A survey has revealed that of the 36 states of the federation with 774 local government areas, only 17 states and the Federal Capital Territory have elected persons running the affairs as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution.
That leaves 19 states using interim and caretaker committees to oversee the affairs of that tier of government.
Apart from states like Enugu, Ebonyi, Lagos, Sokoto, Niger, Kwara, Akwa Ibom, Benue, Jigawa, Adamawa, Kaduna, Cross River and Rivers, most of the other states have one interim arrangement or the other with the governors more or less dictating the way things are run.
Other states not in default with regard to council elections are Kebbi State which held the last election this year, Ogun, Taraba and Zamfara which also held theirs this year. The councils in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, held their last election in March 2010 and will hold the next one in 2013.
The apparent reluctance of some governors to conduct council elections is somewhat consistent with their opposition to calls that local government autonomy should be included in the constitution. The governors have premised their opposition on the grounds that development and harmonisation of programmes would be more difficult with such autonomy This anomalous state of affairs prompted the threat by the Nigerian Bar Association that it would take legal action against states where councils are being run by caretaker committees. NBA had issued the threat at its annual conference held last month in Abuja.
A roll call of some of the states with available records of elections into local government councils show that Sokoto held the last elections into that tier on July 23, 2011 and is due to have the next in September 2014. Niger State conducted theirs on October 8, 2011 and the terms will expire in 2014. Kwara held theirs on October 30, 2010 and will hold the next elections into the councils next year, while Akwa Ibom held theirs on June 9, 2012. Cross River held the last council elections in 2010 and is due to hold next one on December 15, this year.
Other states that are up to date with council elections are Benue which prior to the council election of Saturday, November 24, 2012 last one in 2007. Jigawa held theirs last year as well as Rivers State which held theirs in May 2011. Lagos also conducted theirs this year.
The THISDAY survey also revealed that Enugu and Ebonyi states are among the few states with up to date council polls with the last election in Enugu on December 2011 while Ebonyi conducted theirs on July 10, 2010. Both states are preparing for their next polls.
Along with the strangle- hold of the third tier by the state governors is the alleged meddling with the funds allocated to the councils by the governors, some through the Local Government Joint Accounts while at the other extreme, governors withhold allocations to councils for one reason or the other.
In Abia State, the last council elections was held in January 2008 and when their tenures expired in 2010, the governor appointed caretaker committees and has on several occasions created a timeline for council polls which never held. Even the next elections Governor Theodore Orji has scheduled for January 2013 is being opposed by the state's legislators.
Bayelsa held its last council polls on April 3, 2010. When Seriake Dickson stepped in as governor, he dissolved the council administrations and appointed interim administrators. He plans to hold the next elections there in 2013.
Edo State held its last council polls in December 6, 2007 during the Oserhiemen Osunbor administration that was annulled. The next is slated for February 2013.
Kaduna State held council elections last Saturday after a long period of running under appointed officials.
In Kogi State, the tenure of elected officials elapsed in July 2011 and preparations to conducted fresh polls was on when a court order stopped it. Since then the third tier in the state has been run by care taker committees and with the subsisting court order, no date has been fixed for it.
Local government polls in Plateau State held last on November 28, 2008 and witnessed a lot of bloodshed. Their terms ran out in January 2012 and management committees were set up in their place. No date yet is scheduled for the next elections there.
Council elections were last conducted in Borno State in 2007. Till date, adhoc arrangements have been used to run the councils while in Yobe, council elections last held in 2009. Since then, the councils are without elected heads and no date has been fixed for the next elections.
In Nasarawa, council elections was last held in 2009 while the next is slated for 2013. As a result, the third tier there is under interim administration. In Kano, the last council polls was in 2009 which expired in 2011 and no date is fixed for new polls.
Katsina last held council elections in 2010 and since the expiration of the tenure, has run the councils under caretaker committees while Delta last held theirs in May/June 2008 with no date for another.
In Ondo State, election was held on December 14, 2007 under Olusegun Agagu but would later be dissolved by Olusegun Mimiko. No new date has been set while in Imo State, it has been a total rigmarole with the creation of further tiers without any mention of when local government elections would hold.
Anambra State features perhaps the most notorious scenario. The last local government election in Anambra State was conducted in 1999 and due to what politicians say is court-related reason, the third tier in that state has been under unelected structures since then and there is no specific date to conduct another election.
In Oyo State, the councils are run by caretaker committees, given that the last election was held in the state on December 15, 2008. And with the appointment of new caretaker committees, elections into the third tier in the state is not expected till 2013.
Osun State last held local government election in 2007. So the councils have been under one form of interim administration or the other. The permutation is that it may hold again in 2014.
In Ekiti State the last council elections was in 2009 and attempts to conduct new ones have been stopped by the courts and no specific future date is slated for new elections.
Lastly, in Bauchi State's case, council polls were last held in 2008 and since then, unelected persons have been used to administer the Councils though it has reconstituted the State Independent Electoral Commission in 2012.