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The topic of this project is local government financial autonomy and Grass root development. Using Afikpo North autonomy in Nigeria in relation to the grass root development has been examined in the study proceeding from theoretical frame work and conceptualizations for clear understanding: the study discusses some dominant financial autonomy issues. These include local government financial management and revenue allocation. The study found that inadequate handing of virtually all the above issue has posed some challenges for local government developmental efforts in the localities financial autonomy has been found to be the independent variable in the challenges. Other changes include fledging democracy and ground corruption these must be adequately tackled for local governments to make more positive impact in the localities. However, some pertinent recommendations are as follows: local governments need adequate financial autonomy, hard work rather than verbal institutionalization, democratic consolidation reduced application of the rule of law. This study examines all these as the contradictions in the local government system and suggestion for the achievement of local government financial autonomy in Nigeria.
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
The struggle for Local Government Finical Autonomy in Nigeria has been a recurring issue. It is as old as the history of Nigeria colonial state. Local government Administration practiced anywhere in the world is largely dependent on the historical, geographical, political and economic life of the citizens. Nigeria with a long history of slavery. Colonization, as well as military and civilian administration which have to a large extent determined the system of local government Administration up till date. This work intend accessing the various reforms or ordinance that the local government system in Nigeria has witnessed since 1914 during the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern protectorate by Fredrick Lord Laggard.
The Local Government during this period of 1914 is based on the Native Authority system whereby indirect rule and exploitation was the order of the day. According to Ogunna (1996), Native Authority is the traditional political authority at the Local Level which formed part of the machinery of British colonial government charged with the responsibilities of maintaining law and order. Based on the Native Authority ordinance of 1916, a unified Local Government System was established in the Northern part because of their Emirate system of Administration practice before the colonial Administration. This Native Authority was later extended to the East and South with varying degree of success. This native Authority did not satisfy the needs and aspiration of the local people and it arouse agitation from the rural citizens especially from the educated elites in the southern Nigeria craving or desiring for a greater participation in their own affair.
The Native Authority Ordinance failed because it has no autonomy to meet up with the demands of the citizen and as a result, the first Local Government reform was ushered in. Thus after the second World War in 1945, the colonial policies on Local Government changed coupled with the demands for greater participation and this led to the adoption of the representative or liberal democratic system of Local Government in the 1950s.
The 1950 Local Government reform serves as a foundation on which modern Local Government was built in Nigeria as it abolished the native Authority system. This reform paved way for the following features in Local Government system; it has a three tier system (country, district and local council), it was granted the power of taxation as a source of funding, it introduced popularly elected Local Government council but the franchise is based on tax payers and it equally recognize that the Local Government should be given adequate autonomy as the council were given financial and Administrative power. According to Ogunna (1996). This reform introduced representative democratic Local Government system on the negative side. It suffered from conflicts among the tiers, inadequate funding, poor staffing, bribery and mal administration. As a result of these problems coupled with intense politicking, no reform could be initiated until the military seized power in 1966 which rudely terminated the first republic. The 1966 Local Government reform was to correct the ills of the Local Government system they inherited.
However, all these reforms did not ensure a complete autonomy of Local Government system until the introduction of the 1976 Local Government reform under the military administration of General Olusegun Obasanjo. This reform marked a turning point in Local Government Administration in the country. This reform were the federal government response to the recommendation of Chief Jerome Udoji public service review commission of 1974. The reform aim to make the Local Government more effective in their primary role of bringing development to the grassroots. It established a multi-purpose single tier system throughout the country, with the same structure and function. Local Government were recognized as a third tier of government with the federal structure. It provided for the Local Government to receive their statutory allocation from Federal Government through the State.
They were democratized through popular or indirect election. The Local Government were given specific function to perform and enshrined in the fourth schedule of the 1979 constitution. Local Government were granted a relatively high level of autonomy.
From all indications, this reform is very important and distinct from other reforms and that is why Adamolekun (1979:3) has observed, what distinguished the 1976 Local Government reform from all the previous reform exercise in the country is the formal and clearly recognition of the Local Government as constituting a distinct level of government with definite boundaries, clearly stated functions and provision for ensuring adequate human and financial resources.
Despite all these constitutional provisions which granted the Local Government autonomy in all ramifications, there is still little or no development they have brought to the rural dwellers which ought to be their utmost share from the National cake.
At this juncture, the researcher is solely directed at accessing the impact, status, entity and autonomous existence of Afikpo North Local Government in the development of their grass root.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Despite the numerous challenges it faces, local government is essentially a pathway to, and patron of national integration, organization and development (Lawal, 2000). The local government administration serves as a form of political and administrative structure facilitating decentralization, national integration, efficiency in governance, and a sense of belonging at the grassroots. The local government is a unit of administration all over the world (Agagu, 2004).
Local government has been the root of development in terms of dealings with the people which democracy is centred upon. Hence, local government is visibly seen as co-agent of rural development and as partners in progress with both states and federal governments in rural and national developments.
Local government as the closest government to the people is not totally autonomous. Its autonomy in relation to other tiers of government has been quite complex and sometimes controversial. There have been concerted and sustained arguments that the 774 local government areas in Nigeria are contributing too little to national development (Gboyega, 2001). Overtime, many of our local councils seem not to bother about the statutory responsibilities as contained in the fourth schedule of the (1999 constitution). Although, this is contrary to what happens in the developed countries like United States of America where they build and maintain roads, creates jobs and bring government closer to the people (Gboyega, 2001). The Nigerian local government system has changed from being an organ of bringing government and dividends of democracy closer to the people to an organ for compensating political acolytes of the ruling parties in the states (Agagu, 2004). This has created serious problem and has continually hampered development at the grassroots level.
To this end, this study sets out to investigate local government financial autonomy and grass root development in Nigeria with Afikpo North Local Government Area.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The aim of local government is to bring government closer to the people and also foster the development of the local citizenry. The study shall be guided by the following objectives:
1. To examine whether local government contributed to the grass root development in Nigeria.
2. To find out whether corruption in Afikpo North Local Government Area personnel affected the execution of rural community development projects.
3. To examine whether lack of adequate finance has hindered development of Afikpo North Local Government Area.
1.4 Research Questions
1. Has local government contributed to the grass root development in Nigeria?
2. Does corruption in Afikpo North Local Government Area personnel affected the execution of rural community development projects?
3. Does lack of adequate finance has hindered development of Afikpo North Local Government Area?
1.5 Research Hypotheses
H0: Local government does not contribute to the grass root development in Nigeria.
H1: Local government contributes to the grass root development in Nigeria.
H0: Lack of adequate finance has not hindered development of Afikpo North Local Government Area.
H1: Lack of adequate finance has hindered development of Afikpo North Local Government Area.
1.6 Significance of the Study
In this study, the researcher set out to investigate local governments and national development in Nigeria: revisiting the local government autonomy. One major task the researcher wish to pursue is to help through this research study to present a report of the performance of local government administration particularly in Afikpo North Local Government Area.
It is also hoped that recommendations of his work will assist government at all levels in implementation of their development programmes.
More so, this project work would also be useful to the civil servants especially those at the administrative positions in formulating and implementing government policies and programmes. Political office holders will also find this research useful in tackling the challenges of policy implementation.
Furthermore, the findings of this study would assist both the federal, state and local governments in meeting the aspirations and needs of the people particularly in the rural communities.
1.7 Limitation of the Study
There is no study undertaken by a researcher that is perfect. The imperfection of any research is always due to some factors negatively affecting a researcher in the course of carrying out research. Therefore, time constraint has shown no mercy to the research. The limited time has to be shared among many alternative uses, which includes reading, attending lectures and writing of this research, also distance and its attendant costs of travelling to obtain information which may enhance the writing of this study was a major limitation.
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