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This study assessed the role of local government in service delivery with a specific focus on Kaduna North local government from 1999-2011. It sought to identify services delivered by local government and to ascertain the impact of the services on the wellbeing of the people. Two sets of questionnaires were designed and administered i.e. one for the inhabitants of the area and the other for employees of the local government, so as to capture both the views of the inhabitants of the area and the employees of the local government. Questionnaires were conveniently distributed to 360 inhabitants and 314 were returned. Questionnaires were also conveniently distributed to 30 employees of the local government and the 30 were returned. This was further aided by interviews, focus group discussions, personal observation and the review of relevant literatures. The study revealed that, mismanagement of funds, joint account system, lack of transparency and accountability and restricted revenue sources available to local government and inability to effectively utilize its internal sources of revenue generation had impacted negatively on the provision of public goods at the local level. This is evidence in the poor educational facilities, poor healthcare centres, roads, etc; several problems were however identified as constraints to the service delivery efforts of the local government. These are; lack of viable sources of revenue, mismanagement, joint account, undue interference from state government etc. Hence, this study therefore recommends for the full autonomous status of local government both financially and administratively in order to fully deliver on its mandate, viable sources of revenue and a leadership recruitment process that is merit driven and people of unquestionable character and integrity should be at the helm of affairs, among others.
1.0 GENERAL INTRODUCTION
1.1 Background to the Study
Local government administration in Nigeria has had a tortuous history. It is
an important process of government with significant consequences for national
development. It is about mobilization of human and material resources at the
grassroots level for societal progress and development.
Local government is supposed to be broadly participatory and responsive to
the needs of the people at the local community levels, such as villages and towns.
Yet, during the period when the British colonized Nigeria and the mid 1970‟s when
a major reform initiative was launched, local government administration was
essentially undemocratic and authoritarian, either directly colonial in nature, or in
indirectly so, but indeed undemocratic, under various traditional governance
authorities referred to as Native Administration by the British colonial rulers (Jega,
2006:1). The local government reforms introduced by the Murtala/Obasanjo military
regime in 1976, sought to democratize the system, by introducing elective offices,
and also tried to use the new system „to bring government nearer to the people‟ for
the purpose of „grassroots‟ development (FRN, 1976).The desire by the government
to maximize rural and grassroots development is one of the major objectives of local
government system in Nigeria. The above role is very significant because 70% of the
country‟s population live and operate within this area (Ibok, 2010:12)
Historically, local government developed as an institution for the provision
of essential services to the people especially at the grassroots. Through series of
reforms over the years, the system has undergone so many changes in respect of
structure and function. In Omenka‟s view (cited in Tativ, 2011:2), the reforms were
necessitated by the need to properly define the various organs and functionaries of
local government because of the realization that local government is an essential
instrument of service delivery.
According to the fourth schedule of the 1999 constitution of the Federal
Republic of Nigeria,the exclusive function of local government includes, economic
planning, collecting taxes, rates and the provision of social amenities like market,
feeder roads, health services, portable water etc. among others. These functions
simply defined the rationale behind the existence of local government system in
Local governments have a role to play in the economic development of any
nation. Constitutionally, they should provide for the democratic representation of
local communities. This role covers a wide range of responsibilities and services
which impact heavily on the livelihoods of individuals. They are, for example, key to
determining where infrastructure should be located, to protect our environment and
to provide services which are crucial to quality of life-primary schools, primary
healthcare facilities, drinking water, recreational facilities, roads and other services.
It is therefore expected that local government as sub-units should collaborate
with the national government in the delivery of services towards the sustenance of
Scholars have argued that democratic governance and service delivery at the
local government level is the vital tool for the social, political and economic
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