The most fundamental rationale for creating local governments anywhere in the world is to employ them to take responsibility for the development of the areas directly and also contribute indirectly to the development of the nation. However, this fundamental rationale has been neglected over the years. On this note, we shall continue our above discourse.
Local government autonomy: Theory vs. Practice (Continues)
Three national conferences have so far been convened to discuss the political and constitutional future of Nigeria, with the local government system being discussed in all conferences. The most protracted debates on the system of local government were at the 2014 National Conference, where participants were provided the ample opportunity of discussing varying political and constitutional issues. The conference recommended scrapping the SJLGA and replacing this with a state Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) with representatives from local government and a chair nominated by the state governor. However, it also recommended a two-tier government structure – federal and state – with states able to create as many local governments as they wish. While the abolition of the SJLGA would restore financial autonomy of LGs and improve their viability, the two-tier government surrenders the autonomy of local governments. This two-tier government recommendation cannot survive, as local governments remain a fundamental aspect of democracy, serving as the most potent instrument to encourage and bring about local participation and to spread democratic values.
Role of NULGE in local government restructuring
The Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) has played a major role in the fight for restructuring the local government system of Nigeria. In its supervisory role, NULGE has observed the following defects threatening the continued existence of local governments in Nigeria.
• The 1999 Constitution is fundamentally flawed in its provision for interventionist policies of the federal and state governments on local government administration.
• So far, the perceived “third tier” government has not materialized in Nigeria.
• The ineffectiveness of local governments is caused by the factors of inadequate resources, including inappropriate fiscal base, the usurpation of the right to raise internal revenue, and the manipulation of the state joint local government account.
• The creation of local council development areas or centres aims to enhance state control over local governments, …….