Successive administrations in Nigeria have made various attempts to create a governance structure that allows for pursuing decentralized and representative administration through different levels of government, albeit with differing degrees of success. These efforts are exemplified in the use of Regional Authorities or Governments, Native and District Authorities and the introduction of a parliamentary system of governance with the independence Constitution. Similarly, the creation of states, that rose from an initial 12 to the present 36 (plus a Federal Capital territory), as well as the creation of 300 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in 1976, which progressively rose to the present day 774 LGAs were also aimed at creating an administrative environment for grass-roots development through decentralization.
Most importantly, the spirit and letter of the 1999 constitution recognizes the principle of fiscal federalism meant to guarantee effective decentralization. Thus the Constitution implicitly acknowledges the need for fiscal, administrative and political decentralization in the management of Nigeria. Experience(s) with the application of this constitutional provision has been varied over the years for instance decentralization of administrative power during the military era was highly whittled down because of the command and control structure of these regimes. By the time the military finally left government in 1999, the country was left with three main issues related to decentralization – which are still the objects of debate, Vis
(a) Failure of the present Constitution to articulate a clear delegation of authority between the states and LGAs in some areas of concurrent responsibilities
(b) Ambiguity in the responsibility for creation of LGAs – which remains inchoate and is included in the fourth schedule of the Constitution (a responsibility of the National Assembly) and;
(c) Problems relating to the equitable allocation of federal revenues amongst the three tiers of government.
With the advent of the present democratic dispensation in 1999, effective decentralization received some form of boost as the State Governments began to enjoy high levels of autonomy in a number of areas. The same was not reproduced at the local government level. Indeed a carry-over of the military….