ABU Journal, Department Of Public Administration
Volume No: 3|
LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND THE CHALLENGES OF NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT IN NIGERIA
DR. LINUS UGWU ODO
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION ,IBB UNIVERSITY, LAPAI&NBSP;NIGER STATE
The paper is about the role of local government in national development and the challenges thereof. As global trend on development moves to a more enduring conception of national development, the crucial role of local government in putting in place the structures and attitudes to support the desired structural transformation comes into sharp focus. Local government plays vital roles in the national development process as a decentralized unit of power and authority; and having an inherent capacity to provide the most effective organizational framework for responding to a myriad of local demands and aspirations using local initiatives and resources. This has provoked a national concern in Nigeria for reforming the character and making credible the instruments of local governance. The various reforms of the local government system in the country especially, since 1976 could best be appreciated against this background. Nigeria, with a myriad of development challenges, has thus, found very compelling, the need to rely more and more on its local government system as an institutional framework for addressing a wide variety of the country’s development problems. The paper examines Nigeria’s developmental experience since independence and attempts to locate the role of local government in the national development process; including the challenges that have tended to incapacitate the potentials of the local government. The paper recommends appropriate orientation and empowerment of local governments to enhance their capacities as veritable agents of national development in the country.
Generally, there is relatively low development performance position of local governments in the national development process. There are a number of factors, which in varying degrees account for this. These include low level of qualified manpower in both management and technical areas; wasteful expenditures; excessively expensive political and administrative structures; and lack of appropriate development focus. However, despite the dismal performance of the local government in the national development process, there is no doubt that they have the potentials to make meaningful contributions to development at national level through the provision of services in such areas like primary health and education, laying the basic infrastructures for the promotion of agriculture, small-scale manufacturing industries, transportation, citizen participation in governance, etc. Indeed, local governments remain the most effective medium for responding to the basic needs of the people thereby reducing congestion of responsibility at the state and federal levels of government. The challenge therefore, is to institute appropriate reform measures in the local government system towards guaranteeing the local governments as viable and credible agents of national development in the country.
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