Functions of Local Government: A local government can be best defined as the “government at the grassroot level“. The reason is because, local governments are the nearest to the citizens of the country. Conversely, there is usually more political participation in the local government than any other unit.
Today, we will be looking at the functions of local government and how the performance of these functions contributes to the growth and development of the county as a whole.
But before then, I did like to give you a comprehensive explanation of local government. This will go a long way to help you understand the crux of this article on the long run.
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What is local government system?
Local Government system is a system of government in which some parts of the country is governed by a lower unit of government. It is best practiced in a federal system where political powers are shared between the central government and its component units.
Local government is the smallest unit in a federation. It is the government that is solely created to ensure equitable growth, peace and development in the country as a whole.
Accordingly, to Wikipedia, a local government is a form of public administration where the majority of contexts, exists as the lowest tier of administration within a given state.
From this definition, it can be inferred that, in a local government system, the government at the grassroot level is usually autonomous and independent from the central government to some certain extent.
The extent of this autonomy largely depends on the Law of the said country because, the powers, duties and functions of all the unit of the government are spelt out in the constitution or any other law of the country. Below are the functions of the local government.
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FUNCTIONS OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT
1. Maintenance of law and order
This is the first and foremost function of any government. The aim of a local government is not just to provide for the needs of the people, it is to also to ensure that there is always peace and security at the local government level.
In ensuring that there is law and order at the local level, the three arms (that is, the Executive, Legislative and Judicial arm) of the local government are important and necessary.
Thus, while the legislature has the power to make laws at the local government level, the judiciary has the power of interpreting those laws and the executive eventually implements them. This way, there will be law and order at the local government level.
You should also bear in mind that local government also has the obligation to ensure the security of citizens and their fundamental human rights at the local government level as well.
2. Provision and maintenance education
This is one of the primary functions of any local government because education is essential for every citizen. In some countries of the world, education is recognized as one of the fundamental human rights of citizens. Take for instance, in Nigeria, education is one of the fundamental objectives and directective principles of state policy. This means that the government of Nigeria is obliged to provide good education for citizens.
This obligation is actually not binding on the government to perform because it largely depends on the capacity of the state. Nonetheless, the provision and maintenance of education still remains on of the core functions of every local government.
3. Provision and maintenance of health services
The health sector is another area which the local government is obliged to maintain. It is one of the core functions of local government because good health is a necessity for the growth of every country.
In light of the above, the local government is supposed to build hospitals and provide health facilities for the local hospitals. By doing this, people are the rural areas will be able to benefit from the Federal government through the administration of the local government. Indeed, it is one of the primary functions of local government.
4. Collection of fine and rates, taxes and rents
The collection of fines, rates and rents is also one of the important functions of the local government too. Local government is usually given this function because it is more closer to the people.
Nonetheless, when the local government gathers the taxes, fines and rents gotten from the local masses, this money is also put into the running of the local government again.
5. Creation of recreational facilities
In most countries practicing local government system, it is actually the duty of the local government to provide recreational facilities to the masses.
Put in a different way, the local government has the function of providing buildings, structures for recreation uses such as; fishing camps, hunting preserves, parks, recreational vehicle parks, playgrounds or similar activities.
6. Construction of roads and drainages
Undoubtedly, It is the function of the local government to provide good roads and drainages at the local level because, the federal government may not be able to take notice of such kind of trivial matters from the central level.
In providing roads at the local level, local governments are expected to use its payroll from the country’s income, in addition to the money generated from the collection of fines and birth registration. This is actually how local government get to build good roads at the local level.
The provision of social amenities is also one of the major functions of the local government because it is the government at the grassroot level. Social amenities in the case may include the provision of electricity, provision of water etc, for the use of the public.
8. Development of agriculture
To a very large extent, the local government is also responsible for the growth of Agriculture at the grassroot level. It is responsible for providing all the infrastructures that are needed by farmers to aid the growth af Agriculture at the local level.
In performing this function, the local government can also decide to provide loans for capable citizens that really want to go into Agriculture.
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9. Licensing of bicycles, trucks, radio and television
To ensure security, peace and growth at the local level, the local government is also given to license of bicycles, trucks, radio and television stations in the country. This is a very important functions of the local government because it is also one of the sources of local government funds too.
Countries where this usually very prominent are; Andorra, Brazil, Canada, China, Estonia, Iran, Luxembourg, Monaco and even Nigeria. In these countries, citizens pay for owning bicycles, trucks, radios or television sets.
10. Establishment of customary courts
In most African countries where local government system if practiced, local governments are usually responsible for creating customary courts to ensure easy and effective dispute resolution process at the local level.
This is a very important function of the local government because at the local level, disputants are more likely to get a better judgment than where their matter is entertained in a court established by other units of the government.
By way of conclusion, i must lay emphasis on the fact that, local government system is one of the essential characteristics of a federation because, it ensure peace, growth and popular participation in politics. Accordingly, there is also a reduction in the rate of political apathy in the country.
In countries that practice local government system, the functions above are usually ascribed to the local government. These functions of local government are the keys to rapid growth and development.