Journal of Social and Political


ISSN 2615-3718 (Online)

ISSN 2621-5675 (Print)

Published: 23 February 2021

Between the Devil and Lying Angels: An Invitation for a New Perspective on State Interference in Local Government Fiscal Autonomy in Nigeria

Chijioke Basil Onuoha, Henry Ufomba, Ebong Itoro Bassey

University of Uyo (Nigeria), University of Freiburg (Germany)

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Pages: 115-124

Keywords: Local Government, Rural Development, State-Local Government Interaction, Fiscal Autonomy, Federalism, Nigeria


One of the most contested issues in Nigeria’s political landscape and federal structure is the debate on the fiscal autonomy of the Local Government as the third tier of government. The literature on the subject appears to zero down the issue of Local Government fiscal autonomy to a political ‘devil’. The position of existing scholarship on the subject concludes that by taking advantage of Sections 7 and 162 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, it is common practice for the State Governors to usurp the autonomy of the Local Governments. The Governors are also accused of using the Joint Account framework to control the statutory allocations of the Local Governments. Hence, Local Governments in Nigeria lacks fiscal autonomy which is one of the main principles of the three tiers of government structure. However, the underlying politics that has played out in the Fourth Republic in Nigeria reveals that this historical and legalistic perception does not provide a complete explanation of the problem. This is because the literature does not consider the role of the political elite at the Local Government level in sustaining the shrewd nature of State and Local Governments interaction in Nigeria’s Federal structure, rather the existing literature focused entirely on the governor as a ‘devil’ and ignores the role of the political class at the grassroots level as “lying angels”. This paper is therefore an invitation for a deeper theoretical deconstruction of this phenomenon to stimulate an encompassing and interesting perceptive on what we conceptualize as State-Local Government Interactions in Nigeria (SLIN). Our primary objective is to draw attention to the role of the personalities of the political class at the grassroots level which makes up the highest cadre of the hierarchy in the Local Government in shaping SLIN. We present a case that future debates should go beyond “devil” and also focus on the profound role of “lying angels”.


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