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1.1 Background of the Study
Federalism, according to K.C Wheare, is the method of dividing powers so
that the central and regional governments are each, within a sphere, co
ordinate and independent. He said that the characteristics of this Federal
Principle are the division of powers among levels of government, a written
constitution showing this division of powers and co-ordinate not sub
ordinate supremacy of the two levels of government with respect to their
functions (K.C Wheare, 1953: 10).The practice of federalism in Nigeria is
one of the legacies the British colonial masters bequeathed to Nigeria. Local
government is born out of federalism because federalism has to do with the
division of power between the central and the component units local
government is a component in a federal system, it is recognized as a third
tier of government which is charged with the responsibility at the grass root.
The local government performs certain functions assigned to it by the
constitution and the local government is to be autonomous in its own to
carry out all its responsibilities without interference from the central
government. The local government should do precisely the word
government in its own sphere. The evolution of local government in Nigeria
has undergone a lot of changes and all these are geared towards making the
local government a system that could serve the purpose for its creation. But
specifically in 1976, under General Olusegun Obasanjo’s regime introduced
the 1976 local government reform. The reform recognized the local
government as the third tier of government in the Nation and it is expected
to do precisely what the word local government implies that is, governing at
the local level. The reforms also intend to stimulate democratic self
government, encourage initiative and leadership potential and entrain the
principle of this reform for the local government to be autonomous having
the freedom to recruit and manage its own staff, raise and manage its own
finances, make policies, laws and provide services within the limits of its
resources and functions without interference, the local government system in
Nigeria still have some constraints that have impeded it’s autonomy. (Okoli,
2005: 107). This research work puts in focus, Ofu local government area in
Kogi state. It will investigate the autonomous nature of the local government
area and see the level of services that has been delivered in the area. Ofu
local government area of Kogi state was created out of Idah local
Government Area In May, 1989 in the then Benue state by the Federal
Military Administration of Nigeria led by General Ibrahim Badamasi
Babangida. It has nine districts. They are; Ugwolawo, Itobe, Igalaogba,
Ojokogbe, Aloji, Ejule, Ogbonicha, Igo, Omache and Ofoke. The hand
quarter of the goo-political entity is Ugwolawo, the historical town that
provides haven for the only Federal Government College in the Kogi Eastern
Senatorial district. Graphically, the local government share boundaries with
Dekina Local Government Area of Kogi state to the North while also
sharing boundary with Ankpa local government to the south. Ofu local
government equally shares boundary with Olamaboro local government area
to the South East and also sharing boundary with Ajaokuta local government
area to the west. The local government area occupies a landmass of almost
8,747.5 square kilometer and a perimeter of 252.5 kilometers. The 1991
census figure of National population commission puts the population of the
people at 112,697. The people are predominantly Farmers. The Land is
fertile for large scale production of crops like maize, beans, groundnuts, rice,
cassava, melon, guinea corn, Barbara nuts and so on while mangoes,
cashew, palm trees, cocoa e.t.c yield in abundance for commercialization.
The place is equally endowed with mineral resources like caoline, lime,
marble, galena, fieldpars e.t.c lie beneath the earth there in large quantity for
exploration. As it is the characteristic that is always endemic of the countries
of the Sub-Saharan Africa, cultural activities are of paramount importance to
the people of Ofu. Their tourist delights include Uloko Amo Waterfalls at
Ofokopi, Ugbakoji hills in Itobe, Egane Waterfalls, Ofakete Natural Bridge
and Ala Natural funnel.
1.2 Statement of the Problems
Local government Autonomy is meant the Freedom of the local government
to recruit and manage its own staff, raise and manage its own Finances,
make policies, laws and provide services within the limits of its resources
and functions without interference. Before the 1976 Local Government
Reform, Local Governments were under the direct tutelage of the state
government which vested with the exclusive powers to make and unmake
them. As a result, Local Governments were subjected to excessive controls
by their respective state governments. These controls by their respective
state governments were carried out through such mediums as approval of
bye-laws and major contracts, appointment of certain categories of
professional and administrative staff, approval of annual estimates and loan
proposals and funding through grants-in-aid. These control measures posed
negative consequences as they culminated into delays which in turn
frustrated many important policies and programmes in the local government
area. In addition, state governments created, modified, dissolved and
suspended local government councils at will. The states had the power to
abolish their local government system. In fact, local government existed at
the mercy of the state.
The autonomy of local government in Africa countries such as Nigeria is
more in theory than in practice. As Olowu (1988:71) succinctly puts it:
Most government has opted for the direct control by central government of their local governments through a battery of legal, financial and administrative controls… So called “local government” units of central governments or worse still, exist as parallel institutions to the government’s field administration controlled by both the central and field units.
The heavy dependence of local governments in Nigeria for instance on
statutory allocation from the Federal government whittles down the
autonomy of the former. It puts local government at the mercy of the federal
government. Furthermore, successive Nigerian governments (both federal
and state) have interfered in the actual functioning of the local government.
For instance, between 1984 and late 1987, local government councils were
abolished and the administration of the affairs of the local government were
placed entirely on the sole administrator. Again, in 1994, the elected local
government council were disbanded by the military government of General
Abacha and replaced with caretaker committees (Ezeani, 2004). Also the
financial autonomy of local governments has on many occasions been
tempered with by the state governments. This is currently the case in Nigeria
were some state governments confisiticate federal allocations to the local
government and give whatever amount they like to the chairman to run the
local government. (Ezeani, 2004:86). Despite these for reaching measures
as recommended by the 1976 local government reform thereby making it the
bedrock of modern local government system in Nigeria, One can safely
assert that the local government still has some constraints that have actually
impeded its success. These in the view of Olugbemi (1986) can be
– Continued jurisdiction of state government over the most important
functions allocated to local government in the guidelines and as
stipulated in the fourth schedule of 1999 constitution of the federal
republic of Nigeria.
– Continued imposition of various central government, it controls the
selection of councilors, in budgeting and budget control, in policy
determination including the determination of fiscal policies, in personnel
management etc which tend to diminish the value of government in local
Therefore, the study will seek to provide empirical and verifiable answers to
these problems based on the following questions.
– Does Federalism guarantee local government autonomy?
– Is Nigeria local government system (Ofu Local Government)
– Does the granting of full autonomy to the local government enhance its
1.3 Objectives of the study
Every research work encapsulates and embodies diverse objectives to be
achieved at the end of the research. Thus, the broad objective of this research
work is to assess “the Nigerian Federalism and local government autonomy
specifically Ofu local government area of Kogi state. Specifically however,
the study attempts to:
– To ascertain if federalism guarantees local government autonomy.
– To investigate if Nigeria local government system (Ofu local
government) is fully autonomous.
– To explain if full autonomy is given to Nigeria local government system
(Ofu local government) will enhance its service delivery.
1.4 Significance of the Study
The significance of this study is divided into two viz: Theoretical and
At the theoretical level, it will add to the frontier of knowledge of Nigerian
Federalism and local government autonomy. This research will serve as a
resource base to other scholars and researchers interested in carrying out
further research in this field subsequently, if applied will go to an extent to
provide new explanation to the topic. 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 given full autonomy.
1.5 Literature Review
As a topical area of study, a number of scholarly works had been done,
especially on interpretations of variables related to this topic. The
importance of reviewing relevant literature cannot be over emphasized. Fox
(1969) and leady (1974) argued that if contemplated research is to contribute
to the relevant discipline then the researcher must understand the discipline.
They pointed out that the most directed way of doing this is to read the basic
writing of other thinkers. As a style of organizing the review, this work
adopts the thematic approach to organize the literature. By this, issues are
reviewed based on similarity, conformity or ideas. The review is therefore
done under three themes identified as variables under study. This is also to
ensure proper organization and easier understanding for readers. The themes
are; Federalism, local government and local government autonomy in
The concepts of Federalism bristles with difficulties as there are quite a
number of views or opinions trying to explain this elusive term (there is no
unanimity of opinions). As Daniel Elazer (1992) observed, “there are
several varieties of political arrangements to which the term is properly been
applied” (Jinadu, 1980:26). William Ricker also pointed out that “an initial
difficulty in any discussion of federalism is that the meaning of the word has
been thoroughly confused by dramatic changes in the institutions to which it
refers” (Ibid). The word Federalism etymologically has its root from the
Latin word “Foedus” meaning compact or league. From the same Latin word
“Foedus” the following English words “Federal, Federate,” and the word
federation” came into existence and found their ways into the stream of
English language, politics and law. In constitutional law the word “Federal”
is commonly employed to express a league or compact between two or more
states to become a United Nation under the central government called the
According to K.C., Wheare, (1953:10) is the method of dividing powers so
that central and regional governments are each, within a sphere, co-ordinate
and independent. According to him, the characteristics of this federal
principle are the division of powers among levels of government, a written
constitution showing this division and co-ordinate, not sub-ordinate
supremacy of the two levels of government with respect to their functions.
Wheare’s central argument is that federalism will be adopted if people in the
Desire to be under a single independent government for some purposes at any rate and desire at the same time to retain or to establish independent regional government on some matter at least. (K.C Wheare, 1963: 35-36).
From Wheare’s definition of federalism, the constitutional provision protects
the autonomy of different regional levels of governments and as such neither
the central or regional governments are subordinate to each other, but rather
the two levels of government are coordinate and independent.
William Livingston (1956:1-2) looked beyond the narrow confines of legal
formulation to the general systemic view and saw federalism as the product
of the interaction of socio-cultural and political factors, while observing that
the documentary constitution may be a poor guide to whether a political
system is Federal or otherwise. He explained that:
The essential nature of Federalism is to be sought for not in the shade of legal and constitutional terminology, but in the forces, economic, social, political and cultural that has made the outward forms of Federalism lies not in the institutional structure but in the society itself. Federal government is a device by which the federal qualities of the society are protected. (Livingston, 1956:3).
This is a departure from Wheare’s legal construct; Livingston demonstrates
interaction between constitutions framework and socio-cultural structures. In
effect, he shows that the form of constitution is not dependent of the
centripetal and centrifugal forces operating in the society. Livingston went
further to distinguish between a federal constitution; which is the legal
document, and a federal society necessitates the federal constitution. He
notes the Federal constitution to mean the arrangement incorporating the
federal principles, such as the division of powers while the federal society is
one with a plurality of ethnic groups with different historical, cultural and
linguistic backgrounds, but in which each ethnic group occupies a marked
and distinct geographical location from the others. Federalism therefore
becomes a device for compromising unity in diversity. Livingston
(1956:3).however emphasized the need for common political tradition if
federalism is to survive asserting that “of all the factors that go into matrix
out of which Federations are produced similarly of social and political
tradition is probably the most important.
Livingston concluded that the political institutions of Federalism once
created, “May themselves shape the pattern of society by determining the
channels which these social pressures will flow, in short, the constitution
affects and is effected by societal diversities”.
The problem with the above analysis is while stating the factors, which
affect the operations of a federal system; it is vague on which of these
factors are necessary conditions for the formation of a federation. Similarly,
Livingston’s definition of federal system’s so broad that all societies with
division of powers can find niche in the classification. For example, this
approach does not help in sorting out the boundaries between federal states
like U.S.A and decentralized system like Britain.
Carl Friedrich (1963:35), shares a similar view with K.C Wheare.
According to him, Federalism should be seen as a process by which unity
and diversity are politically organized and this process include all political
phenomena, persons, institutions and ideas. He described a federation as
union of group selves, united by one or more objectives but retaining their
distinctive group level, while association is on the interpersonal level. He
noted that federalism without destroying themselves that are uniting and is
meant to strengthen them in their mutual relations. Friedrich argued that
federalism should be a process. The process by which a number of separate
political communities enter into arrangements for working out solutions,
adopting joint policies and making joint decisions on joint problems and
conversely also the process by which a unitary political community becomes
differential into a federally organized whole.
Itse Sagay (2003) corroborates with Wheare by posting that Federalism is;
An arrangement whereby political power within a multinational country are shared between a Federal or central authority and a number of regionalized governments, in such a way that each unit, including the central authority, exists as a government separately and independently from the others, operating directly on persons and property within its territorial area, with a will of its own and its own apparatus for the conduct of affairs and with an authority in some matters exclusive of all others. In a federation each government enjoys autonomy, a separate existence and independence of the control of any other government. Each government exists, not as an appendage of another government but as an autonomous entity in the sense of being able to exercise its will on the conduct of its affairs far from the direction by any government.
The above definition is in line with Wheare’s own stipulation that in the
Federal system, there is no hierarchy of authorities, with the central
government on the others. All governments have a horizontal relationship
with each other.
Another scholar on the discussion of federalism is Austin Ranny (1993: 789)
who sees federalism as a system of government where power is divided
between a national government and several sub-national governments, each
of which is legally supreme on its assigned sphere. He noted that
Federalism was adopted as political expediency, adding that Federalism has
been widely praised as of the grant American contribution to the art of
A number of different nations have adopted it as a way of enabling regions with sharp different cultures and interest to join together as one nation. The clearest examples are nations like Australia, Canada, Germany and Switzerland also in Brazil, India and Mexico.
Osaghie (1990) also argues that an important characteristic which
distinguishes Federal character systems from non Federal systems is
contractual, non-concentration of power. According to him, in a Federal
state, there is an irrevocable division of power as a product of constitutional
compact among the nationalities or sub-communities that compose the
Tekena Tamuno (1989:18), Federalism as a form of government where the
component units of a political organization participate in sharing powers and
functions in a cooperative manner though the combined forces of ethnic
pluralism and cultural diversity, among others, tend to pull their people
apart. Delicate arrangements of this kind were carefully worked out, provide
sufficient room for the co-existence of centre-seeking and centre fleeing
forces, peace, for lucky communities which achieve and sustain measure of
this, under these arrangements, is not necessarily that of the grave, where
people agree sometimes and disagree sometimes, concerning the goals and
means of co-operative governments of this kind, friction and conflict
resolution is quite possible through the time and effective intervention of
accredited authorities and organs of government.
Professor Attahiru M. Jega (1999) gave a seemingly elementary but useful
definition of federalism, by saying a federal system is a government in
which the written constitution or an inviolable statutory precedent specifies
that certain fundamental authority adheres to a central government and that
other fundamental authority belongs to smaller areas. (Eligwu, 1996: 88). In
this sense, Federalism is essentially about the distribution of political and
economic decision making power among constitutions units or levels of
government. Some inferences can be drawn from the above literatures on
the concept of federalism; the first is that the study of federalism is still in a
state of partial theory with the numerous writers, each speaking a language
particular to him. On close examination, it can be observed that no
fundamental disagreement exists among the scholar in their divergent
approaches to the topic. Each approach is a narrow perspective of the broad
theme and none by itself explains the totality of the federal concept. For
example, Wheare provides a legal framework of what constitutes a federal
constitution, Livingston looks beyond the surface to the social diversities
that the constitutional divisions of powers is supposed to mirror, while
Friedrich looks intensely at the actual operation of the societal centripetal
and centrifugal forces and how they affect the constitutional arrangement.
On the whole it could be inferred that the existing literature that pictures
what is federal government and what is not, remains as blurred as ever. The
student of federalism is therefore in a sort of quandary.
But for the purpose of this study, the definition as given by K.C. Wheare
(1953) would be adopted as a working definition because it is still not
possible except by this Wheare’s definition to determine the prerequisite of
federalism and basis on which to establish which countries are federal and
which are not.
This part will focus on the views of different scholars which forces us to ask
new questions; to consider views of diverse range of thinkers, and provide
access to competing explanations of what is really Local Government.
Orewa (1992) sees local government as the lowest unit of administration to
whose laws and regulation, the communities who live in a defined
geographical area and with common social and political ties are subject. The
implication of this in his view is that, the territorial jurisdiction of the local
government has to be clearly determined and defined to enable the residents
of the local government aware of their civic and financial claim for the
provision of service and for protection against health & hazard. He went
further to state that, local government is the product of decentralized
administration. Decentralization per se refers to the arrangement by which
the management of the public affairs of a country is shared by the
central/State provincial and the local government in such a manner that the
local government is given reasonable scope to raise funds and to use its
resource to provide a range of socio-economic services and establish
programmes to enhance the welfare of those resident in its area of authority.
In the view of the United Nations office for public administration
Local government is a political division of a nation or (in federal system), state, which is constituted by law, and has control of local affairs, including the power to impose taxes or exact labour for prescribed purpose. The government of such an entity is elected or otherwise locally selected (quoted in Ola 1984:7).
According to Ola (1984) who is in line with the above assertion, indicates
some elements which precipitate the establishment of local government as
the third tier of government;
-citizen’s participation in the management of local affairs
-efficient and equitable provision of essential service
– Resource mobilization for development purpose
He went further to explain that local government is a cooperate body which
can sue and can be sued. Thus, it has its own independent legal existence.
Local governments are distinguished from other social institution due to
judicial or legislative powers to make bye-laws and regulations. It does not
make substantial law but bye-laws and regulation under the power derived
from the constitution.
Ogunna (1976), sees the local government as a political authority which is
purposely created by law or constitution for local communities by which
they manage their local public affairs within the limits.
William Robson in Mahal (2006) asserts that local government involves the
conception of territorial, non-sovereign community possessing the legal right
and the necessary organization to regulate it own affairs. This in turn
presupposes the existence of a local authority with power to act
independently of external control as well as the participation of the local
community in the administration of its own affairs.
In the 1976 local government reform hand book, local government was
Government at the local level exercised through representative councils established by law to exercise specific power within defined areas. These powers should give the council substantial control over local affairs as well as the staff and institutional and financial power to initiate and direct the provision of services and to determine and implement project so as to complement the activities of the state and federal government in their areas, and to ensure and through devolution of function to council and through the active participation of the people and their traditional institutions that local initiatives and response to local needs and condition are maximized.
Price (1975:160) sees local government as:
An attempt to make use of its citizens’ local loyalties by delegating local function to local administrative bodies, which may be various type, such as locally elected representative body, a recognized traditional authority or local representative, with clearly defined power of the central government.
Drain (2000) in his book “Local Government Administration”, perceives
local government as the lower level of government responsible for domestic
enhancement. To him, he said development must start from the grassroots
with an organized system and with public enlightment. Development should
be every body’s business, local government is the government close to the
people and that listens to the people. Local government is therefore all about
enhancement and agent of rural or community development.
Odenigwe (1979) sees the local government in Nigeria as the ultimate
agency for mobilizing citizens and material resource for rural development
under the new system. Local governments are now in a better position to
mobilize, direct and co-ordinate the efforts of the people on rural
Venkataranyaiga and Pattabhiram see the local government as
The administration of a locality a village, a town, a city or any other area smaller than the state by a body representing local Inhabitants, possessing a fairly large amount of authority, raising at least a part of its revenue through local taxation and spending its income on service which are regarded as local and therefore distinct from state and central services.
According to L. Ademolekun and L. Rowland, (1979:1) sees the local
government as a tier of government with formal and unequivocal recognition
of local government as constituting a distinct level of government with
defined boundaries clearly stated functions and provision. To el-borate on
this definition above, being a tier means that unlike before when local
government was placed under the ministry or department, with limited
responsibilities, it is now regarded as the third level of government and
charged with greater and additional responsibilities of mobilizing,
sensitizing and harnessing the human and material resource at the local level
for the development of such localities. As the third tier of government the
local government now enjoys the following autonomy.
Staff: the local government can now recruit, pay and discipline their staff
through the local government service commission.
The local government now enjoys high level manpower unlike before.
Financial autonomy: the local government as a third tier of government
now gets its fiscal allocation from revenue allocation and mobilization
commission. It also exercise control over its annual budget.
Fiscal autonomy: it can now generate its own money through rent, rate
From the assertions of all the scholars reviewed above, it is seen
that they all agree that the local government is a third tier of
government and as such is an agent of rural development.
Local Government Autonomy
There is a good deal of confusion and misinterpretation to what the term
“autonomy“ connotes, despite its regular usage, yet the real understanding of
the term leaves much to be desired. The numerous scholars and government
functionaries who used the term assumed that their audience understands the
concept furthermore; government’s reform 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). Local government autonomy is the freedom of the local government
to recruit and manage its own staff, raise and manage its own finances, make
polices, laws and provide services within the limits of its resources and
functions without interference from the federal and state government. The
work of different scholars will be reviewed on the meaning of local
Nwabueze (1983) defines the autonomy under a federal system to mean
“each government enjoys a separate existence and independence from the
control of the other government. It is an autonomy which requires just legal
and physical existence of an apparatus of government like a legislative
assembly, Governor, Court e.t.c. but that each government must exist not as
an appendage of another government but as an 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. According to Nwabueze, 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 government enjoys in
regulating their own affairs the extent to which local government are free
from the control of the state and federal government in the management of
local affairs. In this 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 at the care of local government it
presumes that local government must poss. the power to take decision
independent of external control within the limits laid at own by the law. It
must garner efficient resumes particularly of finance to meet their
responsibilities put differently lead autonomy is the freedom of
independence in clearly defined issue, are as separate legal identity from
other level of government. In essence, when one talks of local government
autonomy in Nigeria’s policy we refer to the relative independence of local
government control by the state and federal governments. Therefore it is the
nature and structure of transactions or interaction between the three levels of
government that reveals the degree of local government autonomy.
The autonomy of local government in African countries such as Nigeria is
more a theory than in practice. As Olowu (19988:71) succinctly puts it:
A battery of legal, financial and administrative controls… so called “local government units”. In Most government in African have opted for direct control by central government of the local government through reality operate like field administrative units of central Government or worse still exist as parallel institutions to the government’s field administration controlled by both the central and field units.
The heavy dependence of local government in Nigeria for instance to
statutory allocation from the federal government whittles down the
autonomy of the former, it puts local government at the mercy of the federal
government. Furthermore, successive Nigerian government (both federal &
state) has interfered in the actual functioning of the local government. For
instance between 1984 and late 1987, local government council were
abolished and the administration of the affairs of the local government were
placed entirely on the sole administrator. Again in 1991, the elected local
government council were disbanded by the military government of General
Abacha and replaced with caretaker committees.
Also the financial autonomy of local government has on many occasions
been confisticated by the State Government. This is currently the case in
Nigeria were some state government confisticate federal allocations to local
government and give whatever amount they like to the chairman to run local
government (Ezeani, 2004: 186).
In the critique of the government of the then Eastern Region of Nigeria,
By the use of these central government official in these roles, by limiting the financial and executive
powers and functions of local government to the whims and pleasures of the central government by taking over control of staff serving local government, by assuming the main financial responsibility for local government services; Nigeria from independence practiced a veiled form of integrated administration decentralization with the so-called local government serving as nothing but mere arms and agents to the central government.
It is no surprise therefore, that Ronald Wraith who has written extensively
on local government, once had to change the title of his book from “local
government in West Africa” to local administration in West Africa” because
he realized that in most cases that what exist in West African countries were
mere local administration rather than local government (Wraith 1982: 224).
Despite these far reaching measures as recommended by the reforms
especially 1976 thereby making it the bedrock of modern local government
system in Nigeria, one can safely assert that the local government’s
autonomy is more of a theory than in the real practice of it and this is an
impediment to its success. These in the view of Olugbemi (1986) can be
Continued jurisdiction of state government over the most important
functions allocated to local government in the guideline and as stipulated
in the fourth schedule of 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of
The failure of the federal government to effect a more equitable sharing
of the tax field among the three levels of government.
Continued imposition of various central government controls in the
selection of councilors, in budgeting and budget control, in policy
determination including the determination of fiscal policies, in personnel
management e.t.c. which tend to diminish the value of government in
1.6 Theoretical Framework
Theory has been defined as set of interrelated constructs, concepts,
propositions or ideas that presents a systematic view of a phenomenon by
specifying relations among variables with the purpose of explaining and
predicting the phenomenon (kerlinger 1977:57). Following from the above,
we can deduce that theory serves as a foundation of any social science
research. It provides a logical explanation of a phenomenon or event and at
the same time, predicting its possible outcome. Theoretical framework on
the other hand has been identified by Igwe (2005: 442-443) as “the guide on
the school of thought expressing some level or form of existing relevant
knowledge and adopted by the student or the researcher as the foundation of
his work. Chosen normally from any array of political theories reviewed
after thorough literature review.
Saliu (2004:9) had underscored the importance of theoretical framework in
social science as he holds that the importance of applying theories to social
science research efforts has long been realized. In view of the scholars of the
behavioral approach social science is not scientifically based unless it is
backed up by a theory.
Saliu further maintains that, “theoretical frame work” refers to the conscious
and deliberate decision that a researcher has made in terms of the theory or a
combination of theories, which guide his research efforts. In view of the
foregoing, and in bid to conduct a systematic research, we shall anchor our
investigation on the theory and persuasion of the structural functional theory.
Structural functionalism as described by Haralambos and Holborn (2004:
936-937) is a theoretical framework that is intended to explain the basis for
the maintenance of order and stability in society and the relevant
arrangement within the society which maintain from the biological sciences
was abinitio adopted as a mode of analysis by Gabriel Almond. Almond
contends that every political system has structures that are there to perform
certain functions. It goes further to say that every political system involves
structure and functions according to Robert Marton (quoted in Nwaogu
2002: 47) are “those observed consequences which make for the adaptation
or adjustment of a given system “structures on the other hand, refer to “the
arrangement within the system which perform the function” it is therefore
evident in the view expressed above that for the continued existence of a
political system, all structures must be allowed to perform its functions
allocated to it by the constitution freely.
Gabriel Almond the main proponent of this theory developed seven (7)
specific functions which every political system must perform;
Political Socialization & Recruitment
Rule adjudication. (Almond analyzed in Varma (1975: 209)
In collaborating Almond’s position, Varma (1975:211) holds that structural
functionalism revolves around two main concepts- functions and structures,
on the basis of which three questions could be posed,
– What basic functions are fulfilled in any given political system?
– By what structure?
– Under what conditions?
Following the above analysis the relevance of structural functional theory in
Nigeria Federalism and local government autonomy cannot be
overemphasized. In Nigeria, power is shared among the three level of
government (federal, state, and local) which in this regard are the structures:
these structure are expected to be taken care of by the constitution taking
cognizance of the notion that constitution is the frame or composition of
government, to the way in which a government is actually structured in
terms of its levels, the distribution of power within it, the relations of the
organs, and the procedures for exercising powers (Nwabueze, 1993:1)
inherent in Nwabueze’s view is that constitution creates structures, assign
roles or functions to them as well as co-ordinates and regulates their
respective and collective activities and relationship with each other. In
Nigeria federation, the executive legislature and judiciary is assigned
specific functions by the constitution. Also the three levels of government,
federal state and local governments have their own powers delineated and
delimited in the constitution. It is expected that the levels of government
performs their respective functions as drawn in the constitution, the aim and
maintenance of order and stability which is about the most essential of the
state based on the liberal scholars, could have been achieved. Again in a
federal state, the various component units are equally structures which are
expected to perform certain functions. Since it is expected that the central
and regional government should exist independently and also co
coordinately, and not a situation where the central government assumes a
dictatorial role on other levels, performing the functions the regional
government is to perform, it is then logical that all the component units
should be autonomous & economically viable as to ensure uniformity in size
of the government units as anything contrary to this could suggest J.S. mills’
“law of instability” if a particular structure is not viable there will certainly
be limitations on the functions it is expected to perform for the continuous
existence of the federation. Moreover, since the constitution has a pride of
place in federal practice, it then becomes imperative that the various
structures in a federation should participate in its making as this is also part
of their function. A deviation from this view, could amount to a situation
where the constitution will fail to reflect the aspiration of the people. The
constitution might as well fail to institutionalize the appropriate structures
whose functions it also ought to define and delimit. In other words the
constitution may even create structures, but fail to assign appropriate
functions to them. Furthermore, it is important to note that the federal
system of government has the local government as the third tier and not an
administration under any other level of government as provided by the 1976
local government reform, and also in the constitution (1999) 4th schedule, it
assigns some functions to the local government thus, in a federal system
practice, the various level of government are supposed to be sharing powers
& functions in such a way that power will not be concentrated or centralized
on a particular tier at the detriment of others. In line with structural
functional theory, if the local government is allowed with a full autonomy to
perform its function within its jurisdiction, in a way will enhance service
delivery at the grassroots. Both the input & output functions should be
performed simultaneously, output should be a product of input function
therefore constitution making as output functions should reflect the inputs
made by various structures. In a situation where there is a deviation from
this practice, structural defects set in and if not properly managed, could lead
to system decay.
This research work is anchored on the following assumptions:
It seems Federalism guarantees local government autonomy.
Nigeria local government system (Ofu Local Government) is not
There is a correlation between the granting of full autonomy to local
government (Ofu Local Government) and enhanced service delivery.
1.8 Method of Data Collection and Analysis
Just as a builder relies on a building plan and a voyager uses a compass to
guide his voyage. In this study, we adopt the use of both primary and
secondary source of data collection. The primary source was based on
personal interview with some Ofu local government officials’ while the
secondary source of data collection is also justified due to its reliable and
scientific facts and ideas must be supplemented with empiricism.
The secondary source of data includes materials like; text books,
newspapers, magazines, government publications research papers, journals
handbooks, internet e.t.c.
Moreover, we shall adopt content analysis as our method of investigation.
This involves reading meaning into materials that are collected for the
purpose of achieving reliable and verifiable conclusion.
1.9 Operationalization of Terms:
The following terms will be operationalized for a better understanding;
ii. Local government
iii. Local government autonomy
vi. Local government officials
i. Federalism: it is a system of government in a country otherwise
referred to as a federation, is a system of government in which the
political and socio-economic powers are shared between the central
government (referred to as federal government) and the co-ordinate
political sub-division of the country, referred to in Nigeria as region
but now referred to as states and local government.
ii. Local government: it is a government at the local level exercised
through representative council established by law to exercise specific
powers within defined areas. These powers should give the council
substantial control over local affairs as well as the staff, 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 active participation of the people and their traditional
institution that local initiatives and responses to local needs are
iii. Local government autonomy: is the freedom of the local
government to recruit and manage its own staff, raise and manage its
own finances, make policies, laws and provide service within the
limits of its resource and functions without interference from the
federal and state government.
iv. Functions: observed consequences which made for the adoption or
adjustment of a given system.
v. Structure: the arrangement within the system which performs the
vi. Local government reform: it is an attempt to re-organize the local
government so as to improve the whole activities at that level.
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