South- East Local Governments & Democracy in Nigeria
Eme. Okechukwu Innocent, Idike. Adeline Nnenna, Richard Amaechi Onuigbo
Most Nigerians have over time craved for change in the local government system as presently constituted in order to bring it in conformity with present day realities as well as also to make the councils live up to the expectations of the people who have been yearning for grassroots development. This is because the local government is the closest government to the people, but the inability of the country’s 774 councils to meet the two primary objectives spelled out in the landmark reform of 1976, which are to promote participatory democracy and rapid socio-economic development at the grassroots has made the citizens to lose trust in the third tier of government. The change, stakeholders, however agreed will require a constitutional amendment. Two major streams of theories of local government have been identified by scholars to address these issues. The first set of theories according to tries to justify the existence or need for local government on the grounds of its essentiality to a democratic regime or “for practical administrative purposes like responsiveness, accountability and control. The other set of theories holds a view contrary to the first and argues that the existence of local government cannot be justified by any of those reasons mentioned above in that “local government institutions are neither democratic in their internal operations nor admit of responsiveness, accountability and control. The paper seeks to interrogate the relationships between Local and Democracy in relation to the inability of local council to attain the goals of the reform. Data for this study will be generated from Focus Group Discussion, interviews and documentary sources. Tables and the technique of content analysis will serve as our data analysis technique. The finding reveals that as a result poor understanding of the operation of the Constitution and excessive control by states, corruption and the flaws in the 1999 Constitution, they remained handicapped. Based on the above findings, the paper recommends constitutional amendments; accountability and the diversification of the economy will help in addressing these challenges.