Rural development of the grassroots has been the concern of every responsible and responsive political system. This is because development and participation have continued to elude people of the grassroots. Development remains insignificant if it does not positively affect the lives of those in the periphery of decision making arrangement. The Nigerian state therefore created local government as the third tier of government whose objective is to ensure effective, measurable and efficient service delivery to the people. Local government is faced with various difficulties. The major concern of this paper is to dwell on these difficulties and illuminates the factors that are responsible for them. In achieving this, the paper relies on descriptive approach and unstructured interview. It concludes that problems of local government are multifarious in nature and the solutions for them should be adequate and practical in order to evolve viable and development-oriented third tier of government.
Key words: grassroots, political system, autonomy, third tier, participation, development, uniformity, unity, culture, diversity, interference, national integration, performance, consciousness, concept, commitment, democracy, inefficiency, corruption, decentralisation.
The expediency for the creation of local government anywhere in the world stems from the need to facilitate development at the grassroots. The importance of local government is a function of its ability to generate sense of belongingness, safety and satisfaction among its populace. All forms of government, regimes or political systems have so far ensured the attainment of this goal. Such strategy for ensuring national administrative development and political efficacy is found in the concept and practice of local government. Whatever is the mode of government, local government has been essentially regarded as the path to, and guarantor of, national integration, administration and development. In Nigeria’s socio-political context, with multiplicity of culture, diversity of languages and differentiated needs and means, the importance of such an organisation in fostering the needed national consciousness, unity and relative uniformity as well as preservation of peculiar diversities cannot be over-emphasised. Central to the creation of local government, however, is its ability to facilitate an avenue through which government and the people intermix, relate and more quickly than any other means resolve or dissolve issues that may have heated the system. Local government has been perceived as a panacea for the diverse problems of the diverse people with diverse culture. As important as this tier of government has been, there seems to be some impediments that have been infringing on its performance and functions in recent times. These impediments range from political but undue interference of the higher levels of government i.e. federal and state governments, bribery and corruption to embezzlement and gross inadequacy of well-trained and qualified personnel to mention a few.
The Concept of Local Government
The concept of local government involves a philosophical commitment to democratic participation in the governing process at the grassroots level. This implies legal and administrative decentralisation of authority, power and personnel by a higher level of government to a community with a will of its own, performing specific functions as within the wider national framework. A local government is a government at the grassroots level of administration “meant for meeting peculiar grassroots need of the people (Agagu, 1997:18). It is defined as “government by the popularly elected bodies charged with administrative and executive duties in matters concerning the inhabitants of a particular district or place (Appadorai, 1975:287). Looking at the existence, performance and relevance of local government, Laski (1982:411) opines that: we cannot realise the...