LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND CHALLENGES OF AUTONOMY IN KOLOKUMA-OPOKUMA LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA, BAYELSA STATE, NIGERIA
This study examined the challenges of local government autonomy in Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, Nigeria. Specifically, the study interrogates the following questions: 1. Does federalism guarantee local government autonomy? 2. Does the financial dependence of local governments on statutory allocation from federal government undermine provision of social amenities in Kolokuma/Opokuma Bayelsa State? The study adopted the analytic framework of the structural functional theory as expounded by Gabriel Almond, among other scholars. The central focus of structural functionalism is intended to explain the basis for the maintenance of order and stability in society and the relevant arrangement within the society which maintain the system. Thus, every political system has structures that are there to perform certain functions. Qualitative method based on secondary data sourced from books, official documents, journals, articles and other documents was adopted. The data analysis was based on qualitative descriptive analysis and the ex-post facto design was adopted as the research design. The study contends among others that the overbearing powers of state governments over the local councils have had significant negative impact on the backwardness of the local government councils in terms of meaningful and enduring development at the grassroots localities. The major finding of the study include that Local Governments under the Nigerian federalism does not have full autonomy due to interference from the higher governments’ especially state government and this at times, is due to some constitutional provisions. Hence, we recommended among others that the Local governments in Nigeria need adequate autonomy that can facilitate their operations and development of communities. This should emanate from institutionalized democratic process of elections for representative local government councils as and when due.
Keywords: Local Government, Autonomy, Kolokuma/Opokuma LGA, Bayelsa State, Nigeria