As we observed earlier and as generally acknowledged Local Government is the grass-root government which is the nearest to the populace both those living in the urban and metropolitan cities and those living in the rural and countryside suburbs. The Local Government ought to be “the government of the people run by the people for the people.” The beauty of democracy ought to manifest in Local Government administration. The Local Government in Nigeria as a tier of government is the most neglected, the most undemocratized and the worst cheated tier of government.
We did mention earlier and we say for purposes of emphasis that of the three presidential constitutional experiences we had, that is, 1979, 1989 and 1999, it is only the Unutilized 1989 Presidential Constitution that detailed the Local Government administration. Both the 1979 Constitution and the present 1999 Constitution with all the amendments so far done made a mere skirmish in providing for the Local Government. The Provisions of the two named Constitution (1979 & 1999) are to say the least, hypocritical and it is therefore not acceptable if we shall really meet with our democratic principles and norms in that tier of government. If anything, we need an overhaul reform in our Local Government democracy. Is it surprising that not up to ten State governments have been able to conduct local government election since 1999? It is surprising that even where the so called local government elections were conducted that the serving governors using the instruments of State Independent Electoral Commission which they enthroned selected loyal party men to run the affairs of the Local Governments otherwise the State Governors unconstitutionally appointed party loyalists as what they call “caretaker committees of the Local Governments.” Indeed, the Local Government governance in Nigeria is nothing to write home about as at now but as we stated earlier, it needs a total reform or using the words of the incumbent President (Dr. Goodluck Jonathan) “the Local Government in Nigeria needs a total transformation”. Indeed there is the need for a radical transformation of our Local Government administration because it is the foundation government and nobody can build on false foundation and succeed. We need a rethink.
First of all, we suggest a constitutional amendment using the Unutilized 1989 Constitution as a guide.
Secondly, we suggest that the Local Government elections be conducted with the House of Assembly and National Assembly elections. There should be no lacuna in the process of democratization through elections.
Thirdly, we suggest a radical reform in the Local Government administration, example, the traditional ruler should be involved directly and positively.
The issue of security challenges now faced by all nooks and crannies in Nigeria shall not be there in the first place if the Local Government administration is put in proper a footing.
The little safety of life and property we have today is not due to the enormity and sophistication of our Army and Police but it is entirely by the ‘crafty’ ideas of the rural dwellers. After all, the society is made up of us and our relations who live and dwell with us. We need a serious radical approach in order to harness the beauty of Local Government democratization.
We further suggest that stringent procedures for creating Local Government be removed in our Statute books especially the constitution. The issue of creation of Local Government should be with ease and should be the prerogative of the State Legislative mechanism and this will lessen the demand for the State creation and bring the government nearest to every nook and cranny and create gainful employment and reduce to the barest minimum the crime industry.
For the purposes of emphasis, we prefer and recommend the provisions of the Unutilized 1989 Constitution in democratization of the Local Government administration in Nigeria.
Be that as it may, the idea of national unity and integration runs through the constitutions. For instances, each of the constitutions began with an affirmation in its preamble of the resolve of the people of Nigeria to live in unity as one and indissoluble sovereign nation. The constitution provides in its Chapter Two the Fundamental Objectives and Directives Principles of State policy. This Section of the Constitution though not actionable or justiciable but for sure shows the yarning of the country as a person, that is, what the person Nigeria wants to be done within it polity. It wants to be governed on the principles of democracy and social justice and reminds every person exercising any Executive, Legislative and Judicial Powers that sovereignty of the country belongs to the people of Nigeria and it is from the people that the government through its Grund-norm (constitution) derives all its power and authority. This part reminds us that the security and welfare of the generality of the people shall be the primary purpose for any government ‘which derives its authority from the Constitution and that the Participation of the people on how they are governed at all levels (tiers) shall be ensured; the concept of Federal Character shall be ensured in all government functionaries, agencies and all tiers and levels of governance. Both the 1979 Constitution and the 1989
Unutilized Constitution provide for this though not justiciable part of the constitution but could be said to be the spirit and soul of the constitution for without Spirit and soul of national integration and national unity, fairness, equity, tranquility and transformation, the body of the country is lifeless and even where it has life, it is restless and chatacterized by pandemonium and upheavals.
The polity is thus in higgledy-piggledy and in sixes an sevens and the Sixty-Four Thousand dollar question we should ask and answer ourselves today in Nigeria where are we in general?, and particularly where are we in administration of Local Government?, and without much ado the answer is that we are yet to arrive to the ‘promised land’ and if we must arrive, we must get our priorities right. We must not sweep the basic necessity for good governance under the carpet and feel that we can be transformed for better. The Local Government, for purposes of emphasis is the basic government It is the foundation government. It is the government at the grass-root It is the home government and we know that charity begins at home. There is no way the Local Government shall be in dismay and disjointed as it is today and we expect a harmonious smooth selling Federal and State governance because the actors at the Federal and State levels of governance are the perpetrators of the disjointed Local Government. The tragedy and paradox of the scenario is that they all come from Local Government so the nemesis of evil priorities is always confronting their hypocrisies but we are sure that once we get our priorities right by democratizing the basic government the rest will be history. The development of the local communities should be pursued through the Local Government System whose structures are much less expensive than those of the State Government.
The benefit of the Local Government was appreciated and referred to by some past military administrations who, deep inside them knew, that there are no two ways into the heart of good governance in Nigeria than expounding the Local Government administration. This is preserved by the Presidential Constitution especially the 1989 Unutilized Constitution which guarantees to the local communities administrative machinery and financial resources needed for their development. The Constitution guarantees the System of Local Government and each State Government shall ensure its existence under a law which provides for its establishment, structure, composition, finance and function of such councils.
As it is, Local Government is not in the Exclusive Legislative List as being with Federal Legislative competence neither is it in the Concurrent Legislative List to be shared by both Federal and State Legislatures. It is therefore relegated to a residual matter and therefore within the legislative competence of the State Governments. It is expressly provided in the Constitution that the System of Local Government Councils is guaranteed and that Government of every State shall, subject to provision of Section Eight of the Constitution (which deals with constitutional amendment on creation of State and boundary adjustment) ensure their existence under a law which provides for the establishment structure and finance and functions of such councils. A similar provision was made in 1979 Constitution and the 1989 Unutilized Constitution. It is further provided that the person authorized by law to prescribe the area over which a Local Government Council may exercise authority shall (a) define such area as clearly as practicable and (b) ensure to the extent to which it may be reasonably justifiable that in defining such area regard is to:
i. The common interest of the community in the area;
ii. Traditional association of the community; and
iii. Administrative Convenience.
It is with respect that we observe the ambiguity, unclarity and vagueness of this Sub-Section 2 of Section 7 of the Constitution. It is not understood at all what the authors of this Sub-Section have in mind. They made room for future uncertainty. For instance, it started with “the person authorized by law” who is the person? Can such a person not be safely named and cleared? Then it went further to say in paragraph (a) “define such area….” area of what? And (b) “ensure the extent to which it may be reasonably justified and defined.
(i)  “Common interest …community”
(ii) “Traditional association
(iii) “Administrative convenience.”
We strongly dare to say that this Sub-Section of the Constitution be expunged and be replaced with its counterpart in the 1989 Unutilized Constitution which clearly stated “There shall be 449 Local Government Areas in Nigeria as named in Second Column of Part One of the First Schedule to this Constitution and each Local Government Areas shall be the only unit in respect of which the government of a State is empowered to establish an authority for the purpose of Local Government”. We do not need to hold any degree or diploma in law or any humanity to understand the clear intention of the draftsman in the Sub-Section 2 of the 1989 unutilized Constitution because it is elementarily clear and we commend the authors.
On Local Government, the 1999 Constitution further provides that “it shall be the duty of a Local Government within the State to participate in economic planning and “development of the area referred to in Sub Section 2 of the Section 7 and to this end an Economic Planning Board shall be established by a law enacted by the House of Assembly of the State. This provision has all the evil attributes that are possessed by Sub-Section 2 above. For instance, how can Local Governments which are puppet extension of our various State Governors — some of them party loyalists called “transition committee,” etc. How can they form economic board? Since 1999 until date, how many State Governments have formed such Economic Board?
To say the least is to suggest that this Statutory tragedy should be expunged and be replaced with its counterpart in the 1989 Unutilized Constitution which clearly stated “without prejudice to the provisions of Sub. Section 2 of this Section, the Government of a State may by law create for any Local Government Area up to a maximum of Seven (7) Development Areas having regard to such factor as common historical and traditional ties, geographical contiguity and administrative expedience. It is clearly understood here that Sub-Section that the 1989 Unutilized Constitution now provided for what the
1999 Constitution was providing for nobody and no institution.
It provides that subject to Sub-Section 2 of this Section (Section 7) the person authorized by law to prescribe the area over which a Local Government may exercise authority shall define such area as clearly a practicable and in conformity with the provisions of part One of the First Schedule to the Constitution. It is clear from the provisions of Sub-Sections 2,3 and 4 of the 1989 unutilized Constitution that:
(i)   The number of Local Government Areas are definite;
(ii)  It is the State Governments which define the areas and locations of such
Local Government Areas;
(iii) It is clear that although the State Government lacks competence to create Local Government Areas but it could create not more than Seven Development Areas in an existing Local Government Area.
All these are clear and should be used to cure the ambiguity in their counterpart provisions in the 1999 Constitution.
The provisions of Sub-Section 4 of the Section 7 of 1999 Constitution is in Parimaterial with the Provisions of Sub-Section 6 of the 1989 Unutilized Constitution except that the 1999 Constitution specified “Government of a State” while the 1989 Unutilized Constitution simply Stated more correctly “Government” shall ensure that every person who is entitled to vote or be voted for at an election to a House of Assembly shall have the right to vote and be voted for at an election to a Local Government Council 15 These provisions here are stating the obvious because it is one voters card and one voters’ register we use for the election.
However, the duty of enlightenment of the citizens which the Sections seems to be canvassing for, the responsibility all tiers of government including communal governments’. Therefore, the provision of Sub-Section 6 in the subject matter is preferred.
The 1989 Unutilized Constitution provided that it shall be the duty of the Local Government within the State to participate in economic planning and development of the Local Government Area concerned and to this end a Joint Economic Planning Board shall be established by a law enacted by the House of Assembly of the State. The provisions of Sub-Section 6 of Section 7 of 1999 Constitution is at par with the provisions of Sub Section 8 of the same Section 7 of the Unutilized 1989 Constitution which provides that the National Assembly and the House of Assembly shall subject to the provision” of the Constitution make provisions for Statutorily allocation of public revenue with the Federation and State respectively.
For the purpose of emphasis, we are suggesting that Section 7 of the Unutilized 1989 Constitution should replace in its entirety the provisions of Section 7 of 1999 Constitution for a better administrative cohesion and legislative efficacy and effectiveness of our Local government governance which is a very important tier (if not the most important tier) of governments.
The 1989 Unutilized Constitution also provides that the Auditor-General of the Local Government shall audit the Local Government Area and such audit shall be laid before the State House of Assembly. The importance of this provision which is for financial probity cannot be over emphasized because if anything goes wrong with the financial system of a free economy, every other things else will go wrong and freedom itself shall be disreputed and may be disenchanted.
The final provision in the Sub-Section 10 of the Unutilized 1989 Constitution is that subject to the provision of Chapter VIII of the Constitution that the State House of Assembly shall enact a law providing for structure, composition, revenue, expenditure and Other financial matters, staff meeting and other relevant matters for the Local Government Areas.
The Chapter VIII (8) referred to above is the detailed provision for Local Government Council the Unutilized 1989 Constitution. It contains Twenty-Eight Sections from Sections 253 to Section 310, It made provision for the establishment of Local Government Council; Government Division into Wards of the Local Government Areas and boundaries thereof; Periodical review of the Wards; Establishment of the Office of Chairman and Vice-Chairman; Qualification of Chairman; Disqualification of Chairman; Declaration of Assets and Liabilities and Oath of Office of the Chairman as provided for in the 7th Schedule of that Constitution. Here we observed that it is the same Oath of
Office that the State Governor and the Local Government Chairman subscribe to. Election of Chairman; Nomination and Election of Vice-Chairman of Local
Government; Removal of Chairman or Vice chairman permanent Incapacity of the Chairman and Vice Chairman Discharge of Functions of the Chairman; Executive Responsibilities of the ‘Vice-Chairman or Supervisory Councilors; Tenure of Office of the Chairman; Death of Chairman elect before taking Oath of Office; Number of Councilors; Qualification of Councilors; Disqualification of Councilor; Declaration of Assets and Liabilities of the Councilors and Oaths of Office of Councilors as in Schedule Seven of the Constitution it is the same Oath of Office that the Vice resident, Deputy Governor, Vice-Chairman and
Councilors subscribe to. Supervisory Councillors Tenure of Office of Members; Recall; Presiding at Sittings of Local Government Council; Quorum, Voting; Local Government Services; Protection of Pension Rights and Code of Conduct.

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