INTERGOVERNMENTAL RELATIONS AND THE PERFORMANCE OF LOCAL GOVERNMENTS IN NIGERIA
Intergovernmental relations is associated with states having a federal administrative system where the relationship between the federal, central or national government and major sub-national units (province, region or state) are formally spelt out in the constitution. This seek to promote peace and harmony among the levels of government which are the federal, state and local government, to enhance the emergence of co-operative rather than competitive federation and to solve the problem of rural and urban poverty.
In chapter one of this research work, the background in need for the study is to be discussed, the statement of the problem, objective of the study which is to determine if the constitutional provisions for local governments and their relations in the central government are prevalent, and also to determine the present structure and pattern of intergovernmental relations were discussed. The literature review such as works done by Bello-Imam (1966) and Wright (1974) is to be reviewed. This is done in other to review relevant and related literature to the problem under study. The system theory was used to analyze the work. The scope of the study and limitations of the study was further discussed. Chapter two deals with the constitutional provision for the existence of local governments in Nigeria and their various roles they can play in the local level. Chapter three focus on the comparative and cooperative relationship between the local government and other tiers of government such as the state and federal government. Chapter four, here the autonomy in terms of generative income, authority of the local councils, decision making by the local government as provided by the constitution is discussed. Finally, chapter five which is the last chapter deals with the summary of findings, conclusion and recommendation. Therefore, this research work will help us hopefully to understand the intergovernmental relations and performance of local governments in Nigeria especially, the performance of Ngor-Okpala local government area and we constitute an invaluable reference material for students, practitioners and researchers in various aspects of intergovernmental tiers.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The roots of Nigerian federalism must be sought partly in the process of colonial acquisition and partly in the colonial administrative structure which is itself a product of the process of colonial acquisition and the prevailing local conditions. On January 1, 1900 the country now known as Nigeria came into being. But at that point in time it was a mere geographical expression, a synthetic unit. It remained in such a position without any change between 1900 and 1914. In fact up to 1914 both the Northern and the Southern Provinces of the country were separately administered. Each area had come under British rule at different times, under different circumstances and through different media (Eleazu, 1977). Thus in keeping with the terms or conditions of colonial
acquisition different styles of administration had to be established in the different areas. Consequently two Nigerias started to develop and a disturbing Southern individualism based on its cash crops, rapidly expanding mission schools and a growing wage-earningand white-collar class started to emerge.
The two administrations-Northern and Southern-were hostile and
uncooperative. Regional feelings were so strong that competing railway systems were built (West Africa, 1956). But such a development was not a matter of concern to the British colonial administration. On the other hand it was bothered by the growing financial involvement of the British treasury in the administration of Northern Nigeria. In order therefore to achieve economy in administration the North and the South were amalgamated on January 1,1914. But it was merely a paper amalgamation because the dual nature of the administration persisted although Lugard at the Governor-General supervised both. Nevertheless the amalgamation of 1914 was an attempt to end the phase of disparate and occasionally conflicting territorial powers. The intention was to achieve unity rather than uniformity in the administrative process. Departments of Government were duplicated in the North and the South and they remained separate administrations. The dual judicial system of the country was retained.
In fact, it was not only that the North and the South were not amalgamated in practice but also that some of the colonial officers in charge of the Provinces especially in the North "regarded their Provinces or emirates as nascent sovereign principalities ..." [8, p. 79). It must be pointed out that even as innocuous as the amalgamation was its future implications for the politics of Nigeria forced the Sardauna of Sokoto, the Late Sir Ahmadu Bello to describe it as a 'mistake.' It is no surprise then that a later-day amalgamation attempt by Major-General Aguiyi lronsi failed.
Major-General Ironsi who was compelled by enthusiasm about political unity and the free flow of goods and services within the country replaced the federal arrangement with a unitary formula through Decree 34 of 1966.
The 1922 Clifford Constitution confirmed the spirit if not the words of the amalgamation directive of 1914. Sir Hugh Clifford, whose efforts to unify the administration of Nigeria were rebuffed by the Colonial Office, eventually promulgated the Constitution of 1922 that goes by his name. Under that Constitution the North was excluded from membership of the Legislative Council. It was only represented by the Lieutenant Governor and the Senior Residents of that Region (Elias:1967). And, maybe quite logically, the laws passed by that legislature were not operative in the North. The new Legislative Council made laws only for the Colony and the Southern Provinces while the Governor continued to legislate for the Northern Provinces by proclamation. The Constitution therefore produced the necessary cover for separate development which emphasized the conservation of Northern folkways.
The fragile structure produced by the amalgamation of 1914 suffered another setback in 1949 when Sir Bernard Bourdillon split Southern Nigeria into two in order to make for speed and efficiency in the administration of the country. Although Bourdillon had created this tripod only for administrative purposes, his successor, Sir Arthur Richards, legitimized the division by writing it into the Nigerian Constitution of 1946. Sir Arthur Richards argued that Nigeria falls 'naturally' into three regions and the peoples of those regions differ widely one from the other. As far as he was concerned therefore the tripartite division of the country for purely administrative reasons was insufficient and must have a constitutional status. Consequently the three regions having become constitutional units developed along their own lines and the pattern for the future politics of Nigeria was indellibly set. This is in agreement with the plans of Sir Arthur Richards who had sought to create a political system which would protect the divergent principles and ideals of the Regions. The dialectics of unity with diversity was more apparent in the Richards Constitution of 1951. The Constitution followed the decentralist format of the 1946 Constitution and while supposedly granting increased autonomy to the three Regions it was also meant to build up a strong and united Nigeria. The Regional Legislatures acted as the electoral colleges for the central House of Representatives. The Regional Legislatures now have some legislative powers and each Region has an Executive Council. Thus, properly speaking, there was a constitutional basis for relations between the two levels of government although it was not a federal arrangement. All central Bills in respect of a Region must first be laid before that Region's legislature for consideration and advice. Although Regional legislatures had powers to legislate on a prescribed list of subjects the central legislature had full powers of legislation on all subjects including those within the legislative competence of the Regions. And in the event of a conflict between the two laws the one enacted later prevailed over the one enacted later. This is a curious arrangement but it does not guarantee the pre-eminence of the Regions over the Centre because the Lieutenant Governor of a Region cannot assent to a Bill until the Governor has signified his approval of the Bill.
In essence, therefore, the constitution only established a system of interlocking intergovernmental relations. It was by any standard an advance on the 1946 constitutional arrangment under which, for all practical purposes, there were no state governments. It was also an improvement on the 1946 situation because the State Governments were empowered to regulate local governments in their respective areas of jurisdiction. This then established the third level of government and the possibility of six levels of intergovernmental relations.
The various State Governments created Local Governments and regulated their activities. It must be said that State-Local relations at this period was conditioned by the subordinate status of the Local Government Authorities. Usually they were agents of the various State Governments. Between 1951 and 1954 the Central Government did not have any direct relations with the Local Governments although the Constitution did not preclude this.
Intergovernmental relations in Nigeria got the greatest boost under Military Rule. This was the case because of the unitary military command that controls the government. National-State relations improved because the head of the government of each Region was answerable to the head of the Federal Military Government. However it must be said that the Regional Governments became subordinate to the Federal Government to such an extent that it amounted to unitary rule in practice.
Similarly interstate relations improved because united soldiers who saw themselves as one were in charge of the administration of the states. Thus as Watts argued professionalization in public services led to formal and informal contacts among military governors. It must be said however that between 1966 and 1975 when Military Governors were drawn from their regions of origin interstate relations suffered some setback when compared with the period since July 1975. However the desire and need to dismantle the old regions after 1976 inadvertantly had adverse effects on interstate relations. The Interim Common Services Agency (ICSA) of the Northern States and the Eastern States Interim Assets and Liabilities Agency (ESIALA) were dissolved. Unfortunately some states misinterpreted the intentions of the Federal Military Government. In fact the three states of the old Western Region almost want to 'war' on the transfer of public servants.
In spite of the inadvertant but politically expedient measure that halted inter-state relations in the Northern and the Eastern Group of States the Military Government initiated Nation-State-Local Relations through the revenue sharing arrangement established in 1976 (Ayoad:1978). In 1976/77, 1977/78, 1978/79 and 1979/80 the Federal Government gave 100m, 250m, 150m and 300 million respectively to all the Local Government Councils in Nigeria. But these grants were made to the Local Governments through the various states. Unfortunately fiscally hardpressed state governments diverted such local government allocation to state use. This situation muddled State-Local relations. But there was another effect of the involvement of the Federal Government in local government.
Having become financially involved in local government the Federal
Military Government set out the criteria that Local Government must meet. But as the recent political history has shown the temporary relative affluence of the Federal Government via-a-vis the State Governments was responsible for the expansion of the federal sphere of influence. But as we argued earlier intergovernmental relations is bound to be dynamic as long as it is conditioned by transient factors.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The concept of Intergovernmental relations is associated with states having a Federal Administration system where the relationships between the Federal, Central or National Governmental and major sub-national unit (province, region or state) formally spelt out in the constitution. Intergovernmental relations have been seen as a system of transactions among structured levels of government in a state. It is also seen as registration in which the parties have negotiating advantageous positions for power, money and problems-solving responsibility Olugbemi, (2011). The achievement of the objectives of inter-governmental relations is dependent on some social factors within the Nigerian social System. Some of these social factors include the political setting and the state of the economy in the nation. Looking at the political setting, the inter-governmental relations are basically based on the three tiers of government that is the Federal, State and Local Government. The Federal and State Government is said to have more autonomy than the local government due to the fact that they are the last tier of government Nwafor, (2011). That is why local government is not given its full autonomy to do things on its own. The other tiers of the government dictate to them what to do, how to make their own policies, how to elect/appoint those to lead them like the Chancellor or Chairmen and so on. Local Government is still dependent on the other tiers of government making them to be subordinate and loyal to them Nwokedi,(2012).
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The primary goal of this study is to describe the relationship of the local government and other tiers of government, known as intergovernmental relationship. Due to the exploratory nature of this research, specifically, the study will consider the following as its specifics:
1. To determine if the constitutional provisions for local governments and their relations in the central government are prevalent.
2. To determine the present structure and pattern of intergovernmental relations
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
Understanding the relationships that exists between two bodies (tiers, agencies and parastatals) helps the duo harness the opportunities between them. This understanding brings clarity of purpose to the both parties and specifies how benefits are earned. This study is beneficial to the local government administrators as it reviews intergovernmental relationship and how the local government can use it to its benefit. Also, the study is relevant to the students of political science and public administration. This is because issues of governance and good administration must be founded on knowledge and adequate knowledge of this intergovernmental relationship would help the student see how it has impacted the performance of local government.
1.5 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
This study was undertaken with a view of examining how intergovernmental relationship enhances the performance of local government. The study explores the constitutional provision for the existence of local governments in nigeria and their various roles. Furthermore, the study compares the relationship between the local government and other tiers of government, and finally examines the issue of local governmnt autonomy.
1.6 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORKS
Theoretical perspectives in the study of intergovernmental relations
A few IGR approaches have been put forward by Roux et al., (1996: 172). These approaches
Democratic approach: proponents hold a separatist view and emphasise the right to autonomy of every government (regardless of level) to exist. This in the researcher’s opinion will lead to a volatile situation and is a recipe for complexities. IGR should, in fact, aim for effectiveness and efficiency in the public service and this requires that conflict and competition are reduced and interdependence and the pursuit of a common agenda are promoted. This brings about a comparative advantage given that resources are pooled together and hence optimally utilised.
• Constitutional approach: accepts that there is a hierarchy of governments and this is a constitutional fact, since the constitution was seen as the instrument for determining intergovernmental relations and achieving harmony
• The Financial approach: where IGR is viewed from a financial perspective and the crux of the matter was what responsibilities do the spheres of government have and what financial resources are attached to it?
• Normative operational approach: comprises broad elements, such as values (material, cultural, spiritual, social, institutional and political values), as well as technical limitations, geographical factors and issues around the distribution of resources should be considered. While it may be possible to profile a range of theories that could provide a framework for a Public Administration study such as this, the researcher has approached the issue of theories from a relevance and applicability point of view. This indicates that the theories and related issues that are being discussed here are not just exploratory but are focussed to ground the work herein specifically as intergovernmental relations, within federal systems and unitary states with federal characteristics alike, generally and inevitability involve elements of both cooperation and conflict. A position which Watts (1994: 9) argues brings about inevitable overlaps that occur in the exercise of the jurisdictions by different governments, as there is a requirement for some co-ordination and harmonisation of the activities of governments. Consequently, the following theoretical perspectives are explored: a) A Systems perspective to the study of intergovernmental relations System theory departs from the political system which takes inputs from society (usually consisting of mandates, demands, etc.) and processes them, the outcome of which could be policies. These are then fed back to the community, through policy related activities and then, a series of new wants and needs triggers the system again. In the systems where the inputs are processed, there is a need to take into account the various inevitable power relations and those principal actors within the intergovernmental relations structures. Power relations in the government arena may occur in various forms and must not be viewed in a fragmented manner. Hence, Hague and Harrop (1982: 131) note that ‘although the structures of government can be divided, it is best to regard it ( government) as an integral whole, for it is the relationships between these institutions, rather than their internal working, which is critical’. Boguslaw (2002: 410) extends this argument, noting that what makes organizations work are the relations and the culture that underlie partnerships. The use of the term “system” should therefore be understood broadly as it takes into account the cultural, political, social and other contexts that may shape the relationships in any system but particularly within intergovernmental relations sub-systems. Thus, the same governance or intergovernmental relations structure or model may exist in many places, but the unique organizational, cultural and social relationships (which are all part of the system) mediate how organisations operate within a given structure, and therefore, produce dissimilar outcomes. The need for a system approach to the understanding of the workings of government is even greater, given the networks that are inevitable. The task of coordination is daunting as governmental activities have grown beyond just providing security and peace to include a range of other activities, especially in developmental states and in the developing world. Hague and Harrop (1982: 182) argue that ‘the task of coordination becomes more difficult not just because government is bigger but also because the issues have grown more complex. Decisions have far-reaching and unforeseeable ramifications’. Public administration activities take place within these systems and within the systems; there are sub-systems that must interact. Hence they are interrelated in their attempt to achieve specific outcomes. The role of public administration is therefore, to facilitate a positive outcome through these interactions and where possible, limit any unintended negative consequence. For the purposes of this research, the researcher views the “system” as an integrated whole that consists of parts that can be likened to the analogy of the human body in a manner that reflects that parts are interrelated and interdependent, despite the fact that each body system may achieve functionality on its own and does impact of the activities of the entire body. Similarly, the execution and management of public affairs would require that the main elements of the systems theory which are; inputs, processes, outputs and feedback ( as illustrated in the diagram below) are harnessed in a manner that promotes functionality as invariably, the activities of a sub-system (a part of government) affects the entire government.
A functionalist approach to the systems theory Having determined that the systems theory is multi-faceted (including political, cultural, economic and social contexts), the researcher reflects on the systems theory not only from a linkage (interdependence) point of view but also from a functional ( execution) point of view. This means that the relationships among the various components of government are not enough in themselves. The vital question must be asked: To what extent are they achieving the expected and communicated broad goals of government? This is especially important in terms of ensuring coordination and appropriate outputs such as efficient and effective service delivery. Also critical to the function of the system are the questions: How does the intergovernmental relation sub-system within the system of government contribute to resolving blockages and facilitating government service delivery imperatives? How can these systems or interactions best be aligned and organized in a manner that ensures power relations and interests achieve the desired outcomes? This functional approach within the systems approach seeks to find a planned and structured way of organizing inputs within the systems analogy so that fragmentation, non-alignment, and misdirected or uncoordinated effort are better managed and grouped for efficiency, especially in the intergovernmental relations sub-system. This functional approach to the utilization of the systems theory within the framework of intergovernmental relations seeks to manage the criticisms that intergovernmental relations generate structures that in themselves may be blockages in the process of ensuring efficient and effective service delivery to the public. This suggests that the functional approach should be integrated with the systems thinking, bringing about a model worth considering critically in intergovernmental relations circles and which the researcher terms a “Functionalist model of the systems theory”.
According to Boguslaw (2002:37-38), functionalist theory suggests that in the study of society, ‘we should look at how the various parts or institutions combine to give society continuity over time (including intergovernmental relations). This theoretical approach can be used to explain why partnerships emerge, persist, and how these efforts fulfil organizational and societal needs’. A criticism of the functional approach is however, that it fails to incorporate an understanding of power in the environment or the role of organizations as agents in shaping society, those failing to make explicit the implicit order of relations that underlie political relationships and thereby failing to connect the institutional and societal interests. The challenge, then, is for an “institutional analysis to determine which relationships need such consistency and cohesion, and how to structure relationships amongst the various organizations and still maintain their relative authority, autonomy, and independent spheres of action’ (Wunsch & Olowu, 2000:81). Chaumont-Chancelier attempts to rationalize those relations arguing that the ‘Complex order can be explained with a spontaneous approach, as its name indicates, it is not concerned with the formation of any particular rule. It tries to explain the existence of social order, of this complex web of rules and the institutions leading to a recurrent social pattern of cooperation and coordination. This network is complex since it can been seen as a network of interrelated institutions, as an interweaving of many kinds of rules, some of them designed as spontaneous, explicit or tacit, enforced deliberately … and so on’ (2003: 70).
THE CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISION FOR THE EXISTENCE OF LOCAL GOVERNMENTS IN NIGERIA AND THEIR VARIOUS ROLES
2.1 Evolution Of The Local Government System In Nigeria
The development of Nigeria’s local government system can be traced to the Native Authority Ordinance of 1916, which was passed by the British colonial government ostensibly to leverage the existing traditional administrative systems in the different regions of the area now known as Nigeria. The ordinance was the first legal framework to operationalise a system of indirect rule (Ikeanyibe 2009). However, this attempt to unify the system of local government met informed resistance from the East and West regions, both because of its anti-democratic thrust and because the system did not fit well with the existing traditional administrative systems in those regions. Nonetheless, the ordinance endured until 1946, when the Richard constitution introduced the new regional assemblies. By 1949, the Eastern house of assembly provided a platform for debates that eventually led to the Local Government Ordinance of 1950, which set the scene for a democratic system of local government (Ogunna 1996).
By 1954, democratic values had permeated the local government system in the three regions of East, West and Northern Nigeria, with each region having absolute control over the type, structure and functions of local government (Ikeanyibe 2009). However, although the 1950 ordinance started to introduce democratic values in local governance, it also marked the beginning of federal/regional dominance over local government administration, which was evident throughout colonial rule and has endured through the post-colonial era to contemporary Nigeria.
Despite this colonial history, Nigeria’s modern local government system started with the reform of local government in 1976. This reform aimed to restructure and modernise local government administration, and to make it one of the best in Africa. The good intentions of the 1976 reform included the desire to extend the principle of federation by bringing government to the grassroots level, and to achieve uniformity of local government administration across the federation (Olanipekun 1988).
The reform represented a fundamental change, because for the first time a single system of local government was attained in Nigeria. The financial system was also restructured, introducing statutory allocations of revenue from the Federation Account,2 with fixed proportions of federal and each state’s revenue given to local government. According to Ekpo and Ndebbio (1998), the reform also ring-fenced revenue to protect local government revenue from state encroachment. It also defined a number of potential sources of internally generated revenue for local governments, e.g. rates, including property rates, education rates and street lighting; taxes such as community, flat rate and poll tax; and fines and fees, including court fines and fees, motor park fees, forest fees, public advertisement fees, market fees, regulated premises fees, birth registrations etc. In order to make the reforms work, local government officers and local politicians were given a free hand to operate with little or no interference in their daily affairs. State ministries for local government only had responsibility to advise, assist and guide – not to control the local governments under their jurisdiction. Traditional rulers were also protected from party politics under the 1976 reforms.
Local government was reformed again in 1988, when the federal military government introduced civil service reforms. These aimed to professionalise the local government service, by creating mandatory departments (personnel, finance, supply etc) and officers (councillors, secretary, treasurer, auditor-general for local government). The 1988 reform also clearly defined the functions of the Local Government Service Commission, which sets guidelines for staffing and monitoring local governments. All these provisions sought to institute responsible local government in the Nigerian federation.
Constitutional Foundation Of Local Government Administration In Nigeria
Local government councils did not have definitive constitutional recognition until local government was enshrined in the 1979 constitution, which provided the legal framework to implement the 1976 reforms. The primary goal was to ensure that every state government should, by law, provide for the establishment, structure, composition, finance and functions of local councils (Diejomoah and Ebo 2010). However, this means that the degree of autonomy local councils enjoy in decision-making, strength and relevance is determined by their respective state governments, and state governments have always taken advantage of the lacuna created by this constitutional framework to dictate the financial and operational structures of local governments.
The 1979 constitution did spell out the functions and responsibilities of local government. Functions fall into three categories: areas for which local governments have full responsibility, areas where local government shares responsibility with higher levels of government, and areas of responsibility that the state or federal government may from time to time assign to local authorities (Oviasuyi et al. 2010). Additionally, the constitution guaranteed democratically elected government councils all over the country: “The system of local government by democratically elected government council is under this constitution guaranteed…” (Chapter 1, Part 2, Section 7(1)). The 1979 constitution allowed for local government to receive federal allocations, and in Section 149 prescribed that states should provide funds for local governments in their areas (Bamidele 2013).
The 1999 constitution takes almost the same position on local government as the 1979 constitution, with some modifications. In its fourth schedule, Section 7(2), the 1999 constitution sets out the functions of local government in Nigeria. In theory, therefore, local government is a unit of government with defined powers and authority, and relative autonomy. The functional areas for local government included in the constitution are: provision and maintenance of health services; agricultural and national resource development; provision and maintenance of primary, adult and vocational education; and other functions as may be conferred on it by the state house of assembly. Section 7(1) also guarantees democratically elected governments in Nigeria. On the strength of these provisions, the 1999 constitution acknowledged the powers of local government councils as articulated in the 1976 local government reform to the effect that:
These powers should give the council substantial authority over local affairs as well as the staff and institutional and financial powers to initiate and direct the provision of services and to determine and implement projects so as to complement the activities of the state and federal government. (Ibeto and Chinyeaka, no date, p. 183)
Section 162 (5, 6, 7, 8) also provides for the funding of local councils through the Federation Account. Paragraph 6 specifically provides that “each state shall maintain a special account to be called the State Joint Local Government Account” into which should be paid all allocations made to local government councils from the Federation Account and from the government of the state. This is, of course, a reversal of the reform introduced by the federal government in 1988 (Abutudu 2011). The 1999 constitution, as noted by Khalil and Adelabu (2011, p. 143) in Section 4 also provides that: “The government of a state shall ensure that every person who is entitled to vote or be voted for at an election to the House of Assembly shall have the right to vote or be voted for at an election to a local government council.”
The 1999 constitution further empowers the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) to allocate revenue to the three tiers of government. The constitutional basis for this allocation of revenue is set out in Section 160, sub-sections (2) to (8). Thus: “Any amount standing to the credit of the Federation Account shall be distributed among the federal, state and local government councils in each state, on such terms and on such manner as may be prescribed by the National Assembly of Nigeria.” In addition, the 1999 constitution states that “the government of every state shall, subject to Section 8 of the constitution, ensure their existence under a law which provides for the establishment, structure, composition, finance and functions of such council” (Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, p. 88).
These provisions, among others, constitute the legal framework for local government administration in Nigeria. The implications of this constitutional foundation for a well-functioning local government administration is examined below.
The Implications Of Constitutional Foundation For a Well-Functioning Local Government Administration
Local government in a multi-ethnic federation is important in that it creates a sense of belonging among the people. It is responsible for local affairs, and designed to meet specific local needs. Laski (1975) corroborated this view when he argued that “we cannot realise the full benefit of democracy unless we begin by admitting that all problems are not central problems, and that all results of problems not central in their incidence require decisions by the populace, and the persons, where and when the incidence is most deeply felt” (Laski 1975 in Tonwe 2012). As might be expected, the constitutional developments and reforms carried out in Nigeria have attempted to capture the essence of local government. However, these attempts leave much to be desired, with many gaps evident. Their implications for a well-functioning local government system will now be explored.
Article 7 of the 1999 constitution empowers state governments to enact legislation with regard to “the establishment, structure, composition and functions” of democratically elected local government councils. The fourth schedule also assigns some critical functions to local government. However, these provisions only exist on paper. In practice, state governments have taken over most local government functions in order to justify spending funds earmarked for councils in the Joint Revenue Account. For example, Ubani notes that: “Lagos state government constructed parks in various parts of the state with money deducted from the state and local government Joint Revenue Account. In Ondo state, government constructed a modern motor park in Akure, the state capital” (2012, p. 1). Actions such as these contradict the provisions of the 1999 constitution, which provides that these projects ought to have been executed by local government.
The 1999 constitution, like the 1979 constitution, gives states very wide powers to manage issues of local government organisation and structure. This provision has proved confusing and counter-productive, for example leading to prolonged disputes between the federal government and Lagos state government. The constitutional neglect suffered by local government has resulted in a power struggle between the federal and state governments over control at the local level – a situation that has seriously hindered the democratisation process at the grass roots.
Similarly, Section 106 of the 1999 constitution provides that the minimum qualification for election as chairperson or councillor in a local government shall be the post-primary school certificate. This low threshold has made a career in local politics unattractive. A poorly-educated political officeholder who is also inexperienced in the art of governance can hardly offer meaningful leadership.
An additional problem is that states often determine the tenure of elected members of local government councils. Wilson (2013, p. 142) observes that:
On several occasions, the states of Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers truncated the tenure of the democratically elected councils and replaced them with members of the ruling political party in the state, as caretaker committees. In most cases, the state governments decided not to conduct elections for the [local] councils, as in the case of Anambra State which ran a caretaker system for over six years.
This practice is an assault on the principle of popular participation in grassroots democracy.
The financial autonomy of local government has also been eroded. The 1976 local government reform, which was largely incorporated in the 1979 constitution, recommended direct funding from the Federation Account, with local government receiving a defined percentage of funds in the revenue allocation formula. This provision has been breached. Oyediran (2001) found that allocations channelled through state governments were not remitted to local governments. They were instead credited to state governments, and used by state governments to reimburse themselves for expenditure made on behalf of local governments. Abutudu (2011) notes that the Babangida regime attempted to address this problem. From 1988, the federal government removed the state government from its intermediary role in the transmission of funds from the Federation Account to local government. Until 2000, allocations from the Federation Account were collected directly by local governments from the Federal Pay Offices in their respective states. However, this changed when the 1999 constitution introduced the State Joint Local Government Account (SJLGA) (Section 160, sub-sections (2) to (8)), which provides that:
the amount standing to the credit of local government councils in the Federation Account shall be allocated to the states for the benefit of their local government councils on such terms and in such manner as may be prescribed by the National Assembly; and that each state should maintain a special account, to be called the State Joint Local Government Account, into which shall be paid all allocations to local government councils of the state from the Federation Account and from the government of the state.
The aim was that federal allocations would reach local governments via their respective state governments. However, these SJLGAs have become infamous, as allocations are misappropriated. Many state governors were accused of misappropriating local government funds during the first 12 years of democratic rule, with the aid of the SJLGA. For example, in 2010, 27 local governments in Borno State threatened mass action in protest at alleged indiscriminate deductions from their monthly allocations. Each local government lost 20% of its allocations (George 2010, p. 1). George further notes that the Nasarawa state government under Alhaji Abdullahi Adamu, in collaboration with Alhaji Aliyu Bala Usman, the Commissioner for Local Governments and Chieftaincy Affairs, also:
…allegedly abused the joint account system with reckless abandon by illegally withdrawing over 5 billion in 36 months from the state local government joint account belonging to the 16 local governments in the state. An act which is contrary to section 7 (6) (A) 162 (5), (6) (7) and (8) of the 1999 constitution and the local government laws of Nasarawa state and the joint account laws. This offence, which is contrary and punishable under section 104 of the criminal code act, landed the former governor in the EFCC net. (George 2010, p. 1).
Some members of state houses of assembly were also alleged to have been ‘paid’ by their respective local governments at the end of every month. Since state houses of assembly make local government laws, some state parliaments exploit this power to extract financial rewards. Akaeze (2012) recalls a similar experience in Ogun State, where Tunde Oladunjoye, a former chair of the Ijebu East local government area, accused former governor Gbenga Daniel of diverting local government funds. The case was reported thus:
In November 2009, ‘the total allocation for the 20 LGs in Ogun State was N1.7 billion. But Daniel gave us N700 million, which was less than half of what was due to us.’ Before then, Oladunjoye and some of his colleagues had written to Daniel ‘to deduct only what is statutory from our allocation and specifically the exact amount of money due to the teaching and non-teaching staff of the Local Government Education Authority, LGEA.’ According to Oladunjoye, nothing came out of that. ‘For example, my bill for LGEA was about N28 million monthly, but the governor was deducting N39 million. That is N11 million in excess. With N11 million, I could build two or three community health centres every month. I was angry. Why should state government pay primary schoolteachers on our behalf? Was the federal government paying secondary school teachers on behalf of the state government?’ (Akaeze 2012, p. 3).
Daniel, the former governor, was eventually charged in court with this and other offences by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC).
The 1999 constitution is clear on the provisions of the SJLGA. The problem faced is the arbitrary use of discretion by state governors to determine what is due to local governments.
Due to the constitutional barriers imposed by the SJLGA, and the way this account is being manipulated, LGs have become ineffective. Even with the little that reaches them, post-budget control imposes further restrictions on their operations, while local government chairs also siphon off funds using all manners of strategies.
In Benue State, for example, three sub-committees were set up in 2010 by the house of assembly to probe where funds received by local governments in the state had gone. Consequently:
12 council chairmen were suspended in the state for alleged fraud. They were asked to refund a total of 150 million naira… The chairmen to go on suspension were those of Logo, Ado, Obi, Apa, Ohimini, Oturpko and Ogbadibo local government. Others were Guma, Gwer West, Ukum, Kwande and Ushongo. (George 2010, p. 2).
In a similar development, the chairs of Ibaji and Ogori Magongo local governments in Kogi State were suspended over what was described as non-performance and misappropriation of resources.
According to the source:
the statutory allocation of 75 million naira received by the local government for December 2008 was neither used for payment of salaries nor implementation of any meaningful project. SimilaINTERGOVERNMENTAL RELATIONS AND THE PERFORMANCE OF LOCAL GOVERNMENTS IN NIGERIA