It can be justified that no institution is free from problems or issues, as they constitute an integral part of an organization and at best they can only be minimized as total elimination might be difficult.
So problems or challenges are an integral part of the institution. It is with this idea in mind that we look at the problems facing the local government in Nigeria and possible solutions to minimize the challenges they face.
Local government is the third tier of the administrative structure, following the federal and the state government. It is the closest structure to the people since it has to do with the grassroots.
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This means that local government is crucial for rural development. We have about 774 local government areas in Nigeria and although it would be wrong to say they are not functioning they are below par.
Outlined below are some of the problem faced by Local Government in Nigeria:
Corruption has eaten deep in the society that there is a bit of corruption in every human being. Nowadays people only carry out their function only if it will benefit them or their immediate family.
There is probably no level and institution of government where corruption is as widespread, undiluted and unambiguous as Local Government, as a tier of government that is meant to be closer to the people, the chairmen and officials have become local lords and they do not carry out their functions instead they siphon money meant for projects.
Section 162 (6) of the 1999 Constitution states “Each State shall maintain a Special Account to be called “State Joint Account” into which shall be paid all allocations to the Local Government Councils of the State from the Federation Account and from the Government of the State”.
This means that Local Government derives revenue from two principal sources, the external and internal sources. The External Source relates to the Monthly Allocation from the Federation Account (20.6%) Statutory (10%) ‘IGR’ contribution by the State Governments.
State Governments are expected to pull together all funds received from the Federation Account with the 10% of the Internally Generated Revenue for the purpose of distribution to the Local Government.
Other sources of funding are:
b. Tenement rates
d. Renewal of licenses
e. Park collection
f. Interest on investment
Now the big question all these funds are used for what exactly? They are meant for providing basic infrastructures but if you go to most local government areas, you see bad roads, dilapidated buildings, no electricity and so on.
Even the allocation from the federal and state government is not forthcoming or they come late and also percentage allocated to local government seems not to be enough.
3. Indiscriminate Creation Of Local Government
They are some conditions that should be fulfilled before Local Governments are created. Some of these are Population, Viability, Landmass, IGR, among others.
However, it is painful to note that government still went ahead without considering the listed criteria to wantonly create Local Governments in almost every areas of the country.
This indiscriminate act of creating unwanted Local Government explains why some States have more than their fair share and some do not have enough.
4. Control And Dependency
Most States Governments deliberately starve Local Governments of the funds needed for their survival. according to section 7 of the constitution, it gives the local government power to appoint its leaders in a democratic way and section 8 gives the state government the right to ensure their existence under a Law which provides for the establishment, structure, composition, finance, and functions of such council.
The above provisions essentially provide State governors and their governments the opportunity to deny most Local Governments of the much-needed autonomy to function optimally.
Knowing fully well that he may be removed at any time by a Governor, a Local Government chairman will do virtually anything to keep his job.
The local government has to go through the state government for certain things, and this hinders development in the local area.
5. Absence Of Skilled Personnel And Indiscipline
Most local governments are filled up with unskilled or semi-skilled workers and this also applies to the chairmen of local government who often just possess the basic qualifications.
We also have workers that show up late to work, those that come to work twice a week, they are some that come to sell their produce and a large percentage of them are just ghost workers. There is nobody to check their excesses and most times they do not even have work to do.
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6. Lack Of Good Leadership
As stated above, most of these chairmen are not qualified and do not know what to do, so they just roam about with their aides and official cars and some are strategically placed in such positions just to fulfill the whims and caprices of their godfathers.
Excessive commitments to ethnic, sectional and partisan personal interests that negate the oath of office seem to have made it sometimes impossible for many local governments to function effectively and efficiently.
Most often, Chairmen and see themselves as representing their personal or town’s interest rather than the collective interest of the Electorates in the entire Local Government.
What can be done to move forward, as stated earlier, there are no institutions that are without problems or challenges, the only possible thing to do is to minimize such problems and difficulties:
1. Corruption is an issue that needs to be tackled head-on, it has to be put at a minimum level. Sensitizing the people, from the young to the old need, creating programs that imbibe in them the act of doing the right thing.
2. While it is difficult to separate the local government from the state government, the state government excesses should be checked. Local government should be allowed to carry out its functions with little or no interference from state government.
3. States should enact laws to determine the number of local government required in each state to avoid the indiscriminate act of establishing a local government.
4. Funds should be disbursed accordingly from state to local government and a committee be set up to check if the money is being used properly
5. Employing effective workers that will do what is required of them.
Bodies should be set up to ensure that local government carries out its functions effectively.
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