The paper assessed the performance of local government councils in Nigeria, using the yardsticks of the rationale behind their creation and existing theories of local government. Essentially, contentious issues regarding corrupt practices, most especially as they pertain to public accountability at the grassroots were critically explored. It extracted data from existing literature on local government, government documents and other secondary sources. The investigation revealed that at the initial stage, local governments in Nigeria contributed, in some ways, to development and transformation of both the urban and rural areas in Nigeria. Such contributions included refuse disposal from markets and other strategic locations across cities; opening up of the rural areas through provision of roads, which facilitated rural transformation in the country to an extent; provision of elementary school education and other valuable services as medical treatment dispensaries and disease control projects, which included management of diseases like leprosy and small-pox. Many rural communities at the period relied on these services. In urban areas, Town Councils offered an array of services that city dwellers relied on. Sanitary inspection, town planning, water supply and markets and their managements were among valuable services that Town Councils provided across Nigeria. These accomplishments were possible partly because they internally raised the revenues from which they funded the services that they provided. Although they received subventions from Regional and Central Governments for targeted expenditures, they still imposed taxes and as well raised tax revenues from the services they provided. The feats, however, were achieved mostly in the colonial period and in pre-civil war independent Nigeria. Soon after this period, local government administrations in Nigeria began to dwindle and subsequently fell far short of expectation. Despite public expectations that ushered in the creations of extension of governance closer to the people, the practice of local governance in Nigeria failed to bring the much-expected dividend of democracy to the grassroots. This was partly due to some internal shortcomings within the local councils and partly due to some critical external factors like constitutional inadequacies and usurpation of local government powers by the governments of the federating units, under whom the the local governments operate. If anything, local government in Nigeria did not enjoy independent status and power decentralisation as expected in a federal system. For this reasons, translating the theories to practice in the Nigerian local government had almost become a mirage; promoting democracy and effectively delivering local public services had, as well, not been realistic..


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pp. 305-318
Launched on MUSE
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