Should Local Governments in Nigeria be Scrapped?

by Emeka Esogbue - Date: 2008-10-24 - Word Count: 918 Share This!

Precisely 774 Local Governments exists today in Nigeria but it doubtful indeed if these local governments have lived up to expectations in the development of our country Nigeria. Three tier of government as inherited from the British have come under heavy criticisms from the citizens of Nigeria some of who are now angrily suggesting that the three tier of government be expunged from the nation's system of government.


A new and sad dimension in the elections of officers into the third tier have just begun, and it would seem that this government at the local levels have inherited from its sisterly federal arm of government the art of selection of candidates and political officers into positions. What happened in Lagos State clearly points to the fact that who should rule in the grass root government was absolutely a decision to be determined by the ruling party or reigning state government. Firstly, the road to the said election of officers for the Local Government began with the handpicking of candidates with absence of any known criteria in the party membership of Action Congress (AC) Action Congress became a model in this business.

No primaries were held, yet party representatives emerged from the blues and honourably defeated all other contestants. Sadly again, we the electorates did not who the candidates whom we had the option of voting for but suddenly began to see posters all around the walls of Lagos, funnily after first sets of posters of campaigners have been seen. We therefore began to wonder who the legitimate candidates of Action Congress were. It amount to the 8th wonder of the modern world if the results of the elections held is pointing to the fact that every of the candidates of Action Congress were acceptable to the generality of Lagosians and in all the localities not minding whether these candidates were known or not.

In the end announcements were made that Action Congress had swept councillorship and chairmanship positions available in the state. The pressmen who were at the event to cover this report and probably the Attorney General of the Federation can tell us more on the event. What this portends for democracy at the grass roots is better imagined than explained here for we all know perfectly well that Lagos serves as a model for all the states of the federation and an idea of emergence of candidates without primaries and candidates of any particular political party winning every available positions could be emulated much to our chagrin.

This brings us to the question of the relevance of the Local Government in Nigeria, time may not permit to delve into its functions as provided for by the constitution of the nation but the sincere ones among us can definitely tell that not one of any Local Government in existence in the country today can boast of making wholesome achievements in this regard. At best, the best vibrant Local Government Area in Lagos is set at seeking every means of extracting the residents of the state in the name of taxation without ever giving back to them.

Once caught on any road as a motorist in the state, what the very first information issued to you is go pay this form of tax for three years and come back for discussions pertaining to your vehicle, the main reason you have been nabbed right or wrong. One is also expected to pay tax even for the air he breaths in Lagos but the question is what do we get back from the Local Governments?

The status of certain settlements in the state are even confusing, for Festac and Satellite town made to sit under two different Local Governments in the state, analysts have the time have wondered whether Festac town posses Federal, State or Local Government status such that should warrant the payment of tenement rates, market rates and other forms of taxes. There are no cemeteries to repair or take care in the town to take care of, no provision of drinkable water, lights are not provided by either the state or the Local Governments yet the people are forcefully put under the oath of tax payment. No single court exists at the local level in the town. The maintenance of the Estate is not carried out by either the federal, state or Local Government yet the headquarters of the Amuwo Odofin Local Government is located in the town.

The Estate has some of the most deplorable roads in Lagos which now cannot be accessed during rainy seasons yet we are told we are under local government and need to pay our tenement rates and ground rents. This situation is very appalling to the residents of the Estate.

Local Governments have been described as money sharing ventures with no feasible purpose to carry out with nothing to show as there are lapses in administration worsened by lack of checks and balances. Many people in the country do not even know the counselors and chairpersons representing them, which is terrible.

The Federal Government should begin to take closer looks on this government at the grass roots and ensure that people at the rural areas benefit immensely with water, roads and other facilities, stringent efforts should also be made to articulate new and better means of carrying out elections at this level to effectively distribute fairness and equity to all the parties involved. Only these will answer whether the operation of Local Governments should be retained in the country. 


Related Tags: festac town, local governments in nigeria, amuwo-odofin, satellite town, nigerian governements, local government elections in nigeria, local government taxes, tenement rates in lagos, action congress, action congress candidates, lagos councellorship

Emeka Esogbue hails from Ibusa, Delta State, Nigeria. He is a Historian, International Relations graduate and Public Affairs commentator with lots of tremendous published and unpublished works.

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