For general information about the country profiles click here.

nigeria_mapPopulation: 168,833,776

HDI ranking: 153/187

HDI score: 0.471

Nigeria is one of the most decentralized countries in Africa. The country is working toward a more transparent government and many civil society organizations are committed to moving the decentralization process forward. However, local governments face difficulties delivering social and economic services due to a “mismatch between local government revenue powers and their expenditure responsibilities” (IFPRI, 2009).

Local governance at a glance

  • Nigeria is divided into 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja. The states compromise 768 local government authorities and 6 area councils of Abuja (CLGF, 2013).
  • Local councils are directly elected and consist of 10 to 13 councilors (CLGF, 2013).
  • The Ministry of Local Government is responsible for developing and maintaining responsive local government, managing budget proposals, and promoting capacity building initiatives (Ministry of Local Government, 2013).
  • Traditional leadership is prominent in Nigeria, and the relationship between local and traditional leaders varies depending on the state (CLGF, 2011).
  • Nigeria does not have legislated gender quotas (British Council, 2012).

Fiscal control

  • Taxes are raised and collected by both federal and state governments. Local governments are able to collect some local taxes (i.e. haulage, hawking, and markets) and they receive funding from the state government and a federal account allocation (CLGF, 2013).
  • States and local governments control approximately 50% of the government’s total revenues; approximately 20% is allocated for local governments (CLGF 2013).

Civil society actors include

Capacity building institutions

  • The Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) represents all local governments and provides them with services and support to ensure that participatory development approaches are adopted in urban and rural local government areas for effective local development (CLGF, 2013).
  • The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) is a platform for governors to share ideas and promote good governance, democratic values and sustainable development (NGF, 2013).

Key initiatives for participatory local governance

  • The 1976 Local Government Reform was a turning point, paving the way for a local government system in the country. It conceptualized local government as a third tier, which was also enshrined in the 1979 Constitution (Okafor and Orjinta, 2013).
  • The 1999 Constitution, passed after the end of military control, recognizes local government as a third tier. However, local government remains under the control of the state government (Okafor and Orjinta, 2013).
  • In 1999, Nigeria elected its first president able to complete a full term, though recent elections continue to be marred by violence (World Bank, 2009; NDI, n.d., 2013).
  • In 2003, the Government instituted a series of governance reforms, including severing the direct link between the Government’s budget and oil revenues (World Bank, 2009).
  • Nigeria was one of the first countries to join the Extractive Industries Transparency Index, which requires public disclosure of revenues from extractives industry sales, becoming compliant with the standard in 2011 (World Bank, 2013).
  • In 2011, Nigeria enacted the Freedom of Information Act to improve government transparency. However, access to information is often denied (Freedom House, 2014).

Challenges for participatory local governance

  • Only 157 of the 774 local governments are run by elected local councils. Contrary to the 1999 Constitution, the remaining local councils are replaced by “caretaker committees”, which are appointed by the state governor (Okafor and Orjinta, 2013).
  • State and local governments fail to provide citizens with public service (IFPRI, 2009).
  • Local elections do not occur on a regular basis (Nigerians Talk, 2013).
  • Women account for less than 10% of elected local government councilors (CLGF, 2013).
  • A 2009 World Bank report identifies several challenges for decentralization, including (World Bank, 2009):
    • Limited transparency and accountability in management of public resources at all levels of government, which is exacerbated by weak sanctions;
    • A low capacity of the civil service to implement government programs and the need for wide-ranging civil service reform;
    • An ineffective judiciary system;
    • A limited ability of state houses of assembly to play an effective role and absence of social accountability mechanisms that ensures citizen’s feedback on government performance and service providers.

Recent posts on this website about this country:


List of sources:

British Council, 2012: “Gender in Nigeria Report 2012.”

Centre for Constitution and Demilitarization (CENCOD), n.d.

Center for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD), 2012.

Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), 2014.

Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF), 2013: “The Local Government System in Nigeria.”

Female Leadership Forum, 2012.

Freedom House, 2014: “Nigeria.”

Information Nigeria, 2013: “ALGON calls for LG Autonomy.”

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), 2009, Okojie, C.: “Decentralization and Public Service Delivery in Nigeria.”

Ministry of Local Government, 2013.

Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), 2013.

Nigerians Talks, 2013, Amaza, M.: “Do we need local government autonomy?”

Okafor, J and I. Orjinta, 2013, Commonwealth Journal of Local Governance: “Constitutional Democracy and Caretaker Committee in Nigeria Local Government System: An Assessment.”

State Partnership for Accountability, Responsiveness and Capability (SPARC), 2014.

UN Human Development Index, 2012: “Nigeria.”

World Bank, 2009: “International Development Association Country Partnership Strategy for the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

World Bank, 2013: “Nigeria Overview.”


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