Local Government and Sustainability of Development Programmes: A Study of Unicef-assisted Programmes/Projects in Selected States of Northern Nigeria: 1996 — 2004

Abstract:

This study is an attempt to find out why some focus local governments failed to sustain the UNICEF-assisted programmes handed over to them over in January 1996. In answering this question we focused attention on the role of the local government top functionaries (Chairmen, Councillors, Secretaries and Heads of Departments) otherwise referred to in this work as the local governing elites and State government functionaries. Our argument throughout the study is that the self-serving interests of these local and State elites were largely responsible for the failure of the local governments to sustain the UNICEF-assisted programmes. To pursue this argument, we were guided by Political Power Theory, which says government policies, decisions and actions are reflections of and dictated by the self-serving interests of policy makers and administrators who constitute the governing elites local and state level. Data for the study were generated through administering of questionnaires, interviews, focus-group discussions and extraction of secondary information in the benefiting communities, the focus local governments and the four state government ministries and agencies responsible for local government matters as well as the Bauchi and Kaduna Zonal Offices of the UNICEF. The data so generated were helpful in testing three hypothesis. The hypotheses were confirmed. The study further pg. 7 revealed that even though the focus local governments failed to involve the target communities in their activities, the communities were full of initiatives to help themselves in providing some basic social amenities with little or no support from the local governments. It was also revealed that democracy at local government level has not changed the attitude of local government top functionaries toward (a) Resource management (it is business as usual), (b) Service delivery (always handled with levity) and (c) People’s participation in local governance (which is never taken seriously. Local governments are converted to personal estates, of the top functionaries with the active collaboration of State government officials responsible for supervisory functions. It is therefore, recommended that: a) Section 7(i) of the Constitution o the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) be amended to give local governments the autonomy they deserve. b) Local governments should be given the opportunity to participate identifying their needs, planning and physical implementation of donor agency programmes to be able to takeover and sustain them eventually. pg. 8 c) Benefiting communities too should be empowered and given the chance to participate in planning programmes provided for them by outside bodies for the same reason as in (b) above. d) There is a dire need for further investigation/study into local government and intergovernmental relations in Nigeria to determine the extent of autonomy local governments should enjoy to serve as instrument of sustainable development.