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This study critically looked at the impact of local government administration in rural development, Nigeria. This research work fundamentally analyzed Local Government as a veritable tool for grass root democracy and a process for the bringing of Government nearer to the people. It has focused on the development and general wellbeing of the rural populace of Afikpo South Local Government. To attain the purpose of this research work on the subject matter, this research work is divided into five chapters. Chapter one deals with the introduction of the topic under review. Chapter two basically looks at the literature review. Chapter three contains the historical background of the study. While chapter four deals with presentation and analysis of the Government Area. Finally chapter five deals with summary, conclusion and recommendation of the research findings.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Local government as a means for grass roots and national development has persisted in spite of modern achievements in the fields of politics, economics, technology, communication, transportation etc. the increasing demand for local government in every part of the world is being motivated by the desire of the rural populace to contribute directly in the affairs of their communities. In fact, local government is as old as mankind; because it is the only form of human’s administration that has existed from the history of man. The theory of human society is shrouded with the necessity of community development through a recognized local administrative structure that culminated into local government administration.
The 1976 local government reforms in Nigeria saw local government as the government at local level exercised through representative councils established by law to exercise specific powers within defined area. These powers should give the council substantial control over local affairs as well as the staff, institutional and financial powers to initiate and direct the provision of services. it also exists to determine and implement projects so as to complement the activities of the state and federal government in their areas, which is to be achieved through the active participation of the people and their traditional institutions, so that local initiative and response to local needs and conditions are maximized.
The United Nations office for public administration states that local governments should have control over local affairs which will include the powers to impose taxes or to exact labour for prescribed purposes. It states further that those who are to govern such entity should be elected or locally selected. The local government must also be constituted by law (Ola, 1984).
Local government is any form of administration that is found at the grass roots level with the primary objective of integrating the rural populace into the decision making process of the state (Gowon, 1990).
“Local government is the third-tier of government in Nigeria vested with the responsibility of transforming various communities into effective socio-economic and political advanced structures for national development that is the improvement of the quality of life of communities” (1979 constitution Federal Republic of Nigeria). Therefore, local government system is an administration of the rural areas by people who know their community needs. This type of administration is informed by the idea that since the people know the needs of their community, they would do everything within available resources to develop the area.
Local government is an agent of grass roots development because of its indispensible role in mobilizing local resources for meaningful socio-economic and political changes in the rural areas. The contribution of local government in the development of the rural areas. The contribution of local government in the development of the rural areas can be dated back to the period of community-based efforts of developing the individual societies where local authorities are used to mobilize all resources for development (Adamolekun, 1988). Therefore, every government seeks to affect the lives of its citizens by the way they handle their welfare and total well being through economic, social and political development initiatives. This, according to early scholars forms the basis of cooperation and reciprocity between government and the society, which engenders the maintenance of the well being of that society. When members of the society pool their efforts and resources together, they realize their collective goals better. The basis of legitimacy must therefore, emanate from the ability of government or the political institutions to discharge such basis responsibility as provision of amenities and security to governed (Adedeji, 2000).
Every government owes it citizens the duly to develop them through the provision of portable water, health care, education, roads, food, shelter, and any socio-economic variables. Such provision must also include framework that will enable them to have a say on what they get and how they get it. It is in this respect that the members of the society can be expected to discharge their own civic responsibilities to the government and the society at large. Legitimacy involves the capacity of the system to engender and maintain the belief that the existing political institutions are the most appropriate for the growth and development of the society. Groups regard a political system as legitimate or illegitimate according to way in which its values fit with theirs (Lipset, 1969).
The existence of the three tiers of government in Nigeria is therefore, expected to respond to these functions or responsibilities. While the three tiers have varied geopolitical boundaries of authority, they all have certain common responsibilities towards the development of the country in general and in particular their individual areas of influences. As for the level of human materials and financial resources available to them, the federal government is the richest, followed by the state, leaving the local governments as the poorest. Yet the latter is the closest to the majority of the people of the country, most especially to those living in the rural areas. The local government administration is most suited for the development of the rural communities, which are very remote from both the state and central government.
The Federal government said through Musa Shehu Yar’adua in the foreword to the guidelines for local government reforms (1976):
“In embarking on these reforms, the federal military government was essentially motivated by the necessity to stabilize and rationalize government at the local level. This must of necessity entail the decentralization of some significant functions of the state government to local in order to harness local resources for rapid development. The federal military government has therefore decided to recognize local governments as the third tier of governmental activity in the nation”
Local government should do precisely what the word government implies that is government at the grass roots or local level. He went further to say that, the reforms are intended to entrust political responsibility to where it is most crucial and most beneficial, that is, to the people. These local governments have remained integral parts of the administration of the country from the colonial times and have continued to remind the people of the state and central government. Most times they have always been composed of local people who the members of the society can identify and relate with, culturally. This explains the constant clamour for their creations by rural communities. There are no institutions in this country, which are potentially more capable and including physical infrastructural facilities that local government councils. Local government represents the generally accepted fact of political life that all the functions of government cannot be run on the basis central administration alone. It consequently represent the need for political participation and fro convenience (Hashim, 1981). This is true in recognizing the fact that apart from bringing the government closer to the people which a popular cliché often used by government officials, local government are better positioned to understand the development needs of the communities.
In spite of the existence of local government administration in Nigeria, development in the rural areas has continued to remain a mirage. In almost every rural community, there is dearth of portable water, health care delivery facilities, accessible roads and good schools, among others and also infant mortality rate and maternal deaths are on the rampage.
Mensah and Ojowu (1989) opined that the rural areas in the third world countries have remained backward and static at a time when the global economy has experience and is still experiencing tremendous forward movement. Indeed, it is poverty level of the rural communities occasioned by this lack of development that has earned Nigeria a place among the world’s poorest nations in spite of our huge materials and human resources. The United Nations through its human development index (HDI) has consistently rated Nigeria among the poorest nations of the world. This poor state of the nation, emanated essentially, from the rural communities where over 85% of the population resides in the rural areas (Avichi, 1995), states that it was estimated by World Bank (1990) that over 1.15billion people in developing countries were living below the poverty line (US $350 per annum) and majority of these dwell in rural areas which constitute about 80% of their national populations.
Ijere (1989), observed that, Nigeria’s rural poor constitute the other Nigeria with poverty linked characteristics, lacking purchasing power enough to maintain a minimum standard of living and they are the victims of collective poverty in contrast to pockets or “Islands” of underdevelopment, the American Style which are surrounded by regions of abundances. This situation clearly generates apathy towards government as in number of rural communities, quite a sizeable percentage of the population do not bother about government and issues emanating from official quarters. The level of mobilization is low and there is little or no consolation with the communities on any issues. This trend to question the rationality of the establishment of local government administration, which should act as a medium for rural development. An examination of the existence of local government administration from colonial times reveal that successive government have handled the issue of rural development with less than piquant approach. Local governments instead of being used as tools for effective rural transformation, tend to be used for purposes other than social development. Some reasons that csan be advanced for this sad development is the fact that Before (1976), no properly articulated rural development policies have always been introduced on the communities by government officials without their sustainability being covered. The essence of this study was to establish the impact of local government administration in rural development
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Majority of Nigerians live in the rural communities, which have failed to witness any significant development, despite the strategic positions the local governments occupy in the scheme of affairs. Poverty is endemic and a stark reality that people die from unpreventable ailment. Farming and tin mining, the main occupations of the people is declining and, the quality of primary education has fallen, health care delivery and access roads are in deplorable conditions.
Local government autonomy means that the local government is elected at the local level and operated independently of the state and federal government. The local government is no longer an appendage or field office of the state government. But in Nigeria today, local government lack autonomy as a result of interferences by both the state and the federal governments. They lack the freedom to make their own laws, rules and regulations, formulate, execute and evaluate their own plans and the right to recruit, promote, develop and discipline its own affairs.
Over the years efforts have been made to reform the local government system and to increase the participation of the people. Despite these reforms there are problems with the local government system. However, some of the problems associated with Afikpo South Local Government Area are peculiar to some of the problems of local government in Nigeria. These problems include among other things like insufficient funding or poor financial base to exercise complete independence in the provision of social services, lack of adequate human, material and financial resources both in terms of quantity and quality to carry out its own activities, corruption and poverty mismanagement of funds and lack of autonomy. In spite of development plans in Nigeria which dates back as far as 1946, local governments in Nigeria are still underdeveloped.
1.3 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1. What is the role of local government in rural development?
2. Why is Afikpo South Local Government Area not performing to expectation despite all the resources sees at its disposal.
3. Has local government been able to provide infrastructural facilities for the local populace
4. Have they been able to provide social amenities to the people?
5. What is the level of mobilization of the citizens in the course of rural development?
6. What can be done to ensure sustainable rural development through local government administration in Afikpo South Local Government Council?
1.4 THE OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The study sought to investigate the roles and functions of Afikpo South Local Government Area in the development of rural areas and to identify and proffer solutions to some of the fundamental problems challenging the development of rural areas
Specifically, the study intends to achieve the following aims and objectives:
1. To evaluate the role of Afikpo South Local Government Area in rural development.
2. To examine the organic relationship between local government and rural development.
3. To make a critical appraisal of the performance of Afikpo South local government council between 2008-2014 in relation to rural transformation.
4. To identify the constraints militating against the performances of Afikpo South Local Government in the development of rural areas.
5. To analyze the prospect for Nigerian local government in the light of this investigation and coherently recommend ways for more effective and vibrant administration and management of local government in Nigeria.
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The important aspect of this research work is that, local governments in Nigeria today has failed in diverse ways in the provision of social services to the local people thereby rendering the development of rural areas impossible. However, the essence of this research work is to provide enlightenment and to educated the people on the need for rural development. The study will help immensely in guiding the local government policy makers to make better decisions for rural development in rural areas.
Thereafter, this study is to provide an insight in which local people will be able to participate in the politics of their communities and to educate the people on the roles and duties they should play in the development of their locality. Thereafter, this research is beneficial to the researchers, students.
This work is important due to the fact that it will go a long way to provide literature material and propel further research in relation to the problems of local government and rural development in Nigeria.
1.6 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
This research is designed to ascertain rural development efforts of Afikpo South Local Government in line with the 1976 government reform which gave local government wider scope in relations to their duties and functions in grassroots developments. For the purpose of this research work instead of travelling to research the whole local government in Nigeria or the whole local governments in Ebonyi State, the researcher is limiting herself to rural development in Afikpo South Local Government Council only, due to lack of time, lack of finance, and inability to have access to materials that are required
1.7 METHODOLOGY OF THE STUDY
The research employed the qualitative method where the data was analyzed descriptively in order to arrive at a logical conclusion. The source of data collection for this research is gotten from secondary source. These are from written document such as textbooks, dictionaries, newspapers, magazines, journals and internet materials.
Local government creates an enabling environment for local people to participate in their local affairs. However, the research hereby states the following hypotheses:
H1: Afikpo South Local Government Council has enhanced rural development in Ebonyi State.
H0: Afikpo South Local Government Council has not enhanced rural development in Ebonyi State.
1.9 THE WORK PLAN OF THE STUDY
Chapter one consist of the introduction, the statement of the problem research questions, the objective of the study, significance of the study, the scope and limitation of the study, the methodology of the study, research hypothesis and the work plan of the study. In chapter two, it consists of literature review, the concept of local government, the concept of rural development, theories of local government, evolution of local government area in Nigeria, the 1976 local government reforms, aims and objectives of the 1976 local government reforms, the strategies for implementing the 1976 local government reforms, current local government administration in Nigeria, roles of local government in rural development and the functions and powers of local government.
Chapter three consists of historical background of the study, the evolution of Afikpo South Local Government Area, organizational structure of Afikpo South Local Government Area, the administrative chart of Afikpo South Local Government and rural development policy of Afikpo South Local Government Area. Finally, in chapter five it consists of summary, recommendations and conclusion.