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Appraisal of Local Government Autonomy on Service Delivery at the Grassroots in Nigeria

Bachelor Thesis 2016 169 Pages

Politics - International Politics - Region: Africa

Excerpt

Content

Chapter One: Introduction
1.1 Background of the Study
1.2. Statement of the Problem
1.3. Research Questions
1.4 Research Objectives
1.5. Research Assumptions
1.6. Research Methodology
1.7. Research Design
1.8. Significance of the Study
1.9. Scope of Study
1.10. Theoretical Framework
1.11. Definition of Key Terms
1.12. Organization of the Study

References

Chapter Two: Literature Review
2.1 Introduction
2.2. Conceptualizing Local Government
2.3. Conceptualizing Local Government Autonomy in Nigeria
2.4. Conceptualizing Local Government Service Delivery at the Grassroots in Nigeria
2.5. Conceptualizing Caretaker Syndrome on Local Government Service Delivery at the Grassroots in Nigeria
2.6. Conclusion and Literature Gap

References

Chapter Three: Local Government Development and Growth In Nigeria
3.1. Introduction
3.2. Native Authority System of Local Government (1914 - 1959).
3.3. Local Government Reforms Before 1966
3.4. Local Government Reforms During Military Rule
3.5. Local Government Reforms of 1976
3.6. The Babaginda Reforms from 1985 - 1993
3.7. Additional Local Government Reforms
3.8. Local Government Review of 2004.

References

Chapter Four: Data Presentation, Interpretation and Analysis
4.1. Introduction
4.2. The Significance of Local Government Autonomy on Service Delivery in Nigeria
4.3. Constitutional Powers and Functions of Local Government on Service Delivery in Nigeria.
4.4. Impact of Local Government Autonomy on Service Delivery in Nigeria
4.5. Discussion of Findings and Assumptions
4.5.1. Socio-demographic Information of Respondents

References

Chapter Five: Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations
5.1. Summary
5.2. Conclusion
5.3. Recommendations

Bibliography

Appendix

Chapter One: Introduction

1.1 Background of the Study

The underperformance of Nigeria's 774 Local Governments has continued to attract policy and research concerns in the last four decades. This, among other reasons, is because huge amount of resources is committed to this vital tier of government but with poor reflections on the socio-economic lives of teeming rural population in Nigeria. More reasonably, Gani Fawehinmi (cited in Anagwonye, 2009:184) says "no government can satisfy me if it does not address the food poverty of Nigerians, the health poverty of Nigerians, education poverty of Nigerians, the infrastructural poverty of Nigerians..."

Nigeria operates a federal system of government with a Federal Capital Territory (Abuja), 36 states and 774 Local Governments. It is a truism that government exists primarily to provide services that will make life worth living. Governance at the local level plays a crucial role in ensuring the effectiveness and provision of public goods to the vast rural population. The creation of Local Government anywhere in the world stems from the need to facilitate developments at the grassroots (Agba, Akwara, & Idu, 2013). All political systems seek the attainment of effective and efficient service delivery at the grassroots. This is because; Local Government service delivery system anywhere in the world affects day-to-day activities of citizens. Thus, whatever is the mode of government; Local Government has been essentially regarded as path to, and generator of national integration, administration and development (Arowolo, 2008).

Historically, modern Local Government administration in Nigeria began during the British colonial rule known as 'Native Authorities'. They were purely used to maintain laws and order rather than provision of social services, and the system was not uniform. The restructuring and provision of some level of roles, democratic existence and funding of Local Government administration began in 1976. The 1976 Local Government reform introduced a uniform system of Local Government administration throughout the country, recognized Local Government as third tier of government and granted financial and functional autonomy to Local Government administration in Nigeria. The reform was a major departure from the previous practice of Local Government administration in Nigeria (Oviasuyi, Idada, & Isiraojie, 2010). Since the Local Government reform in 1976, the statutory means for harnessing the human and material resources have been put in place to facilitate sustainable grassroots development.

However, the achievement of this fundamental goal is dependent on the amount of resources at the disposal of the Local Government and the prudency with which it is used (Otinche, 2014). It should be noted that one of the ways of bringing government closer to the people at the grassroots is through the delivery of service in a satisfactory, efficient, effective and adequate manner (Agba, Akwara, & Idu, 2013; Ibok, 2014). Local Government, in modern day life, is responsible for delivering basic services to the grassroots (its local communities) in efficient and effective manner, but unfortunately its inefficiency and ineffectiveness in addressing the primary needs and wants of the people at the grassroots has made the third tier of government irrelevant in the administration of the country (Bolatito & Ibrahim, 2014). Nevertheless, Local Governments are viable instrument for rural transformation, development and the delivery of social services to rural communities in their jurisdiction.

As a result of abysmal failure of Local Governments in service delivery, the citizens at the local level are beginning to lose trust in the existence or otherwise of Local Government councils in Nigeria. At this juncture, it is pertinent to ask this question; what could be the factor or factors responsible for the failure of Local Governments in efficient and effective social service delivery at the grassroots? An in-depth examination of Local Government performance in Nigeria reveals that Local Government has failed in effective service delivery due to a number of factors. Some of these factors underlying the inefficiency and ineffectiveness of Local Government in their service delivery responsibilities were identified by scholars in the field of public administration and Local Government studies as; lack of funds/financial constraints, corruption, undue political interference/ lack of autonomy, lack of qualified professional staff/ unskilled workers, leadership problem, poor work attitude, among others (Eboh, & Diejomaoh, 2010; Adeyemi, 2013; Agba, Akwara, & Idu, 2013; Ibok, 2014; Bolatito, & Ibrahim, 2014; Chukwuemeka et al., 2014).

Worthy of note is the undue political interference or lack of autonomy. A pertinent reason for the failure of Local Government in area of services delivery is the role of the state governors in the affairs of Local Governments. According to Eboh and Diejomaoh (2010), there is high degree of external influence and interference in Local Government affairs by the higher levels of government, particularly the state governments. The governors are fond of taking over their financial allocation, taxes, counterpart funding and refuse to conduct Local Government elections, but instead administer Local Governments with appointed administrators, most of whom are party loyalists, friends and relations and in the process have turned the entire process of Local Government’s administration into reservoirs of mediocre. In fact, there have been instances where state governors dissolve the entire elected council officers without due process. As soon as a new governor comes into office, one of the first actions is to dissolve the existing local councils, whether elected or caretaker (Abutudu, 2011). This, as the case of Abia State in 2006 when former Governor, Orji Uzor Kalu, pronounced the dissolution of 148 elected Local Government officials in which the Supreme Court later ruled that the action was illegal and amounted to "official recklessness".

In many cases, caretaker-ship is perpetuated through promises of elections which are invariably postponed. This has been the case in Ogun, Osun, Oyo, Anambra and others. The outright denial of democratically elected local councils through caretaker committees demonstrates the increasing authoritarian holds of the councils by state governors. As such, most state governors never bothered to conduct Local Government elections. For instance, as at 2013, Anambra state had not held any local council elections since the return to civil rule in 1999 until January 11, 2014 when the first Local Government election was conducted in the state. The high level of interference by state governors on Local Government affairs was also expressed by Khaleel quoted in John (2012); when he observed thus:

There is no state of the federation of Nigeria where one form of illegality or the other is not committed with funds of Local Government, through over deduction of primary school teacher’s salary, spurious state/Local Government joint account project, sponsoring of elections, taking over the statutory functions of Local Government and handling them over to cronies and consultants, non-payments of pensioners and non-utilization of training fund despite the mandatory deduction of stipulated percentages for these purposes… nine states out of the 36 states of the federation have elected representatives running the affairs of their Local Governments. This is central to the whole problem because it is by planting stooges called caretaker committee, who neither have the mandate of the people nor the moral strength to resist the excruciating control of the state government that perpetuates the rot.

This undue interference has incapacitated Local Governments from effective functioning and alienated grassroots people from enjoying social service delivery expected of Local Governments in Nigeria (Agba, Akwara, & Idu, 2013). Consequently, Local Governments now functions mostly as extension of state governments (Eboh, & Diejomaoh, 2010; Ajibulu, 2012). The inherent consequence of this problem, according to Adeyemi (2013) is that Local Government has to wait for the next directives from state government before embarking on any developmental project. This has made Local Government an object of control and directives of a higher level of government.

Hence, these challenges continue as in the case of fiscal interference by state government. For instance, the 1999 constitution of Nigeria does not adequately provide for the financial autonomy of the Local Governments. It subordinates them to the state government through the provision of Section 162, Paragraph 6, which provided for the establishment and operation of State Local Government Joint Account (Chukwuemeka et al., 2014). This provision does not allow direct funding of the Local Governments from the federation account and various research findings have shown that state government manipulates this constitutional provision to keep the Local Governments as their perpetual appendages, and in large measures, siphon the funds meant for them (Azelama, 2008; Ezeani, 2012; Chukwuemeka et al., 2014).

The second dimension is the political interference. The constitution does not provide adequately for the political autonomy of the Local Government in Nigeria. For instance, it does not specifically provide for the composition of the Local Government council to be solely through democratic elections, not specified tenure of Local Government political office holders, and the absence of Local Government to derive their full existence directly from the federal constitution for specific powers and functions (Chukwuemeka et al., 2014). The resultant effects of these inadequacies are that the state government has the discretion to determine the nature, content and direction of Local Government elections and political activities. In the exercise of this discretion, the state government decide when elections would be held, who wins in elections, when to dissolve elected council, and the alternative framework to administer the affairs of the Local Governments (Chukwuemeka et al., 2014).

In an invitation to remedy the problems, efforts will be made on how to enshrine a full-fledged autonomy of Local Government in the constitution, so as to enhance optimum service delivery at the grassroots. In subsequent sections, we shall examine multifarious variables that have also impeded the functionalities of Local Government in Nigeria.

1.2. Statement of the Problem

A lot of challenges have defeated the essence of Local Government which is to bring government nearer to the people, as well as delivery of social services at the grassroots. It is no news that the means of service delivery by Nigerian public institutions, Local Government in inclusion, is being hounded by the increasing rate of corruption among personnel. The hydra-headed corruption has become part and parcel in the Local Government.

The level of political and financial interference by the state government is worrisome and it demands total overhaul. The provision of an inseparable federal allocation between Local Government and state government by the 1999 constitution, in section 162, paragraph 6, for the establishment and operation of State Local Government Joint Account has hindered the effectiveness and efficiency of Local Government (Chukwuemeka et al., 2014). More often than not, state government dissolve Local Government council and withhold the conduct of election at the local level. As soon as a new governor comes into office, one of the first actions is to dissolve that existing Local Government councils, whether elected or caretaker (Abutudu, 2011). For instance, as of 29 October 2016; Oyo and Osun state have not conducted Local Government election since 2007.

The poor attitudinal dispositions among Local Government workers continue to impede effective and efficient service delivery at the grassroots. This could take the form of absenteeism, lying, indiscipline, laziness, lack of work commitment, and lateness to work (Odiaka, 1991; Akerele, 1980; Ogunrin and Erhijakpor, 2009). The accumulation of the foregoing problems underscore the relevance of this, and hence this study.

1.3. Research Questions

The following research questions will guide this study.

(i). To what extent does Local Government autonomy influence service delivery in Nigeria?
(ii). Do Local Government constitutional powers and functions enable execution of service delivery in Nigeria?
(iii). Does Local Government autonomy has any impact on service delivery at the grassroots in Nigeria?

1.4 Research Objectives

The overall aim of this study is to critically examine the nexus between Local Government autonomy and effective social service delivery. In the light of this, the study seeks to;

(i). examine the degree of Local Government autonomy on service delivery in Nigeria.
(ii). appraise constitutional powers and functions of Local Government as regards service delivery.
(iii). examine the impact of Local Government autonomy on service delivery in Nigeria.

1.5. Research Assumptions

Based on the aforementioned research questions, the following research assumptions are formulated for this study:

(i). Local Governments ineffectiveness and inefficiency on service delivery are due to their lack of autonomy.
(ii). Constitutional powers and functions of the Local Government do not enhance service delivery at the grassroots.
(iii). Local Government autonomy has no impact on service delivery in Nigeria.

1.6. Research Methodology

This study will employ the use of primary and secondary data. The primary source of data that will be explored entails the administration of questionnaires. Also, the secondary sources of data will be explored through the use of textbooks, journals, Local Government laws and ordinances, newspapers, internet materials, federal and state gazettes. Equally, the data collected will be analyzed by the use of Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) data analysis.

1.7. Research Design

This study adopts exploratory research design. Exploratory research design is adopted on the basis that it can be used to identify relevant and salient administrative patterns, laws, beliefs, opinions, attitudes, [towards Local Government autonomy and social service delivery in Nigeria] and to develop explanations of these constructs. It can be used to explore reasons that lie behind the differences of performance among Local Governments that may emerge from secondary data or survey. Lastly, it could be used to explore quantitative data and reveal hitherto unknown connections between different measured variables (Ogunbameru, O., 2010).

1.8. Significance of the Study

A study of this nature is significant in a number of ways. Firstly, the paper is timely and in accordance with national priority. Social service delivery since the inception of the fourth republic in Nigeria on 29 May, 1999 has been a subject of national debate and concern, particularly, at the local level. Government’s commitment at improving service delivery in Nigeria at the Local Government level should be listed as priority because Nigerians have for too long been feeling short-changed by the quality of services delivered by Local Government despite the fact that it is the nearest government to the people.

More importantly, it will expand the frontier of knowledge by identifying factors influencing service delivery in Nigerian Local Government Areas. These factors when clearly identified (undue political interference, absence of autonomy, corruption, etc.) will go a long way in providing answers to questions like why service delivery has not improved in Nigerian Local Government councils despite the increased 20.6% financial allocations from the Federation Account in March 2014 (Ojo, 2010 cited in Kalu, K. I.)

Furthermore, the research is justified on the grounds that its recommendations will enhance policy decisions of government agencies like the review of Local Government Acts by the National Assembly, and resuscitation of Local Government Service Commission (LGSC). In addition, members of the public will find the research work educative and resourceful. Future researchers on service delivery in Nigerian Local Government Areas will find the study a rich resource material for their research.

1.9. Scope of Study

This study examines the extent to which Local Government is autonomous in Nigeria and the effects on service delivery at the local level. In this regard, the scope of study spans within 2007-2015.

1.10. Theoretical Framework

There are a lot of theories in social sciences and political science that can guide a study of this nature, but the one we consider suitable in analysing and understanding the problem under investigation is the structural-functionalism theory. In its simplest form, structural-functionalism simply sets out to interpret society as a structure with interrelated parts with each structure performing specific function. The failure of one structure leads to dysfunctionalism or disequilibrium of the system.

Structural-functionalists like Gabriel Almond and Bingham Powell posited that for proper understanding of the structures (institutions) in the society, there is need to place them in a meaningful and dynamic historical context. Situated within the present study, the above postulations are relevant in understanding the autonomy and service delivery of Nigeria’s Local Governments.

Local Governments are structures created to perform specific functions that are likely to bring government closer to the people. As advised by Almond and Powell, a historical study of Local Governments in Nigeria from its traditional form like the traditional political system, Native Authority and modern Local Government systems has brought to fore some of the service delivery functions of Local Governments in Nigeria. Furthermore, the idea of dysfunctionalism or disequilibrium advanced by structural functionalists could be used in explaining the incapacity of Local Governments to deliver services to the people in a timely, adequate and satisfactory manner. Disequilibrium, in this context, is when Local Governments in Nigeria are not fully empowered, autonomous or independent over their activities. They thus malfunction in their responsibilities.

Put differently, Local Government Councils in Nigeria consist of departments like works; land survey and housing; agricultural and natural resources; health; education and social services; administration; budget and statistics and treasury. Each of these departments must interact together to keep the Local Government moving and effective. However, the interaction between the Local Government and bodies like the federal government, states, local service commissions, Local Government councils, rural communities and others must be sustained in an atmosphere of intergovernmental relations aimed at delivering quality service in a timely, satisfactory, honest, effective and transparent manner. Two things are inevitable as Almond aptly stated­­: wherever there are functions, there must be structures to perform them (cited in Okoli, 2000:33). To justify the reasons for creating Local Governments, Local Government spending, functions performed by Local Government workers, interactions between and among its component parts, projects executed by Local Governments should be aimed at “providing the basic services to which each citizen is entitled in a timely, fair, honest, effective and transparent manner” (Servicom and the citizen, www.servenigeria.com).

Nigerians have the right to be served right whether at federal, state or Local Government levels. So, ‘dysfunctionalism’ in the operations of Local Governments in Nigeria can be corrected by identifying the factors that have hampered service delivery and making appropriate policies to them.

1.11. Definition of Key Terms

For proper understanding of this study, it is important to clarify and operationalize key terms used in the study. They are:

- Local Government: According to Kyenge (2013:70), Local Government focuses on the transfer of political powers to local areas by involving the inhabitants in the provision of basic needs in their respective communities. Local Government is defined as the "government at local level exercised through representative councils established by law to exercise specific power within defined areas" (Government Print: 1976 Local Government Reforms).
- Autonomy: This simply refers to freedom, to be free from external and remote control. Autonomy, in this context, denotes the absence of political interference from external bodies, particularly state governments.
- Service Delivery: This entails the timely, effective and efficient art of providing basic social amenities that would engender socio-economic conditions of the local people, such as; public order, safety, pipe borne water, infrastructures, and maintenance of public roads and so on.

1.12. Organization of the Study

The research work is made up of five chapters. Chapter one comprises of background to the study, statement of the problem, research questions, objectives and hypothesis. Others are the significance and scope of the study, theoretical framework, definition of key terms and organization of the study. Chapter two reviews the relevant literature on the chosen topic and chapter three will undertake historical overview of Local Government in Nigeria, commencing from colonial era during Native Authorities, 1976 Local Government Reforms, till the fourth republic. While chapter four presents, analyses and interprets collected data including reveals of the research findings. On the final note, chapter five summarizes, concludes, and offer recommendations for further research.

References

Abutudu, M. (2011). The challenges and opportunities for improving the Local Government System in Nigeria . Paper presented at the Third Biennial National Conference on continuity Development in Nigeria Held at Grand Hotel, Asaba, November, 20-24, 2011.

Achimugu, H., Stephen, M. R. and Agboni, U. J. (2013). "Local Government Service Delivery in Nigeria: An Empirical comparison of Government Efforts and the People's Expectations"

Adeyemi, O. (2012). Corruption and Local Government Administration in Nigeria: A Discourse of Core Issues . European Journal of Sustainable Development, Vol.1, (2), 183-198.

Adeyemi, O. (2013). Local Government and the challenges of Service Delivery: The Nigeria Experience . Journal of Sustainable Development in Africa, vol. 15, 7, 84/98

Adeyemo, D. O. (1995). Sustaining Democracy in Nigerian Local Government: The Role of Legislatures. In Akindele, S. and Ajila, C. (Eds.). Contemporary Issues in the Social Sciences, Ile Ife.

Adeyemo, D. O. (2005). Local Government Autonomy in Nigeria: A Historical Perspective. Journal of Social Sciences, 10(2), 77-87.

Agba, M.S. (2006). Human Resources Management and Effective Service Delivery in Nigeria, Sophia. An African Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 8(2), 7-13.

Agba, M. S., Akwara, A. F., & Idu, A. Y. (2013). “Local Government and Social Service Delivery in Nigeria: A Content Analysis.” Academic Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies, Vol. 2 (2), 455-462.

Ajibulu, E. (2012). Local Autonomy: Plausible Panacea to Grassroots Challenges. Retrieved from http://www.thenigerianvoice.com/nvnews/69833/1/lg-autonomy-

Akerele, A. (1986). An instrument for measuring the attitudes of workers toward work. Nigerian Journal of Business Administration, 2(1), 8-22.

Amaechi, R. (2012). " The Debate on Local Government Autonomy". Retrieved from http://www.thisdaylive.com/article/the-debate-on local-government-a.

Appadorai, A. (1975). The Substance of Politics. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.

Bello-Imam, I. B., and Roberts, F. O. N. (2001). Residents' perception of Local Government services in Bello-Imam, IB. (ed)

Chukwuemeka, E., Ugwuanyi, B. I., Ndubuisi/Okolo, P., and Onuoha, C. E. (2014). "Nigeria Local Government: A Discourse on the Theoretical imperatives in a Governmental System".

Eboh, E., and Diejomaoh, I. (2010). "Local Governments in Nigeria: Relevance and Effectiveness in Poverty Reduction and Economic Development". Journal of Economic and Sustainable Development, vol. 1, (I), 12-28.

Kyenge, J. (2013). The challenges of Local Government Administration in Nigeria. Journal of Management and Corporate Governance vol. 5, No. 1, Pp. 70-76. [10] Lagos : Rakson Nigeria Limited.

Lawal, T., and Oladunjoye, A. (2010). Local Government, Corruption and Democracy in Nigeria, Journal of Sustainable Development in Africa, 12(5), 227-235

Obasanjo, O. (2004). Service compact with all Nigerians: Time to Deliver. Being an address by His Excellency President.

Ogunbameru, O. (2010). Contemporary Method in Social Research. Kuntel Publishers, Ooni lay out, Ajebamidele, Ile-Ife.

Ola, R. O. F., & Tonwe, D. A. (2009). Local Administration and Local Government in Nigeria, Lagos: Amfitop Books.

Oviasuji, P. O., Idada, W., and Isiraojie, L. (2010). Constraints of Local Government Administration in Nigeria, Journal of Social Sciences, 24(2), 81-86.

Chapter Two: Literature Review

2.1 Introduction

No Nation can boast of excellent performance within the public sector at the grassroots if a large percentage of her rural inhabitants are in poverty, needs/wants, socio-economic dilemma and basic social amenities. In Nigeria, however, a number of defunct social amenities at the grassroots reveal that the third tier of government is lacking performance in the area of service delivery, and this has made the citizens to lose faith, and trust in local government. The failure of local government administration as an institution in Nigeria to adequately provide social facilities for the people at the grassroots further indicates a lack of contentment in the governance, and consequently retards the closeness of the people to this grassroots government (Bolatito and Ibrahim, 2014). In similar vein, local governments in Nigeria have become the weeping child of state governors. The elected officials have been rendered almost clueless as they are at the beck and call of state governors. At every slightest opportunity, they sack or dissolve the local government at will. This is to the detriment of both the people who elected the local council officials and democracy (Samson and Stanley, 2015).

Based on the foregoing, this chapter investigates copious literature on Nigeria's Local Government. The concept of Local Government is adequately operationalized, various definitions and positions of scholars are articulated. This in turn beams searchlight on the functions and reasons for the establishment of Local Government in Nigeria. Bearing in mind that every given political structure has specific functions in which Local government is not an exemption, we then examined whether Local government in Nigeria has lived up to its conventional roles or not. However, the nexus between Local government and service delivery at the grassroots is also prioritized in this study. This is because, the creation of Local Government anywhere in the world stems from the need to facilitate developments at the grassroots (Agba, Akwara, & Idu, 2013). Equally, autonomy of Local Government and effects of caretaker-ship is critically looked into. The whole gamut of this chapter is to uncover the relevance of Local Government thus far in Nigeria.

2.2. Conceptualizing Local Government

Local Government (as a body of knowledge and as practice) is encapsulated in a web like all other sub-fields in Political Science (mother discipline), Public Administration, and Social Sciences in general. This influenced the opinion of Kyenge (2013:70), that Local Government has been given various definitions by various scholars. But he maintained that, no matter how differently the concept is defined, it focuses on the transfer of political powers to local areas by involving the inhabitants in the provision of basic needs in their respective communities.

Local Government in the communal sense means people’s political instrument to participate in resource allocation, distribution and power acquisition. An in-depth analysis of this definition converges with the broad objectives of Local Government, which are political participation, efficient service delivery and resource mobilization. Political participation concerns the desire to involve local citizens in the management of local affairs. Efficient service delivery, which is closely knitted with the above factor, is to ensure that the basic needs of local citizens are met as speedily and as efficiently as possible. Resource mobilization is to provide a framework within which local resources, both human and material, are effectively mobilized. (Adamolekun, 1983:7)

Ezeani (2004:1) favours the approach by Adamolekun (2002:49) in discussing Local Government within the purview of decentralization. Decentralization is of two typologies: “deconcentration” meaning administrative decentralization or field administration, and “devolution” implies democratic decentralization in which there is substantial autonomy to sub-national units (i.e. Local Governments) with powers and responsibilities to perform specific functions given under the law by the central government. Duru (2001:97) thus concur with Ezeani (2004) and Adamolekun (2002) on the above approach and conceptualized “Local Government as devolution”.

Proceeding from the above, Ezeani (2004:6) identified the characteristics of Local Government by devolution as: Local Government must be granted autonomy, independence and should be clearly recognized as a tier of government with little or no direct control by the central government. Local units must have clear and legally recognized geographical boundaries. Local Governments must possess corporate status including the power to raise sufficient revenue to perform assigned functions. Devolution involves the need to “develop Local Governments as institutions”. It also entails reciprocal, mutually benefiting and coordinate relationships between central and Local Governments.

In another form of conceptualization, Akpan (cited in Effiom, 2001:87) describes Local Government “as the breaking down of the country into smaller units or localities for the purpose of administration in which the inhabitants of the different units or localities concerned play a direct and full part through their elected representatives who exercise powers and undertake functions under the general authority of the state or National Government”.

The reality of the Nigerian electoral practice makes mincemeat of the above definition, not to make a point of non-conduct of Local Governments’ elections. It is often argued that “representatives” are not truly elected by the people. Consequently, people-oriented services and functions that can positively impact on the vast majority of rural/local dwellers are not delivered by the representatives.

According to the United Nations office for Public Administration, a Local Government is “a political subdivision of a nation or state, which is constituted by law and has substantial control of local affairs, including the powers to impose taxes or to exact labour for prescribed purposes. The governing body of such an entity is elected or otherwise locally selected.”

In addition the International Encyclopedia of Social Sciences (1976), defines Local Government as “A political sub-division of national or regional government which performs functions which nearly in all cases receive its legal power from the national or regional government but possess some degree of discretion on the making of decisions and which normally has some taxing powers."

On a comprehensive note, The National Guidelines for Reform of Local Government (1976:1) as enshrined in the 1979, 1989 and 1999 constitutions of the Federal Republic of Nigeria defined Local Government as:

Government at (the) local level exercised through representative councils established by law to exercise specific powers within defined areas. These powers should give the councils substantial control over local affairs as well as the staff and institutional and financial powers to initiate and direct the provision of services and to determine and implement projects so as to complement the activities of the state and federal governments in their areas and to ensure through active participation of the people and their traditional institutions that local initiatives and responses to local needs and conditions are maximized.

The definitions above bring out four key characteristics of Local Government. First, Local Government officials are elected. A regular election at specified period of time is a feature of Local Government. In fact the main characteristic that differentiates a Local Government from a local administration is that, while the officials of the former are elected those of the later are appointees of the centre to implement policies of the centre. Second, the Local Government unit must have a legal personality distinct from the State and Federal Governments. Thirdly, the Local Government must have specified powers to perform a range of functions and finally, it must enjoy substantial autonomy. Local Government autonomy means that the Local Government is elected at the local level and operates independently of the State and Federal Government. The Local Government should not be an appendage or field office of the state government. The characteristics of local government autonomy include among other things ability to make its own laws, rules and regulations; formulate, execute and evaluate its own plans and the right to recruits, promote, develop and discipline its own staff (which will be further expounded in subsequent section).

Based on the nature of the mother discipline (Political Science) of Local Government with emphasis on theories, Gboyega (1987) defined Local Government from two basic classes of theories. The first class attempts to justify the existence or need for Local Government on the basis of its being essential to a democratic regime or for practical administrative purposes like responsiveness, accountability and control. While the second class of theories opined that an effective Local Government system contradicts the purpose of a democratic regime. This position is justified on the ground that Local Government institutions are neither democratic in their internal operations nor admit a responsiveness, accountability and control.

The above position can be amplified into three different schools of thought with emphasis on the functional responsibilities of Local Government. According to Ola (1984), these schools of thought include:

(a) Democratic Participatory School
(b) The Efficient-Service School
(c) The Developmental School

Essentially, the democratic school of thought holds that Local Government function to bring about democracy and to afford opportunities for political participation to the citizen as well as to educate and socialize people politically. This viewpoint was shared by Keith-Lucas, David Bulfer and William Machenizei.

The efficiency school argued that what is central and important to Local Government is not the bringing about of democracy but rather that Local Government must be judged - by its success in providing services up to a standard measured by a national inspectorate. Jim Sharpe (1970) opined that the efficient performance of these services is so compelling that, if Local Government did not exists, something else would be created in its place.

The developmental school corroborates the views of the efficient school by emphasizing on how Local Government can be an effective agent of a better life, an improved means of living, socially and economically, and a means to a better share in the national wealth.

Arising from these schools of thought, the government itself states the primary objectives of the Local Government as follows:

(a) To make appropriate services and development activities responsive to local wishes and initiatives by devolving or delegating them to local representatives body;
(b) To facilitate the exercise of democratic self government close to the Local Government levels of our society, and to encourage initiatives and leadership potential;
(c) To mobilize human and material resources through the involvement of members of the public in their local development;
(d) To provide a two way channel of communication between local communities and government (both state and federal) (Local Government Reform, 1976).

Emanating from the foregoing scholarly perspectives, a summary of the definitions above was granted by Appadorai (1975:287) on the assertion that Local Government is "government by the popularly elected bodies charged with administrative and executive duties in matters concerning the inhabitants of a particular place or district". It is significant to remember that Local Government and local administration are different; the former which is headed by an elected individual while the later is headed by an appointed individual. But unfortunately, Local Government in Nigeria has often been contradicted with Local administration. A judgment misplaced and will be adequately reconciled.

2.3. Conceptualizing Local Government Autonomy in Nigeria

Autonomy in generic term implies freedom, independent, free from external and remote control. In the context of Local Government in Nigeria, there is a great deal of confusion and misinterpretation as to what the term ‘autonomy’ connotes. This is because, government reforms that is intended to preserve or extend Local Government autonomy ends up short of their objectives because the full meaning of the term ‘autonomy’ has not been fully explained (Odunfa, 1991).

In the view of polemical interpretations, the term Local Government autonomy is perceived as local self government or grassroots democracy. This grassroots democracy is primarily aimed at giving the vast majority of the people the fullest opportunity to participate in determining their own destiny. But it is obvious that we cannot have complete autonomy or complete local self-government within sovereign states. If Local Governments were completely autonomous they would be sovereign states.

Within a federal system of government, Nwabueze (1983) defines autonomy to mean that “each government enjoys a separate existence and independence from the control of the other governments”. It is an autonomy which requires not just the legal and physical existence of an apparatus of government like a legislative assembly, Governor, Local Government departments, etc. But that each government must exist not as an appendage of another government but as autonomous entity in the sense of being able to exercise its own will in the conduct of its affairs free from direction of another government. Nwabueze, therefore, concluded that autonomy would only be meaningful in a situation whereby each level of government is not constitutionally bound to accept dictation or directive from another.

In the view of the defunct Centre for Democratic Studies, Local Government autonomy refers to “the relative discretion which Local Governments enjoy in regulating their own affairs”. That is, the extent to which Local Government are free from the control of the State and Federal Governments in the management of local affairs.

In his contribution on the literature of autonomy, Davey (1991) opines that “Local autonomy is primarily concerned with the question of responsibilities, resources and discretion conferred on the local authorities. As such discretion and responsibility are at the core of Local Government”. It presumes that Local Government must possess the power to take decisions independent of external control within the limits laid down by the law. It must garner efficient resources particularly of finance to meet their responsibilities. Put differently, local autonomy is the freedom of independence in clearly defined issue, areas, as well as separate legal identity from other levels of government.

In the light of the above, the 1976 Local Government Reforms emerged by introducing a unified system, autonomy, and officially declaring Local Government as the third tier of government with specific functions. The decree that declared Local Government as the third tier of government was included in the 1979 constitution (and much later the 1999 constitution), and can be found in the fourth schedule of the 1999 constitution. Hence, several Local Government reforms have been initiated by successive governments to ensure that they are achieved (Olowu, 1984).

It should be noted that, the debate on Local Government autonomy focuses on what powers and functions the central or state government should grant to the local units within the political system (Clark, 1984). Pertinent is the, earlier stated, 1976 Local Government Reforms which gave us not only the definition of Local Government, but also the basic rudiments of Local Government autonomy. The 1976 reform defines Local Government as:

Government at (the) local level exercised through representative councils established by law to exercise specific powers within defined areas. These powers should give the councils substantial control over local affairs as well as the staff and institutional and financial powers to initiate and direct the provision of services and to determine and implement projects so as to complement the activities of the state and federal governments in their areas and to ensure through active participation of the people and their traditional institutions that local initiatives and responses to local needs and conditions are maximized.

The above definition brings out the key elements of Local Government autonomy. First, the Local Government unit should have a legal personality distinct from the state and federal governments. Second, the Local Government ought to have specified powers and functions distinct from the state and federal governments. Third, the Local Government has to operate independently of the state and federal governments. That means that the Local Government is not an appendage or field office of the state or federal government. Fourth, Local Government ought to have the ability to make its own laws, rules and regulations. Fifth, Local Government should have the ability to formulate and execute its own policies and the right to recruit, promote, develop and discipline its own staff.

It is worthy of note that there is never a time that Local Government in Nigeria has been granted the kind of autonomy expounded in our definition above. Although, during the colonial era, Local Governments enjoyed a wide range of both financial and administrative autonomy but were purely non-political. The Local Government system was derived from the British Whitehall model. The colonial government allowed each region to oversee the activities of Local Government under its jurisdiction. This means that the legal framework for Local Government was provided for by each region: The Eastern region Local Government ordinance of 1950, the Western region Local Government law of 1952 and the 1954 native authority law in Northern Nigeria. According to Otive (1999), the councils were given a wide range of functions including primary education, health, police, and judiciary among others. They were free to decide their own fate, generate and spend their revenues, make laws, formulate and execute their own policies. The reason for this is not farfetched. The Local Governments were offshoots of the native authority system that were created by the British colonialists, and greatly influenced by the British ethos of governance.

The post-colonial era specifically, between 1960 and 1965, witnessed a decline in both the financial and administrative autonomy Local Government experienced during colonial era. This was accompanied by a decline in the responsibilities assigned to Local Governments in the four regions: North, East, West and Mid-West. The 1976 Local Government reform introduced a uniform system of Local Government administration throughout the country, recognized Local Government as third tier of government and granted financial and functional autonomy to Local Government administration in Nigeria. The reform was a major departure from the previous practice of Local Government administration in Nigeria (Oviasuyi, Idada & Isiraojie, 2010). Subsequently, the 1979 Constitution provided the legal framework to strengthen the philosophy of the government. Section 7(1) stated that: “the system of Local Government councils is under this constitution guaranteed. However, section 7(2a and b) provided that: “the government of every state shall ensure their existence under a law which provides for the establishment, structure, composition, finance and functions of such councils” (Federal Republic Constitution: 1979). The 1989 and 1999 constitutions retained these provisions.

It should be noted at this juncture that these constitutions were midwived by military regimes in their quest to strengthen local autonomy. But, it is obvious that civilian administrations between 1979 – 1983 and 1999 – till date have seriously bastardized this noble intention. While Babangida’s Local Government reforms initiated from 1986-1992, is the most remarkable of all the reforms, its stipulations was later thwarted by successive regimes. First, it did not only introduce, but also amplified the issue of Local Government financial autonomy by ensuring that Local Governments got their share of the “national cake” directly from the federation account. Second, it abrogated the Ministry of Local Government and third, introduced the legislative and executive arms of government to the Local Government system in Nigeria (Felix & Okonette, 2013). Hence, it tacitly freed the Local Governments financially from the apron string of the state governments. One may argue, therefore, that the Babangida­­’s reforms that freed the Local Government financially from the interferences of state governments was only possible because the military administrators that oversee the administration at the state level could not defy the commander-in-chief and Head of state that appointed them.

Unfortunately, rather than build on the gains of the administration, successive administrations after the Babangida regime further emasculated both the administrative and financial autonomies of the Local Government. Consequently, just like the Local Governments were seriously abused financially and administratively during the military era before and after the Babangida administration, Local Governments have suffered similar fate, from 1999 when the country returned to civil governance to date (Felix & Okonette, 2013).

These abnormalities were subtly addressed by the 1999 Constitution in a phony manner. Section 162, Subsection (6) of 1999 constitution states that "each state shall maintain a special account to be called "State Joint Local Government Account" into which shall be paid such allocations to the Local Government councils of the State from the Federation Account and from the Government of the State." It went further under the same Section 162, Subsection (7) that "each state shall pay to the Local Governments in its area of jurisdiction such proportion of its revenue on such terms and in such manner as may be prescribed by the National Assembly." (Federal Republic Constitution, 1999). While Section 7 of the 1999 Constitution empowers the state legislature to make laws for the administrative operation of Local Government areas. However, these provisions have become the ammunition used by some state governors to incapacitate Local Governments within their states. It was rightly corroborated that the failure of Local Government in area of service delivery is the role of the state governors in the affairs of Local Government (Adeyemi, 2013). It is doubtful if proposed amendment to section 7 and 162 of the 1999 Constitution will succeed, since it requires 2/3 majority votes of members of the National Assembly and 1/3 majority votes of members of the 36 Houses of Assembly (state legislatures) in the country.

The measures on Local Government make it impossible for Local Government to operate independent of both federal and state governments. The policies include the institution of Ministry of Local Government (but abolished in Babaginda’s reform of 1986-1992), Local Government Service Commission, Caretaker Committee and appointment of a Sole Administrator to oversee the activities of Local Government. Others include Office of the Special Adviser to the Governor on Local Government and Community Affairs, the Senate and House of Representative Committees on Local Government matters, the State Houses of Assembly Committee on Local Government matters (Federal Republic Constitution: 1999­­).

The degree of interference on the activities of Local Government remains alarming. The governors are fond of taking over their financial allocation, taxes, counterpart funding and refuse to conduct Local Government elections, instead ruling Local Governments with appointed administrators, most of whom are party loyalist, friends and relations, thereby turning the entire process of Local Government into an ineffective institution (Ukonga, 2012). There have been instances where state governors unconstitutionally dissolve the entire elected council officers without proper recourse and due process (Eboh and Diejomaoh, 2010). As soon as a new governor comes into office, one of the first actions is to dissolve the existing local councils, whether elected or caretaker (Abutudu, 2011).

This is pertinent to the case of River State which started on July 21, 2015. Immediately the Governor, Ezebunwo Nyesome Wike, assumed office, he dissolved 22 out of the 23 Local Government councils in the state based on the verdict obtained from Justice Lambo Akanbi of the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt (The Leadership, 2016). Thereafter, the governor has been changing Local Government caretaker committees like a chameleon institution. For example, 17 Local Government caretaker committees that were inaugurated by Governor Nyesom Wike on May 9, 2016 were dissolved by himself on September 1, 2016. Subsequently, 20 new Local Government caretaker chairmen that were appointed by the state governor were screened by the Rivers Assembly on October 6, 2016 (Vanguard Newspaper, 2016).

In many cases, caretaker-ship is perpetuated through promises of elections which are invariably postponed. This has been the case in Lagos, Oyo, Benue, and others (Premium, 2016; Daily, 2016; Queen, 2016). The outright denial of democratically elected local councils through caretaker committees demonstrates the increasing authoritarian holds of the councils by state governors. As such, most state governors never bothered to conduct Local Government elections. For instance, as at 2009, Anambra state had not held any local council elections since the return to civil rule in 1999 until January 11, 2014 when the first Local Government elections, under the fourth republic, was conducted (Daily, 2014; Nkwocha, 2009). The high level of interference by state governors on Local Government affairs was also expressed by Khaleel quoted in Adeyemi (2013) when he observed thus:

There is no state of the federation of Nigeria where one form of illegality or the other is not committed with funds of Local Government, through over deduction of primary school teacher’s salary, spurious state/Local Government joint account project, sponsoring of elections, taking over the statutory functions of Local Government and handling them over to cronies and consultants, non-payments of pensioners and non-utilization of training fund despite the mandatory deduction of stipulated percentages for these purposes… nine states out of the 36 states of the federation have elected representatives running the affairs of their Local Governments. This is central to the whole problem because it is by planting stooges called caretaker committee, who neither have the mandate of the people nor the moral strength to resist the excruciating control of the state government that perpetuates the rot.

This undue interference has incapacitated Local Government from effective functioning and alienated grassroots people from enjoying social service delivery expected of Local Governments in Nigeria (Agba, Akwara, & Idu, 2013). Consequently, Local Governments now functions mostly as extension of state governments (Eboh & Diejomaoh, 2010; Ajibulu, 2012). The inherent consequence of this problem, according to Adeyemi (2013) is that Local Government has to wait for the next directives from state government before embarking on any developmental project. This has made Local Government an object of control and directives of a higher level of government.

The import of the above is that there are different dimensions of interference by state governors on Local Government administration in Nigeria. The first is the fiscal interference by the state governors. This problem stems from the fact that the Nigerian constitution does not totally grant financial autonomy to the Local Government. The second dimension is the political interference. The constitution does not provide adequately for the political autonomy of the Local Governments in Nigeria. For instance, it does not provide specifically for the constitution of the Local Government council to be solely through democratic elections, for the specific tenure of the Local Government political office holders, for the Local Governments to derive their full existence directly from the constitution of the Federal Republic and for the specific powers and functions of the Local Government (Azelama, 2008; Ezeani, 2012; Chukwuemeka et al., 2014).

Drawing from the various forms of interferences, state governments have the discretion to determine the nature, content and direction of Local Government elections and political activities. In the exercise of these, the state government decide when elections would be held, who wins in elections, when to dissolve elected council, and the alternative framework to administer the affairs of the Local Governments (Chukwuemeka et al., 2014). Necessary amendment, therefore, should be made to the provisions of the constitution that subjugate Local Government. The quest for autonomy should be related to financial viability. However, Local Government autonomy should not be seen as making the Local Government a sovereign entity or the chairman a ‘local governor’ thus comparing himself with the state governors. But Local Government autonomy should be enjoyed by the citizens at the grassroots.

Omoruyi opined that “local communities can only be meaningfully autonomous when popular structures, organizations and supportive values have been created to sustain, propagate and perpetuate fair representation, constant dialogue, openness of policy making, public accountability and collective self-defense". Governmental powers have to be shared by these grassroots bodies in order to give life to the principle of local self-autonomy and participatory democracy. The State and Federal Governments should ensure that they do not infringe on the revenue yielding areas of Local Government. They should also put a stop to the persist deduction from the monthly allocation of Local Governments. In the same vein, States should henceforth remit the constitutional 10% of their internally generated revenue to the Local Councils. Local Governments also need to increase their internally generated revenue rather than relying on the federal allocation. Similarly, Local Governments should re-order their priorities and block all avenues of wastage and leakage.

Finally, whatever the degree of autonomy vested on the Local Government in the amended 1999 constitution and other Local Government laws of the state, the Local Government officials should be more diligent in exercising such autonomy or power. Irrespective of the type of constitution, conflicts are bound to ensue among the operatives, the ability to amicably resolve such conflicts will give room for an enduring democracy where the value of autonomy would be better appreciated.

2.4. Conceptualizing Local Government Service Delivery at the Grassroots in Nigeria

The creation of Local Government anywhere in the world stems from the need to facilitate developments at the grassroots (Agba, Akwara, & Idu, 2013). This attests to the fact that Local Government exist primarily for the provision of public services that will make life worth living for the local residents. This is because; Local Government service delivery system anywhere in the world affects day-to-day activities of citizens at the grassroots. Therefore, whatever is the mode of government; Local Government has been essentially regarded as path to, and generator of national integration, administration and development (Arowolo, 2008).

Service delivery refers to the provision of social or public goods that will promote socio-economic wellbeing of the citizens. Public services offered by government are numerous and may include the provision of public utilities, security, economic development projects, enforcement of the law, and so on. The delivery of public goods and services at the Local Government level or the grassroots are aimed at moving the standard of living of the populace to the next level (Angahar, 2013). It should be noted that one of the ways of bringing government closer to the people at the grassroots is through the delivery of service in a satisfactory, efficient, effective and adequate manner (Agba, Akwara, & Idu, 2013; Ibok, 2014).

In Nigeria, the 774 Local Governments continue to exhibit a great degree of underperformance and disservice to service delivery at the grassroots. The effects of state interference, corruption, absence of autonomy, among others, serve as impediments. To this end, the inability in addressing the primary needs and wants of the people at the grassroots has made the third tier of government irrelevant in the administration of the country (Bolatito and Ibrahim, 2014). Nevertheless, Local Governments are viable instrument for rural transformation, development and the delivery of social services to rural communities.

In an attempt to clearly identify the essence of Local Governments in Nigeria, the 1976 Local Government Reform states that Local Governments should do precisely what the word ‘government’ implies at the grassroots or local level (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1976). This implies that Local Governments are to perform the following functions spelled out in Fourth Schedule of the 1979 and 1999 Constitutions of the Federal Republic of Nigeria:

(a) The formulation of economic plans and development schemes for the Local Government areas;
(b) Collection of rates, radio and television licenses;
(c) Establishment and maintenance of cemeteries, burial grounds and homes for destitute or the 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 lightings, drains, parks, gardens, open spaces or 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 disposal;
(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;
(k) Control and regulation of:

i. movement and keeping of pets of all descriptions,
ii. Outdoor advertising,
iii. Shops and kiosks,
iv. Restaurants, bakeries and other places for sale of goods to the public,
v. Laundries, and
vi. Licensing, regulation and control of the sale liquor (FGN, 1979; FGN, 1999; Onyishi and Obi, 2004).

How well Local Governments have performed in discharging their responsibilities has been a subject of national concern. It is germane to assess service delivery in Nigeria’s Local Government. For surfeit understanding of the roles of Local Government in Nigeria, three models were developed. These include: Democratic participatory model, Efficiency-services model and Developmental model. The three models or schools of thought are relevant to the performance, function and existence of Local Government. Theoretically therefore, Local Government is expected to enhance achievement of democratic ideals, political participation, protective services and infrastructural services like provision and maintenance of health facilities and institutions (Achimugu, Stephen & Agboni, 2013). With our emphasis on social services, efficiency-service model states that the principal focus of Local Government should be the provision of services. The efficiency–service theory posits that Local Government exists to provide services, and it must be judged by its success in providing services up to a standard measured by national inspectorate (Mackenzie, 1954 cited in Ola and Tonwe, 2009).

The central point of the efficiency-service model is that the primary purpose of the Local Government systems is to provide social services such as law and order, local roads, primary education, sanitation and others efficiently (Chukwuemeka et al., 2014). Sadly, these remain unobtainable in Nigeria. The leading advocate of the efficiency service school William Machenzie (1954), quoted in Adeyemo (2010) notes that service delivery to the local people is expected to pre-occupy the resources, power and time of the Local Government.

Generally, according to Eboh & Diejomaoh (2010) Local Governments worldwide are considered as strategic institutions for the provision of basic socio-economic, environment and other functional services. Their proximity to the grassroots makes them valuable and viable for providing effective and efficient services required by the community. Such functions should be allocated to the Local Governments with powers, resources and the necessary autonomy to handle them (Abutudu, 2011). In the Nigerian context, such functions of Local Government include: Collection of rates, radio and television license; establishment and maintenance of cemeteries, burial grounds and homes for the destitute or infirm; Licensing of bicycles, trucks (other than mechanically propelled trucks), canoes, wheel barrows and carts; establishment, maintenance of and regulation of slaughter houses, slaughter slabs, markets, motor parks and public conveniences; construction and maintenance of roads, streets, street lightings, drains and other public highways, parks, gardens, open spaces etc., (Bolatito and Ibrahim, 2014; Chukwuemeka et al., 2014). Sequel to the above, Chukwuemeka et al., (2014) posits that:

It is, to a large extent, the zeal and need to reposition the Local Government for greater and more effective service delivery that perhaps provides the impetus and imperative for the various Local Government reforms in most political systems. In Nigeria, for instance, there have been various Local Government reforms to strengthen the capacity of the Local Governments to deliver services effectively and efficiently to the local and grassroots people. This is why the Local Governments usually takes the blame where local roads are bad, where there are no market stalls, no functional motor park, no health centres, no potable water, no drugs in local dispensaries and where refuse is littered around the places.

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Pages
169
Year
2016
ISBN (eBook)
9783668578319
ISBN (Book)
9783668578326
File size
1.1 MB
Language
English
Catalog Number
v381314
Institution / College
Obafemi Awolowo University
Grade
70
Tags
appraisal local government autonomy service delivery grassroots nigeria

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Title: Appraisal of Local Government Autonomy on Service Delivery at the Grassroots in Nigeria