Relationship Between the Three Tiers of Government in Nigeria

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What are the relationship among the three levels of government in Nigeria

Relationship Between the Three Tiers of Government in Nigeria
Relationship Between the Three Tiers of Government in Nigeria

In a federation, powers are usually shared between two levels of government, namely, the central and state or regional governments. In theory, the twp levels of government are equal and coordinate in their respective spheres of influence.

The central government has powers to make laws on subjects in the Exclusive Legislature List while both levels of government can make laws on subjects in the Concurrent Legislature List except that the federal law prevails where there is conflict between a federal and state or regional law.

The state government is given exclusive power to make laws on subjects in the Residual List. In this article, the relationships between the levels of government (federal, state and local) in the Nigerian federation are explained.

Relationship Between Tiers of Government in Nigeria 1999 Fourth Republic.

The relationship between the three levels of government in the Fourth Republic is to a large extent, similar to the situation in the Second Republic. The presidential system operates at all levels of government.

The National Assembly is bicameral and makes law on subjects in the exclusive legislature list and the concurrent legislative list which it shares with State Houses of Assembly. But federal legislation prevails in case of conflict with a state law.

The State House of Assembly may also legislate on any matter not listed in either the exclusive or concurrent list. The functions of local government councils are listed in the Fourth Schedule to the 1999 Constitution.

There is a greater subordination of state and local governments to the central government in the Fourth Republic than at any other time in the past. For example, a State House of Assembly may create local government councils but the whole exercise is incomplete if it does not receive the approval of the National Assembly.

In the same vein, the 1999 Constitution requires that appointment into public offices should reflect the federal character of the country. It also provides for the establishment of the Federal Character Commission to enforce compliance with this constitutional provision at all levels of government.

As in previous constitutions, the Supreme Court remains the highest court in the country and it has the power to declare any act of the executive or the legislature as unconstitutional if it is inconsistent with provisions of the constitution. The courts can also settle disputes, which arise between the different levels of government.

The amendment of the constitution, creation of states and adjustment of state boundaries require the concurrence of both the National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly.

All federally collected revenues are deposited in the Federation Account. The Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission makes a recommendation to the President on the sharing formula to be adopted.

Based on this recommendation, the President presents proposals for revenue allocation to the National Assembly, which then decides the appropriate revenue allocation formula. In doing this, the National Assembly is required to consider the principles of equality of states, derivation, internal revenue generation, land mass, terrain and population density.

The 1999 Constitution also makes provision for the operation of the State Joint Local Government Account. Each state is required by the National Assembly to pay a proportion of its revenue into the account.

The House of Assembly determines how the amount outstanding in this Account is to be distributed ameng the local government councils. In sum, the states are neither equal with nor independent of the federal government.

Relationship of Local Government with State and Federal Government

Before the 1976 Local Government Reforms, there were only two levels of government in Nigeria, that is, federal, and state government. Today there are three tiers of government, namely, federal, state and local governments. The states and local governments were created by the central government at different times and this underlined their subordinate status to the federal government.

Moreover, the relationship between the three levels of government has been characterized more by conflict than co-operation. This claim will become more evident when inter-governmental relations in Nigeria are explained.

Relationship Between State and Local Governments in Nigeria

The state governments have never hidden their desire to control and dominate local governments in Nigeria.

Indeed, at the inauguration of the Technical Committee on the Review of the Structure of Local Government Councils in Nigeria on June 17, 2003, the Nasarawa State Governor, Alhaji Abdullahi Adamu who was the Chairman of the Governors’ Forum recommended a constitutional amendment that would empower state governors to appoint council chairmen and councilors.

Although this move has not been successful, however, nevertheless, it gives an idea of the attitude of state chief executives towards local governments in Nigeria.

The areas in which local and state governments often interact include the following:

  • Granting of Subventions
  • Approval of Budget and Development Plans
  • Approval of Loans
  • Auditing of Accounts
  • Approval of Major Contracts
  • Recruitment and Promotion of Senior Staff
  • Advisory Services
  • Approval of Bye-Laws
  • Boundary Adjustment and creation of Local Government

Relationship Between Federal and Local Governments in Nigeria

The areas which usually bring the Federal Government in regular interaction with local governments include the following:

  • Reform of Local Government System
  • Payment of Grants
  • Federal Take-over of State and Local Government Functions
  • Federal Take-over of Revenue Sources
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