Problems of local government in Nigeria: It is truism that local governments are very important in a heterogeneous nation. Where there is a government that is closer to the masses, there is usually unity and rapid development because the local masses are allowed to participate in the political affairs of the nation too.
Just this week, I made a very comprehensive article about local government and its importance in a state/Country. This article explicitly explained some of the characteristics of a local government and the reasons why it is necessary to have local governments in a state. Well, in today’s work, I will not discuss the basics again; since I have already done that before.
Basically, I will be taking you on the problems of local government in Nigeria. Put in another way, this article is going to explain the factors affecting the effectiveness of local government in Nigeria. Coupled with that, solutions to the said problems of local government in Nigeria will also be mentioned here.
Conversely, if you have been stuffing the internet to get a comprehensive article that explains the problem of local government in Nigeria and their solutions, this is the best article you will find online. I enjoin you to read this work carefully so that you will be able to understand the points explained in this content.
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What is a local government?
From my previous article, we learned that a 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. Meanwhile, Yourdictionary has also defined local government as the people who have the authority to make decisions or pass laws in a small geographic area near to them.
In spite of the dynamic reforms that was introduced in the local government administration in Nigeria, local governments are still experiencing some problems that are contributing to its inefficiency some these problems will be comprehensively explain below.
Problems of local government in Nigeria
Below are the problems and challenges of the local government in Nigeria:
- Political interference
- Acute shortage of fund
- Bribery and Corruption
- Shortage of trained personnel
- Tribalism and Favoritism
- Embezzlement of public funds
Yeah! Those are some of the apparent problems of local government in Nigeria. The aforementioned limitations of the effectiveness of local government in Nigeria will be better explained as we continue.
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Evidently, this is the biggest problem of local government in Nigeria. In my previous article I tried to explain that autonomy goes a long way to determine the effectiveness of any local government. When the federal government and state government are constitutionally allowed to interfere in the activities of the local government, it will definitely limit the effectiveness of the local government because the local government is supposed to be a government of its own. However, this does not mean that the local government do not work hand in hand with the federal and state government.
Now you may be asking, how does the federal and state government interfere with the activities of the local government? First, the Constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria provides that allocation of funds from the federal government to the local government should not be done directly. It provides that allocation of funds from the federal to local government must be done through the state government. This is a clear political interference. It allows for corruption in government and can limit the funds that finally get to the local government.
Aside from the interference by the federal government and state government, the military also interferes in the activities in the local government too. This is through the to incessant military coup the country has had in the past.
Acute shortage of fund:
Following the constant interference in the activities of the local government. Sometimes, it does not get the complete fund allocated to it from the federal government. Thus, there will be shortage of fund.
You will agree with me that no organization, union or government can run effectively without funds. Almost everything in leadership requires fund and where there is incomplete funds to carry out local projects, the local government will not be able to do anything. This is why there are thousands of unfinished local projects in Nigeria.
Even if the local government decides to raise funds by itself for running the administration, it may not be possible to get all that is required. In Nigeria currently, only Lagos state can generate and sustain itself even without the revenue from the federal government. That is to say, about 99% of all the states in Nigeria, depend solely on the fund sent by the federal government every year. So you see, acute shortage of funds for the local government is also a problem of the local government.
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Bribery and Corruption:
No doubt, corruption plays in every country and political system, but the rate of corruption in the local government system of Nigeria is becoming alarming everyday. In fact, it gotten to the point that the act of corruption is not seen as something that should be shunned or rebuked. Today, about 70% of the people appointed into the administration of the local government were given legit power to administer the affairs of the people through illegal means.
Even in the administration of local affairs of the people, corruption is evident. Most of the funds gotten by local government officials from taxes, fines, registration of birth and death certificates are not used to work in the local government. Many a time, the media has disclosed the identity of local and state government officials who were involved in corrupt practices. The truth is that no local government with high rate of corruption officials can be effective.
Shortage of trained personnel:
Due to the shortage of trained personnel in the local government areas in Nigeria, it is very difficult to ensure the effectiveness of local governments in Nigeria. Most times it is very difficult or even impossible to find people who are educated and trained to lead others in the local government areas, and this can take political powers to the hands of the wrong people.
Nowadays, due to the shortage of trained personnel who administer the affairs of the local masses, wealthy people use their money to win offices in the local government. This is why it seems like only wealthiest in the local government areas in Nigeria are allowed to rule the people. Basically, the reason is because there is shortage of trained personnel to take political powers.
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Tribalism and Favoritism:
Before now, i didn’t believe that the problem of Tribalism and Favoritism play very well even at the local level.
However, after a recent experience of my father’s friend, I saw that tribalism and favoritism does not just play in the local government administration of Nigeria. It is now a norm in the mind of both the local masses and their leaders.
What really happened was that; my father’s friend and someone applied for a job that should obviously be given to my father’s friend based on qualifications. However, because the other person is from the same tribe with the person who interviewed both of them, he got the Job. What shocked me the most was that; the person who eventually got the job is not even nearly qualified for it.
That is what i am talking about. Tribalism and favoritism must be stopped or rapidly reduced for local governments to be effective in Nigeria. It is a very big problem that has destroyed the local government system of Nigeria to a very large extent.
Embezzlement of public funds
Actually, i didn’t want to mention this as one of the problems of local government in Nigeria at first because it seem to be under corruption. However, looking at the rate of embezzlement by local government administrators in Nigeria, there is really a need to mention it as a problem in this work. If you have been following the news lately, you will attest to the fact that every 2-3 months, different local government Chairpersons are reported for embezzlement of funds capable of feeding a whole community.
The worst is that these leaders are the same people that will leave unfinished projects and unpaid depths for the local government before the end of their tenure. The rate of embezzlement of public funds in the local government is undoubtedly very high. And if nothing is done to reduce it in Nigeria now, it might turn into something unstoppable very soon.
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Solutions to the problem of local government in Nigeria
Like it is always said, when there is a problem, there is a solution. Despite all the problems of local government in Nigeria I have already mentioned, there are solutions that can help eliminate them and increase effectiveness in the local administration of the people. They include:
Amendment of the constitution to stop interference in local government activities:
Of course, if the Fouth schedule of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria can be amended, then local governments in Nigeria will be more effective. This is because that part of the constitution provides that the local government should have a joint account with the state. In other words, federal allocation of revenue will get to the state government before it gets to the local government. Trust me; this will increase the fund of the local government as the state government will not be able to temper with federal allocation of revenue to the local government. It will also reduce the rate of corruption in the country as well.
Encouraging enlightenment programs at the local level
Do you know that if the federal or state government encourages enlightenment programs at the local level where the masses can be educated and trained to lead others, the problem regarding shortage of personnels at the local level will be solved. Apparently, the reason why most rural people don’t participate in politics at the local level is because they do not know the benefits of being a leader.
Thus, putting up programs like this will go a long way to make people actively participate in politics at the local level. No doubt, this is a cogent solution to the problem of shortage of trained personnel at the local level.
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Renaissance of interest
There is no hard and fast rule for stopping corruption in a whole state. It has to be a voluntary renaissance of interest by the people. For this reason, the problem of tribalism, nepotism and corruption in total, cannot be stopped once by any action of the government. The people has to see that it is important to stop it themselves.
So, to stop the problem of corruption in local government, both the masses and the local government officials have to change their mindset about the country. They must be patriotic and must be bent on ensuring the peace and development in the local government area. This way, the problem of corruption, tribalism, favoritism, embezzlement of public funds, etc will be put to an end.
Having mentioned the core problems and solutions to the problems of local governments in Nigeria, i urge the federal government of Nigeria to do what should be done as soon as possible. Local government contributes a lot to the economic and financial development of any heterogeneous state, and since Nigeria is one, an effective local government administration can boost the country’s economy greatly.
Meanwhile, as citizens holding different position in the local administration of our states, we must stop bribery, tribalism, favoritism and corruption. Trust me; if these things continue to play in the local level, the progress of Nigeria will be slow of even static. Hope this article was helpful? If you still have questions or contributions to make on this informative topic, please share them using the comment section below.
Edeh Samuel Chukwuemeka ACMC, 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.