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CORRUPTION AND MISMANAGEMENT IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT SYSTEM IN NIGERIA, CAUSES, EFFECTS AND A WAY FORWARD. A CASE STUDY OF DONGA LGA OF TARABA STATE
1.1 Background of the study
We must now accept the reality that the survival, or at least the stability, of Nigeria is linked to the survival of her democracy – democracy not only in its narrow legalistic sense of notional compliance with the letter of the law but also in its fuller legitimate demands of articulation of popular will through participation and partnership of the people in governance. Such partnership, if genuine and wholesome, invariably yields policies and projects that satisfy the basic needs – political, psychological, economic and social – of the people. It is the view of this writer that the local government system is and should be the founding blocks of an enduring democracy.
It is therefore the purpose of this brief piece to examine the contribution of our present local government system to the health of our democracy. Does our present local government system hinder or help the growth of our democracy? We intend in this brief, very brief, general survey to look at three aspects – namely: the adequacy of the structure that provides the procedural vehicle to our democracy at the local government level, the performance of our democracy at this tier, and the prospects of achieving the intendments of the constitution and the numerous reforms which inspired the relevant laws.
The framework, designed by the reforms and the constitution, is a perfect transplant from the national model. This is the Presidential system which, it is believed, serves the needs of our plural society and efficient delivery of democracy. All the paraphernalia accompanying division of the three realms of government have been designed and installed – the executive armed with power and independence to implement duly formulated policies, the legislature of councilors headed by a leader and equipped with independence to fulfill the role of a parliament, and an independent judiciary outside the jurisdiction of the local government and operating as a part of the state and national grill. Bureaucracy is headed by a secretary to the local government.
The motives behind this design flow from lessons from years of experimentation and engineering. Of all the motives, primarily economic development, planting democracy at the grassroots is a consistent theme. Efforts from 1970 to 1979 focused on freeing local administration from anti-democratic hurdles and pulling their resources into a uniform national pattern of administration. Later, the reforms of the Babangida era took the efforts to the logic of their democratic goals. The local government system was re-designed to be more independent than hitherto from state and federal tiers, in jurisdiction and funding, and explicitly charged with the duty of unlocking new social forces which could be materials for leadership in higher tiers. In other words, the local government system has become the incubator for state and national leadership materials. 1999 Constitution accepted local government level the third tier of governance.
Such is the organizational framework. On the surface, it ought to offer a near-perfect vehicle for the expression of popular will. The assembly of elected councilors is the mouthpiece of the grassroots while an elected Chairman is the spearhead of implementation action on collectively endorsed policies. Judiciary remains the arbiter in cases of dispute.
1.2 Statement of the problem
But in operationalization of this elegant design, to what extent have people participated in the business of election of their representatives and rulers? To what extent have the people been partners in the exercise of governing? To what extent have the people harvested the fruits of democratic governance?
In the business of election of representatives – government BY the people – the most casual observations suggest that the people, the electorate, make no input in local government election. Recruitment of representatives follows a general pattern nationwide: selection of favourites by a godfather/godmother or a little conclave which exercises proprietary control over a ruling party; next, the executive governor which exercises proprietary control over the government machinery (including state electoral regulatory body) gives his final anointing. All this is done through an ostensibly due process that pays loud appropriate tributes to the beauty of democratic choice.
The fallacy of local government election in the states is clearly demonstrated by the fact that a state government or ruling party wins, as a rule, all the contested seats in local government elections within the state. In rare cases of generosity, the incumbent authorities allocate, as a credibility ploy, one or two seats to the opposition. Loss of seats, not to think of total defeat, by an incumbent state regime in its own local government elections is unheard-of in this dispensation. If this were to happen, the result would be condemned as a wreckless and lunatic act of suicide by a serving regime! If results of local government elections are measures of the popular rating of state governments, then all incumbent state regimes enjoy 100% support of their home constituencies. This would be absurd in a free market of democratic choices. Popular leaders like Obama would be green with envy when he reads our local government results!! Compare this high rating with the dramatically opposite results if baton of rulership changes hands: when political power is wrestled from the incumbent state government in an election conducted and controlled by a higher authority, the new state regime succeeding the popular cabal of only yesterday re-enacts the magic of sweeping the polls in all subsequent local government elections!
In all this charade, the people are by-standers or at best cheer crowds.
1.3 Objectives of the study
1.4 Research Questions
1.5 Research Hypothesis
H0: There is a relationship between corruption and mismanagement in local government system in Nigeria
H1: There is no relationship between corruption and mismanagement in local government system in Nigeria
1.6 Limitations of the study
There was limited time and finance during the research period
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