1988 Local Government Reforms in Nigeria
As part of its transition-to-civil-rule programme, the Federal Military Government of General Ibrahim Babangida inaugurated the Dasuki Committee in 1986 to review the problems of local governments in Nigeria and make recommendations for dealing with them.
The Chairman of the Committee was Alhaji Ibrahim Dasuki, the then Sultan of Sokoto.
The recommendatiens of the committee as well as the government’s White Paper on its Report constituted the main provisions of the 1988 Local Government Reforms. All these were later incorporated into the 1989 Constitution.
Features Of The 1988 Local Government Reforms in Nigeria
The major characteristics of the Nigeria 1988 Local Government Reforms were as follows:
1. Introduction of Presidentialism to Local Government
A feature of the 1988 Local Government Reforms was the introduction of the presidential system at the local level of government. This innovation was meant to bring local government in line with the state and federal governments, which had adopted the presidential system of government since 1979.
Presidentialism implies the existence of a chief executive elected by the people and who is on top of the government. At the local level, the council’s Chairman and Deputy Chairman were the structural equivalents of the President and Vice President at the federal level and Governor and Deputy Governor at the state level respectively.
Moreover, executive and legislative powers that are separated under the presidential system of government at both federal and state levels are also made distinct in the local government. The local government councils are charged with the responsibility of making laws at the local level just as the National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly make laws for federal and state governments respectively.
The elected councilors therefore form the local government legislature. The councilors are required to elect one of themselves as the leader of the council, the equivalent of the Speaker in the State House of Assembly.
Similarly, the executive power of a local government is vested in the chairman who may exercise it personally or delegate it to the Vice Chairman. The executive at local level therefore comprises the Chairman.
Vice-Chairman, Supervisors and the Secretary to the Local Government. The Chairman appomts the Supervisors and the Secretary who is the chief administrative officer of the council.
2. Abolition of Office of Supervisory Councillor
Under the 1988 reforms, the office of Supervisory Councilor was abolished. In its place, the office of Supervisor was created. A councilor appointed as a supervisor vacates his seat in the council. This is also the practice at the federal and state levels where ministers and commissioners appointed from the federal or state legislatures respectively cease to be member of either house, once appointed as a supervisor.
3. Impeachment of Council Chairman
The reform provided for the impeachment of a Local Government Chairman by the legislative council of the local government. The Vice Chairman becomes the Chairman following the removal of the Chairman.
4. Recall of Councillors
A councilor can be recalled by members of the ward which elected him in the first place if his performance is adjudged poor by the people.
5. Appointment of Clerk of the Council
In order to ensure the independence of the local government legislature, the Head of Personnel Management was designated as the Clerk of the Legislative Council. He kept records of proceedings of council meetings. He also liaised with the Secretary to the Local Government for the smooth running of the administration of the council.
6. Abolition of Ministry of Local Government
Under the 1988 Local Government Reforms, state ministries of local government were scrapped. This was designed to ensure the autonomy of the local government. The existence of a Ministry of Local Government was teen as a negation of the separation of the three levels of government.
7. Direct Disbursement of Subvention
The 1988 Reforms provided for a direct disbursement of statutory allocations to local governments. This provision was meant to ensure that subventions go directly to the councils and were not diverted by state governments.
A new revenue allocation formular introduced at the time gave 15 percent of all federally collected revenue to the third tier of government.
8. Increase in Number of Local Governments
As a result bf the 1988 Local Government Reforms, the number of local councils in the country was increased to 450.
9. Expansion of Functions of Local Governments
The 1988 reforms made provision for the transfer of primary health care and primary school administration to the councils in 1990 and 1991 respectively.