LG system is broken, needs urgent reform


FARCE descended recently on Ogun State over the operations of its local governments, drawing attention to Nigeria’s broken LG system. A dispute blew open when the Chairman of Ijebu East LG, Wale Adedayo, accused Governor Dapo Abiodun of diverting the statutory funds of the state’s LGs. The state government promptly denied the allegations. Then events took a more bizarre turn when other Ogun LG bosses disowned Adedayo, and publicly prostrated before Abiodun. Beyond any doubt, the country’s LG system has become dysfunctional and needs to be salvaged.

According to Adedayo, in the past two years, the 20 LGs in Ogun have not received the allocations the Federation Account released for them through the Joint State/Local Government Account as prescribed in Section 162 of the 1999 Constitution. Adedayo further alleged that the Federal Government’s Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme funding assistance amounting to N10.8 billion was also diverted. The state is also withholding the statutory 10 per cent remittance due to the LGs from its internally-generated revenue, he added.

These are weighty allegations, which the state government has also strongly denied. On cue, some Ijebu-East LG councillors thereafter accused Adedayo of fraud and suspended him. The Department of State Services then detained him for three days.

The entire episode confirms the iron grip of governors over the LGs. The abject servitude displayed by the prostrating chairmen corroborates their lack of independence, and the realisation that they hold office at the pleasure of the governor. It is the same in the other 35 states.

The 1999 Constitution assigns some critical assignments to the 774 LGs, including markets, motor parks, health centres, and collection of rates, slaughterhouses, and outdoor advertising. But the state governors have hijacked these mandates. Consequently, development at the grassroots is virtually at a standstill.

Sadly, it is not for want of resources. A report in The PUNCH said the Federal Account Allocation Committee assigned N2.02 trillion to the LGAs in 2022. By the first half of 2023, NEITI said the LGAs had received N1.08 trillion. The money largely went down the drain, some embezzled, the rest hijacked by governors through the JSLGA with only a pittance released to pay salaries. This formula sustains the underdevelopment at the local level.

Politically, the governors recruit their loyalists to head the LGAs. During elections, these officials are mobilised to sway the numbers. Despite a Supreme Court ruling declaring its illegality, at least two governors who assumed office on May 29 have defiantly dissolved the LGs in their states and replaced them with “caretaker committees.” In Oyo, Governor Seyi Makinde incurred a judgement debt of N3.3 billion for illegally dissolving the state’s LGs in 2019.

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In other states, governors control the system by refusing to conduct LG elections. Where elections do hold, they are glaringly farcical, with the ruling party invariably “winning” all the seats. The entire system is a mess.

Amendments need to be made to the 1999 Constitution that queerly lists LGs as if they were federating units and includes them in the sharing of federally collected revenues. This creates ambiguities that the governors exploit.

In other federations, LGs are the responsibility of the states/regions/provinces, which are the federating units. There, each state determines how to run, fund, and manage LGs in its respective jurisdiction. Crucially, this facilitates development from bottom up, the essence of local administration.  Canada’s 10 provinces have 3,600 LGs; in the 16 Länder (states) in Germany, there are 12,629 LGs, and 19,495 municipalities in the United States.

LGs should be allowed to function and their funds given to them. Ultimately, the 1999 Constitution has to be reworked to correct its anomalies and restore true federalism as in the First Republic when the defunct regions oversaw LGs.

Instead of the reprehensible hounding of the Ijebu-East LG boss by state agents, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission should investigate the LG allocations to Ogun State.

More LG bosses nationwide should summon the courage like Adedayo, to demand their dues and resist governors hijacking their funds and functions.


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