Know Your Constitution: Part 1

Know Your Constitution

The 1999 Constitution

SECTION 7(1)

The system of local government by democratically elected local government councils is under this Constitution guaranteed; and accordingly, the Government of every State shall, subject to section 8 of this Constitution, ensure their existence under a Law which provides for the establishment, structure, composition, finance and functions of such councils. 

(This is where the Local Government Authorities (LGAs) get their constitutional backing from. The Constitution mandates States to have a Law that establishes a Local Government Authority.)

SECTION 7(2)

The person authorized by law to prescribe the area over which a local government council may exercise authority shall- 

(a) define such area as clearly as practicable; and 

(b) ensure, to the extent to which it may be reasonably justifiable that in defining such area regard is paid to – 

(i) the common interest of the community in the area; 

(ii) traditional association of the community; and 

(iii) administrative convenience. 

(This section deals with the sphere of authority of the person who presides over the LGA. Usually, LGAs consist of people with the same dialect of a language or share a common history e.g. Obio/Akpor LGA in Rivers State, sometimes for administrative convenience, a community can be divided, which is why there is an Ekiti LGA in Kwara State and not with the rest of the Ekitis in Ekiti State.)

SECTION 7(3)

It shall be the duty of a local government council within the State to participate in economic planning and development of the area referred to in subsection (2) of this section and to this end an economic planning board shall be established by a Law enacted by the House of Assembly of the State.

(Basically, the Local Government Councils are mandated to participate in the economic and developmental planning of their areas and the State shall establish a Law to empower such.) 

SECTION 7(4)

The Government of a State shall ensure that every person who is entitled to vote or be voted for at an election to House of Assembly shall have the right to vote or be voted for at an election to a local government council. 

(This simply means that the qualifications to vote and be voted for at the House of Assembly shall be the same as at the Local Government Council.)

SECTION 7(5)

The functions to be conferred by Law upon local government council shall include those set out in the Fourth Schedule to this Constitution. 

THE FOURTH SCHEDULE

These include but is not limited to collection of rates, radio and television licenses; establishment and maintenance of cemeteries, burial grounds and homes for the destitute or infirm; licensing of bicycles, trucks (other than mechanically propelled trucks), canoes, wheel barrows and carts; establishment, maintenance and regulation of slaughter houses, slaughter slabs, markets, motor parks and public conveniences; construction and maintenance of roads, streets, street lightings, drains and other public highways, parks, gardens, open spaces, or such public facilities as may be prescribed from time to time by the House of Assembly of a State; naming of roads and streets and numbering of houses; provision and maintenance of public conveniences, sewage and refuse disposal; registration of all births, deaths and marriages; assessment of privately owned houses or tenements for the purpose of levying such rates as may be prescribed by the House of Assembly of a State; and control and regulation of – 

(i) out-door advertising and hoarding, 

(ii) movement and keeping of pets of all description, 

(iii) shops and kiosks, 

(iv) restaurants, bakeries and other places for sale of food to the public, 

(v) laundries, and 

(vi) licensing, regulation and control of the sale of liquor.

END OF FOURTH SCHEDULE

(As you can see, the Local Government Councils supposedly have a lot of power but the States are the ones that usually are in charge of the above.)

SECTION 7(6)

Subject to the provisions of this Constitution – 

(a) the National Assembly shall make provisions for statutory allocation of public revenue to local government councils in the Federation; and 

(b) the House of Assembly of a State shall make provisions for statutory allocation of public revenue to local government councils within the State. 

(This section mandates that the both the National Assembly and the State House of Assembly shall make statutory allocations to the Local Government Councils.)

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