Since the advent of government and the rise of the new world, there has been debates on the best ways of political governance. The debates have been echoed in even higher institutions in the land, such World Bank and the United Nations. There are those who have been advocating for the centralized system of government, arguing that it easier to manage security and there is only one chain of communication. However, advocates of the decentralized government argue that it promotes and presence to the citizenry. Both the supporters of centralized and decentralized system governments have each pointed to their model states. These are the facts, but a decentralized form of government have proved more beneficial and effective to the centralized system of government. While decentralization may cause duplication of roles, the decentralized government brings more to the people who now have a say in their governance because it improves service delivery, helps people participate more in their governance, and it is very efficient and easily accessible.
A decentralized system of government reduces the concentration of power by the national government. In recent times, there has been instances where a centralized government has abused its powers to either deny citizens their rights and excessive dominance. This usually happens the power lies only with the central government and nobody can check its excess therefore easily abused. According to Lipson (1993), when the power is devolved to smaller units it creates self regulation as the smaller units check for excessive use of power between them. For example, in the United States, which is a model of decentralization of power, no state can exercise, excessive power as there are limitations and regulation from other states. Therefore, decentralization will go a long way in ensuring that power lies with the people and smaller units and not wholly with the government.
Moreover, decentralization of government provides an opportunity and facilitation of sustainable local development. In his report Manzer (1974) notes that, devolution enhances local economies through retention and utilization of local resources in local development unlike in a centralized system of government whereby all the resources are concentrated in the capital from where they are now shared to the country. This inconveniences local economies which produce more, but cannot utilize the resources as the central government does not allow that. Therefore, the decentralized system of government not only protects the local resources, but also utilizes them in the development of the local governments. This facilitates the local economies, thereby creating more employment in the local areas.
Additionally, efficiency is another key aspect that the decentralized form of government has unlike the centralized form of government. Due to smaller and manageable populations covered by the local governments, the issues to be addressed are also fewer unlike in a centralized government. As a result the local governments are affordable and easy to maintain due to their smaller nature. The small nature of the local governments reduces bureaucracy and ensure quick passing of laws unlike in the centralized government. Local governments are also may respond quickly to any problem as there are fewer people involved in passing a resolution and hence they are able to adapt more easily to emerging issues.Oneil (2010)
According to the United Nations Human Development Report People and Governance (1993), decentralized governments make it easier for the citizens to access the government for services. This gives citizens an opportunity to participate in the political processes of their local area. In doing so, the citizens are able to voice their concerns easily and participate in the running of their local area. It’s very difficult or almost impossible for the common citizenry which is the majority to voice their concerns or access the national government bodies. This signifies that a concern may take a lot of time in order to reach the concerned parties or not reach at all due the inaccessibility of a centralized government.In addition, decentralization improves service delivery in the local governments as the citizens can easily participate and suggest on how they receive their services,and how they would wish to be served. This further gives the local government a platform of rating and improving its service delivery mechanisms to the society.
Devolved system of governance ensures that there are transparency and openness in service delivery and governance of the respective local area government. This is highlighted in the United Nations Human Development Report People in Community Organizations(1993) which deduces that, due to the localized and small structure of the local governments, there is a high likelihood of proper ethical standards as it is easy to find those engaging in corruption and other unethical malpractices. Decentralization also offers the opportunity for a member of the civil societies in the respective areas to play a watchdog role of examining transactions and also questioning on the use of public resources but more importantly on all matters that are of great interest to the citizenry.
Lastly, it is clearly evident that decentralized or devolved government is a driver of sustainable development as it gives more power to the citizens rather than the national government. This devolution of power encourages citizens to participate more in the politics and governance of the local governments. Moreover, decentralization improves efficiency of the government as the local governments are small and deals with smaller populations. Despite the centralized government having some advantages, the devolved form of government out weighs it in almost every aspect. Therefore, it is wise to say that devolution empowers and benefits more people as compared to the centralized system of government and should therefore be embraced in order to serve the citizens better and in a more better way.
Human Development Report, (2013). The Rise of the South. New York: United Nations Publications.
Lipson, L. (1993). Concentration of Power versus Dispersion of Powers: the Great Issues of Politics (9th ed.). Prentice Hall, New York.
Manzer, R. (1974). Human Needs and Political Good: A Social political Report. Toronto: McGraw Hill Ryerson.
Oneil, P.H. (2010). Essentials of Comparative Politics (3rd ed.). Norton, New York
United Nations Human Development Report. (1993). People in Community Organizations. New York.
United Nations Human Development Report. (1993). People and Governance. New York.