The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 provides in the Fourth Schedule the main functions of Local Governments in Nigeria as follows: –
(a) the consideration and the making of recommendations to a State Commission on Economic Planning or any similar body on:
(i) the economic development of the State, particularly in so far as the areas of authority of the Council and of the State are affected, and
(ii) proposals made by the said Commission or body;
(b) collection of rates, radio and television licences;
(c) establishment and maintenance of cemeteries, burial grounds and homes for the destitute or infirm;
(d) licensing of bicycles, trucks (other than mechanically-propelled trucks), canoes, wheel barrows and carts;
(e) establishment, maintenance and regulation of slaughter houses, slaughter slabs, markets, motor parks and public conveniences;
(f) construction and maintenance of roads, streets, street lightings, drains and other public highways, parks, gardens, open spaces, or such public facilities as maybe prescribed from time to time by the House of Assembly of a State;
(g) naming of roads and streets, and numbering of houses;
(h) provision and maintenance of public conveniences, sewage and refuse disposal;
(i) registration of all births, deaths and marriages;
(j) assessment of privately owned houses or tenements for the purpose of levying such rates as may be prescribed by the House of assembly of a State; and
(k) control and regulation of:
(i) out-door advertising and hoarding;
(ii) movement and keeping of pets of all descriptions;
(iii) shops and kiosks;
(iv) restaurants, bakeries and other places for sale of food to the public,
(v) laundries, and
(vi) licensing, regulation and control of the sale of liquor.
Apart from these exclusive functions, the function of Local Governments shall include participation of such Councils in the government of a state as respects the following matters:
(a) the provision and maintenance of primary, adult and vocational education;
(b) the development of agriculture and natural resources other than the exploitation of minerals;
(c) the provision and maintenance of health services; and
(d) such other functions as may be conferred on a local Government Council by the House of Assembly of the State.
As provided for in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Local Governments have functions and responsibilities assigned.
Some of these functions are performed exclusively by the Local Government like the maintenance of cemeteries, markets and motor parks. On the other hand, some other functions and responsibilities are performed concurrently with the State Government. Among these concurrent functions are primary education, agriculture, health and any other functions that may be conferred on Local Government by the House of Assembly of the State. As can be seen, these various functions and responsibilities of Local Governments are quite enormous and demanding. The tragedy of the situation is that Local Governments have very limited and circumscribed sources of revenue to enable them execute meaningfully and effectively the functions and responsibilities assigned to them.
Financial Resources of Local Governments.
After discussing the array of functions and responsibilities of Local Governments, it is necessary to examine the available financial resources of Local Governments. This exercise is to be done with a need to find out how adequate the financial resources available to Local Governments are, vis-à-vis the functions and responsibilities of Local Governments in Nigeria. Local Governments as a third tier Government provide services and projects for the people and communities at the grassroots level.
As usual, Local Governments are therefore, Governments which are nearest to the people.
The impact of Local Governments would, therefore, directly be felt by the people. In order to carry out these various functions and responsibilities, Local Governments derive their revenue from statutory allocations, grants, taxes and rates levied locally. Other sources of fund are licence fees and proceeds from hire and lease of Council properties and investments, including lands, markets, buildings and in some cases, commercial undertakings and businesses. Local Governments in Nigeria as of now derive their main revenue from allocation from the Federation Account. In most cases, revenue from the various internal sources are not fully exploited and accounted for. There are a lot of leakages from these sources of internal revenue which tend to have negative impact on the finances of Local Governments.
Local Governments as governments closest to the people are supposed to provide basic services and projects to the communities at the grassroots. Though revenue from the Federation Account is relatively high these days, the expected impact on the people in terms of provision of services and projects to the people are not commensurate with the allocations received. Some Local Governments have made some remarkable progress in the provision of social amenities to the people in the areas of road construction, markets, electricity, water supply like provision of boreholes, health, refuse collection and disposal etc. Other Local Governments have failed woefully in these areas in providing services, amenities and projects to the people and communities which they serve. The expectation of the people especially in the democratic dispensation is not met.
The Leaders
It is necessary at this juncture to refer to the role and performance of leadership in Local Governments in order to ensure more efficiency, effectiveness, accountability and transparency in the system. The type and quality of leaders in Local Governments are very crucial to the performance of the various functions and responsibilities assigned to Local Governments. For leaders in Local Governments to be effective and efficient demand that the leaders must be well groomed and educated. They should be exposed and trained in modern development strategies. Leaders are also expected to be honest, dedicated and committed to their responsibilities and their obligations to the people and the Communities. They should consciously learn the art of governance at the grassroots.
For leadership to be efficient and effective in Local Governments, there is the need to guarantee regular and democratic change and at all times to ensure easy and effortless transition or change in the system. Such a situation would encourage the emergence of honest and dedicated leadership in Local Governments. It would also facilitate the development of the Local Government Areas as such successive leadership would like to leave enduring and outstanding legacies of their tenure or service. This procedure of regular transition in leadership can only be sustained in a democracy. It is therefore necessary that all hands should be put on deck to ensure the success of our nascent democracy.
The Officials of Local Governments.
Another major stakeholder in the performance of Local Governments is the corps of officials mainly career officials. For the success of Local Governments there is the dire need to ensure the recruitment of educated, trained and dedicated staff. In this regard, it is necessary to commend the role of the Local Government Service Commission, Edo State, in establishing high standards in the recruitment of staff to the State Local Government Service and the program of in- service training. There is need for training to be organize by the Local Government Service Commission to update the quality of its staff. It is hoped that the staff will appreciate and internalize the essence of the trainings.
Usually, the Local Government Service Commission does the recruitment of all senior staff into the Local Government Service in the State.
High standards are set like for example in case of Administrative and other related Cadres, officers are expected to first pass the Competitive Administrative Staff College of Nigeria (ASCON) Examination before they are interviewed and, if successful, finally selected for appointment in the Local Government Service. To ensure efficiency and effectiveness, such recruited staff are placed on probation for two years. After successfully completing the probation and in some Cadres like Administrative Officers, they pass the Compulsory Examinations, they are finally considered for promotion subject, of course, to favourable assessment by their Superior Officers in their confidential reports. There is need to state that such administrative procedures and processes are put in place in order to ensure that dutiful, dedicated and effective officers are duly rewarded by way of promotion.
On the other hand, incompetent officers are either told to improve on their performance or are shown the way out of the service. Such an impartial procedure in the system makes for growth and viability of the entire System as dedicated workers are duly rewarded and conversely incompetent and dishonest officers earn their due punishments for their misdemeanor.
What is to be emphasized here is the need for officials to strive to be efficient and dedicated by acquiring the requisite education, training and retraining to enable them perform.
Such knowledge needs to include the learning of the rules and regulations in the circumstance, officers should have and own copies of Financial Memoranda, the Constitution of the Country, bye-laws and other extant rules and regulations. A deep mastery of such rules and procedures would facilitate their job delivery and performance. Furthermore, they can become aware of their entitlements, rights and privileges. The employers’ responsibilities are equally known to them. It makes for the good health and success of the Service. It is expected that a corps of educated, trained and diligent staff would be in a position to advance the course and progress of development in the Local Governments. A contented and satisfied workforce is an asset to the establishment where the staff will be fulfilled if their aspirations are met in the Service. It would also reduce the incidence of corruption.
The Federal Government
We have identified the Federal Government as a major stakeholder. In a federation, the various governments including the State Governments and Local Governments co-exist. The Federal Government provides the thrust and the drive for the country and in the process its actions impact on Local Governments. The functions of Local Governments listed above include concurrent and exclusive functions. Some functions are quite beyond the scope and reach of not only Local Governments but also State Governments. In such situations, the Federal Government’s interventions would be indispensable. Such areas include the provision and maintenance of education, health, judiciary, transportation, communications, research, technology, tourism, security etc. The major inter-State highways passing through Local Government Areas are provided and maintained by the Federal Government.
In cases of tertiary education and health, the Federal Government directly comes in. In Communications, like telephone and newly introduced Global System of Mobile Communication (GSM), the Federal Government comes in directly. Post offices and Postal Services are also provided by Federal Government. Security which includes Police and other Security Services are provided by the Federal Government. External publicity and marketing of local historical monuments, heritage, culture, arts and crafts are undertaken by such Federal Ministries and its Agencies like the Ministry of External Affairs and National Commission for Museums and Monuments on behalf of Local Governments to attract patronage either in the form of tourism or export. Such actions on the part of the Federal Government have direct impact on the performance of Local Governments.
The State Government
The State Governments can directly impact on Local Governments by providing the necessary guidelines and structure for governance at Local Government level. The State Government, in order to ensure effectiveness, efficiency, probity and accountability in Local Governments, puts in place some measures of control and monitoring. Such include the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, the Local Government Service Commission, the State Auditor-General (Local Government) and State Local Government Alarm Committee. Through these various bodies and agencies the State Government is able to monitor the activities of Local Government and ensure the enthronement of efficiency, effectiveness, probity and accountability. The State Government also provides radio communications equipment to link the State capital with all Local Governments in order to ensure maximum contact with the Local Governments. Such an arrangement guarantee free-flow of information to and from Local Governments in the State.
The State House Of Assembly
By the provision of Section 7 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, the system of Local Government by democratically elected Local Government Councils is guarantee and accordingly, the Government of every State shall ensure their existence under a Law which provides for the establishment, structure, composition, finance and functions of such Councils. The State House of Assembly is a stakeholder in ensuring that good laws are made for Local Governments. In such a situation, the success of Local Governments will depend on the Local Government Law passed by the State House of Assembly.
The People
In this chapter, it is necessary to underscore the importance of the people in achieving efficiency, effectiveness and accountability. The people are in fact, the watchdogs of Local Governments. When the people are informed and committed, the course of activities of Local Governments can be directed to effective goals. In a democracy, power ultimately belongs to the people and therefore the people are urged to use their civic rights purposefully and judiciously. In a situation where the people are conscious of their rights and obligations, the burden of governance is greatly reduced. The leaders are able to reach the people easily and freely. There would not be any gap in communication. The activities and actions of the Local Governments will be easily appreciated and understood by the people. A knowledgeable citizenry is an asset to the Local Governments. At the end of the day, responsible leaders are always installed from such a citizenry at the Local Governments to advance the course of development. On the other hand, an uninformed citizenry contributes greatly to the installation of inept and irresponsible leadership. The people are advised to use their franchise effectively and diligently in ensuring the election of responsible and responsive leaders in Local Governments.

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