Local government administration in Nigeria: the search for relevance

Ozohu-Suleiman Abdulhamid
Paul Chima


In the general discourse on the local government system in Nigeria, two major influences are notable: the intervention of the military in politics, and the 1976 reform of local government. However, the 1979 constitution, which provided the legal framework for the 1976 reforms, plunged the local government system into a crisis of identity, and ever since local government in Nigeria has remained an idea in search of relevance. This paper examines both the inherent weakness of the constitutional foundation and the contradictions created by the 1976 reforms. Using a theoretical analysis, the paper finds that the combined effects of constitutional gaps and reform contradictions have rendered Nigeria’s system of local government an unfortunate ‘orphan’, and that, lacking a strong constitutional foundation, local government in Nigeria has been subject to the whims of both state and federal governments. The paper argues that, despite numerous constitutional developments, current constitutional provisions for local government in Nigeria leave much to be desired. The recommendations to improve the system include that: local government should be given the status of a federating unit in the constitution, with its powers and functions clearly spelt out; the constitutionally mandated State Joint Local Government Account (SJLGA) should be abolished; and the constitution should be amended to create a chapter which guarantees the identity and autonomy of local government as a third tier of government.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5130/cjlg.v0i18.4850

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