AT a time when the issue of local government autonomy is raising dust in certain quarters, it is important that both sides of the divide first understand fully how the third-tier of government is administered before taking sides. With this, Jacobs Aristotle Isaac’s 12-chapter book is an archival material, rich in authoritative sources in local government creation, transformation, and futuristic projection in the sense that the author raises suggestions and posers as to having a better, people-impacting and accountable local governments administration in Nigeria, with emphasis on administrative and financial autonomy for an effective third-tier of governance.
The book has a microscopic analysis of the colonial local council administration and post- independence structure of grassroots governance.
The book sheds a lot of light on the peculiar nature of the Niger Delta region’s challenges which are attributed to misgovernance by past administrations and concepts of improvement are as well stated.
The author’s elucidating style with reference to authorities on the subject makes it a vital contribution to intellectual exercise and an ideal material for students of Government, Political Science, politicians and the general reading public.
There is a glossary for abbreviations used in the book, of the names of institutions, Latin words or phrases like et al, ab initio, ibidem; and others. Acronyms of names of governmental agencies are explained too. All for an accurate understanding of the text by the readers.
Theories of local government administration in Nigeria are stated and developed; theories such as: Decentralisation, Democratic-Participatory, Efficiency Service School, Developmental School, Holistic- Intergrationists School; and others. The author does not leave out criticisms of the theories as well.
The author’s experience as a trained conflicts resolution expert and public policy analyst puts him in good stead to write a book as educative and informative as this. He systematically paints the glorious inception of local government administration in Nigeria and moves on to present a factual ‘not too desirable’ disorganisation and emasculated local governments, partly for their dependence on the state governments to survive as far as finance is concerned and he does not leave out internally-caused inefficiency of the local governments citing corruption, misappropriation of funds, ineptitude, politicisation of employment by over staffing as examples; among others.
The culminative part of the book is focused on the peculiar environmental challenges of the Niger Delta region.
The book is a must read and apart from editing lapses of incorrect spellings and omissions; the print is of standard quality.
This cannot be over-emphasised because of the pivotal role that part of the country plays in national revenue generation. The crude oil exploration turns to a curse so to say in these parts of the country. However, he proffers solutions after giving the reasons for the failure of local governments and offers advice to multinational oil companies as regards corporate social responsibility expected of them.