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ALGON and Local Government Councils in a Pseudo Federalism

By Polycarp Onwubiko


The Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) and Local Government Councils are in a Pseudo Federalism. ALGON  is an unnecessary organization in the context of a realistic federal system of government. In a true federal system, local administration belongs to the regional or State governments. Historically, during Nigeria’s First Republic, local administration was managed exclusively by regional governments through the Divisional Administration Department (DAD).

Historical Context
The military regime disrupted and distorted the principles of federalism by creating a third tier of government—local administration—contrary to the two-tier system in place during the First Republic which was in sync with the inexorable principles of federal system of government as obtained the world over.

This bastardization of the principles of federal system of government was allegedly and covertly influenced by Northern elites especially Muslim religious leaders who sought to control the governance of Nigeria, ignoring the constitutional democracy, functional governance and “competitive federalism” that featured in the First Republic when each Regional Government made spectacular achievements in the areas of the economy where they had comparative advantage like palm produce in the Eastern Region, Cocoa in the Western Region, and groundnut and cotton in the northern region going by the fundamental principles of federalism.

Impact of Military Rule
The military jackboots left behind a quixotic style of governance which political scientists described as “federal-unitary system contraption” which was encapsulated in the 1999 Constitution.
Due to deft strategy, the 1999 Constitution was predisposed to bankroll the preferences and self-centered calculations of the Northern Muslims at the expense of other ethnic groups. Naturally, this pseudo federal arrangements led to feelings of dissatisfaction, marginalization, lack of fairness and inequity in the distribution of the nation’s resources and political appointments among different ethnic nationalities.

The Role of ALGON
ALGON should be abolished as it has from inception been a vehicle for exploitation of the ignorant workers of the local government councils throughout the country. Its leadership has taken advantage of the crass ignorance of people in matters pertaining to the principles of federal system of government and subtly manipulated the local government councils without any transparency and accountability. Election into the phony organization had always been stage-managed in favour of certain ethnic groups while the rest remained I look and swallow whatever the leadership of ALGON did line, hook and sinker, as it were

The habit of proliferation of associations in Nigeria had led to brazen-faced exploitation by manipulative and self-serving activists at the expense of ignorant followers and especially public servants in the local government councils.

The Need for Restructuring
Nigeria courtesy of the military autocrats had abandoned the practicing a realistic federal system which recommended two tiers of government. In other words, federal system of government the world over has State Governments or Regional Governments as Federating Units. Conscious of the need for grassroots organization, the State (or Regional) Governments respectively fashion a system to run local administration in line with their societal values, norms and ethical principles, customs and traditions as they deemed fit.

To this end therefore, state governors should be granted that federal principles and authority to design and manage their communities encapsulated in what was called “the local administration” as they deem fit without harassment from the federal government or the so-called ALGON. More than, there is a pressing need for president Tinubu and lawmakers at the federal and state level to recognize the searing fact that Nigeria has no federal constitution because the 1999 constitution was the handwork of the military autocrats which was Decreed into practice as the “Meta-legal document” which had been used to administer the country irrespective of the feelings of the people who knew everything about the principles of federal system of government which our founding fathers left as legacy, having recognized the heterogeneity of the areas called Nigeria.

In other words, it is imperative for the political leaders to accord immediate attention to have the lopsided Federation restructured so that the latent potentials within the six geopolitical zones will be given vent for massive employments, wealth creation and all round socioeconomic growth and development. In other words adhering to the true principles of federalism and implementing a decentralized security architecture has become a categorical imperative willy nilly.

To achieve the much needed constitutional democracy, functional governance and competitive federalism, it must be recognized that Nigerians will become happy and contented when there is equitable distribution of resources which places the president to return the country to the fundamental principles of federalism which good governance is all about. This includes abolishing unnecessary organizations like ALGON and diversifying the economy which is an integral part of Restructuring the Federation to reflect a true federal structure with only two tiers of government.

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