Inter-Governmental Relations Of Local Governments In Nigeria (A Case Study Of Oredo Local Government Edo State)
The paper examines local government and intergovernmental relations in Nigeria with special attention on Oredo Local Government. The paper argues that Local Government is not mutually exclusive of other levels of government and that as such there is bound to be an interaction between the local and other levels of government. The study reveals that inter-governmental relations among the levels of government were in disarray due to the conflicts over issues of tax jurisdiction, revenue allocation, intergovernmental relations, fund transfers, over concentration of power at the centre, illegal removal of government officials, among other factors. The project posits that for cordial relationship between the local and other levels of government to take place, the constitutional status of local government must be clearly spelt out, the issue of joint state-local government account should be reversed, election rather than appointment should be the means of choosing leaders at the local level, judiciary should be made to be independent and the undue interference on the local government by the state or federal government has to be properly addressed. Also, there should be direct disbursement of federation allocation to all the levels of government.
1.1 Background and Need for the Study
The concept of Intergovernmental relations is associated with states having a Federal Administration system where the relationships between the Federal, Central or National Governmental and major sub-national unit (province, region or state) formally spelt out in constitution. Intergovernmental relations have been seen as a system of transactions among structured levels of government in a state. It is also seen as registration in which the parties are negotiating advantageous positions for power, money and problems-solving responsibility (Olugbemi: 1980).
The goals of intergovernmental relations are said to promote peace and harmony among the three tiers of government, which are the Federal, State and Local Government and to accelerate the achievement of self-reliant economy. In so doing, inter-governmental relations will help to minimize inter-jurisdictional conflicts among the various levels of government. Also to boost greater natural economic integration through the activities of the three levels of government. Again to enhance the emergence of co-operative rather than competitive Federation, there is also need to enhance effective and efficient utilization of available human and material resources among the three levels of government. To help solve the problem of rural and urban poverty. To achieve a situation where there is special need for integrating programmers on a nation wide scale. To look into the situation where states, local government or unit of the federal set up have responsibilities with no resources base to perform them (John Nwafor: Unpublished work).
The achievement of the objectives of inter-governmental relations is dependent on some social factors within the Nigerian social System. Some social factors include the political setting and the state of the economy in the nation. Looking at the political setting, the inter-governmental relations are basically based on the three tiers of government that is the Federal, State and Local Government. But come to look at that, the Federal and State Government is said to have more autonomy than the local government due to the fact that they are the last tier of government (John Nwafor: Unpublished work). That is why local government is not given its full autonomy to do things on its own. The other tiers of the government still tell them what to do, how to make their own policies, how to elect/appoint those to rule them like the Chancellor or Chairmen and so on. Local Government is still dependent on the other tiers of government making them too subordinate and loyal for my liking (Nwokedi, Ralph: 2002).
To this, there should be greater independence of the state and local governments in the Federal Government for their survival and performance of fundamental responsibilities. There should also be several reforms which should let to the recognition of the local government as the third tier of government with relative autonomy and jurisdictional powers as provided for in the constitutions.
Another problem is the state of the nation’s economy. The nation’s economy really influenced the nature and scope of intergovernmental relations in the local government in Nigeria. The wealth of any nation is a key factor in determining its pattern of material relation. Between 1960 and 1970, the basis of fiscal relations between the Federal, State and Local Government were richer and more powerful than the local government. But these problems will come to an end if the local government has greater control of the tax revenue. The local government should control 50% of the tax revenue allocation of its area without the Federal or State government interference. They should also receive grants and aids from outside and within the country, making them powerful and independent of their own. Their federation Allocation Account should be granted to them annually or monthly as the case may be. They should be allowed to run their affairs especially when it comes to monetary matters. (F Okoli and Onah O, 2002).
In so doing, channel of communication should be at its high level between the Federal, State and Local Government in order to produce an effective result. This is because without one another there would not be effectiveness due to the fact that an inter-governmental relation is relationship between the three tiers of government.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
To appreciate the depth of crisis in the Federal system in Nigeria, one has to follow the recent trend of the raging controversy between the Federal and State Governments over the exercise of power or control of revenue resources of local government on how not to have assumed the undue Prominence given to it as a constitutional question if Nigerian Leaders, particularly the Federal level had adhered strictly to the norms of federalism and followed the precedents established by the past democratic governments in Nigerian federation.
In Nigeria, the issue of sharing resources among the three levels of government has remained controversial due to lack of acceptable formular. It generates tension and bad blood among the three tiers of government. This has resulted in setting up of different committees or commissions to prescribe the formular to be used. Also there exists a conflict between the Federal, State and Local government over acceptable formular for sharing revenue. For instance, the conflict is usually whether the principle of derivation, need, natural interest or landmass should be used as a basis for the purpose. Even when these principles may be generally accepted as the main basis for working out revenue allocation formular, conflict might arise following as to which of the principles takes precedence over others as the main criteria for sharing the revenue.
This is the problem of tax jurisdiction, which refers to the problem of which aspect of government should collect what revenue over a particular area. These have been serious problems between the Federal, State and Local Governments. Their share of tax revenue seriously affects local governments. They are the lowest level of government. Likewise they collect the least amount of tax revenue, which makes them still stagnant.
Another problem is the existence of control of one level of government by another in any aspect (Abonyi, 2005). Local government is domination by the Federal and State governments. They do not have their own autonomy making them too dependent on the other levels of governments.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The main objective of the study is Impact of Inter-governmental Relations on Local Government Administration in Nigeria, with particular reference to Oredo Local Government Area of Edo State.
Other objectives of the Study include
- To determine the relevance of inter-governmental relations in Nigeria
- To determine the main sources of conflict among the various levels of government in inter-governmental relations in Nigeria.
- To recommend solutions to inter-jurisdictional conflict among the various levels of government.
- To recommend measures required for an improved inter-governmental relations in Nigeria.
1.4 Research Questions
- Did the constitution make any provision for intergovernmental relations in Nigeria?
- What are the areas of intergovernmental relations in Nigeria?
- What is the relevance of intergovernmental relations in local government in Nigeria?
- What are the causes of conflicts between the levels of government in Nigeria?
- What effects has intergovernmental relations had in Local Government Administration?
1.5 Significance of the Study
This study will be of great benefit to Oredo Local Government Area of Edo State. This is because it will be exposed to the challenges it is facing in inter-government relations.
It would also be of great significance to researchers by way of making them aware of problems that have been uncovered by these researchers, so that they would know where to start from in their subsequent research work in the area of inter-governmental relations in Nigeria.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The study is in the Impact of Intergovernmental Relations in Local Government Administration in Nigeria. But due to the fact that there are many local governments in Nigeria, the researcher decided to center the research in Oredo Local Government using it as the case study.
1.7 Limitations of the Study
The researcher met with some problem in undertaking this study, notably in some areas of data collecting. The problems are as follows:
Time was a problem as the time allowed for the study was grossly inadequate. The researcher has to use the time allowed for Lectures for research.
Choosing the right local Government for case study, it was not easy to get the right local government that could give out accurate and detailed information needed by the researcher.
Resources was another constraint as the researcher was unable to execute the work more effectively due to insufficient financial resources because of this, the researcher has to make sue of the little information she could get.
1.8 Definition of Terms / Concepts
In the course of this research work, some concepts were used and for easy and comprehensive understanding of the entire work, these concept shave been explained.
According to United National Office for Public Administration, Local Government can be defined as a political sub-division of a nation or in a federal system which is constituted by law and has substantial control of local affairs including power to imposes taxes or to exert labour for prescribed purposes. The governing body of such an entity is elected or otherwise locally selected.
This is not only the first but the mega-government which exercise exclusive powers and its superior to both the State and Local Governments.
This is the agency of the ruling class which is charged with the responsibility of exercising the state powers on behalf of the people.
It is the qualitative and qualities, self-improvement of man that applies to whole societies and people. It means the removal of obstacles to the progressive or qualitative transformation of man and such obstacles include hunger, poverty, ignorance, disease, mal-nutrition, unemployment, to mention but a few.
The interactions that exist among various levels/tiers of government within a state and eventually the state in question has to be associated with a Federal system.
5.0 Summary of Findings, Recommendations and Conclusion
In this chapter, the researcher presents the summary of findings based on the analysis of the data collected. As a result of findings, recommendations are made which invariably leas to the conclusion.
The researcher discovered that the constitution made provision for inter-governmental relations in Nigeria, that the main areas of intergovernmental relations include administrative relations, financial/economic relations and jurisdictional relations, that inter-governmental relations in local Government in Nigeria is very relevant. Also they inter-relate with one another in pursuit of security and other allied matters.
The researcher further found out that the causes of conflict among the levels of government in Nigeria ranges from revenue allocation, resource distribution, allocation formula, jurisdictional control to administrative control. It can be seen that local government with few markets cannot raise much revenue thereby depending on the other tiers of governments for development. Resource distribution issues in a federation, give risk to a conflict between capacity and equality among the various units which form the federation.
Due to the inter-governmental relations among the three tiers of government, Federal government and state Government made local government stagnant in its operation and made them carryout their activities slowly. Local Governments are too dependent on the other tiers of government making them less autonomous.
Based on the findings, the following recommendations have been made:
- A more specific construction should be provided in order for local government authorities to know how to relate among the levels of government and know to what extent their relationship among other levels of government is extended.
- All the levels of government should be part and parcel of policy formulation relating to the issues at hand.
- Federal and State government should include local government authorities in their programmes that affect rural development.
- The government should consider the local government while formulating allocation formula; this is in order for the local government to know how much resources are attributed to them annual.
- The government should distribute resources to them in order to help them develop and be independent
- Efforts must be made to avoid over-concentration of resources in few “poles of growth or centos of strength to maximize short run capacity in order to avoid crisis.
- Resources sharing must address the necessity for rapid development at the grassroots levels. As development gets entrenched at the grassroots levels, the Federal level will invariably relinquish some of her activities. This will necessitated reorganizing the resource sharing structure. For development to take place at the grassroots levels, horizontal distribution is very crucial, increasingly monitored and effected in order to move the nation forward.
- In order to put a stop to the causes of conflicts among the levels of government in Nigeria, government should provide a strategy for resource distribution, allocation formula, jurisdictional control and administrative control. Also administrative techniques for collaboration such as regular intergovernmental consultations and negotiations through certain institutions such as (state local government Joint Account Committee (JAC). The Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission) should be encouraged.
- The Customary courts should therefore have the Constitutional power to hear disputes arising from inter-governmental transactions and to rule as they deem constitutionally proper.
From the research, the researcher concluded that local government due to the power given to it through the constitution, has its own autonomy share of resource distribution which helps it develop rapidly. Inter-governmental relations are an inevitable phenomenon in any Federal system or non-federating systems. It is of course very relevant. As long as the Nigerian Federation continues to survive, resources sharing adjustments will continue to feature as an important fiscal arrangement in the Federation; this will continue to play a vital role in the operation and structural interplay of the Federation.
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