There is a lingering problem over the way and manner local governments have been created arbitrarily in this country. The problem became worse under the military. Some call it military nepotism, and as it is now, with the 1999 Constitution very difficult to amend, it seems we have to live and endure with the problem for a long time.
Before independence in 1960, there were 240 native authorities in Nigeria; the North had 144, the West had 55 and the East had 47. The states we referred to as East had 72 local governments in 1979, while the zone we referred to as West, including Lagos, had 60. The states that we group as the old North had 152 local governments in 1979, while the old Mid-Western region, which we named as Bendel State, had 19 local governments. In total, we had 303 local governments.
For example, Lagos State had eight local governments in 1979. And they were Lagos Island, Lagos Mainland, Somolu, Mushin, Epe, Badagry, Ikorodu and Ikeja. The same Lagos State now has 20 local governments according to the 1999 Constitution. In 1979, Kano State had 20 local governments namely, Kano (Metropolitan), Dambatta, Ringim, Minjibir, Gezewa, Bichi, Dawakin-Tofa, Gwarzo, Tundun-Wada, Rano, Wudil, Dawakin-Kudu, Dutse, Jahun, Birnin-Kudu, Gaya, Hadejia, Keffin-Hausa, Gumel and Kazaure. Now, the old Kano State has been broken into two states, Jigawa and Kano respectively. The present Kano State has 46 local governments while Jigawa has 27 local governments. In short, the old Kano State of 1979 now has 73 local governments. Imo State had 22 local governments in 1979. Now, Imo State has been broken into Abia and Imo with some part even forming Ebonyi State. Abia State now has 18 local governments while Imo State has 28 local governments. In 1979, Rivers State had 10 local governments; now, the state has been broken into two, Bayelsa and Rivers. Rivers State has 23 local while Bayelsa has eight local governments. Kaduna State had 14 local governments in 1979, but now, it has been broken into two, Katsina and Kaduna states. Katsina now has 34 local governments while Kaduna has 23 local governments. Ondo State had 18 local governments in 1979, now it has been broken into Ondo and Ekiti states. The present Ondo State now has 18 local governments while Ekiti has 16 local governments. Ogun State, apparently one of the few states that has not been split, had 10 local governments in 1979, namely, Abeokuta, Odeda, Obafemi Owode, Ifo-Otta, Egbado-North, Egbado- South, Ijebu Ode, Ijebu North, Ijebu East and Ijebu Remo. The same Ogun State now has 20 local governments. The Mid-Western Region was created in June 1973 following an Act of the Parliament. The region was renamed Bendel State on May 27, 1967. In 1979, the state had 19 local governments namely, Oshimili, Oredo, Okpebho, Isoko, Ethiope, Bomadi, Burutu, Okpe, Warri, Orhionmwon, Ovia, Etsako, Ika, Agbazilo, Owan, Ughelli, Aniocha, Akoko Edo and Ndokwa. Now, the state has been split into two, Edo and Delta. Edo has 20 local governments while Delta has 25 local governments.
In 1989, we had 589 local governments in Nigeria. We now have 774 local governments. The last exercise on the creation of local governments in Nigeria was carried out by the late Gen. Sani Abacha in 1995, when he appointed Chief Arthur Mbanefo as the Chairman of the panel.
It is instructive to point out that there will always be constant conflict on creation of local governments in this country as long as states blessed with more local governments earn more than states with less local governments.
As a way out, maybe, we should return to the measure adopted in 1963. Maybe, that will reduce conflict; but just maybe. Section 140 of the 1963 Constitution (1) says, “There shall be paid by the Federation to each Region a sum equal to fifty per cent of –
(a) The proceeds of any royalty received by the Federation in respect of any minerals extracted in that region; and
(b) Any mining rents derived by the Federation from within that Region
(2) The Federation shall credit to the Distributable Pool Account a sum equal to thirty per cent of —
(a) the proceeds of any royalty received by the Federation in respect of minerals extracted in any Region; and
(b) any mining rents derived by the Federation from within any Region.
(3) For the purposes of this section, the proceeds of a royalty shall be the amount remaining from the receipts of that royalty after any refunds or other repayments relating to those receipts have been deducted therefrom or allowed for.
(4) Parliament may prescribe the periods in relation to which the proceeds of any royalty or mining rents shall be calculated for the purposes of this section.
(5) In this section, “minerals” includes mineral oil.
(6) For the purposes of this section, the continental shelf of a region shall be deemed to be part of that region.
There shall be paid by the Federation to the Region at the end of each quarter, sums equal to the following fractions of the amount standing to the credit of the Distributable Pool Account to that date, that is to say—
(a) to Northern Nigeria, forty ninety-fifths;
(b) to Eastern Nigeria, thirty-one ninety-fifths;
(c) to Western Nigeria, eighteen ninety-fifths;
(d) to Mid-Western Nigeria, six ninety-fifths.
142 Each Region shall in respect kin respect of each financial year pay to the Federation an amount equal to such part of the expenditure incurred by the Federation during that financial year in respect of the department of customs and excise of the Government of the Federation for the purpose of collecting the duties referred to in Section 136-139 of this constitution as is proportionate to the share of the proceeds of those duties received by that region under those sections in respect of that financial year.”
- Teniola, a former director at The Presidency, lives in Lagos.