Local Government Training is the oldest form of training activity associated with the Institute of Administration, A.B.U Zaria. This happened since 1948.

In 1979, the Federal Government of Nigeria designed three Universities, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, and the University of Nigeria, Nsukka as local government staff training centers in the country. This was sequel to the acute shortage of skilled manpower resulting from the 1979 reforms and subsequent creation of more local governments nationwide. The specific mandates of the three training centers are
To train local government staff in the fields of personnel management, Finance & Accounting, Planning & Budgeting and Rural Development;
To organize workshops, seminars and conferences, designed to improve the managerial and administrative skills of local government staff
To appraise local government performance in areas of financial Management, Administration and Physical Development periodically with a view to identifying problem areas for possible solutions

In pursuance of the training mandate, this Department ran the following programmes before 1966:

  • Two-year Diploma in Local Government for intermediate staff on salary grade level 06 – 08.
  • One-year Higher Diploma in Local Government for senior staff on salary grade level 08 – 09
  • Another one-year Advanced Diploma in Local Government for senior staff  on slary grade level 10 and above
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Local Government (Full Time) for Degree holders in areas other than administration or local government. Later on, in 1998, Postgraduate Diploma in Local Government (Part Time) was started by the Department.
  • Masters in Public Administration (Local Government) for degree holders in administration and social sciences wishing to make a career in local government service.
  • Ph.D. in Local Government for people wishing to take to teaching in tertiary institutions.

The Department also engages in other two assignments, namely; appraisal of local government performance and organizing of workshops, seminars and national conferences. It also produces a local government year book periodically.

In 1996, the University authorities scrapped all diploma programmes including the first three Diplomas in local government mentioned above. Since then, the Department has left with its Postgraduate Programmes, the other mandatory activities and the servicing of SGRS courses and Public Administration Department. However, by 2004, the Degree programme of the Department was approved and the name of the Department also changed to Department of Local Government and Development Studies. It immediately commenced admission and teaching of new intakes by the 2004/2005 Academic Session.

The Department of Local Government and Development Studies as the name implies teaches and conducts inquiry into Local Government operations, organization, Institutions and Management. The challenges of the 21st century dictate that organizations and institutions should be responding more to challenges and development from the environment rather than those generated by these institutions. This is because the effects of globalization and information technology, and scientific breakthrough and indeed the plethora of socio-economic and political problems pose a significant impact on ‘institutionalization’ and the existing ways of doing things, plus the very objectives for which organizations exist. As a result of these, there is need for the development of appropriate manpower to appreciate and respond to such changes in the interest of organizations and their objectives.

Local Government and Development Studies therefore seeks to stimulate and support change oriented administration by developing appropriate manpower to deal with such growing situations.
The type of manpower envisaged includes:

  • One that can initiate and manage change in and for an organization;
  • One that is receptive to change and should be able to use environmentally induced changes to the advantage of the organization;
  • One that is not going tom allow the organization to lag behind current development in the environment;
  • One that can read changes and adapt to them;
  • One that can translate the imperatives of change for the development of both people and the organization.

The idea in all these is to produce a balanced individual that is exposed to, and understand the idea of development, its interdisciplinary nature, functionality, universalistic appeal and centrality to the understanding of man and his environment.

From a local government perspective, the exercise will move the traditional conception of local government from a mere governmental bureaucracy to a dynamic institution that is capable of responding to its immediate and wider environments as they throw up challenges.