The politics of local government creation in Nigeria is as old as the country itself. The Nigerian State was a product of 1914 amalgamation of Northern and Southern protectorates by Lord Lugard. There were no concrete objective criteria for the amalgamation except for the administrative and exploitative tendency of the colonial powers. As a result, there was no consideration for cultural affinity, none for geographical contiguity, despite the natural and geographical separation (Agboola, 2016).
Creation of local government was conceived as devolution of power to enable full political participation of individual ethnic configuration to take place. It was indeed seen to open avenues for effective geo-political alignment which was needed to allay the inhibited fears of domination that many ethnic groups nursed against themselves. It is important to note that the notion of decentralization came into fruition through the creation of local governments as evidenced in 1914, when North and South were amalgamated. It is important to note that agitations for decentralization in the form of creating new local government council areas pre-dated the political independence of the nation in 1960. Despite these agitations, at independence, Nigeria had three major regions (Northern, Easternand Western Regions) and a ‘Federal Capital Territory’ of Lagos. Since independence, and especially during the military era, creating local government areas had become enormously popular in the country as a means of redressing the imbalance in socio-economic development among the component units of Nigeria (Sanni, 2010).
Good governance can only thrive by investing in local government system. That is why most states of the world including those with centralized political systems establish subnational units of government to address local issues, which cannot be handled effectively by the central government, particularly the promotion of local development, local administration, local economy and local politics. These sub-national units of government are usually separated from the national government. These units are referred to as local governments in Nigeria. Therefore, according to Oni (2000), local government either as a political or administrative instrument constitutes the most critical level of government at which the momentum to sustain national development can be created.
Local government is different from local administration in terms of the constitution of those who run the affairs of this level of government. The Guidelines for Local Government Reforms in Nigeria of 1976 defined it as “Government at local level exercised through a representative council established by law to exercise specific powers and function within defined areas” (Abugu, 2014). Local council development is defined both as a process and as a movement. The Cambridge University Conference on African Administration of 1946, defined the concept as a movement to promote better living for the whole community with the active participation and if possible, on the initiative of the community, but if this initiative is not forth coming by the use of technique for arousing and stimulating it in order to secure its active and enthusiastic response to the movement. It includes the whole range of development activities in the districts, whether these are under taken by the Government or unofficial bodies (Abugu, 2014).
As a process, it is seen as “a process of education by which people of all ages and all interests in the community learn to share their thought, their ideals, their aspirations, their joy and their sorrows in a large measure to mold and shape their communal destiny for themselves”. It is a process of self discovery by which the people of a community learn to identify and solve their communal problems. The essential elements of local council development include the following: the people should be active participants and thus, have significant control over the developmental process; attention must be on the quest and aspirations of the people; the concept of self-help is equally of a great essence to the community development process; and the community must be viewed as a total entity and not as sub-units.
Since the creation of modern state in Nigeria, different regimes have been confronted with problems of how best to reposition local government for better performances, however observation shows that achieving this is still a myth. Okunabe observed that “battle to re-order Nigeria politically, democratically, and economically will be won or lost at the local government level”. Onyekachi (2016) believed that “the challenges of effective repositioning of local government in Nigeria for better service delivery through reorganization and restructuring will determine the level of development to expect in the next decade in Nigeria.
On the creation of local development council association, local government are finding it difficult to operate as a third tier of government because of the limited funding. This was further exacerbated by the creation of new local governments. The sheer high overhead cost of running 774 local governments has almost crippled the capacity of local governments to deliver social services to the people. The situation has worsened since the creation of new local governments by some states in Nigeria. The basic concern is the economic, political and legal implications of this by increasing the number of local governments in the state, one or two things are bound to happen- the overhead cost of administration of local governments and quest for their sustainability. On the issue of state local government account, there are allegations that states are tempering with the statutory allocations to local governments from the federation account thereby leaving them with little or nothing to settle recurrent. The political elites do mobilize groups on ethno-regional interests to campaign for local government creation and development. These elites often argue that local government creation fosters growth and development, bring government nearer to the people, prevent racour and ensure popular participation as the critical bases for creating local governments. The political class argues for local government creation to foster access to statist institutions and structures and engender political inclusion of marginalized sub-nationalities. These arguments of the political elite are flawed in the light of the historicity of local government creation and its politics in Nigeria. The political classes are the greater beneficiaries; the replications of local government structures provide new bases of political competition and patronage. The local governments are domains of political contestations among factions for political class for strategic self-serving advantage. The seven hundred and forty four local structure had not eased the agitation for local government creation; rather new social forces align and re-align to canvass for new spheres of control and influence. The poor viable status of the local government has further vitiated the argument for local government creation.
In order to clarify this conflicting argument, there is need for a research to know the opinion of the public on the creation of Local Government in Nigerian states.
Statement of the Problem
Every states in Nigeria, since the fourth Republic was not left out in this search for efficiency and development at the local government as the third tier of government. However, despite these succeeding efforts, the activities of the local government in Nigeria especially have remained in shamble to the extent that many scholars frequently calls for its scraping. The appointment and hand picking of local government officials or leaders without much training and re-training is done in error, this scenario has eroded the political sovereignty of the people at the grass root level and further compounded the problem of local government hence, and has hampered the viability of this organ as the third tier of government. On this premise, one may ask: Has the fragmentation of local government in Ogun state through development centers promoted political participation? To what extent has the structural reorganization of local government in Ogun state through the creation of Development center promoted political alienation in Ogun communities? This is evident in the fact that the geometrical increase of local government in Ogun state Nigeria from 21 to about 44 has no significant in grass root development. While admitting that development centers which are carved out from the 21 local government areas has helped in job creation in the State, they are faced with large scale of inefficiency in service delivery as a result of non-qualifications and non-competence of the management team. Since the adage that has it that He who pays the piper dictates the tune. The local government structure is negatively influenced by her personnel who only represent the interest of the people that appointed them to the position occupied to the detriment of the masses, all are done through selected guided democracy.
The broad objectives of this study is to investigate public perception on the creation of local government council development association in Ogun State. The specific objectives are to:
i. To know if the fragmentation of local government in Ogun state through creation of Local Council Development Association promotes political participation.
ii. To observe if creation of Local Council Development promotes rural developments in Ogun state.
iii. To investigate the participation of the public on the creation of Local development Association in Ogun State.
The following research questions will be used to guide this study.
i. Has the fragmentation of local government in Ogun state through creation of Local Council Development Association promotes political participation?
ii. To what extent have the creation of Local Council Development promotes rural developments in Ogun state.
iii. To what extent is the participation of the public on the creation of Local development Association in Ogun State?
Significance of the Study
This work is not only directed at bringing more knowledge to the public and the researcher’s benefit, it focuses principally on putting forward practical and sustainable results obtainable by policy makers, planners, donor agencies, and various interest groups in Nigeria as a whole. It will be of profound importance to the Ogun state and for peoples’ struggles for a better life thereby focusing attention and bringing a solution to well identified local problems.
This study will serve as a source of reference for professionals and policy makers when they are working to implement new policies on creation of Local Council Development Association.
The study will be of immense importance to the public because it enlighten them on the need for their participation in creation of Local Council Development Association.
State government will also find the study useful in knowing the perception of the public on the creation of Local Council Development Association; thereby is there is any conflict, they will be a way to proffer solution.