For one reason or the other, many Nigerians have visited their local government office. However, for some of us, if we’re asked to describe our local government, the word that’d come to mind would be “ineffective”.  

This may be why the federal and state governments take all the blame for everything wrong in the country, and we hardly ever point the finger at the local government. But did you know that if the local governments pulled their weight and carried out their duties more effectively, the name “Giants of Africa” would stop seeming like an irony? 

But before we go into their functions, let’s look at how the local government is structured.

The Structure of the Local Government

The system of government Nigeria practices is federalism which means power is shared between the levels of government, i.e. federal, state and local. Nigeria has 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs) sub-divided into a minimum of 10 wards and a maximum of 15 wards. Each LGA is headed by a Chairman and Vice, and an elected Councillor leads the ward.

You might wonder why we have so many LGAs. The local government also called the grassroots government, is the first and foremost medium for bringing democracy closer to the people. It allows for people’s participation in politics, creates and builds trust between the government and citizens, and ensures the implementation and effectiveness of government policies. 

What are the functions of the Local government?

The fourth schedule of the Nigerian constitution spells out the functions of the local government to include:

Construction and maintenance of roads, gardens, street lights, drains, public highways, parks

If state and federal officials had a penny for every time they were blamed for a bad streetlight or drainage, they probably wouldn’t need to steal the government’s money.

But unknown to many, these things fall under the local government’s jurisdiction, and no one holds them accountable for some reason.

Registration of deaths, marriages and births

This is probably one of the well-known functions of the local government as every death, birth and marriage certificate is issued by them.

Establishment and maintenance of slaughterhouses, markets and motor parks

The local government is expected to build and maintain these places, particularly as they serve as a good source of revenue for the state.

Naming of roads, streets, and numbering of houses

To bring order and development at a local level, the local government is responsible for naming streets and plots of land in a community.

Establishment and maintenance of cemeteries and burial grounds

The local government sets down rules on how cemeteries should be used, which helps with organisation at a local level.

Additionally, section 2 of the fourth schedule states the functions of the local government in partnership with the state government. These are:

  •  Provision and maintenance of health services
  • Development of natural and agricultural resources, except for the exploitation of mineral resources
  • Provision of primary, adult and vocational education.

However, through the years, the local government has struggled to fulfil its functions at full capacity. So, what are some of the challenges facing the grassroots government?


Corruption is a Nigerian illness we have been battling since conception. Many high-ranking government officials have bluntly blamed the ineffectiveness of the local government of its corrupt officials. 

In 2007, Nuhu Ribadu, former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), described local government officials as “lootocrats who engaged in gangsterism and organised crime”. At this point, maybe a deliverance session should be held to free us from the shackles of corruption because nothing else is working.

Poor funding

The money allocated to the local government is hardly enough because it’s used to cover workers’ salaries. And because of the low revenue generated, in the end, the local government is left with a deficit.

Lack of autonomy

Sometimes, the local government needs more freedom to carry out its functions properly due to external influences, which might be from the state government. 

Now you know who to hold when something goes wrong in your community. This is another reason to pay close attention to everyone who assumes a leadership seat. 



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