LOCAL GOVERNMENT AUTONOMY AND GRASS ROOT DEVELOPMENT
1.0 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
The struggle for Local Government Autonomy in Nigeria has been a recurring issue. It is as old as the history of Nigeria colonial state. Local government Administration practiced anywhere in the world is largely dependent on the historical, geographical, political and economic life of the citizens. Nigeria with a long history of slavery. Colonization, as well as military and civilian administration which have to a large extent determined the system of local government Administration up till date. This work intend accessing the various reforms or ordinance that the local government system inNigeriahas witnessed since 1914 during the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern protectorate by Fredrick Lord Laggard.
The Local Government during this period of 1914 is based on the Native Authority system whereby indirect rule and exploitation was the order of the day. According to Ogunna (1996), Native Authority is the traditional political authority at the Local Level which formed part of the machinery of British colonial government charged with the responsibilities of maintaining law and order. Based on the Native Authority ordinance of 1916, a unified Local Government System was established in the Northern part because of their Emirate system of Administration practice before the colonial Administration. This Native Authority was later extended to the East and South with varying degree of success. This native Authority did not satisfy the needs and aspiration of the local people and it arouse agitation from the rural citizens especially from the educated elites in the southernNigeriacraving or desiring for a greater participation in their own affair.
The Native Authority Ordinance failed because it has no autonomy to meet up with the demands of the citizen and as a result, the first Local Government reform was ushered in. Thus after the second World War in 1945, the colonial policies on Local Government changed coupled with the demands for greater participation and this led to the adoption of the representative or liberal democratic system of Local Government in the 1950s.
The 1950 Local Government reform serves as a foundation on which modern Local Government was built inNigeriaas it abolished the native Authority system. This reform paved way for the following features in Local Government system; it has a three tier system (country, district and local council), it was granted the power of taxation as a source of funding, it introduced popularly elected Local Government council but the franchise is based on tax payers and it equally recognize that the Local Government should be given adequate autonomy as the council were given financial and Administrative power. According to Ogunna (1996). This reform introduced representative democratic Local Government system on the negative side. It suffered from conflicts among the tiers, inadequate funding, poor staffing, bribery and mal administration. As a result of these problems coupled with intense politicking, no reform could be initiated until the military seized power in 1966 which rudely terminated the first republic. The 1966 Local Government reform was to correct the ills of the Local Government system they inherited.