In Nigeria, there are three tiers of public sector administration – the Central (Federal) government, State government; and Local governments. This project is devoted to the examination of the local government’s accounts, and the development of financial management with their departments. It is therefore pertinent at this point to mention that the local government is the third tier of government in Nigeria.
Local government in Nigeria derives their existence from the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (promulgation) Decree No. 12 of 1989 and the civil service (re-organisation) Decree No. 43 of 1989 as brought about a new awakening to make the public sector virile dynamic, result and development oriented. At present with the creation of more 177 local governments, the total number of local governments in Nigeria has therefore increased to ….. One would then guess what effects will it have. Even before that, like since 1979, there has been a significant rise in local government expenditure in line with greater emphasis on grassroots participation. For instance, in 1992 while complete political administrative and financial independence was granted to the local government. From State control, its responsibility was enlarged with effect from 1992, local government has been directly responsible for primary health care. This is in addition to its statutory functions.
Johnson (1992) said that, though virtually all developed countries have a system of local government, some systems involve considerable local autonomy while others involve less. On a spectrum, the Nigeria systems probably involve less, rather than more autonomy. Then the question and answers are important as they reflect that type of financial and accounting framework required.
Sharpe (1980) noted that the participatory value if not the liberty value, still remains as a valid one for modern local government. Not perhaps in the full glory of its early promoters, but as an important element in a modern democracy nonetheless. But as a co-ordinator of services in the field, as a reconciles of community opinion, as a consumer assure group as an agent for responding to rising demand and finally as a counterweight to incept syndicalism, local government seems to have come into its own.
The following points were listed in the local government’s favour by the Layfield Committee (1976).
(a) It provides democracy
(b) It acts as a counterweight to the uniformity inherent in government decision. It spreads political power.
(c) It embraces accountability because it brings those responsible for decision close to their electors.
(d) It is efficient because services can be adjusted to local needs and preferences and because responsibility can be more decentralized.
(e) Central government would be overloaded by more functions;
(f) It provides a vehicle for formulating new policies and pioneering ideas.
As a result of increase in the responsibilities and the fantastic expenditure associated with them, it is vital that the local governments extend their sources of revenue beyond the present level. They would endeavour to tap all the potential resources so as to see their revenue base fortified. Any improvement to this effect will be welcomed as it would give the local government an added impetus in discharging its statutory functions and socio-economic advancement to the local inhabitants.