An Assessment Of The Role And Challenges Of Non Governmental Organisations In Rural Development In Nigeria

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An Assessment Of The Role And Challenges Of Non Governmental Organisations In Rural Development In Nigeria

Chapter One


1.1 Background to the Study

Nigeria is predominantly a rural economy. If development is to take place and become self-sustaining, it must therefore, emphasis more on rural development. The core problems of widespread poverty, growing inequality, rapid population growth and rising unemployment all find their origins in the stagnation and too often retrogression of economic life in rural areas (Olatunbosun, 1995). Furthermore, most of the rural people are poor and disadvantaged. Their sufferings stem not only from low income but also from illiteracy, ill-health, ignorance and various kinds of deprivations. It is universally acknowledged that rural areas are very important to a nation. They serve as the base for the production of food and fiber. They are also the major sources of capital formation for a country and a principal market for domestic manufactures. In general terms, the rural areas engage in primary activities that form the foundation ofany economic development. Yet, despite the importance of the rural areas, they have been neglected for long(Lele, 2007). Usually, there is absence of infrastructures like (water, electricity supply and motorable roads) which improve quality of life. Indeed, the ongoing neglect of rural areas continues to widen the gap between the rural and urban areas regarding the levels of social and economic opportunities, physical development and available infrastructural services. According to Abakare (1997), development planners have recognized the fact that the upliftment of the rural economy, vis-à-vis the rural poor and backward masses is a precondition for the overall development of the country. Successive development plans of the country, therefore emphasized on rural economic development. But in the implementation of the planned objectives, the success was rather limited due to some constraints, at the top of which was the lack of participation of the stakeholders-the rural dwellers, who hardly had any influence and control over development initiatives (Mabogunje, 2008).

However, the purpose of this study is to examine the process of rural development in Nigeria with special attention to the role played and challenges encountered by non-governmental organizations in the process of rural development. Many diverse types of bodies are now being described as NGOs. There is no generally accepted definition of an NGO and the term carries different connotations in different circumstances. Nevertheless, there are some fundamental features. Clearly an NGO must be independent from the direct control of any government. In addition, there are three other generally acceptable characteristics that exclude particular types of bodies from consideration. An NGO will not be constituted as a political party. Itwill be non-profit making and it will not be a criminal group, nor a violent group. However, an NGO is defined as an independent voluntary association of people actingtogether on a continuous basis, for some common purpose, other than achieving government office, making money or illegal activities (Okafor, 1985). In the past few years or there about, there has been greater recognition of NGOs as important partners in rural development. The concept of rural development is conceived not only as community-centered but also people-centered which has also led to the redefinition of the role of the Non-Governmental Organizations in addressing rural development priorities. This stems from theirability to innovate and experiment with models of executing development programmes, effectively reaching out to under-served and difficult to reach areas and the marginalized sectors and groups of the society including the rural areas. NGO programmesand services exhibit qualities of being efficient and effective, client-centered, community based socially and culturally sensitive, gender responsive and sustainable (Okafor, 1985). Infact, in the past three decades, development agencies, like the World Bank, UNICEF, UNDP and European Union etc, prefer channeling development assistance through them to the Developing Countries because of their ability and capacity in executing sustainable development projects. The reason is that governments in the developing countries are actually not meeting the needs of their people. And the people on the other hand are completely dissatisfied (World Bank, 1995). Either the government is not aware of the people’s disenchantment or they pretend to be ignorant of the feelings of their people (World Bank, 1995). Therefore, it takes an outsider (NGO) to alert them of their responsibilities to their citizens especially the rural communities. Infact, on the whole, the role played by government in rural communities have in some or many ways failed at addressing the key issues in rural development.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Rural development is a comprehensive concept which addresses the general problems that militate against rural dwellers and affect the quality of rural life. It is concerned with measures which mobilize domestic resources including human resources, to boost production, stimulate employment, raise rural income, reduce poverty and improve the overall standards of living of rural dwellers. Rural development consists of a number of subsets which include agricultural development, rural industrialization development, quality education, health, rural housing and transportation programmes. Different kind of NGOs in Nigeria has intervene in these areas. This study is examining their (NGOs) role and challenges in the process of rural development.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The following are the objectives of this study: 1. To examine the roles of non-governmental organizations in rural development in Nigeria. 2. To examine the challenges of non-governmental organizations in rural development in Nigeria. 3. To determine the solutions to the issues of rural development in Nigeria.

1.4 Research Questions

  1. What are the roles of non-governmental organizations in rural development in Nigeria?
  2. What are the challenges of non-governmental organizations in rural development in Nigeria?
  3. What are the solutions to the issues of rural development in Nigeria?

1.5 Research Hypothesis

  • HO: Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) does not play significant role in the rural development of Nigeria.
  • H1: Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) plays significant role in rural development in Nigeria.

1.6 Significance of the Study

The following are the significance of this study:

  1. The results from this study will educate the general public on the roles and challenges of non-governmental organizations in rural development in Nigeria. It will also reveal the way out of the issue of rural underdevelopment.
  2. This research will be a contribution to the body of literature in the area of the effect of personality trait on student’s academic performance, thereby constituting the empirical literature for future research in the subject area.

1.7 Scope / Limitations of the Study

This study will cover the role and challenges of non-governmental organizations in rural development in Nigeria.

1.8 Limitation of Study

Financial constraint

Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).

Time constraint

The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work

Chapter Five

Conclusion and Recommendations

5.1 Conclusions

The problem of poverty in Nigeria is compounded by the unacceptably low value of the Naira in the world currency market. The massive devaluation of the Naira has rendered the currency almost worthless. The low value of the Naira leads to high cost of imported industrial input which leads to capacity underutilization and high cost of locally manufactured goods which in turn leads to low demand on the part of the poor masses, which leads to huge unsold inventories and depression in the industrial sector which limits their ability to expand and employ more workers, a situation that leads to unemployment. It is a vicious cycle. The Federal government should encourage exports and discourage the importation of all but necessary items. This would help shore up the value of the Naira and enhance the purchasing power of the average Nigerian.

One maddening irony about poverty alleviation in Nigeria is that it is people who do not need poverty alleviation that are charged with that task. It seems that poverty alleviation programmes actually end up making the
rich richer and poor poorer. In other words, the poor have been marginalized in the implementation of policies ostensibly meant for them. In the Babangida years, Better Life for Rural Women Programme provided first ladies and other powerful women opportunity to showcase their latest fashion acquisitions. Much money was wasted sewing uniforms embroidered with the pictures of first ladies. A lot of money was also wasted on unnecessary foreign trips. The recently rested Poverty Alleviation Programmed (PAP) was also subject to abuse and corruption. For poverty alleviation efforts to succeed, this profligacy should stop. The poor have to be involved in projects meant for them. As a publication puts it:

The people best placed to tackle poverty are the poor themselves”

The best way to ensure that the poor are directly involved in poverty alleviation programme is by making the programme community-based. Apart from making the poor involved, community based poverty alleviation programme would help to check corruption because in Nigeria’s rural communities virtually everybody knows everybody. If a person embezzles money meant for poverty alleviation the entire community could apprehend him. Similarly by invoking the wrath of the village gods against theft of poverty alleviation funds, rural communities would help to deter corrupt practices and ensure that funds allocated poverty alleviation are used for the purpose intended.

The Federal, State and Local governments in Nigeria need to do something about the current upsurge in violent crime and ethnic and religious militancy. No meaningful economic developments can take place in atmosphere of insecurity. We saw in the last chapter how ethnic clashes prevented Hausas from bringing maize from the North to the Western part of the country, a situation that had negative consequences for poultry farmers. By tackling the questions raised by ethnic and religious militancy, the government could have helped the cause of poverty alleviation by creating the peaceful condition necessary for economic pursuit. Similarly, by reducing violent crime and religious and ethnic militancy, the Federal Government would have sent positive signals to foreign investors whose investment would do Nigeria a lot of good, especially by providing employment opportunities.

5.2 Recommendations

I agree with Lai Olurode’s assertion that poverty alleviation should not be unduly politicized. To quote him
“In a study of three local governments undertaken by us, we observed that the unemployed are being recruited through the local branches of the PDP in Iwo, Aiyedira and Ola-Oluwa Local Government where 245,120
and 111 (beneficiaries) had been placed in various offices in the Postal services department, INEC, NITEL and National Population Commission Office, hospitals and agricultural departments. These are offices where there already exist over staffing resulting in idleness) the new employees are paid N3, 500. A number of these people were employed before and so regard their new work as a sort of party patronage”.

  1. From the above, it could be seen that overpolitisation of poverty alleviation programmes undermines efficiency. To this end, one would recommend that government at all levels should be less partisan in executing poverty alleviation programmes. There should be a distinction between the government and the ruling party. Once a leader is elected, he becomes a servant of not only his own party but of his entire constituency. In essence, poverty alleviation programme should be spread to accommodate all the poor irrespective of party affiliations.
  2. Similarly, poverty alleviation programme should be decentralized. Olurode (2000) argues that local governments are sidetracked by the Federal Government in the execution of poverty alleviation programme. This practice is not good enough. Granted that poverty is a national problem in Nigeria, the fact is that poverty alleviation programme should take into account local peculiarities. For example, poverty alleviation facilities provided for riverine communities in Lagos, Delta, Rivers and Cross Rivers may not be relevant to drought stricken communities in Northern Nigeria. Delegating some aspects of poverty alleviation programme to state and local governments would help to accommodate local peculiarities and ensure greater results.
  3. Sharia or no Shari a, Zamfara State has emerged as a model to be emulated by other states of the Federation when it comes to poverty alleviation. The administration of Alhaji Sanni Ahmed Yerima has taken many steps aimed at empowering the poor. For example, the state government ploughs farmlands free of charge for farmers. Fertilizers, seeds and other inputs, heavily subsidized, are provided so that poor farmers can benefit. Similarly, poor women are trained in dress making after which sewing machines are bought for them. Bicycles and motorcycles are also distributed to poor indigenes of the state at heavily subsidized rates. Soft interest-free loans are also provided for farmers and artisans. Other states of the Federation should borrow a leaf from Zamfara State government with adjustments to suit local peculiarities.

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