Local Government and Structural Reorganization in Lagos State, Nigeria 1969-1979.

Adelaja, A.O (1988-08)

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The potentials of local government as basis for development, as a structural institutional apparatus for political and administrative decentralisation and social services delivery, and as a bedrock for a solid political system through making governance relevant at grassroots level are now becoming widely acceptable among policy makers and researchers in Nigeria. Similarly, the arguments for a shift of emphasis from law and order oriented local government to one coping with social service delivery, popular political participation, resource mobilization, rural development and urban renewal are arguments that strengthen the need for local government. The framework for analysis of the problem of local government structural re-organisation in Lagos State has been based on four significant variables. These are the geo-political unit of analysis (Lagos State); the time variable (military rule between 1966 and 1979; the conceptual approaches (decentralization and democracy); and the theoretical approaches (organization theory, human relations theory, and systems theory approaches focusing on structure, bureaucratic principles, objectives and functions, finance, human resources - councillors, employees and traditional leaders and federal-state-local relations). The relevance of the use of "Structure " in local government particularly in this study is that though the concept of organisation structure is somewhat abstract and illusive, it is real and affects everyone in the organisation. The thesis has exposed more meaningfully the use of 'structure' in local government as well as the following intervening but inter-related variables - establishment of local government council structure; finance, functions; local councillors; local government employees; traditional rulers; and intergovernmental relations. Together with party politics these are general local government principles that are of relevance for modern local government practice. Theories of local government and structural organisation are used to capture the restructuring of local government in Lagos State between 1969 and 1979. Conceptually, an examination of factors such as decentralisation, democracy, locality principle, viability and autonomy, population, efficiency and effectiveness, and environmental and leadership factors provide a foundation for our theoretical formulation and data analysis. In particular the issues of the environment and functions' have been shown to be important determinants of structures. Therefore, this study looks into the dynamics of local government restructuring in Lagos State focussing on the development of local government system and the general trends of local government restructuring as regards policy making and implementation. It also touches on salient issues such as the political environment of Nigerian local government and administration and the Creation of States. The study, dominated by military rule, spans a two-phase period (1969-1971 and 1976 - 79). Due to some forces or as fact of life, most modern organisations like local governments undergo relatively frequent changes in structure. This, therefore, is a contributory idea to the subject theme of this thesis - local government structural re-organisation. For instance, such factors such as corruption and low calibre of Councillors and local government personnel; irrational division of responsibility between the various local authorities; highly politicised local government and the financial poverty of the local councils had combined to compel the need for structural re-organisation of the local government councils in Lagos State in the periods stated above. The empirical findings confirm the validity of the propositions advanced in the study. The thesis observes that proper local government restructuring should be a mixed grill which takes due cognizance of the dictates of political expediency and administrative necessity, and that research on policy issues should be conducted on scientific reliable and realistic parameters. The end result of such enterprise should be such that the local governments in the State have the capacity and capability to perform more effectively and efficiently the major tripartite functions of enhancing popular political participation, resources mobilization (human, financial and material), and effective and efficient service delivery. Suggestions for improvement of local government structure have been made in the light of apparent local government administration in Lagos State under military rule and immediate post-military rule.