In Kano city, it is rumored that three out of the fourty-four local governments of the state belong to the Emir of Kano. This is where the Emirate get part of its funding from. This has been the tradition for decades. The Emir owns the three local governments, appoints their head, manage their monthly allocations and execute projects. Technically, the local governments are controlled by the Palace traditional Council, but it does not seem so to the ordinary eyes. It seem this is a similar pattern used across states where traditional councils have strong influence over the political system. The over N100million that comes into these three local governments goes straight under the control of the Emir.
The other fourty-one local government area funds are played around with by the state governor (government) on a monthly basis. This is now an official act not just in Kano State but in the whole of Nigeria. Governors now control the local government funds as their only way to keep their states floating.
In the Southern part of Nigeria, local governments and its funds are actually owned by a few cabals. In Delta State for example, my local government is like a personal cake of the PDP godfathers. They invest by making sure that their candidates win all the slots in the local government elections. And their candidates do always win. After which comes their return on investment. Monthly allocations are shared between the house of assembly member, the PDP local government leaders (godfathers) and the elected Chairman. PDP officials who are neither civil servants nor politicians all have their names in the local governmemt payroll. If anything is left, they pay civil servants salaries, and if anything again is left, they execute projects. This all happen after the state governor has got his own share from the joint account even before the funds arrive at the LGA. This is the standard practice in Southern Nigeria. The Nigerian system is this bad.
The above two illustrations explains how bad the Nigerian system is. In both North and South, the local government system was designed as a fraud to settle ‘people in power’ and not the ‘ordinary people’. Local government is an ‘elite’ owned tier of government, not a ‘people’ owned tier of government. We need to review its mode of operation.
The fact that local governments in Nigeria receive over 20% of our national revenue and as high as a N100billion monthly in statutory allocation with little or nothing to show for it should be a point of reflection for critical Nigerians. We cannot continue to feed few cabals with our national revenue in the name of local government and expect the country to make progress.
In my opinion, the local government system should be scrapped and replaced with community based governments as the last tier of government. Allocations to this tier should also be abolished. Community based governments should be given constitutional authority to generate as much funds as possible and spend as much as they can generate.
Funding of local governments operations from national revenue is no longer in Nigeria’s interest. There has to be another way out. We need a last tier of government that is owned and funded by the people and not by a cabal.