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This study investigated the level of autonomy of local government in Nigeria and its impacts on service delivery. The study was motivated by persistent crisis in the relationship among the three tiers of government in the area of finance, resources, functions and responsibilities. The two upper tiers; state and federal has exploited the constitutional and other loop-holes in stifling the local governments from effective performance. In the study, several problems were discovered, such a lack of autonomy and independence of local councils, lack of funds and appropriate institutions, excessive politicking and inadequate work force etc. Local governments are not sovereign unlike independent nation-states. It is a subordinate government, which derives its existence and power from law enacted by a superior government. The nature and structure of transactions or interactions between the three tiers of government determine the degree of autonomy. Local government in Nigeria is rooted on historical antecedents of reforms. The objective of the study is to show that the unwillingness of most state governments to adhere to the constitutional provisions on establishing democratically elected, freestanding councils is a fundamental problem about defining Nigeria’s federalism. This study examines the contradictions in local government system and suggests that the sustainability of local government autonomy should anchor on improved revenue base adherence to constitutional provisions, political stability, accountability and transparency in governance. Materials for this study have been drawn mainly from secondary sources found in libraries and archives in Nigeria; academic and other resources available in the internet, local and international publications (books and learned journals). The study recommended constitutional amendment that will remove joint state/local government account which will ensure financial liberty of the councils. The study also recommended direct remitting of the federal allocation to local councils. States should concentrate on their own tax-raising areas so that local councils will function well.


Title                                                                                                                           Page

Title Page       -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           i

Declaration   -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           ii

Certification  -           -           -           -           -           -           --         -           -           iii

Dedication     -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           iv

Acknowledgements -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           v

Abstract         -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           vii

Table of Contents     -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           viii

CHAPTER ONE: General Introduction

1.1       Introduction -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           1

1.2       Statement of the Research Problems         -           -           -           -           4

1.3       Research Questions -           -           -           -           -           -           -           6

1.4       General Objectives of the Study    -           -           -           -           -           7

1.5       Specific Objectives of the Study    -           -           -           -           -           7

1.6       Significance of Study Basic Assumptions of the Study  -           -           8

1.7       Significance of Study          -           -           -           -           -           -           8

1.8        Scope and Delimitations of the Study      -           -           -           -           10

1.9       Limitations of the Study      -           -           -           -           -           -           10

1.10    Methods of Data Collection and Analysis -           -           -           -           11

1.11    Operationalization of terms            -           -           -           -           -           11


CHAPTER TWO: Review of Related Literature

2.1       Theoretical Framework of the research    -           -           -           -           13

2.2       Review of Related Literature         -           -           -           -           -           17

CHAPTER THREE: Federalism and Local Government in Nigeria

3.1       Historical Survey of Nigerian Federalism            -           -           -           33       

3.2       Evolution of Local Government system in Nigeria         -           -           35

3.3       Pre-Colonial Era       -           -           -           -           -           -           -           36

3.4       The Development of Local Government under Colonial

Administration in Nigeria   -           -           -           -           -           -           38

3.5       Post -Colonial Era and the Rise of Modern

 Local Government  -           -           -           -           -           -           -           39       

3.6       The 1976 Local Government Reform        -           -           -           -           43

3.7       The 1979 Constitution and the Local Government

System           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           47

3.8       The 1985 Local Government Reform in Nigeria -           -           -           48

3.9       The 1989 Local Government Reform        -           -           -           -           50

3.10    The 1991 Local Government Reform

(The Presidential System of Government at the Local Level)   -           -.          52

3.11    Local Government Autonomy        -           -           -           -           -           53


CHAPTER FOUR: The Autonomy of Local Government under Nigerian

Federalism: Uyo Local Government Experience, And

Local Government Autonomy and Service Delivery

4.1       The Struggle for Local Government Autonomy in Nigeria        -           62

4.2       Constitutional Backing Responsible for the

Unautonomous State of Local Government         -           -           -           69

4.3       Local Government Autonomy: The Uyo Local

Government Experience     -           -           -           -           -           -           75

4.4       General Survey of Local Government

Autonomy in Nigeria: Lack of Autonomy

and undue Interference by Higher Political Authorities -           -           .80

4.5       Service Delivery as a Role of Local Government           -           -           82

4.6       Assessment of Service Delivery in Uyo Local Government      -           86

4.7.      Autonomy an Impetus for Effective Local

Government Service Delivery        -           -           -           -           -           96

CHAPTER FIVE: Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations

5.1       Summary       -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           99

5.2       Conclusion    -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           100

5.3.      Recommendations   -           -           -           -           -           -           -           101

References     -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           105






1.1       Background of the Study

Federalism is all about sharing of powers, functions, or responsibilities and resources between and among levels of government. Federalism, according to K.C Wheare, is the method of dividing powers so that the central and regional governments are each, within a sphere, co-ordinate and independent. He said that the characteristics of this Federal Principle are the division of powers among levels of government, a written constitution showing this division of powers and co-ordinate not sub-ordinate supremacy of the two levels of government with respect to their functions (K.C Wheare, 1953: 10).

Accordingly, Dode (2013) maintains that "A state is ascribed the federal status, if in its composition it showcases a number of elements that do not place the other units so much on the periphery of power division when compared with those exercise by the central/national government". Baker (2000), among a number of analysts severally opined that; federalism has been around in the world since the early Greek city-state civilization and that more than forty percent of the human race (world population) lives in one federal country or another, it is however surprising that, until recently, federalism was so the subject of little academic discourse. To a majority of the authors on federalism matters, federalism has its origin in the writings, works, and practices of the early Greek city-state of Athens, Sparta, Peloponnesia and others.

According to Dode (2013) the primary fact about a federal state is that, it is so composed in a way that a number of co-ordinate states unite (come together) for a certain purpose which there feel would easily and quickly (be) achieved on collective than individual basis, such areas would include: Defence, Trade, Territory, and Culture. James Morison of the classical thought defined federalism as “A happy combination of great/general interest and local/particular interest.

The practice of federalism in Nigeria is one of the legacies the British colonial masters bequeathed to Nigeria. Local government is born out of federalism, because federalism has to do with the division of power between the central and the component units, including the local government as one of components in a federal system. It is recognized as a third tier of government which is charged with various responsibilities at the grass root. The local ‘government’ performs certain functions assigned to it by the constitution and the local government ought to be autonomous on its own to carry out all its responsibilities without interference from the central government. The local government should do precisely the word “government” in its own sphere and right. The evolution of local government in Nigeria has undergone a lot of changes and all these are geared towards making the local government a system that could serve the purpose for its creation. Specifically, in 1976 under General Olusegun Obasanjo’s regime saw the advent of the 1976 local government reforms. The reform recognized the local government as the third tier of government in the Nation and it is expected to do precisely what the word local government implies that is, governing at the local level. The reforms also intend to stimulate democratic self-government, encourage initiative and leadership potential and entrenched the principle of this reform for the local government to be autonomous having the freedom to recruit and manage its own staff, raise and manage its own finances, make policies, laws and provide services within the limits of its resources and functions without interference, the local government system in Nigeria still have some constraints that have impeded its autonomy. (Okoli, 2005: 107).

This research puts in Uyo local government area in Akwa Ibom as a case study. It will investigate the autonomous nature of the local government area and see the level of services that has been rendered. Uyo local Government area which doubles as the capital of Akwa Ibom State, and Uyo local government lies between latitude 5.05 North and Longitude 80 East. This is within the equatorial rain forest belt, which is a tropical zone and home to vegetation of green foliage of trees, shrubs and oil palm trees. Tourist attractions include Ibom Plaza Park, Le Meridien Hotel and Golf Resort, Technology park and many other hospitable outlets. Uyo Local Government Area as a people speaks Ibibio language. This is the local dialect in Ibibio land and entire Akwa Ibom State. Though there exist some slight differences in the dialectical aspect of some vocabularies as found among the people of Ikono clan; all the people of Uyo local government area hear and understand themselves in this one language. Uyo people are of the Ibibio stock and speak Ibibio language. There are unique traditions of the people which are expressed in Ekpo, Ekpe masquerades and dances.

The people of Uyo Local Government Area are predominantly farmers and traders. Their area of trade is mostly on food items like palm oil and other palm produce, vegetables, plantain, bananas, yam, cassava, etc. The trade items also include the products gotten from the sea like fish which are sold sometimes smoked and at times fresh. Also they have crayfish, periwinkle (mfi) and other products from the sea. In recent times some indigenes have established cottage industries for the fabrication and production of some household utensils and farm tools. On the whole, they are very enterprising, innovative and adventurous.

Besides, Uyo people are property developers and craftsmen.

1.2       Statement of the Research Problems

By Local Government Autonomy is meant the Freedom of the local government to recruit and manage its own staff, raise and manage its own Finances, make policies, laws and provide services within the limits of its resources and functions without interference. Before the 1976 Local Government Reforms, Local Governments were under the direct tutelage of the state governments which commanded exclusive powers to make and unmake them. As a result, Local Governments were subjected to excessive controls by their respective state governments. These controls by their respective state governments, were carried out through such media as approval of Bye-laws and major contracts, appointments of certain categories of professional and administrative staff, approval of annual estimates and loan proposals and funding through grants-in-aid. These control measures posed negative consequences as they culminated into delays which in turn frustrated many important policies and programmes in the local government areas. In addition, state governments created, modified, dissolved and suspended local government councils at will. The states had the power to abolish their local governments. In fact, local government existed at the mercy of the state government. The autonomy of local government in African countries, such as Nigeria is more in theory than in practice. As Olowu (1988:71) succinctly puts it:

“Most governments have opted for the direct control by central government of their local governments through a battery of legal, financial and administrative controls. So called local government units of central governments or worse still, existed as parallel institutions to the government’s field administration controlled by both the central and field units.”

The heavy dependence of local governments in Nigeria for instance on statutory allocations from the Federal government whittles down the autonomy of the former. It puts local governments at the mercy of the federal government. Furthermore, successive Nigerian governments (both federal and state) have interfered in the actual functioning of the local government. For instance, between 1984 and late 1987, local government councils were abolished and the administration of the affairs of the local government were placed entirely on the sole administrators. Again, in 1994, the elected local government councils were disbanded by the military government of General Abacha and replaced with caretaker committees (Ezeani, 2004). Also the financial autonomy of local governments has on many occasions been tempered with by the state governments. This is currently the case in Nigeria were some state governments confiscate federal allocations to the local governments and give whatever amount they like to the chairmen to run the local governments, through the so called 'Joint-state-and-local government account'. (Ezeani, 2004:86). Despite the far reaching measures as recommended by the 1976 local government reforms thereby making it the bedrock of modern local government system in Nigeria, one can safely assert that the local governments still have some constraints that have actually impeded their performances. These in the view of Olugbemi (1986) is summarized as;

- Continued jurisdiction of state government over the most important functions allocated to local governments in the guidelines and as stipulated in the Fourth schedule of 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

- Continued imposition of various central government policies via the selection of councilors, in budgeting and budget control, in policy determination, including the determination of fiscal policies, in personnel management etc which tend to diminish the value of government in local governments.

1.3       Research Questions

Therefore, this study seeks to provide empirical and verifiable answers to these questions posed:

1.         Does Federalism guarantee local government autonomy?

2.         Is Nigeria local government system (Uyo Local Government) autonomous?


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