Role Of Local Government As An Instrument Of Community Development In Nigeria (A Case Study Of Ilorin-East Government Area Of Kwara State)
A local government is semi-autonomous territorial unit created by the constitution or general laws of a state to undertake certain functions within specified or limited geographical area. In Nigeria, local government is created to bring government closer to the people. The major concern of this research work is to assess the role of Ilorin-East Local Government Area of Kwara State in community/rural development of its constituent communities. In achieving this, the research work relies on the use of both primary and secondary methods for data collection. A simple size of two hundred and fifty (250) respondents was used for the study. Our findings revealed that the council has not performed well in developing the rural areas over the years. Various recommendations were made based on the findings among such are, increase in revenue allocation by both Federal and State governments, serious commitment be made by such staff toward internally generated revenue and the use of direct labour (council engineers) in carrying out projects in place of contractors. Improvement of infrastructure by the councils is also recommended.
1.1 Background to the Study
Local Government in Nigeria started during the colonial era when it was vested in traditional rulers and it operated in a very undemocratic manner. Over the year, efforts have been made to democratize local government and make it more responsible to developmental needs.
Agagu (1997:18), defines local government by the popularly elected bodies charged with administrative and executive duties in matter concerning the inhabitant of a particular district or place.
Lawal (2006:60), sees it as political and administrative unit that is empowered by the law to administer a specific locality. Local government can as well be seen as an authority established by the law which derived its roles, responsibility and right from the National or Federal Constitution which is charged with the satisfaction of the need of people in the local, grassroot or rural areas.
The Local Government which is the third tier of government is the most basic level of the hierarchy in the three tiers of the federal arrangement operated in Nigeria can be seen as a catalyst for community, political, economic and social development. Politically, local government system is expected to bring development closer to the people through popular participation in governance. Socially, the system is supposed to encourage the mass mobilization of human and material resources in order to enhance self-help and community development programmes.
Economically, the system is expected to ensure that the fruits of development programmes are evenly distributed with a view to promoting a balanced development throughout the length and breadth of Nigeria.
Hirschman (1958) noted that economic growth and development patterns are scarcely ever spread evenly over the whole areas of a given state but are concentrated at certain points, thus producing a mosaic of regions at different level of prosperity.
Nigeria has continued to experience political decentralization process which has led to the continuing sub-division of the national territory with a view to achieving social justice. The increased statutory allocations to the local government areas is aimed at inducing transformation in terms of the quality and quantity of basic infrastructural facilities and services being provided by the Local Government Areas (L.G.As) such as roads, water, electricity supply and education, health care and communication services.
Adeyemi (2011), the Alafin of Oyo in his paper “Local Government Administration and Community Development in Nigeria” delivered at the Oyo State Government’s secretariat, Ibadan noted that;
“By their nature, local governments are closest to the people at the community. Their essential services of supplying for table water, maintenance of local health institutions like dispensaries and maternity centre, cleanliness of the locality, supervised by health or sanitary inspectors, provision of health gadgets like incinerators, public latrines, supervision and control of markets, and abattoirs, maintenance of local roads, and courts, the latter for dispensation of Justice under customary laws including the meeting of array of many other items of local needs which these institutions were set up to cater for, and so as toensure the stability of the nation, and by the same contingency, to provide the training of local state men, some of whom would graduate into the state, Federal and National Services-all of which form ultimate in the development in Nigeria political culture, democracy at the dizzy height of its political apex”.
Be that as it may, the importance of Local Government is a function of its ability to generate sense of belonging, Safety and Satisfaction among the community populace. All forms of government regimes or political systems have so far ensured the attainment of this goal. Such strategy for ensuring national administrative development and political efficacy is found in the concept and practice of Local Government. Whatever is the mode of government, local government has been essentially regarded as the path to and guarantor of; integration, administration and development of community.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The need to catalyze balanced development, maximize citizens’ participation, and arouse government response necessitates the creation of the local government. The local government serves as a form of political and administrative structure facilitating decentralization, national integration, efficiency in governance, and a sense of belonging at the grassroots. The local government is a unit of administration all over the world (Agagu, 2004).
Local government has been the root of development in terms of dealings with the people which democracy is centred upon. Hence, local government is visibly seen as co-agent of rural development and as partners in progress with both states and federal governments in community developments.
To this end, this study sets out to investigate the roles of local government as an instrument of community development with emphasis on Ilorin-East Local Government Kwara State. Knowing the roles the government needs to play in development of any society and the obvious inability of the national and state governments in the task of rural areas, Local government has been created essentially to compliment the efforts of the states and national government in the task of rural development. Nevertheless, abject poverty and underdevelopment remains a common feature in these rural communities.
1.3 Research Questions
- Does local government really bring about the desired development to the community?
- Are the available resources (human and material) really matched up with the needed developmental programmers in the rural areas?
- Does interference of other levels of government really affect the developmental efforts of local government?
1.4 Objectives of the Study
The objectives of the research work are as follows:
- To examine whether Local Government in Nigeria has really justified its existence as mechanism for community development in Nigeria.
- To examine the extent to which local government has been
able to mobilize and develop community.
- To find out those factors that may hinder local government in its role as agent of community development.
- To appraise the successes and or failures of Ilorin East Local Government in developing community and to examine those factors that may be responsible for the failures.
1.5 Significance of the Study
One of the basic reasons of this study is the desire to contribute to the ongoing clamoring of more viable and workable rural settings development in Nigeria
More so, the product of this study will be very useful in the area for policy/decision makers, scholars and the society organization on how best to organized and promote community development.
This study well also assist local government administrators to know the problem faced by the local government which would assist greatly checking their lapses of previous administrator and as a results, it will assist greatly in the provision of essential that Nigeria can be said to be interested in establishing strong local government that are capable of achieving the triple objectives of promoting political participation, delivering efficient service and mobilizing local resources. The reason is not that far-fetched because the population of the country (Nigeria) is more of the grassroots.
Last but not the least, has study will also serve as a contribution to ensuring literature on local government and rural development in Nigeria.
1.6 Research Methodology
In conducting this research both primary and secondary data will be made use of. Questionnaires are to be administered to the people in selected wards within Ilorin East Local Government Area. This method is employed in order to reduce the cost that is required for the transportation of the researcher across the entire vast geographical areas of Ilorin East Local Government Area. In addition, different books, magazine, newspapers, journals, seminar papers and documents are also made use of.
1.7 Scope and Limitation of the Study
The study is strictly limited to Ilorin East Local Area of Kwara State. Due to the vast geographical areas of the council, the study is limited to the selected five wards out of the entire twelve wards of the council. The researcher is limited to these wards due to proximity to access data and availability. The outcome of the findings from the selected wards will be generalized for the entire Local Government Area. This is done mainly to reduce the cost of travelling across the entire twelve wards of the council.
1.8 Definition of Terms
The following terms used in the course of the research work are hereby conceptualized; local government, grass-root and development.
The term community development as used in this study refers to the act or process of developing and empowering the well-being of the vast majority of the rural dwellers through the provision of basic social and economic infrastructures. Hence, it is a development from below.
This are the people living in the remote areas of a country and lack basic infrastructure like good road network, pipe borne water, electricity, good health facility etc. The term refers to the ordinary people who are far from political decision making process at the centre. These groups includes small scale farmers, tenants, etc who seek livelihood in the rural areas.
This is a tier or level of government at the local level exercised through representative council established by law to exercise specific power within defined areas.
This is a political sub-division of the Local Government into constituencies such that each ward is represented in the Local Government Legislative council by a councilor.
This implies an advancement of rural communities toward a desirable state accompanied by improvement in basic infrastructures and the reduction in rural poverty, unemployment and inequality. It can also be seen as a process that ensures the existing deplorable rural conditions are disappearing, with the overall goal of making conditions more livable and worth living.
1.9 Organization of the Study
The research work is divided into four chapters as follow:
- Chapter one focuses on the background (introduction) of the study, statement of the problem, objectives of the study, significance of the study, research questions, research methodology, scope and limitations of the study, organization of the research work and definitions of terms.
- Chapter two is on the review of existing literature in the areas of the research work, that is Local Government and Grassroot Development. Also included in the chapter are; history of local government in Nigeria, Local Government Reforms in Nigeria.
- Chapter three will be for the research methodology
- While chapter four deals with data presentation, data analysis and interpretation of data.
- Chapter five which is the concluding chapter will be for the summary, Recommendations and conclusion.
Summary, Recommendation and Conclusion
In the course of this research work, the roles of Local Government on Community Development using Ilorin-East Local Government Area of Kwara State as a case study, had been X-rayed.
In the course of carrying out this study, scholarly views on the concepts of Local government and that of the Community Development were explored. Constitutionally assigned functions of local Government were discussed, origin of Local Government in Nigeria, local Government Reforms in Nigeria and the theoretical framework were also discussed.
For the gathering of the necessary data, questionnaires were produced and distributed for the respondents. Two hundred and fifty questionnaires were produced and distributed but Two hundred and eighteen were completed and returned.
Thereafter, data gathered through the questionnaires were analyzed based on the two hundred and eighteen questionnaires returned by the respondents. After data presentation and data analysis, the results were interpreted.
Findings from the data analyzed revealed that:
- Ilorin-East Local Government has not been adequately responsive to the developmental challenges facing the rural areas, in its domain.
- Paucity of fund has been a bane to the Ilorin-East Local Government developmental efforts.
- Incessant interference in the affairs of the Local Government Areas by the higher levels of government, especially state government in the formulation and implementation of its programmes and policies has been hindering the Local Government from meeting the yearnings and aspirations of their people.
- The inability of Ilorin-East Local Government to recruit competent and qualified manpower hinders efforts towards carrying out development programmes and policies for the grassroot dwellers.
- High prevalence of corruption and mismanagement of the available limited resources contributed immensely to the inability of Local Government in meeting the demands from the Grassroot.
- Nepotism and favouratism by the Local Government’s officials has been preventing the Local Government from channeling developmental programmes and policies to where it will be mostly beneficial.
National Development can only be measured in terms of the development of the grassroot. This is because, development ought to spring up from below and for this to be achieved, Local Governments need to be made effective. As the third and the closest tier of government, Local Governments are the agents through which the national and state governments can achieve national development. Therefore, for Local Government to perform these functions effectively and efficiently, the following recommendations are put forward.
- Local Government should look for ways of ensuring the increase in their internally generated Revenue (I.G.R) rather than over-depending on the monthly allocations from the federation account. In addition to this, monthly allocations to the Local Government should be reviewed upward and be paid directly to their individual accounts rather than through the state government to forestall the cases of diversion of Local Government’s funds by the state government.
- Considerable autonomy should be given to Local Governments in carrying out their programmes and policies. In another words undue interference in the affairs of Local Government by the state government must be brought to the bearest minimum. This is because Local Government given its closeness to the people at the Grassroot is the agency through which local policies and programmes will be properly channeled to the rural dwellers.
- Mechanism to checkmate corruption at the Local Government level must be put in place in order to arrest the corruption endemic that characterized the operation of Local Government in the country.
- Efforts should be made by the Local Government to recruit competent and qualified personnel who can manage the programmes and policies that are meant for the people at the grassroot.
- Lastly, policies and programmes of the Local Government should be carried out without fear or favour.
In the real sense and all things being equal, Local Government stands out as an important agent or body for grassroot development. For the nation and for the life of the people in the rural areas, Local Government has to be strengthened, for it to be more responsive to the local needs and remain the closest tier of government to the people at the countryside. Infact, the efficiency, effectiveness and responsiveness of any government in any country can only be measured via the development of the rural areas.
The roles of Local Government in Grassroot Development involve a huge amount of capital cum quality leadership style. Though, Ilorin-East Local Government Area is a nucleus of larger state, but notwithstanding, the people of the grassroot need and asks more from the Local Government than the state or national government. The financial status or funds available to the Local Government goes a long way to determine the commitment of the Local Government to impact positively on the lives of the people at the grassroot level.
Aside finance, Leadership and other factors that enhance the impact of Local Government on community development, cooperation, peace and harmony still have vital role to play in the grassroot development.
For Local Government to really bring a meaningful development to the grassroot, people have a complementary role to play, they need to form the habit of cooperation with the people at the helm of affairs at the Local Government Level.
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