Federalism is considered a good system of government because of the sharing of powers between the Federal, State and Local Government in the system. The advantage of this is that; there is usually equitable development, political participation and effectiveness of the government in a federal structure. Each government has its specific functions or duties, so the workload is not too much as it it in a unitary system of government where there is no such power sharing. In this article, we will be discussing the functions of the Local Government and some of the reasons why the local government may not be able to perform its functions effectively.
What is Local Government
Local Government is the lowest and third level of the government in every Federal Structure. Each Local Government looks after the interest of the people in the particular Local Government Area. In Nigeria, the Local Government area is headed by a Chairman. The Socio-economic and political department of a local government area is headed by Supervising Councils is pre-dominantly elected either by direct or indirect elections.
Among the officials of the Local Government Council is the secretary who is the highest civil servant in the local Government Council and the secretary to the Local Government. Another official is the Vice-chairman who is an elected Vice-chairman and assists the Chairman and assumes full powers in the absence of the Chairman.
I strongly recommend that you watch the following video to understand what local government in all about, and the functions of Local Government in the United States:
RECOMMENDED: Importance of local government in Nigeria
Functions of the Local government
1. Control and provision of Markets and motor packs: This is one of the most important functions of the Local government. In rural areas where there is hardly good motor packs or large market for the people, the local government is expected to provide and control markets and motor parks.
2. Collection and disposition of refuse: As it is always said, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness”. No society can survive in a dirty environment and that is why the local government has this function. They collect and dispose refuse in the community.
3. Making recommendations: Local government is also given the obligation of making recommendation to state/federal government on issues and problems of rural communities that cannot be solved by the local government.
3. Provision and control of cemeteries and slaughter houses: In cases where the local government does not exist, it is usually difficult to control the way people use cemeteries. However, with local government, rules are given on how the local people use cemeteries and slaughter houses. This brings about development in the nation and makes the local government organized.
4. Regulation and issuing of birth, death and marriage certificates: When someone dies or gives birth in the local community, it is the job of the local government to issue certificates for that. Even after marriage ceremonies the local government gives marriage certificates to the celebrants.
5. They issue and regulate various types of licenses: Since there is no federal or state body that gives licenses at the local level, the local government is given that function. They are responsible for issuing different types of licenses; such as: drivers license, gun ownership licenses etc.
6. Naming of streets: In order to bring development to the local level, as it is at the federal and state level, the local government is giving this function. They name streets and number plots of land in the community.
7. Collection of various rates and taxes: At the local level, the local government is responsible for collecting taxes and rates. They can also impose fines on the people for different reasons. All this is to ensure development of the nation.
8. Building and maintaining of schools and colleges: It is also the fundamental duty of the local government to provide and maintain primary, adult and vocational education. This, in turn, helps to bring about equitable development in the country.
9. Awarding of bursaries and scholarships: The local government also has the function of awarding bursaries and scholarships for people at the local level. This is so because, in most cases, scholarships given by the federal or local government can be limited to certain communities. Thus, Awards given by the local government ensures fairness and equity.
10. Control of public housing, town and housing planning: No matter how developed a nation is, if there is no good control of public housing and planning, it can not be seen as a developed nation. For this reason, local government is given the responsibility of controlling public housing, towns
11. Provisions of health facilities: Health is a very important sector of every country and that is why the local government has to take this function. If there is no good health facility, it simply means that there will be increase in death rate and sick patients in the community.
12. Provisions of public libraries: Every educated person needs a place where he/she can read and stay current with things happening in different fields of study. At the local level, this may not be possible except there are public libraries and reading rooms for the people in the community. Undoubtedly, this brings about rapid development in the country too.
13. Provisions of pipe borne water and other public institutions: The local government is supposed to provide good water for the people. They also provide recreational facilities such as public play grounds, hotels, swimming pools etc.
RECOMMENDED: Problems of local government in Nigeria
Reasons for the ineffectiveness of the local government
1. Corruption: Corruption is undoubtedly a problem of every federal system, including the local government. The funds that gets to the local government councils are mostly not spent on the supposed problems affecting the people. Often times, it is the politians that eat the money.
2. Lack of Autonomy: The local government’s operations in most countries is limited by state control of its activities. This is the case in Nigeria and it is one of the reasons for the ineffectiveness of the local government.
3. Lack of Funds: Money allocated to the local government is usually inadequate to Carter for the services they are expected to perform. It is important to note that a considerable percent of people in the country live in rural areas where the local government are expected to provide services.
4. Unskilled manpower: Where there is unskilled manpower at the local level, the local government will not be able to perform its function effectively. This is as a result of the inadequate funding that has limited the council from recruiting skilled workers and to provide proper training to upgrade the skills of the unskilled staff.
5. Ethnic disparity: There is usually disunity among the various ethnic groups in the local government. This can affect the unity and progress of the that local government area.
Also read: Pillars of democracy in a nation
So far, we have discussed some of the functions of Local Governments and the reasons for their ineffectiveness. In conclusion, i must also let you know that the local government is very important, especially in heterogeneous nations with different people and culture. They are the core pillars of development in this type of system.
Edeh Samuel Chukwuemeka ChMC, is a Law Student and a Certified Mediator/Conciliator in Nigeria. He is also a Developer with knowledge in HTML, CSS, JS, PHP and React Native. Samuel is bent on changing the legal profession by building Web and Mobile Apps that will make legal research a lot easier.