According to Falleti (2005) decentralization is a process of state reform composed by a set of public policies that transfer responsibilities, resources, or authorities from higher to lower levels government in the context of a specific state. Thus in the context of multi-ethnic state like Nigeria, decentralization seek to ensure balance of power as well as national integration.  Nyendu (2002) defined decentralization as the transfer of power and authority from central government to sub- national units, either by political, administrative, economic and fiscal means. Decentralization Governance refers to the restructuring of authority as to have system of co-responsibility between different institutions of governance at the central, state and local levels. (UNDP, 1998:p6)


DECONCENTRATION: It is a shift responsibility from central government official to those working in regions or local districts.

DELEGATION: Delegation is a more extensive form of decentralization. Through delegation central government transfer responsibility for decision- making and administration of public function to semi- autonomous organizations.

DEVOLUTION: This involves the transfer of discretionary authority to legally constituted local governments or provinces.

ECONOMIC DECENTRALIZATION AND SEIF-GOVERNANCE: This involves the shifting of responsibilities for economic production and activities from the public to private institution.


  1. Decentralization Governance facilitates greater participation in governance to the people, by brings government closer to the people.
  2. Decentralization Governance helps in taking away too much of centralization of power by the central government conferring power to unit of government.
  • Decentralization Governance gives much attention in term of participatory style of local governance.
  • Decentralization Governance focuses on solutions for local problems to local conditions.


  1. Problem of Coordination: Decentralization Governance of authority creates problems of coordination as authority lies dispersed widely throughout the organization.
  2. Uniform Policies Not Followed: Under the decentralization governance, it is not possible to follow uniform policies and standardized procedures.
  3. Required Qualified Personnel: Decentralization Governance becomes useless when there no qualified and competent personnel.
  4. Inter-Regional Inequalities: Inter-regional inequalities may increase, and thus widen intra-national poverty gaps.


In Nigeria, traces of decentralization dates back to a long-time before independence. At independence in 1960, Nigeria had only a central government and three regional governments, namely, the Northern, Eastern, and Western regions. The need to bring governance closer to the people led to the creation of a fourth region— the Mid-West, in 1963. However, to achieve further decentralization and enhance the federal structure of the country, Nigeria changed from a two-tiered federal arrangement comprising three unequal regions to a three tiered federal system of a central, State and Local governments. Since then, the number of states and local governments has increased.

Table 1. Re-structuring of Nigerian Federal system since 1946 to date

Year Federal government Regional/State governments                  Local governments          
1946 1 4* n/a
1960 1 4* n/a
1961 1 3** n/a
1963 1 4 n/a
1967 1 12 229
1970 1 12 229
1976 1 19 229
1979 1 19 301
1981 1 19 703
1984 1 19 301***
1987 1 21 449
1991 1 30 500
1991 1 30 589
1996 1 36 774****

Source: Central Bank of Nigeria, (2000: 158);

The Nigerian 1999 constitution heaped far reaching responsibilities on the local government, though with the seeming undertone that it is an economic development partner of the state government. Thus, Section 7(3) and (2) provide that: (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. Section 7(5) of the 1999 constitution describes the functions to be conferred by Law upon local government council which shall include those set out in the Fourth Schedule to the Constitution.

The situation in Nigeria is that local governments often do not have the resources to carry out most of their functions as the federal and state governments provide only limited funding. The state and LGA joint account is administered by the Joint Account Allocation Committee (JAAC), which determines what goes to each local government. Typically, states have joint projects with the LGAs and deduct funds for such projects through JAAC. The balance of their allocations from the federation account, which is usually only enough to pay salaries and manage administration costs is then transferred to the LGAs. Consequently, the LGAs have a challenge financing their constitutional duties and social services. – Oludare Adedeji Ogunbanwo, Austria.


  1. Falleti, T:G (2005); A sequential theory of decentralization: Latin American cases in comparative perspective, American political science review 99(3), 327-346.
  2. Nyendu M. (2002), Democratic decentralization in Ghana: The need for a policy review, journal of Asian and African studies 47 (2), 221-235.
  3. UNDP, Decentralized Governance monograph: A global sampling of experience, management development and governance division, bureau of policy development, April, 1998, p.6.
  4. Source: Central Bank of Nigeria, (2000: 158)

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