Agalamanyi, Christopher U. PhD
Department Of Public Administration And
University Of Nigeria Nsukka
This article examines the extend the local government environment enhanced or impeded its revenue generation. It believes that notwithstanding the generous constitutionally provisions for local government in Nigeria, the federal and state governments are all tinkering with the structure and fortune of local government. The article recommends amongst others, that local government local government’s share in the Federation Account should be increased to 30% since local government is nearest to The people and as such should be proper/I1 equipped to discharge its responsibilities to the people.
The desire to ensure even development through socio-economic and political transformation of the nooks and crannies of Nigeria, made government in 1976 to embark on an extensive reform of local government. According to the then Chief of Starr Brigadier Shelu M. Yar’ Adua in his forward to the guidelines for Local Government Reform in 1976, the objectives were to:
- Make appropriate services and development activities responsive to localwishes and initiatives by devolving or delegating them to local representative bodies
ii Facilitate the exercise of democratic self -government close to the grassroots of our society and to encourage initiative and leadership potential
iii. Enhance mobilization of human and material resources through the involvement of members of the public in their local development; and
iv Provide a two-party channel of communication between the local communities and government (both state and federal).
Following the success of the reform, the government in 1979 up-graded
local government to a third tier of government, and the 1979 constitution which
ushered in the presidential system of government recognized local government as
Local-government is defined by scholars as the government of a particular place (locus). According to Emezi (1984:50), local government is that part of the government of a nation or state which deals mainly with matters of concern to the people of a particular place. In our own setting-developing societies, generally local government can be described as that system of local administration under which local communities are organized to maintain law and order, provide some limited range of social services and public amenities and encourage the cooperation and participation of the inhabitants towards the improvement of their condition of living. Local government provides a modicum for formal organizational framework to the communities which enables them to conduct their affairs effectively.
Okoli (2000) stated that “we cannot talk of local government without talking about national (Federal or state) government since the idea of “Local” presupposes the existence of a more encompassing or broader government superintending the “local one”. Okoli also pointed out three other crucial issues concerning local government. One is that local government exists to fill a gap which the national government is too remote to fill. Secondly, it (Local Government) implements the ideals, objectives, programmes and aspirations of the national government at the local level and more, the ideology of the national government determines to a large extent the structure and functioning of the local government. It follows, therefore, that the environment of both levels of government is the same.
In this context, environment simply put, means, those institution or forces outside the organization that potentially affect the organization’s performance. According to Robbin (1998:500) the institutions or forces that are outside the organization which potentially affect the organizations performance include, suppliers, customers, competitors, government regulatory agencies, public pressure groups and the like. Ivancevich and Matteson (2002: 15), posited that organizations exist in societies and are created by societies. Within a society many factors impinge upon the effectiveness of an organizations, and management must be responsive to them. Every organization Ivancevich and Matteson (2002) observed, must respond to the needs of its customers or clients,to legal and political constraints, and to economic and technological changes and development.
Local Government as an organization bas its environments and they are
i. Political environment
ii. Social environment
iii. Economic environment
iv. Physical environment
The way an organization relates to its environments largely depends on the dimensions of the environments which researchers said could be capacity, volatility and complexity.
The capacity of an environment refers to the degree to which it can support growth. For example, rich and growing environments generate excess resource, which can buffer the organization in times of relative scarcity. The degree of instability in an environment is captured in the volatility dimension. Where there is a high degree of unpredictable change, the environment is dynamic. It becomes difficult under such situation for management to predict accurately the probabilities associated with various decision alternatives. Above all, the environment has to be assessed in terms of complexity which is the degree of heterogeneity and concentration among environmental elements.
Hence, the objectives of this article are to examine the extent to which the environments of the local government have enhanced or impeded its revenue generation and service delivery. The article will therefrom proffer modest suggestions to improve the situation. Constitutional Recognition and Function of Local Government
As Ejimofor (1986:51-2) aptly demonstrated, “whereas local governments had existed in Nigeria since the nation was founded, there has not been any Constitution, law or ordinance which specifically stated as the 1979 constitution did, that the government of every state shall ensure the existence of local governments under a law which provided for their establishment, structure, composition, finance and function”. The Fourth Schedule of the Constitution outlined the general functions of local governments, thereby ensuring that they were no longer solely a state government affair.
The 1979 Constitution as re-enacted or re-entrenched in the 1989 and 1999 Constitutions of the Federal Republic of Nigeria provided in Section 7 (I) for the existence of a system of local government by democratically elected local government councils. The Section 7, sub-section 6 (a) of the 1979 constitution as well as in the 1999 Constitution directed that:
(a) the National Assembly shall make provisions ,for statutory allocation of public revenue of local government councils in the Federation:
(b) the House of Assembly of a State shall make provisions for statutory allocation of public revenue to local governments councils within the State.
It was in realization of the constitutional objectives that the federal government passed the Finance Law of 1981 in which it allocated 10% of the Federation Account (now 20%) and 10% of the internally generated revenue of the state government to local governments.
We all do understand that in line with the enhanced status provided to the reformed local government by the Constitution, the functions or responsibilities devolved on them were much more than those devolved on previous local government. “They include those functions which were generally performed by local governments in the past and those regarded as local government responsibilities although state governments and other organizations may also perform part or whole of these functions if local governments are not equipped to perform them” (Guidelines for Local Government Reform (1976:.2).
In summary, the functions of the local government include: (a) the consideration and the making of recommendation 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 licenses.
(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 lighting, drains and other public highways, parks, gardens, open spaces, or such public facilities as may be 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
(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 tlie public;
(v) laundries and
(vi) licensing regulation and control of the sale of liquours.
The functions of a local government council shall include participation of such council 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.
(Fourth schedule of the 1999 Constitution).
From the above, it is discernible that constitutionally and otherwise the local governments have a pride of place as the third level of the governmental system in Nigeria, although, the Constitution sub-ordinated their powers and autonomy to the state government.
Local Government Environments
We had earlier on stated in this article that organisation’s environment is composed of those institutions or forces that are outside the organization and which potentially affect the organization’s performance. Some of these institutions and forces that affect Local government in Nigeria include, political environment, social environment, economic and physical environments.
Scholars have identified political environment as one of the most critical local government environments in Nigeria. Ever since 1954, Nigeria has operated three levels of government as a federation, and during the period Nigeria practiced parliamentary system of government, local governments served as subdivisions of the state government and were creatures of the states. The 1979 constitution introduced the presidential system of government and recognized local government as a third tier of government in Nigeria with its own constitutionally assigned powers and responsibilities. In a federal set-up like Nigeria, the central government possesses a universal jurisdiction and, as such, has a superintending role in the setup. According to Onah (1995:48), ‘this superintending role is far-reaching, the aim being to ensure that the impact of the political party in power is felt in the states and at the local government levels.
Onah (1995) equally observed that a consistent way in which federal government encroaches on the powers of the government is through politicization of government bureaucracies. He explained that as the administrative machineries of federal government expands to coordinate the functions of its agencies in the states, they interfere directly or indirectly with the powers of state governments. State governments are known to be using the same strategies in their relationship with local government councils. In all, it has been observed that where the Federal and State Governments are excessively meddlesome in the affairs of the local government, revenue generation becomes non-directional because, the local government will be having conflicting directives.
Nigeria is a diverse society with many ethnic groups, varying cultures, and religious affinities. These factors make it impossible for the local government to operate in a uniform social environment. Onah (1995) explained that sometimes the local governments spend huge amount of money in maintaining the diversities of religion for the sake of peace. This, he observed, affects revenue potentials of the local government Economic Environment
The economic situation of the country seriously affects revenue generation of the local government. This is true because, both the statutory allocations and individual tax payments are all affected by the upward or down-ward trends of the economy.
Local governments exist in varying physical environments. Some are faced with erosion problems while others face problem of desert encroachment. Most of the local governments spend bulk of their scarce resources in fighting the menace of their physical environment. For example, erosion control and afforestation programme are capital intensive projects that can hardly be sponsored by a local government, yet, many local governments are faced with these problems. As Onah (1995) rightly observed, the disposition of the physical environment of a local government conditions people’s response to programmes and revenue generation efforts.
Most local governments in Nigeria depend on the statutory allocations from the Federal and State Governments for their financial survival. Furthermore the local governments have not been doing all they could to generate revenue themselves. According to Ukwu 1. Ukwu (quoted in Obi 2001:82);
Traditionally, government (including Local Government) has paid much less attention to the raising of funds than to their expenditure. Many potential sources of revenue remain untapped. Revenue estimates are casual and unscientific, being more often based on the amount collected the previous year rather than any systematic analysis of potential field collection capacity.
Obi (200 I :85-6) summarized the issues militating against the full realization of the revenue efforts of local governments as lack of transport facilities, indiscipline and dishonesty, lack of quick enforcement apparatus, lack of encouragement, lack of supervision, obsolate bye-laws, and illiteracy among others.
Conclusion and Recommendations
Local government has come a long way in Nigeria; both the 1979 Constitution and the 1999 Constitution recognize it as the third tier of government. The fourth schedule of the 1979 as well as the 1999 Constitutions detailed the constitutional functions of local government, whereas, section 162 (38) provided for the allocation of public revenue to local governments.
However, it must be pointed out here that not much is being gained by the people from this all important tier of government. The poor performance of most of the local governments in terms of efficient and effective service delivery to the people has been attributed to poor revenue base of these local governments. The revenue accruable to the local governments in Nigeria does not match the quantum of constitutional responsibilities of the local government day in day out the local government structure is on the anvil of the State government. The relationship is that of the mouse and the cat. Their attitude to each other is full of suspicion. The state exerts an overbearing pressure on the local government hence, the financial weakness of the local government. Based on the above, this article recommends that:
1. The revenue allocation formulae of the federation should be adjusted with a view to giving 30% of the revenue accruing to the Federation to the Local government. Local government is nearest to the people and as such should be properly equipped to discharge its responsibilities to the people.
2. There should be serious re-orientation of the local government workers, especially the revenue collectors. A situation where the much needed funds of the local government are frittered away through outright embezzlement or spurious expenditure is not acceptable.
3. People who are diligently serving the local government should always be encouraged through promotions and other incentivizing methods.
4. Dubious employees of the local government should be thrown out of the system.
5. Revenue officials who embezzle public funds should be made to face the wrath of the law.
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