Local government system and political mobilization in Nigeria is a colonial creation, it has undergone a lot of vicissitudes and reforms, the most popular of which to a large extent still informs the framework of operation today. The focus is therefore to comprehend the lofty and good ideal about local government that past governments had for the system. Local governments in Nigeria have never been allowed to play their proper roles as institutions and agents for change, progress and development of the rural areas. The local government service as a result of the very long years of decaying service delivery has created negative perceptions towards the corrupt tendencies which characterized the local government public service over the years, which in turns leads to an absence of accountability and transparency. However, most of the attempts at reforms ended up as smoke screen because they were meant to serve the interest of the political elites than the rural populace, the idea of local government system and political mobilization in Nigeria also varies and the average citizenry either from the elite group or the masses would want local governments in Nigeria to be consanguine with their tribal, ethnic, cultural, regional and religious affinities.
1.1 Background of the study
Local government can also be defined as that tier of government closest to the people, “which is vested with certain powers to exercise control over the affairs of people in its domain”. A local government is expected to play the role of promoting the democratic ideals of a society and co-ordinating development programme at the local level. It is also expected to serve as the basis of socio-economic development in it’s locality. The local government system implements the ideals, objectives, programmes, and aspirations of the national government at the local level. Local government is the agents as well as the arm of the government at the local level but not a substitute for national government. It merely serves as an instrument for effective and efficient performance and delivery of government services and amenities at the local level. Many local governments in the country have come to be seen as a competent unit of government that is capable of assessing the needs of the local communities and dwellers that can mobilize and harness local resources and talents to satisfy these local needs for sustainable human development. These powers should give the council substantial control over local affairs as well as the staff and institutional and financial powers to initiate and direct the provision of service and to determine and implement projects so as to complement the activities of the state and federal government in their areas and to ensure through devolution of functions to these councils and through the active participation of the people and their traditional institutions, that local initiative and response to local needs and conditions are maximized. Local governments are the closet level of government to the people at the grass-root and are capable of possessing knowledge of the people’s needs, problems and potentials. The local governments therefore are competent levels of government are capable of reducing political, economic, social, and other congestion of responsibilities in the central government when there is an increase in their competence and resource base. The responsibilities the local government can be enormous especially in the urban/municipal centres where they are expected to provide the basic infrastructures for social and economic development. Local government also serves as a vehicle for increasing people’s participation in the administration of services meant to cater for their needs. These facilitate the adoption of programmes to suit local conditions and needs, thus gaining acceptability for the programmes by the people. We want to have community participation in the management of their local affairs, yet the local governments so created are far from what might be desired in terms of people’s participation. Therefore the systems of checks and balances in the local government must be seen to be coming from the communities in the locality. This can be enhanced through some legal framework that would recognize community power, needs, ideals, and aspirations that do not conflict with or contradict national interest.
1.2 Statement of the problem
As in-depth examination of local government system and political mobilization in Nigeria reveals that local governments have failed in effective service delivery due to a number of factors. Some of these factors underlying the inefficiency and ineffectiveness of the local government system in their service delivery responsibilities were identified in this research, these factors include:-
(a) Revenue inadequacy
(b) The erosion of local functions particularly in the revenue yielding areas by state governments and their agencies.
(c) Political administrative problems such as inadequacy of skilled and technical manpower, lackadaisical attitude of existing local government staff, official corruption, variable structures/sizes of local government among others
(d) Lack of integration of the relevant communities in the execution of local services.
(e) Lack of funds financial constraints
(g) Undue political interference/lack of autonomy
(h) Lack of qualified professional staff/ unskilled workers
(i) Leadership problem
(j) Poor work attitude
1.3 Objectives of the study
The main objective of this research is to review contemporary bases on the local government system and political mobilization in Nigeria in order to underscore the relevance of the federal constitutional framework to the country’s challenges. The specific objectives through which the aims can be achieved are as follows:-
(i) It exposes the constitutional system that affects the local governments in Nigeria.
(ii) It identifies the tendencies on the part of individuals that have contributed immensely to the political mobilization in the country.
(iii) It makes policy recommendations that could restore and protect the status of the local government systems and political mobilization in Nigeria.
1.4 Research question
(i) Can the constitutional system affect the local governments in Nigeria?
(ii) Can the tendencies on the part of individuals that have contributed immensely to the political mobilization in the country be identified?
(iii) How can the policies that could restore and protect the status of the local government systems and political mobilization be recommended?
(iv) What are the ways in which the local governments in Nigeria can be harnessed?
1.5 Significance of the study
The significance of this study is divided into two namely:-
theoretical and practical.
(i) At the theoretical level, it will add to the knowledge of how local government system operates in the country, this research will serve as a resource base to other scholars and researchers interested in carrying out further research in this field subsequently.
(ii) At the practical level, the study will help our policy makers and those in power to see the negative effect of lack of local government autonomy and in a way make the leaders see reasons or how effective the government at the grass root (local government) will become if politically mobilized.
1.6 Scope and limitations of the study
For the purpose of this study as the topic depicts, the scope of this research will be focused on the local government system and political mobilization in Nigeria.
However, the study has some constrained and limitations which are:-
(a) Availability of research material:-
The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study.
The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.
The finance available for the research work does not allow for wider coverage as resources are very limited as the researcher has other academic bills to cover.
1.8 Definition of terms:
An administrative body for a small geographic area, such as a city, town, county, or state. A local government will typically only have control over their specific geographical region, and can not pass or enforce laws that will affect a wider area. Local governments can elect officials, enact taxes, and do many other things that a national government would do, just on a smaller scale.
A set of things working together as parts of a mechanism or an interconnecting network; a complex whole.
Political mobilization is defined as the actors’ attempt to influence the existing distribution of power. A directional variable is introduced in order to define more precisely the type of relationship which develops between individuals and parties.
This material content is developed to serve as a GUIDE for students to conduct academic research
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