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The Nigerian local government system’s failure is widely documented, yet little is known about an alternative governance framework that communities have developed to tend to their needs. Using a case study methodology, this paper investigates the structure and process of informal community governance by which communities in Ibadan, Nigeria, fill in the gaps in local government. Documents and key informant interviews with community leaders provided qualitative data. The findings reveal that informal community governance systems are functioning well in Ibadan. Their governance process is open to all, participatory democracy is visible, and corruption is not tolerated. While Nigeria’s official local government structure lacks the governance and democratic culture essential for meaningful, long-term local development, this paper’s analysis shows that those features are being nurtured in the local community setting. The findings serve to draw attention to the need to institutionalise community governance as a form of local government capable of addressing a wide range of present and emerging community needs.
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