What are Local Governments Role in Nation Building

Nation Building Essay

The political/appointed administration constituted by national law within a small geographic region that could cover cities towns and states is usually known a local government (Businessdictionary 2015; Ugochukwu 2013), these administrative bodies are normally in substantially regulative control of maintaining the government’s interest within their geographic zones, these may include election of public officers, collection of taxes, maintaining public assets etc.. They are described by Samuel Humes and Eileen Martin as regional administrative units supervised by the state without any aspect of sovereignty (Humes & Martin 1969).

In many sovereign states like Nigeria and the Philippines the supervision of these local governments are handled by the National or Federal Government. The main purpose for the existence of Local governments in many states is to aid decentralization of power within these states with the hope of developing the social, economic and political aspects of government and people in the local and regional level (Bitonio 2014). All these focus on National or state development which may be better achieved by effective cooperation between the national government and local governments (Gbargaye 2013).

Several theories are responsible for the need of the decentralized local government, as a lot of these principles are overlapping in jurisdictional understanding it becomes important to highlight the specific roles played by local governments in nation building. Nation building is the key responsibility of every national government as it endeavours to secure better quality of life for its citizens, this is a key attribute a nation is gauged by globally. Apart from securing an effective democratic system for her citizens, a nation should provide socio economic growth stability, national identity and security for its citizens.

These are all the national building tasks of a national government (Stephenson 2005). Most national governments around the globe use decentralization of power and responsibilities to local governments (municipalities, councils etc. ) as an effective tool in making national building a much more effective process(World Bank & Shah 2006). Local government in nation building/development As the local government occupies the lower layers of government, they are closest to the people, the actions of such bodies have a direct effect on the local people.

According to the Decentralization theorem “each public service should be provided by the jurisdiction having control over the minimum geographic area that would internalize benefits and costs of such provision,” this all implies that because the local government understand the people better, the 2 responsibility of local decision making becomes more in the hands of the local citizens, eliminating layers of jurisdiction and enhancing interjurisdictional competition and innovation (World Bank & Shah 2006).

The convening power of this level of government represents a link from the grass root to tree top of the modern society, sections such as Socio economic aspect of nation development requires active people participation that can only be better achieved by employing an effective local government decentralization program to encourage and guide these active participation by the local citizens (Haque 1997; Nibbering & Swart 2008). The roles of such levels of government can be said to be in line with the plan of the nation, in highlighting the roles of local government in nation building specific areas will be critically focused on with references from literature with global case studies.

  • Basic Services and Facilities services including provision and maintenance of basic education, government social administrative duties like Tax collection, registration of deaths, births, weddings and divorce
  • Devolved Basic Services On Health and Social Services: running, inspection and general maintenance of health care facilities and policies provided by higher tiers of government
  • Environmental Management; basic hygiene and sanitation programs as well as environmental protection programs ?Infrastructural maintenance of all public structures and building of local service assets such as water supply, clinics and health centres
  • Devolved Regulatory Functions; inspection of local goods and services to check that they are within the accepted standard of the nation or region
  • Economic planning and execution of local people initiatives cooperating with the people for sustained regional economic development By highlighting the roles local government play in national development, functions that may not be as effective as planned run by this level of government may become easily seen and addressed or adjusted to increase effectiveness of this crucial tier of government (Tordee 2012).


  • Bitonio, J. , 2014. The Role of Local Government in Development. http://www. slideshare. net. Available at: http://www. slideshare. net/jobitonio/the-role-of-local-government-in- development [Accessed April 5, 2015].
  • Businessdictionary, 2015. Definition. Available at: http://www. businessdictionary. com/definition/local-government. html.
  • Gbargaye, E. , 2013. The Role of Local Government. http://www. slideshare. net/. Available at: http://www. slideshare. net/edgbargaye? utm_campaign=profiletracking&utm_medium=sssite&utm_source=ssslideview [Accessed April 5, 2015].
  • Haque, M.S. , 1997. LOCAL GOVERNANCE IN DEVELOPING NATIONS: REEXAMINING THE QUESTION OF ACCOUNTABILITY. Regional Development Dialogue, 18(2), pp. 1–25. Available at: http://profile. nus. edu. sg/fass/polhaque/local govt. pdf.
  • Humes, S. & Martin, E. , 1969. The Structure of Local Government: A Comparative Survey of Eighty- one Countries.  
  • Nibbering, J. W. & Swart, R. , 2008. Giving local government a more central place in development An examination of donor support for decentralisation, Available at: http://www. delog. org/cms/upload/pdf/giving_local_government_a_more_central_place_in _development. pdf.
  • Stephenson, C. , 2005. Nation Building. Beyond Intractability. Available at: http://www. beyondintractability. org/essay/nation-building [Accessed April 5, 2015].
  • Tordee, M. B. , 2012. The Importance Of Third-Tier Of Govt In Nation Building. National Network Newspapers. Available at: http://www. nationalnetworkonline. com/VOL7/vol9n39/feature. html [Accessed April 5, 2015].
  • Ugochukwu, U. , 2013. Local Government As An Agent Of Transformation In Nation Building. Review of Public Administration and Management, 7(1), pp. 270–280. Available at: http://omicsonline. com/open-access/2315-7844/2315-7844-1-139. pdf? aid=16297.
  • World Bank & Shah, A. , 2006. Local governance in Developing Countries, 4 5 Project research plan Date of preparation; 05/04/2015


Local governments represent an important tier of government in nation building this is mainly because they are closer to the local people and provide a grass-root bureaucratic process that cumulatively leads to national building/ development, it therefore becomes important that the roles that this level of government plays become highlighted so as to be able to measure their performances.

As a national building tool, effective decentralization and deconvolution of power are applied by the local government in line with the national governments objectives it also becomes very important to stipulate the amount of power given to this low tier of government.


  • Highlighting the roles of local government in nation building/development
  • Provide a basis for the comparative analysis between informative principles in past works globally and reality case studies
  • Measure the effect of local government among local citizens and provide some sort of analysis to measure their influence on the life of the people.
  • To understand why some local government fail in duties of national development
  • To understand the Power balance between local government and higher tiers of government


  • Have a critical analysis of literature and understand the past works in the following areas:
  • Existence of local governments
  • The different historical models of local government
  • The decentralization principles
  • Advantages and disadvantages of lower tier government
  • Failure of local governments
  • Nations operating without local governments (centralized government)
  • Take a reality case study of one or two local government areas in Nigeria and get information on their contribution to the life of the locals and national building through interviews
  • Take a survey among the local residents of the selected local government areas in Nigeria to provide a direct measure on the effect of the local government on their lives

Methodology and Materials

The data that will be needed for this project will mainly be in two forms;

  1. Past works done by researchers in similarly related topics 6
  2. Actual qualitative data will be collected from the local government areas in form of interviews which will be transcribed and analysed to get the necessary information for the comparative case studies
  3. Both quantitative and qualitative data will be collected from local citizens of selected local government areas to get modern data for the comparative study through interviews and questioners

From the data to be collected, both a qualitative and quantitative analysis will be performed to highlight the roles of local government in nation building and development. From this methodology the materials that will be needed will be;

  • Access to the necessary past materials
  • Mobilization resources to selected local government areas in Nigeria
  • Access to important staff/officers of local government
  • Basic office resources such as computer, internet connection, constant power supply and office stationaries

Co-operating partners for this project will bet the selected local government areas Expected results and output The key roles of local government will be highlighted at the end of this study, the results obtained from the literature and comparative case studies should align, and if they do not align, justification should be provided identifying the lapses where they exist in the reality case studies and how these lapses can be eliminated improving the general functional ability of the local government in national building.