In this article i will discuss everything you need to know about local government and its importance in a state. On that note, if you are a scholar and you have been stuffing the internet to know why it is important to have local governments in a state, this is the article you should read. I enjoin you to read painstakingly because i will explain this topic in details.
Recently, I engaged a friend of mine in an argument on whether it is important to have local governments in a state. The discussion started like a play at first, but after sometime we became serious about it. For my friend, local government has no importance in a state if it is not given autonomy. He argued that the central government of a state can actually take care of everything in that state if it wants to. In all, he submitted that the establishment of local government is very expensive and it creates room for the mismanagement of funds.
Apparently, this argument is fallacious. Local government is very important for every heterogeneous state. Nonetheless, when I viewed the argument of my friend critically, I saw that he was using our country (Nigeria) to buttress his point. In that light, it is obvious that local governments are truly ineffective. I mean, in Nigeria, local governments are just instructions of the state and federal government because they lack autonomy.
However, this does not mean that establishing a local government is of no importance generally. Well, i do not intend to continue that argument in this article.
Today, i will be disclosing everything you need to know about local government and its importance in a state. But before then, I would like to define some terms to help you understand all what I will be discussing in this article.
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What is a local government
Local government is the government established at the local level to carry out specific functions. It is popularly referred to as the government at the grassroots level.
Local government has also been defined by Wikipedia as a form of public administration which, in a majority of contexts, exists as the lowest tier of administration within a given state. A better definition has been given by Britannica. It defined local government as the government with authority to determine and execute measures within a restricted area inside and smaller than a whole state.
Features of Local government
Below are the features of local government:
A predefined territory:
This is be basic feature of local government. Since it is the government at the grassroot, it must have a predefined territory where it is in control. Local government does not have power over all the state. It can only administer the affairs of a particular territory. This is why the basic feature of a local government is a predefined territory.
Power to collect taxes:
Accordingly, local government should have the power to collect taxes from the people it administers because that is one of the its core responsibility and source of income. Revenue generated from the collection of taxes by the local government is used for the development of the territory of the government.
It should be noted however, that apart from collecting taxes, local government has other means of generating income. Eg; Issuing of Driver’s license, marriage certificate and Birth certificate.
It is argued that for local government to be effective, it must be given autonomy and must not be interfered by the central government. This is because, the local government will seize to be effective if the central government grossly interferes in its activities.
For instance, if the central government is allowed to appoint personnels in the local government, then there won’t be local participation in politics. So you see, autonomy is indeed very pertinent for effectiveness in the activities of local government.
Government at the lowest level:
Another characteristic of local government is the fact that it is the government at the grassroot. In other words, it is the government that is most closest to the people. It incorporates the local people in all its activities and also serve as an intermediary between the people and the government.
It has power to make policies and prepare budgets
Accordingly, a local government should have the power to make by-laws, policies and prepare budgets for its territory. It must be allowed to create measures that will control its staff too. All these points to the fact that a local government must be autonomous and free to make decision in things that concerns it. Like I have already stated, the effectiveness of the local government depends solely on its ability to make decisions without the interference of the central government.
Now that you know the characteristics of local government, i will now explain why it is important to have local government in a state. I enjoin you to pay close attention to this part of this article because it is the crux. So, what are the importance of local government in a state?
Importance of Local Government
Below are the importance of local government in a state:
- It brings the government nearer to the people
- It allows for popular participation in politics
- Local government reduces the centralization of power in the central government
- It reduces the work load in administering the affairs of the people
- Local government helps to ensure effectiveness in government implementation of policies
- Local government promotes democracy in a state
- Local government acts as training ground for leadership positions at the national
- It acts as a two-way channel of communication between the local
population and the central government
Above are some of the important of having a local government in a state. If you need more detailed explanation of these points, join me as I will explain each of them extensively. Now, here we go!
It brings the government nearer to the people
This is the most important reason for the creation of local government. It is one of the core importance of local government in a state. In a heterogeneous state for instance, where there are people with diverse character or tribe, it is good to have a local government because it will make the masses to feel like the government are closer to them. It also promote unity and understanding in the country.
On the opposite, the masses are may not actually see how committed the central government is towards the development of the state because they don’t participate in the system. Sometimes, it will lead to rivalries in the state because some of the masses will begin to feel that the central government are actually neglecting them. This is why is is strongly advised that every heterogeneous and large state should practice Federalism, where powers are shared between the central and regional government. So you see why it is important to have a local government in a state.
It allows for popular participation in politics
Statistics shows that one of the major causes of political apathy in many countries is because of the the failure of the government to create rooms for the masses to participate. Where there is only the central government, the government may not pay much attention to the needs of the people, and that is enough to stop the people’s interest to participate in the political affairs of their countries.
But check out a system where there is the local government that care specifically for the affairs of a territory in the country. The government listens to only the affairs of the people and give them opportunity to take part political affairs of the state. Evidently, this will increase participation in politics and trust in the leadership of the government.
Local government reduces the centralization of power in the central government
The creation of local government is an effective way of reduce the centralization of power in the central government. It is also a good way to avoid a tyrant or a dictator as leader. Where the central government is under the control of a particular person or group of people (without anybody to check their activities), it may be difficult or even impossible to avoid dictatorship.
This is why local government is important. It helps to reduce the concentration of power in the central government. Thus, the powers of the state will be shared between the central and local government, which will definitely bring about good leadership in such state.
It reduces the workload in administering the affairs of the people:
There is no doubt that local government also help to reduce the workload of the government at the center. When some of the projects and manifestos of the central government are taken care of by the local government, the central government will have more time on other sectors of the state more effectively. And by so doing, the workload of the central government is reduced.
In addition to that, it will also lead to faster growth and development in the state because there is actually a division of labor in the leadership of the state. This is one of the importance of a local government too.
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Local government helps to ensure effectiveness in government implementation of policies
This is largely true because there is division of labor in a state that has local governments. Take for instance, while the central government is handling national issues that concerns the state, the local government can take care of the need of the local masses and implementation of policies at the local level.
Accordingly, there is faster execution of policies when the local government is in charge because it is closer to the people than the central government. When policies are not implemented, the local government will easily find out and take measures to implement those policies. This is undoubtedly one of the importance of local government in a state.
Local government promotes democracy in a state
Livescience has stated that the basic definition of democracy in its purest form comes from the Greek language: The term means rule by the people. Also, Britannica defines democracy as a system of government which literally mean rule by the people.
From the above authoritative definitions, one can rightly say that the creation of Local governments promotes democracy in a state. This is because Local government increases the political interest of the people and promotes participation in politics. Thus, the crux of democracy which is “rule by the people” will be promoted to. This is indeed one of the importance of local government in a country.
Local government acts as training ground for leadership positions at the national
Of course, local government also serve as starting point for young people who want to go deep into politics. It is a training ground for leaders who hope to find themselves at the top someday. So you see, local government can also contribute to good leadership and governance in a state.
Since more people are allowed to participate in the local government activities of the state, there is every tendency that the state will be able to produce more competent and charismatic leaders at the national level. Obviously, this will be very difficult in a state without local governments because there has been no training ground for those who have the desire to lead others.
It acts as a two-way channel of communication between the local
population and the central government
Just like i stated before, it will be difficult or even impossible for the local masses to send their needs to the central government directly where there is no local government. Put in another way, local government serve as a channel of communication between the central government and the masses. It is through the local government that the masses will be able to send their needs and opinions on political affairs to the central government.
So the local government stand as representatives of the local masses. They send the needs of the masses to the central government directly. This is obviously one of the importance of local government in a state. Summarizing this point in a sentence, one can say that the local government tends to bridge the communication gap between the central government and the local masses.
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From the above explanation, there is no doubt that local government does more good to a state than bad. The importance of creating local governments in a large and heterogeneous country cannot be over emphasized. Research has shown that it will help to reduce difficulties in administering the affairs of the people and promote unity.
Hope this article was helpful? I believe you got exactly what you were searching for in this page. Nonetheless, if you still have any question or contribution to make on the importance of local government in a state, make sure you send it via the comment section below. I will be glad to hear from you!
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.