The Growth And Development Of Idemili North Local Government Area (1996 – 2010)

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The Growth And Development Of Idemili North Local Government Area (1996 – 2010)


Local government administration in Nigeria has witnessed significant changes. The core of the reforms and development was to provide and bring government closer to the people. No doubt, to achieve this, there is need for leaders with a visionary sense of direction, who are willing to carry out purposeful programmes for the benefit of the masses. These leaders must be willing to serve the people and selflessly put the people ahead in their administration. The study of administration in Nigeria has received commendable attention from scholars over the years and Idemili North Local Government Area is one of the local governments that has reforms and changes in administration. Just like any other local government, it has the capability to develop and benefit its citizens.

This study deals with the administration of Idemili North Local Government Area from 1996-2010. Local government administration and its impact on the people is obviously a factor to reckon on with in the history of political administration in Nigeria. This is why a study of this nature is essential. Although the local government was created by the military in 1996, it was not until the start of civilian rule in 1999 that the core of its development process began. Such development in the local government has revolved around the key sectors of agriculture, human development, health, trade and transportation.

This work thus is a contribution to the history of Nigerian government administration albeit of the grassroot level. By adopting both the qualitative and quantitative research methodologies, this work examines the various facets of administration of Idemili North LGA as well as the efforts of various local chairmen at bringing development to the area. While narrating certain strides made by the administrators, it also examines the administrative deficiencies of these leaders as well as the factors that hindered full dividends of democracy in the local government. The study adopts inter disciplinary approach and relied on oral interviews, government documents, archival materials and relevant secondary text for information. In the end, the work provides a launching pad for assessing grassroot administration and development as well as opens up doors for further important but yet to be studied areas of Idemili North LGA’s history.

Chapter One


Background to the Study

Local government administration in Nigeria exists to fill a gap which the national government is too remote to fill. It tries to bring the dividends of government closer to the people at the grassroots. Local governments over the years have gone through various reforms and developments. As a tier of government, Nigerian local governments have left a mark in history not because of its efficiency and effectiveness but because of the many and varied changes it brought in its wake in Nigeria. Idemili North LGA is undoubtedly an integral part of administration at grassroot level.

The evolution and development of modern local government in Nigeria could be traced back to the British colonial era. Due to the heterogeneous nature of Nigeria, the British merged different regions of the country for easy and “efficient” administration. The North had good administrative machinery upon which the British grafted an effective local government structure.1 A series of ordinances set up a definite pattern of local government based on the Native Authority System in the North that allowed the Emirs, among other things, to pay officials and impose taxes on the people. In the East, the story was a little different as indirect rule was imposed, but “the Aba Women Riot of 1929 exposed the short-comings of the indirect rule system in the East and led to radical

review of the system.”2 In 1950, the British system of local government was introduced in the East with the Eastern Region Local Government Ordinance. In 1952, the West 1followed suit.3 It was not until 1954 that the North absorbed elected members into the native administration following pressure from the “young elements.”4

After Nigeria regained her independence in 1960, the federal government of Nigeria, adopted different forms of local government as respective regions became responsible for the structures, legislation and operation of local government under their jurisdiction. It was in 1976, that the Federal Military Government led by General Olusegun Obasanjo reformed the local government system. As expected, “the 1976 reform established a uniform single tier, all-purpose local council throughout the

country.”5 After The Reform, the 1976 and subsequently the 1999 Constitutions gave local governments legal backing. The provisions of the Constitution made clear of the relationship between state government and local government on the one hand and the federal government on the other hand. The constitution also spelt out categorically the responsibilities of local government, thus making local government a “constitutional expression.”6 Local government created was to cater for the social needs and aspirations of those at the grassroots and would be “judged by its success in providing

such services.”7 In spite of the enormous reforms and impact of Idemili North LGA on the people of the area, there has been no detailed historical account of the growth and development in the LGA.Thus, the need for this research on Idemili North LGA of Anambra State from 1996 – 2010.

What exists as Idemili North LGA was part of Idemili LGA until October 1st, 1996 during General Sani Abacha’s regime, when the local government was split into two to form Idemili North and Idemili South LGA. The name Idemili was derived from Idemili river. The river has its source from Agulu Lake in Aniocha LGA and it flows through most

communities in the area. Idemili river flows into River Niger at Iyi-Owa in Onitsha.8 From October 1, 1996, Idemili North became one of the twenty-one local government councils in Anambra state. Ogidi community which was headquarters of Idemili LGA still retains her status in the present Idemili North LGA. Idemili North LGA is bounded in the North by Oyi LGA, in the South by her sister LGA, Idemili South, in the East by Njikoka LGA and in the West by Onitsha North LGA. Ten communities make up the local government namely: Abacha, Abatete, Eziowelle, Ideani, Nkpor, Obosi, Ogidi, Oraukwu,

Uke, and Umuoji.9 “These communities are linked by ancestral and cultural ties.”10 The local government has twelve political wards. Each community has one except for Ogidi and Umuoji communities that have two apiece.

Idemili North LGA occupies an expense of land of about 43.756 square kilometers. According to the 2006 census, the population of the local government stood at 431,005, of which, 219,223 were male while 211,782 were female.11 The local government constitutes about 10.30 percent of the total number of inhabitants in

Anambra state.12 Increase in population is alluded to the local government’s proximity to the commercial city of Onitsha and Anambra state policy in the last decade, to decongest Onitsha. With that, some markets have been transferred to some communities in the local government. These include, the Electrical Spare Parts market now located at Obosi, the Building Material market now at Ogidi, the Bakery Material partly located in Ogidi and Ogbuike (Ogbuike is in Oyi LGA). There are other markets like the New Motor Spare Parts Market in Nkpor, the Old Motor Spare Parts in Nkpor and Obosi. Apart from these major markets, each community that forms part of the local government has their own local markets that have continued to serve their needs and to assist inter-group relations. The major markets in Idemili North are also a source of revenue generation which if properly utilized could have gone a long way in fostering development. “Rural-urban migration”13 has made workers, traders and artisans reside in some of the communities like Nkpor, Obosi, Ogidi and Umuoji, where they commute to their various business areas.

There is no doubt that there are avenues for development in Idemili North LGA. Hence, this work sets out to analyses the overall performance of the administrators of the LGA and examines how their administration had either speed up or derailed development in the area from 1996 up to 2010.

Statement of the Problem

The success of a local government is basically measured by how far the leaders are willing to commit themselves to the welfare and well being of the populace. Like any other LGA, Idemili North was created to cater for the needs of the people at the grassroot level. The LGA leaders have the responsibility of making sure that the needs of the people are met. Research into the history of administrations in Nigeria especially at the grassroot level therefore becomes essential especially given the fact that when it comes to local government administration in Idemili North LGA, few studies have been carried out. More so, there is a need to appraise how willing the leaders were able to utilize resources at their disposals to bring about any meaningful development in the area. To that end, certain questions are raised: were these leaders selfless or selfish?

Did the leaders have a willingness to serve? How did pattern of administration differ from one administrator to the other and what levels of development, if any was carried out by the different leaders? These issues underpin the problem of the study.

Theoretical Framework

The study is anchored on the modern world system theory. Proposed by Immanuel Wallerstein in 197414 the world system theory maintains that the system is composed internally of variety of social structures and member groups with a set boundaries and a definable lifespan. Wallerstein defined the system as held together by a variety of forces that are inherent tension. These forces have the potential of tearing the system apart. He argued that one type of world-system- the modern capitalist economy relies on economic domination whereby operate political entities absorb whatever losses occur, while economic gain is distributed to few private Lords.15 The core geographical areas dominates and exploits the rest of the system. The periphery consists of those areas that provide raw materials to the core and are heavily exploited by it. The semi periphery is residual category that encompasses a set of regions somewhere between the exploiting and exploited.

The world-system theory can aptly be applied to the study of local government administration in Idemili North LGA during the period of study. For one thing, member group of communities comprising the LGA form a system. These villagers have been held together by some forces, most notably, the political force. This force in the study will soon show here created tensions both at the top among the ruling elites and below among the masses. In the end, there socio-political forces have prevented radical and meaningful development to occur and seemingly tore the system apart. More so, the political domination of the elected chairmen by the state governors that appointed the various caretaker committee chairmen have led to an increase level of exploitation. The periphery, masses, do not benefit maximally but rather exploited for economic gains. The appointed caretaker committee chairmen appear to be the semi-periphery served as the link between the exploited (Idemili North LGA citizens) and the exploiting (the state governors who appointed them). As would be shown from the work, this system yielded no positive result as the entrenched pattern of exploitation even clouded any trace of development by these administrators. Worse still, the forces in control tore the local government administration system apart.

Purpose of Study

The purpose of this work is to historize local government administration in Idemili North LGA from 1996-2010. It examines how various local government chairmen administered the LGA and analyzes their achievement during the tenure of their administration. It also assesses the achievements to the end of determining whether they impacted positively or negatively.

Significance of Study

This study bears a measure of significance. First, the study will enhance our knowledge of the nature of administration at grassroot level particularly in Idemili North LGA and conclusions reached can serve as a springboard for good leadership at the state level and federal government level. The study will inspire further research on local government administration in other local governments in Nigeria while playing a vital role in stimulating future academic discourses as findings will be meaningful to historians, sociologists, political scientists, administrators and analysts as well. Also, the study will serve both as a reference document for researchers and as a contribution to local government administration, hence adding to the existing literature on Nigerian political history.

Scope of the Study

The study covers the period 1996-2010. 1996 was a landmark in that it was when Idemili North LGA was created. The year 2010 was chosen as the termination date because it marks the end of Governor Peter Obi’s first tenure in office. The focus is on Idemili North LGA which includes the following communities: Abacha, Abatete, Eziowelle, Ideani, Nkpor, Obosi, Ogidi, Oraukwu, Uke and Umuoji. The various administration of the local government chairmen are considered in the study also. These local government chairmen are Tony Ezike (October 1996-March 1997), J.C Omekagu (March 1997-July 1998), Emma Ike (July 1998- April 1999), Okey Muo Aroh (May, 1999-May, 2002), Edwin Ekwuino (June, 2002- Oct. 2002), Nikky Nwabueze (Nov.2002-Feb 2003), Ben Mozie (March, 2003-May, 2003), Uche Ezediorah (June, 2003-May, 2006), Emeka Akabueze (May, 2006-March, 2007), Amaechi Ekwume (April,2007-July, 2007), John Obodzie (Aug.2007-July,2008), Frank Mabuike (Aug. 2008-July,2011)

Review of Literature

Tony Onyishi (Ed.) in Key Issues in Local Government and Development: A Nigerian perspective16 discusses historical development of local government system in Nigeria. The work is a good source material for this study as it offers conceptual explanations of local government viz-a-viz development. It also evaluates the various plans and programmes at the local government level aimed to bolster growth and development. Although the author presented a panoramic view of local government, the work is important in laying the foundation for an elementary understanding of the concept of local government and its practice in Nigeria. The work also falls short in discussing specific local government administrations; hence the present study will consider a specific case study of the Idemili North LGA

F.C. Okoli’s Theory and Practice of Local Government: A NigerianPerspective,17 discusses the theoretic of local government in Nigeria as well as its practice. It generally gives a history and function of local government in Nigeria. Like the earlier work, it is merely a general overview of local government administration in Nigeria. Beyond theory, the present study narrows its concern to the practice of local government administration in Idemili North.

Similarly, Local Government Administration in Nigeria: Current Problems and Future Challenges18 articulates the problems of local government in Nigeria and the efforts of state and federal government interference on the development of local government system. This work is useful in understanding the factors militating against development of LGA. The work however focuses only on problems and challenges of local government administration in Nigeria. The present study will expand its concern to include history, problems and possible solutions of local government administration in Nigeria with specific emphasis on Idemili North LGA.

Government at Grassroots19 edited by E.J. Otagburuagu examines leadership at the grassroots, sources of income to the local government, and so on. Though the work does not focus on Idemili North LGA in particular, it is relevant to the present study especially in the area of income generation. E.C. Nwankwo’s work Local Government in

Practice20 explains in details problems facing local government administrators in Nigeria

in general. Handbook of Local Government Administration21 edited by John J. Gorgan is an overview of the principles and applications of government administration and management practices in local government sector. The effect of environment on the performance of local government administrators is of great relevance to this work. These works fall short in discussing specific local government administration in Nigeria. The present study covers this gap by examining the Idemili North LGA as a case study.

Governance and Economic Development in the Fourth Republic22 edited by Terhemba, Wnam and M. S. Talla, discusses on community development and the need to utilize the local government, as veritable tools for rural development. It also examines the justification for local government existence and how politics and politicians had hindered development and dividends associated with local government administration especially during the Fourth Republic. The work would be useful in understanding political developments in Idemili North LGA in the Fourth Republic.

R. C. Obi in his book, Understanding Local Government Administration in Nigeria23 discusses major historical and development prospects in the practices of local government in Nigeria. However, the work falls short to consider the changes local government administration brought on a specific local government and its implication to their socio-political and economic growth. This study strives to cover the gap.

Ebonyi Ozor’s work- Third Tier Government in Nigeria: Evolution, Development,

Future24 examines the evolution and development of local government in Nigeria from pre-colonial times. The work also discusses the future of Nigerian local government system especially after the 1976 Local Government Reform. This work is useful for its evolutional development of local government of which Idemili North LGA is a part of.

E.E. Akpan’s work, Principles and Practice of Local Government25 gives a general account of local government in the then Eastern Nigeria and the need for improvement. The work explains the purpose and factors for establishing a local government, the functions which local governments perform and their sources of revenue. The work provides concrete insight into the estimated expenditure made in the then Eastern Nigeria between 1960 and 1961. The work falls short though in its scope of coverage as it deals basically with First Republic politics and governance. The present study narrows its focus to the Fourth Republic local government administration.

In work State Government26 by F.G. Bates et al, local government is seen as an extension of the state government. According to the authors, the functions of state and local governments overlap because of the relationship between the two. The dual purpose of local government as stated in chapter seventeen is to serve as an area of self government and as an administrative district of the state. Findings from this work assisted the present study in determining the nature of how such relationship could be applied to Idemili North LGA However the work dwells on the link between government at state and local level. Despite being of help, the present study focuses on how this relationship between the state and local governments affected Idemili North LGA.

Government at the Grassroots level in Nigeria27 edited by E.A.O. Oyeyipo and Odoh Adejo sees local government as an instrument for rural development; the work also expresses the need to improve local government for greater development. Nevertheless, the panoramic views on some local governments create need for this study.

Aliyu Abubaka’s work, The Role of Local Government in Social, Political and

Economic Development in Nigeria 1976 – 197928 highlights the roles of local government in development of the country after the Local Government Reform of 1976 up to 1979. With the background in mind, there is a need for the present study 1996-2010 as to see continuity in local government development especially after the creation of Idemili North LGA. The roles which local governments are supposed to perform would be useful to the present study.

M. Atakpa et al in their study “Analysis of Options for Maximizing Local

Government Internally Generated Revenue for Nigeria.”29 discuss in detail the various options for maximizing revenue generation and the problems of exploiting the various source of revenue generation in Nigeria. The study suggests feasible and pragmatic ways of maximizing internal revenue generation in Nigeria local governments. The work is panoramic thus the need for the present study by studying the various sources of revenue to Idemili North LGA.

In the work A Survey of the Igbo Nation,30 some contributors to the work namely, F.C. Okafor and T.O. Okoye discuss the Igbo in the changing world. For them, urbanization was partly caused by contact with Western civilizations. Thus development is viewed as a narrative concept synonymous with improvement, the changes in spatial organization of the neat Igbo rural living diffused city wards with positive elements of modern cities such with streets and routes ways. It is deducted from the work that proper planning and contacts changed aspects of Igbo rural settlements.

Egodi Uchendu et al31 examines the concepts of leadership and followership in Africa. The work also looks at leadership values, perspective on leadership and developments in Africa. The work’s assessment of leadership and developments in Africa was of great value to the present writer. The panoramic view of leadership and

development of the work gives room to the present study. Chinua Achebe’s work32 is a good source material for this study. The work concluded that Nigeria’s backwardness is a problem of leadership and not necessary the environment or form of government being practiced. The work though panoramic leaves out the specific detail of local government administration and leadership in Nigeria thus the need to study Idemili North LGA to examine if enthroning quality leadership at the local government level would serve as a spring board for good leadership at state and federal government levels.

Sources, Methodology and Organization

The study is drawn from primary and secondary sources. Oral source constitute the bulk of the material from which the work is derived and the primary source used.

Informants are drawn from the ten communities in the research area and spread across different geographic and occupational interest. Attention was paid to informants who could give information that could be fairly reliable, based on their experiences. Most of the informants were involved in the changes and continuity in Idemili North LGA. Other primary sources include records in the National Archives Enugu such as, intelligence reports on old Idemili LGA. These did not adequately address the needs of the subject of the study. Secondary sources include published and unpublished books, Journals and other texts relating to local government, Idemili North, development and leadership. Various academic libraries were also visited among them were Chinua Achebe Library at Idemili North LGA and department of political science library Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Akwa.

The research is approached thematically and chronologically and combines description with analysis of various data. Thus, qualitative and quantitative research methodology would be applied in the course of the work. The qualitative research methodology seeks to build on largely narrative description to inform the researcher’s understanding of an event. It relies heavily on content analysis of oral histories, interviews, reports and records to describe and explain the period of local government administration in Idemili North LGA. On the other hand, qualitative research methodology draws on empirical data and fact by making use of figures, charts, numbers and statistic to valid ate or represents a historical event. Given the nature of the study both methods were employed extensively.

The work is organized in six chapters. Chapter one is the introductory chapter, comprising among other sub-themes, the purpose of the study, significance and methodology employed. Chapter two discusses the establishment of the local government. The third chapter examines Idemili North up to 1999, as well as pre-democratic activities that have been on up to 1999 when civil rule was restored in Nigeria following protracted years of military rule. Chapter four looks at the dividends of democracy 1999-2002. Chapter five discusses Idemili North under quasi-democracy 2002-2010, during which appointed local government chairmen held sway. Chapter six is the conclusion.

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