Nigeria’s Local Government Reform: The Challenges And Opportunities

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Nigeria’s Local Government Reform: The Challenges And Opportunities


Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background of the Study

Local government administration, wherever it is performed, is heavily influenced by the people’s historical, geographical, social, political, and economic lives. This is especially true in Nigeria, which has a lengthy history of slavery, colonization, and civilian and military regimes, all of which have influenced the Nigerian system of local government administration to this day. In this paper, we will examine the many modifications that Nigeria’s local government system has seen since 1914 (Oyediran 1988).

According to Onyekan (2014), the Native Authority (NA) system was the first colonial local government administration system, and it was based on indirect authority and exploitation. Northern Nigeria was the first to build a unified local government structure, which was then expanded to Southern Nigeria with different degrees of success. The Native Authorities’ form of local administration did not meet the demands and desires of the local people, and as a result, there were widespread protests from local individuals, notably the educated elites in Southern Nigeria, who wanted more involvement in their own affairs.

The inadequacy of the colonial local government system to satisfy the needs and ambitions of the people prompted the first change. As a result, following WWII, colonial policy on local government altered in tandem with calls for more involvement, leading to the establishment of the representative or liberal democratic system of local government in the 1950s. Self-governance had been established in Nigeria at this time, and the Macpherson Constitution of 1951 established a federal system of government (Adewumi, 2008). As a result, each region had its own local government structure. The reforms in the south were widespread, whilst in the north, a gradualist strategy was used. Due to a variety of causes, the new reforms quickly ran into major challenges, notably in the south. However, due to a shortage of funding and staff, as well as intensive politicking, no changes could be implemented until the military seized control in January 1966, bringing the First Republic to an abrupt end (Adewumi, 2008).

The third reform began in January 1966, when military commanders took control in Nigeria, and continued until 1975. The changes aimed to address the flaws in the local government system they inherited. By this time, the military had established 12 states, and the different state governments had chosen the system that best suited them. It is important to note that the revisions did not significantly alter the existing structure. The different state governments’ local government systems, however formed and administered, were more like dispersed state government entities (Audu, 2015).

In 1976, General Murtala Muhammed and General Olusegun Obasanjo implemented the fourth and most significant reform. This was the most revolutionary transformation in Nigeria’s history of local government reforms. Local governments were given far-reaching goals and responsibilities. It gave local governments a high level of democratic engagement and autonomy. The several state administrations managed the Local Governments under caretaker arrangements throughout the Second Republic, under President Shehu Shagari. During this time, no local government elections were held. When General Mohammadu Buhari came to power in 1983, there was a significant proliferation of Local Governments, which were ultimately disbanded due to their unviability. General Ibrahim Babangida’s small changes in the 1980s, in response to the Dasuki and Coker Reports, were intended to remedy some of the flaws in the 1976 Reforms. The changes’ underlying foundation remained substantially the same as the 1976 reform (Ahmed, 2013).

The fifth reform occurred in the 1990s, during the presidency of General Ibrahim Babangida, who brought presidentalism to Nigeria’s local government system for the first time. This meant the dissolution of local government ministries around the country in order to allow the third-tier system more autonomy. This system lasted for a time until being stopped when General Sani Abacha took control and restored the parliamentary system to local governments.

Following the restoration to democratic governance in 1999, the sixth and current reform was implemented. The local government councils were firmly under the jurisdiction of the states under Section 7(1) of the 1999 Constitution. As a result, numerous state governments have embraced the presidential form of governance in their respective states. This necessitates the development of two arms at the municipal level, namely the executive and legislative arms, each with its own set of responsibilities. This system has been in place for the past 13 years, but it appears that, like earlier reforms, it is ready for a complete evaluation due to its numerous flaws (Ahmed, 2013).


1.2 Statement of the Problem

Local government reforms are a positive development in Nigeria since they tend to review the performance of local government administrations and, as a result, create new policies that favor local governments in order to achieve socioeconomic growth. However, it appears that the issues with the different reforms have more to do with the system’s operators than with the system itself, based on all evidence (Olusegun 2016). It is against this backdrop that this study Nigeria’s local government reform: the challenges and opportunities arose.


1.3 Objectives of the Study

The primary objective of this study is to examine Nigeria’s local government reform: the challenges and opportunities.

Specifically, this study seeks to:

  1. Examine the impact of local government reforms on Nigerian political stability and growth.
  2. Examine if there is a link between government policy and system operators.
  3. Ascertain the extent to which changes in political administration impact the pace of transformation in Nigeria’s local governments.
  4. Examine the challenges associated with local government changes and national growth.
  5. Examine the prospects associated with local government changes and national growth.

1.4 Research Questions

The following research questions which are in line with the objectives of this study will be answered:

  1. What are the impact of local government reforms on Nigerian political stability and growth?
  2. Is there a link between government policy and system operators?
  3. To what extent does changes in political administration impact the pace of transformation in Nigeria’s local governments?
  4. What are the challenges associated with local government changes and national growth?
  5. What are the prospects associated with local government changes and national growth?

1.5 Significance of the Study

The study on the challenges and prospects for local government reforms in Nigeria will be enormously beneficial to local governments in Nigeria, the state, and the federal government, as the study’s findings will educate the entire population on how to implement effective local government reforms that will promote socioeconomic development. Additionally, the research will examine the variables impacting Nigeria’s local government reforms. The study will act as a library of data for future scholars interested in conducting comparable research on the aforementioned subject. Finally, the study will add to the corpus of current information and literature in this field of study and serve as a foundation for future research.


1.6 Scope of the Study

This study will be focused on examining Nigeria’s local government reform: the challenges and opportunities. Specifically, this study will focus on examining the impact of local government reforms on Nigerian political stability and growth, examining if there is a link between government policy and system operators, ascertaining the extent to which changes in political administration impact the pace of transformation in Nigeria’s local governments, examining the challenges associated with local government changes and national growth, and examining the prospects associated with local government changes and national growth.

Staff of selected Local Government Areas in Anambra State will serve as enrolled participants for the survey of this study.


1.7 Limitations of the Study

This study will be limited to examining Nigeria’s local government reform: the challenges and opportunities. Specifically, this study will further be limited to examining the impact of local government reforms on Nigerian political stability and growth, examining if there is a link between government policy and system operators, ascertaining the extent to which changes in political administration impact the pace of transformation in Nigeria’s local governments, examining the challenges associated with local government changes and national growth, and examining the prospects associated with local government changes and national growth.

Staff of selected Local Government Areas in Anambra State will serve as enrolled participants for the survey of this study, thus the sample size was limited because only a few respondents were chosen to answer the research instrument, therefore the results cannot be generalized to other secondary schools outside the state.


1.8 Definition of Terms

Local Government:

Local government is a generic term for the lowest tiers of public administration within a particular sovereign state. This particular usage of the word government refers specifically to a level of administration that is both geographically-localised and has limited powers.

Reforms:

Reform means the improvement or amendment of what is wrong, corrupt, unsatisfactory, etc.

Challenges:

A call to prove or justify something.


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Frequently Asked Questions


What are the challenges of local government system in Nigeria?

Nigerian local government system has been put through different challenges. It has gone from different pre-colonial political systems, such as the Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba political systems, to the modern system of local government; it has also gone through a lot of reforms to become what we know now.

What is the history of local government in Nigeria?

It has gone from different pre-colonial political systems, such as the Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba political systems, to the modern system of local government; it has also gone through a lot of reforms to become what we know now. Let’s learn more about its most important stages from this brief history of local governments in Nigeria.

What is the problem of traditional ruling in Nigeria?

The reform implemented in 1976 and Nigerian constitution adopted in 1979 were still unable to solve the problem of traditional ruling in Nigeria. The financial instability and fragility of local government councils loosened their power and various functions performed by them.

Should local government be made autonomous in Nigeria?

However, the paper founds out that, the current state of Local Government in Nigeria is characterised by unbridled interference of the State Government and therefore recommends that, there is need to review the Constitution to make Local Government autonomous especially on the issues of fiscal power, functions and responsibilities. 

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