Local Government Autonomy And Grass Root Development

Project and Seminar material for Public Administration

Local Government Autonomy And Grass Root Development


This study undertook a historical overview of the development of the local government system in Nigeria, especially from 1950, when Nigeria became a federal unit (that is North, West and East). It was discovered that before 1976 when a unified local government system was adopted throughout the country, each of the federating unit, later state, operated the type of local government system that was unique to their political needs, but the advent of military regime with its centralised form of government affected this former arrangement. But, with the re-emergence of civilian regime in 1979, the former arrangement was adopted. Thus, the 1979, 1989 and 1999 Constitutions recognised the local government as a third tier of government, subject to the control of State governments. The abuse of these provisions in the Constitutions, especially by the State government, has brought to the fore-front the question of local government autonomy. Therefore, the only option is a review of the Constitution. Provisions should be put in place to check the loopholes that give room for such abuses by the State governments.

Chapter One


1.1 Background to the Study

The struggle for Local Government Autonomy inNigeriahas been a recurring issue. It is as old as the history ofNigeriacolonial state. Local government Administration practiced anywhere in the world is largely dependent on the historical, geographical, political and economic life of the citizens.Nigeriawith a long history of slavery. Colonization, as well as military and civilian administration which have to a large extent determined the system of local government Administration up till date. This work intend accessing the various reforms or ordinance that the local government system inNigeriahas witnessed since 1914 during the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern protectorate by Fredrick Lord Laggard.

The Local Government during this period of 1914 is based on the Native Authority system whereby indirect rule and exploitation was the order of the day. According to Ogunna (1996), Native Authority is the traditional political authority at the Local Level which formed part of the machinery of British colonial government charged with the responsibilities of maintaining law and order. Based on the Native Authority ordinance of 1916, a unified Local Government System was established in the Northern part because of their Emirate system of Administration practice before the colonial Administration. This Native Authority was later extended to the East and South with varying degree of success. This native Authority did not satisfy the needs and aspiration of the local people and it arouse agitation from the rural citizens especially from the educated elites in the southernNigeriacraving or desiring for a greater participation in their own affair.

The Native Authority Ordinance failed because it has no autonomy to meet up with the demands of the citizen and as a result, the first Local Government reform was ushered in. Thus after the second World War in 1945, the colonial policies on Local Government changed coupled with the demands for greater participation and this led to the adoption of the representative or liberal democratic system of Local Government in the 1950s.

The 1950 Local Government reform serves as a foundation on which modern Local Government was built inNigeriaas it abolished the native Authority system. This reform paved way for the following features in Local Government system; it has a three tier system (country, district and local council), it was granted the power of taxation as a source of funding, it introduced popularly elected Local Government council but the franchise is based on tax payers and it equally recognize that the Local Government should be given adequate autonomy as the council were given financial and Administrative power. According to Ogunna (1996). This reform introduced representative democratic Local Government system on the negative side. It suffered from conflicts among the tiers, inadequate funding, poor staffing, bribery and mal administration. As a result of these problems coupled with intense politicking, no reform could be initiated until the military seized power in 1966 which rudely terminated the first republic. The 1966 Local Government reform was to correct the ills of the Local Government system they inherited.

However, all these reforms did not ensure a complete autonomy of Local Government system until the introduction of the 1976 Local Government reform under the military administration of General Olusegun Obasanjo. This reform marked a turning point in Local Government Administration in the country. This reform were the federal government response to the recommendation of Chief Jerome Udoji public service review commission of 1974. The reform aim to make the Local Government more effective in their primary role of bringing development to the grassroots. It established a multi-purpose single tier system throughout the country, with the same structure and function. Local Government were recognized as a third tier of government with the federal structure. It provided for the Local Government to receive their statutory allocation from Federal Government through the State

Government. They were democratized through popular or indirect election. The Local Government were given specific function to perform and enshrined in the fourth schedule of the 1979 constitution. Local Government were granted a relatively high level of autonomy.

From all indications, this reform is very important and distinct from other reforms and that is why Adamolekun (1979:3) has observed, what distinguished the 1976 Local Government reform from all the previous reform exercise in the country is the formal and clearly recognition of the Local Government as constituting a distinct level of government with definite boundaries, clearly stated functions and provision for ensuring adequate human and financial resources.

Despite all these constitutional provisions which granted the Local Government autonomy in all ramifications, there is still little or no development they have brought to the rural dwellers which ought to be their utmost share from the National cake.

At this juncture, the researcher is solely directed at accessing the impact, status, entity and autonomous existence of Nsukka Local Government in the development of their grass root.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

The rate of interference and control which the State and Federal Government put on Nigerian Local Government cannot be over emphasized. This which has eaten up the Local Government, does not only affect the Local Government Chairmen and Councilors but as well as the local people who feel neglected in the National cake, resources, and revenue allocations, the high rate of over dependency by the Local Government on the federal and state Government in terms of finance administration. Some Authors, scholar and Administrator argue that this tier of government should be scraped away irrespective of it’s constitutional and legal frame work.

To the Chairman and Councilors, it posses a problem as regards to law making, policies and implementation functions allocated to them by the constitution.

Administratively, the personnel and human resources management of the Local Government in term of recruitment, promotion, security and disciplines staff within it’s area of jurisdiction is not free and fair. The State and Federal Government control them through the introduction of the integrated staff system.

Financially, Local Government do not enjoy autonomy. Their freedom to impose local taxes, generate and allocate revenue within it’s assigned source, allocates it’s financial and material resources, determine and authorize it’s budget is greatly influence by both the Federal and State Government. The statutory allocation which they receive through the State -joint Local Government Account is highly hampered by the State Governors.

Therefore, it is these view that the researcher deem it necessary to examine and access how autonomous Nsukka Local Government Area of Enugu state is in relation to grass root development.

1.3 Purpose of the Study

The main objectives of this research work is to determine how Local Government Autonomy has affected the grass root development inNsukkaLocalGovernmentAreaofEnuguState.

However, in specific terms, the study is based at the following points:

  1. To acertain whether the process of law making and policy implementation by the Councilors and Chairmen affects the grass root development of Nsukka Local Government Area.
  2. To determine how the personnel Administration of Nsukka Local Government Area hampers it’s grass root development
  3. To determine whether State interference in the financial allocation of Nsukka Local Government affects it’s grass root development.

1.4 Research Question

The following research questions has been constructed as a guide to the success of this research work in order to obtain a useful result.

  1. To what extent has the process of law making and policy implementation by the Councilors and Chairmen affects the grass root development of Nsukka Local Government Area.
  2. To what extent has the personnel Administration in Nsukka Local Government hampers it’s grass root development.
  3. To what extent has the State interference in the financial allocation of Nsukka Local Government affects it’s grass root development.

1.5 Statement Of Hypothesis

  1. Ho: Law making process and policy implementation by the Councilors and Chairmen does not affect the grass root development of Nsukka Local Government Area.
    Hi: Law making process and policy implementation by the councilors and chairman does not affect the grass root development of Nsukka Local Government Area.
  2. Ho: The personnel Administration of Nsukka local government does not hamper it’s grass root development.
    Hi: The personnel Administration of Nsukka local government does not hamper it’s grass root development.
  3. Ho: The State interference in the financial allocation of Nsukka Local Government does not affect it’s grass root development.
    Hi: The State interference in the financial allocation of Nsukka Local Government does not affect it’s grass root development.

1.6 Significance of the Study

This research work would be of benefit to the rural people in Nsukka Local Government of Enugu State. At the end of this work, the rural people will be able to enjoy their constitutional right which is rural development and when such is granted to them, they will no longer feel neglected in the National cake which has been their utmost need from the Local Government.

For scholars, researchers and Authors, they could also use or gather information to review this work and also use it as a reference to any related work they are writing since this work is reliable and validated.

1.7 Scope of the Study

Local Government Autonomy and Grass root development. A of study of Nsukka Local Government Area of Enugu State.

1.8 Limitation of the Study

The researcher encountered so many constraint while carrying out this research work. The problems and the solutions are as follows: lack of power supply by theEnuguelectricity Distribution Company (EEDC) Since power supply has been a serious problem in Oko community, the researcher re-schedule reading at night to day time so as to avoid the problem of power supply.

Lack of fund:

This problem was solved as it propel the researcher to borrow money from friend and families to supplement the cash saved before this work.

Lack of time:

The researcher adjusted most of it’s programmes that does not add any value to the success of this work.

Lack of material:

Since there is no sufficient material for the research work, the researcher joined a study group were most of the problems confronting the work is discussed and settle. The researcher equally made out time to visit the cyber café for more information so as to supplement the information gotten from study group.

These are the problems encountered by the researcher and how the researcher equally over come it so as to make this work successful.

1.9 Definitions of Terms

The following terms are used in this study which have unique meaning that could be subjected to different meaning form different persons; are defined as follows:


It is a machinery through which the will of a State (country) is formulated expressed and attained


It is the freedom for a country, a region or an organization to govern itself independently; the ability to act and make decision without being controlled by anyone.


This means the improvement or amendment of what is wrong, corrupt and unsatisfactory.


It is a degree or law promulgated by a state or National Government without the consent of the legislature such as for raising revenue through new taxes or mobilization of resources during an emergency.


It is define as the process or right to give order and enforce obedience.


It means an authorization to incur expenses or obligation up to a specific amount, purpose and within a specified period.

Entity Existence:

A Government or organization is said to be an entity if it has the ability with essential corporate power, names to engage into contract, sue and be sued and acquire properties.


It means a process in whitish something passes by degree to a different stage (especially a more advanced or mature stage).

Government as a Tier:

A government character and entity existence.


Characteristics of or existing by virtue of geographic origin.


Is all about getting things done with co-coordinated effort of man using effective use of other available resources to get things done.

Personnel Management:

It is that part of management process which is primarily concerned with human constituents in an organization.


It is a whole body, fundamental laws, custom belief etc according to a particular state operation.

1.10 Organization of the Study

This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows

  • Chapter one is concern with the introduction, which consist of the (overview, of the study), statement of problem, objectives of the study, research question, significance or the study, research methodology, definition of terms and historical background of the study.
  • Chapter two highlight the theoretical framework on which the study is based, thus the review of related literature.
  • Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study.
  • Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding.
  • Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study.

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Introduction

It is important to ascertain that the objective of this study was on assessing local government autonomy and grass root development.

In the preceding chapter, the relevant data collected for this study were presented, critically analyzed and appropriate interpretation given. In this chapter, certain recommendations made which in the opinion of the researcher will be of benefits in addressing the challenges local government autonomy and grass root development in Nigeria.

5.2 Summary

the provisions in the Constitution that dictate the power and financial relationship between the various tiers of government, especially the State and the local government are deliberate. They are made to serve as checks and balances; and ensure transparency and accountability, among others. But the way some sates go about it, is rather more of punitive rather than corrective measure. For instance, Lagos State was one of the States in which these provisions had not been arbitrarily used by the state government. Lagos State and its Local Government Councils work like partners in progress rather than servant/master relationship. It is therefore obvious, that, for any meaningful development to take place at the local level, the States need to recognise the Local government as partners in progress. That is partners in enhancing sustainable rural development through the provision of essential services to improve the Standard of living of the rural populace. On local government election, the election into Local government Council should be held a week before State Governors election. If possible, election into State House of Assembly and Local Government Council should be held the same day

5.3 Conclusion

The quest for autonomy therefore should be related to financial viability. However, local government autonomy should not be seen as making the local government a sovereign entity, or the chairman a ‘local governor’ thus comparing himself with the state governors. But local government autonomy should be enjoyed by the citizens at the grassroots. The autonomy should not be a privilege of the chairman and councilors. Omoruyi opined that “local communities can only be meaningfully autonomous when popular structures, organizations and supportive values have been created to sustain, propagate and perpetuate fair representation, constant dialogue, openness of policy making, public accountability and collective self-defense. Existing structure and association and new ones should be identified and formed as the focus of grassroots democracy. Governmental powers have to be shared by these grassroots bodies in order to give life to the principle of local self-autonomy and participatory democracy

5.4 Recommendations

The researcher recommends that the present unhealthy condition of the Local Government should be rescued. The State and Federal Governments should ensure that they do not infringe on the revenue yielding areas of Local Government. They should also put a stop to the persist deduction from the monthly allocation of Local Governments. In the same vein, States should henceforth remit the constitutional 10% of their internally generated revenue to the Local Councils. Local Governments also needs to increase their internal revenue based rather than relying on the federal allocation. Similarly, Local Governments should re-order their priorities and block all avenues of wastage and leakage’s. The controversy surrounding the position of the Local Government in the 1999 constitution should without delay be resolved otherwise the autonomy and developmental efforts at the grassroots will be in jeopardy.

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