.
In many local governments, it is the state governors who successfully put whomever they want in power, so you will see that during the local government elections, the most seats are occupied by the parties of those in power in the states. The elections and rights of the masses are irrelevant.
Often times, funds meant for payment of the salaries of the local government employees are stolen by those in power. There are also many ghost workers (non-existent persons) in the payrolls, financial figures for projects are inflated, etc.
Another problem plaguing the local government is poor leadership. Most of the Local Government Chairmen and Councillors are not qualified for the positions they occupy. Since they get into these positions by the appointment of governors or other political godfathers. Many of the local government chairmen do not have what it takes to run a political office successfully.
Lack of Autonomy
The local government is not free from the control or influence of the Federal and state government. In most states, the state government literally controls the Local Government Commission and can manipulate it to suit their fancy.
Creation of too Many Local Government Areas
There are way too many local governments in Nigeria. The criteria needed for the creation of Local Governments include population, landmass, Internally Generated Revenue, location, and others. Often times, however, local governments have been created just to please people and for political reasons, hence ignoring the previously stated criteria. The irrelevance of some local government renders them simple redundant and just as another means of stealing money for a selected few. The laws governing the creation of Local Government Areas need to be followed strictly. Whenever there is agitation for the creation of more LGA’s, such should be made to go through the proper scrutiny and refuted if found to be for the mere purpose of pleasing people.
Many local governments employ more labour than their budgets or statutory allocation can handle. Some employments are based on sentiments just to please political godfathers, talk less of the alarming rate of ghost workers. All of these result in the inability of the local government to pay its workers as at when due.
Unqualified and Undedicated Workers
The Local Government has the highest number of unqualified personnel in its payroll. Some do not have the educational qualifications for the role they occupy. In many local government offices, you will find workers lazing around or many who simply do not come to work. All of these drastically reduces the efficiency of the Local Government. Laws need to be put in place to stop the appointment of workers that are not qualified so as to make for a more efficient local government council.