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Local administrations, unlike independent nation-states, are not sovereign. It is a subordinate government whose existence and power are derived from laws established by a higher government. The degree of autonomy is determined by the form and structure of transactions or interactions between the three tiers of government.

Local governance in Nigeria is founded on historical reform precedents. The study’s goal is to demonstrate that most state governments’ unwillingness to conform to constitutional stipulations on forming democratically elected, freestanding councils is a fundamental challenge in defining Nigeria’s federalism.

This paper investigates the inconsistencies in the local government system and proposes that the sustainability of local government autonomy should be based on better revenue base adherence to constitutional rules, political stability, accountability, and transparency in governance.

The majority of the materials for this study came from secondary sources discovered in Nigerian libraries and archives, as well as academic and other resources available on the internet, as well as local and international publications (books and scholarly journals).



1.1 Background Of The Study

Federalism, according to K.C Where, is a system of separating powers so that the central and regional administrations are each co-ordinate and independent within a sphere. According to him,

the hallmarks of this Federal Principle include the separation of powers among levels of government, a written constitution demonstrating this division of powers, and co-ordinate rather than sub-ordinate dominance of the two levels of government in their functions (K.C Wheare, 1953: 10).

The practice of federalism in Nigeria is one of the legacies left to Nigeria by its British colonial overlords. Because federalism is concerned with the division of authority between the central and component units,

local government is created from it. Local government is a component of a federal system; it is recognised as a third layer of government charged with grass-roots responsibility.

The constitution assigns specific powers to the local government, and the local government is to be independent in order to carry out all of its responsibilities without interference from the national government. The local government should exercise government in its own right.

The evolution of local government in Nigeria has seen many changes, all of which are focused towards making local government a system that can serve the purpose for which it was created. However, under General Olusegun Obasanjo’s rule, the 1976 local government reform was implemented.

The reform recognised local government as the third tier of government in the country, and it is supposed to perform exactly what the name implies: govern at the local level. The reforms also aim to stimulate democratic self-government,

encourage initiative and leadership potential, and entrain the principle of this reform for the local government to be autonomous, with the freedom to recruit and manage its own staff, raise and manage its own finances, make policies, laws, and provide services within the limits of its resources and functions without interference. (Okoli, 2005: 107).

This study focuses on the Ofu local government region in Kogi state. It will look into the independent nature of the local government area and the degree of services provided in the area.

Kogi state’s Ofu local government area was formed from the Idah local government region. The Federal Military Administration of Nigeria, led by General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, took control of Benue state in May 1989.

It is divided into nine districts. Ugwolawo, Itobe, Igalaogba, Ojokogbe, Aloji, Ejule, Ogbonicha, Igo, Omache, and Ofoke are among them. Ugwolawo, the ancient town that has the only Federal Government College in the Kogi Eastern Senatorial district,

serves as the goo-political entity’s headquarters. Graphically, the local government shares boundaries with Kogi state’s Dekina Local Government Area to the north and Ankpa local government to the south.

Ofu local government shares boundaries with Olamaboro local government area to the south east and Ajaokuta local government area to the west. The local government area encompasses around 8,747.5 square kilometres of land and has a boundary of 252.5 kilometres. According to the National Population Commission’s 1991 census, the population is 112,697 people.

Farmers make up the majority of the population. The land is fertile for large-scale agriculture production of maize, beans, groundnuts, rice, cassava, melon, guinea corn, Barbara nuts, and other crops, while mangoes, cashew, palm trees, cocoa, and other crops provide abundantly for commercialization.

Mineral resources such as caoline, lime, marble, galena, fieldpars, and so on are abundant beneath the earth’s surface and ready for research. Cultural activities are extremely important to the people of Ofu since it is a feature that is always endemic in Sub-Saharan African countries.

Uloko Amo Waterfalls in Ofokopi, Ugbakoji Hills in Itobe, Egane Waterfalls, Ofakete Natural Bridge, and Ala Natural funnel are among their tourist attractions.


Municipal government The freedom of the local government to recruit and manage its own workforce, raise and manage its own funds, set policies, laws, and provide services within the limitations of its resources and functions without intervention is referred to as autonomy.

Prior to the 1976 Local Government Reform, local governments were directly under the control of the state government, which had the exclusive authority to create and dissolve them. As a result, local administrations have been exposed to a slew of limitations imposed by their respective state governments.

These controls were carried out by their individual state governments by means such as the approval of bye-laws and significant contracts, the appointment of specific types of professional and administrative staff, the approval of annual estimates and loan proposals, and funding through grants-in-aid.

These control methods had a negative impact since they resulted in delays, which hampered many essential policies and projects in the local government sector. Furthermore, state governments could form, modify, dissolve, or suspend local government councils at any time. The states possessed the authority to dismantle their local governments.

Local government was, in fact, at the mercy of the state. Local government autonomy in African countries such as Nigeria is more theoretical than practical. As Olowu (1988:71) puts it succinctly:

“Most governments have opted for direct central government control of their local governments through a battery of legal, financial, and administrative controls…” So-called “local government” units of central governments exist as parallel entities to the government’s field administration, which is overseen by both the central and field units.

Local governments in Nigeria, for example, rely heavily on statutory allocations from the federal government, limiting their autonomy. It makes local governments dependent on the federal government. Furthermore, successive Nigerian governments (both federal and state) have interfered with local government operations.

For example, between 1984 until late 1987, local government councils were disbanded, and the management of local government activities was delegated entirely to a single administrator.

Again, in 1994, the military government of General Abacha removed the elected local government councils and replaced them with caretaker committees (Ezeani, 2004).

Local governments’ financial sovereignty has also been restricted on numerous times by state governments. In Nigeria, some state governments confiscate federal funds to local governments and provide whatever amount they choose to the chairman to manage the local government.

Ezeani (2004):86. Despite the fact that the 1976 local government reform made it the backbone of Nigeria’s modern local government system, one can reasonably argue that the local government still has significant limits that have hampered its development. According to Olugbemi (1986), these are as follows:

– State government retains control over the most significant responsibilities delegated to local governments in the guidelines and as provided in the fourth schedule of the federal republic of Nigeria’s constitution of 1999.

– Continued imposition of various central government, it controls the appointment of councillors, in budgeting and budget control, in policy development, including fiscal policy determination, in personnel management, and so on, which tends to diminish the value of government in local governments.

As a result, the study will attempt to provide empirical and verified responses to the following issues.

– Does Federalism safeguard the autonomy of local governments?

– Is the Nigerian local government system (Ofu Local Government) self-governing?

– Does allowing full power to local governments improve service delivery?


Every research endeavour incorporates and embodies several goals to be attained at the conclusion of the investigation. Thus, the overarching goal of this research is to evaluate “the Nigerian Federalism and local government autonomy, specifically in the Ofu local government area of Kogi state.” However, the study specifically seeks to:

– Determine whether federalism guarantees local government autonomy.
– To determine whether or not the Nigerian local government system (Ofu local government) is totally independent.

– To illustrate how giving the Nigerian local government system (Ofu local government) full authority can improve service delivery.

– Determine the link between the federal principle and the autonomy of local governments.


The researcher developed the following research hypotheses in order to successfully complete the study:

H0: Giving the Nigerian local government system (Ofu local government) complete authority will not improve service performance.

H1: Giving the Nigerian local government system (Ofu local government) full autonomy will improve service delivery.

H02: There is no link between the federal principle and the autonomy of local governments.

H2: There is a link between federalism and local government autonomy.


The study will provide a comprehensive understanding of Nigeria’s federal principle and local government autonomy. The study will concentrate on the Ofu local government, from which the study will profit.

The study will also investigate why municipal governments are not given autonomy. The paper will be used as a resource for future academics who will be working on this topic.


The study’s scope includes the federal principle and local government autonomy in Nigeria. The researcher comes upon a constraint that limits the scope of the investigation;

a) RESEARCH MATERIAL AVAILABILITY: The researcher’s research material is insufficient, restricting the scope of the investigation.

b) TIME: The study’s time frame does not allow for broader coverage because the researcher must balance other academic activities and examinations with the study.

c) Organisational privacy: Limited access to the selected auditing firm makes obtaining all necessary and required information about the operations challenging.


THE FEDERAL PRINCIPLE: This is the Federal Principle. The federal concept calls for the distribution of legislative, executive, and budgetary responsibilities between the nine Austrian provinces and the federal government. Federalism, or the federal principle, is enshrined in the Federal Constitution.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT: A local government is a type of public administration that exists as the lowest tier of administration within a specific state in the majority of cases.

AUTONOMY: In development, moral, political, and bioethical philosophy, autonomy is defined as the ability to make an informed, non-coerced decision. Autonomous organisations or institutions are self-governing or autonomous.

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