The origins of local government in Nigeria can be traced back to the then-British administration. Before it became the Local government that we know today, it was known as the native authority. Which was administered by the British government through local authorities such as traditional rulers, chiefs, and low-tier workers. The Nigerian local government has evolved into what we know it as today as a result of numerous local government reforms and restructuring conventions. However, many things remain lacking in our local government system because it provides little to no empowerment for the country’s youth.
The establishment of local government is embedded in Section II, Article 7 of our 1999 amended constitution, which provided the basis for the establishment of such an institution as well as its functions: “7. (1) The system of local government by democratically elected local government councils is under this Constitution guaranteed; and accordingly, the Government of every State shall, subject to section 8 of this Constitution, ensure their existence under a Law which provides for the establishment, structure, composition, finance, and functions of such councils.”
What are the reasons for the establishment of local government, and where does the youth fit into all of this?
Local government, as we know it, is a form of government for those at the lowest levels of government. That is, this system of government is planned and devised to provide proper governance for those at the local level, including youths. This system of government is tasked to provide for youths and children in local areas in growing their interests and to cater to their academic needs and skill acquisition development.
The following are a few reasons for the establishment of local government in Nigeria; please keep in mind that I will be discussing these reasons as to what the youth can achieve as a result of the establishment of this institution.
1. Bringing the government closer to the people: As stated above in this article, the rationale behind the local governments is to bring the government closer to the people in contrast to the state and federal governments. Since it is closer to the people, this makes it easier for the local government to understand the grievances of the people including the youth. Think of the local government as your Head of the department in a University hierarchical setup. It will be easier to require solutions from them than proceeding directly to the Vice-chancellor.
2. Employment: The local government exists to provide job opportunities for youths and older ones at the grassroots level. Within each local government, they are opening jobs for qualified candidates. The local government can also empower workers of different jobs or any startup business by creating more opportunities for youth.
3. Local Participation: It offers chances for locals, including young people, to get involved in the political aspect of the nation. If done appropriately, it is easier to engage young people in politics at this level of government.
4. Even Development: The creation of local governments provides the avenue for even growth of all parts of the country. This development can include human development which can be beneficial to youths in each local government.
Lack of vision: Local government in Nigeria has often been criticized because of its lack of vision for people in their locality. No credible programs or policies can be pointed out as being created to assist youths in different local communities across the country.
Poor policy implementation: Even when policies are created, poor implementation is another hurdle for local government institutions in Nigeria. The lack of credible personnel to oversee the smooth operation and implementation is another major debacle for our dear local administration wing.
Local government restructuring and reforms have the potential to significantly influence Nigeria’s youth development. Local governments play a crucial role in providing citizens with essential services because they are the level of government that is closest to the people. Therefore, any enhancements to local government could have a knock-on effect on Nigeria’s overall youth development. Nigeria’s current local government system has received a lot of criticism for its ineffectiveness, corruption, and lack of accountability.
Many specialists consider that the centralized nature of the system, which gives state governments excessive power and restricts local governments’ autonomy, is the root cause of these problems. To improve transparency, effectiveness, and service delivery and the growth of youths in the country, local government restructuring and reforms are paramount. Listed below are a few ways local government restructuring can benefit youths in the country.
Increased youth participation and engagement in governance: Youths are more likely to participate in the governance process when local governments are more accountable and responsive to the needs of the youth in the locality. This increased participation has the potential to improve decision-making, service delivery, and trust in government institutions since the youths are agile, large, and are the future of the country.
Improved service delivery. Local governments are responsible for providing basic services such as healthcare, education, and infrastructure to citizens. When local governments are restructured and reformed, they can better prioritize and allocate resources, resulting in improved service delivery. This can lead to better health outcomes, improved youth education, and a more conducive environment for economic development which can be very beneficial to the youths of such locality. Young entrepreneurs can also be awarded grants and loans to help bolster their businesses.
Economic development: Also, local government restructuring and reforms can promote economic development. When local governments are more efficient and effective, they can better attract and retain businesses, which can lead to job creation for many unemployed youths in the such locality and increases economic growth.
Create a sense of national unity among the youth: If the youths are well carried along with local government, this can create a sense of purpose and unity which will be reflected in the state and national activities of the country. This will also Develop a more engaged and informed community of youths and give them the needed avenue to develop academically, technically, and politically
Prepare youth for excellence in future endeavors: Restructuring that empowers youth locally means preparing them for opportunities outside their locality if the need arises. The local government can do this by creating special skills acquisition and learning programs to assist youths and awarding scholarships to qualified students to further their academics and skills to improve youth development in the community. The local government can also be tasked to create graduate internship programs for youths who are out of colleges, universities, etc. This will help shape them for future jobs and promote professionalism in the country.
To ensure a smooth transition and significant youth participation in the nation’s development, local governments in Nigeria must be reorganized to support the youth not only academically but also politically. Each local government must be given the authority to develop programs that can help the youth; these programs may be academic or may focus on teaching skills in quickly developing fields like technology, chess, mathematics, science, and the arts. As these issues cannot be exclusively handled by the federal or state governments, the local government must be involved.