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The study was carried out with the aim of assessing local government as a vehicle for rural development in Nigeria. The study focussed on the activities of Wushishi local government area of Niger state. In doing this, both primary and secondary data were colleted. The primary data were sourced through questionnaire drawn and interview conducted on some randomly selected residents and staff of the local government. The data obtained were analysed using tables, percentages and frequencies. Two hypotheses were postulated to help in gathering and analysing the data collected. From the analysis of the data, findings revealed that the local government has not been able to perform this role as a result of ineffective and inefficient manpower, inadequate, misapplication and misappropriation of financial resources and excessive political interference and control from the higher tiers of government, especially the state government most especially through the instrumentality of state/local joint account. Based on these findings, the study recommended that the local government service should motivate qualified and highly skilled personnel to join the service. The workforce should be trained to improve on its proficiency, the local government should improve on the internally generated revenue and areas of waste/corrupt practices should be checked. Also the state/local government joint account be scrapped and in its place, there should be direct allocation to the local governments, while the latter be made to render proper accounts on how financial allocations made were spent.


Title Page – – – – – – – – – i
Declaration – – – – – – – – – ii
Certification – – – — – – – – iii
Dedication – – – – – – – – – iv
Acknowledgement – – – – – – – v
Abstract – – – – – – – – – vi
Table of Contents – – – – – – – – vii CHAPTER ONE
1.0 Introduction – – – – – – – 1
1.1 Background of the Study – – – – – 1
1.2 Statement of the Problem – – – – – 9
1.3 Aims of Study – – – – – – – 11
1.4 Significance of the study – – – – – 12
1.5 Statement of Hypotheses – – – – – 13
1.6 Scope and Limitation – – – – – – 13
1.7 Research Methodology – – – – – – 14
References – – – – – – – – 19 CHAPTER TWO
2.0 Literature Review and Theoretical Framework – – 21
2.1 Introduction – – – – – – – – 21
2.2 Concept of Rural Development – – – – 21 2.3 Past Government Efforts and Rural Development – 30 2.4 Role of Local Government in Rural Development – 37 2.5 Theoretical Framework – – – – – – 44
References – – – – – – – – – 47
CHAPTER THREE 3.1 Operation and Organizational Structure of Wushishi Local Government Council – – – 50 3.2 Introduction – – – – – – – – 50 3.3 Historical Background of Wushishi Local Government 50 3.4 Organizational Structure of wushishi Local Government 57
CHAPTER FOUR: DATA PRESENTATION AND ANALYSIS 4.1 Introduction – – – – – – – 68 4.2 Test of Hypothesis One – – – – – – 69 4.3 Test of Hypothesis Two – – – – – – 107 Reference – – – – – – – – – 114
CHAPTER FIVE: 5.0 Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation – – 115 5.1 Summary – – – – – – – – 115 5.2 Conclusion – – – – – – – – 117 5.3 Recommendation – – – – – – 119 References – – – – – – – – – 123 Bibliography – – – – – – – – 124


INTRODUCTION 1.1 Background of the Study All over the World, various approaches and strategies have
been adopted or used by governments for the purpose of governance
or management of its rural areas. But there has not been any
consensus on the most appropriate strategy to be adopted in the
administration of the rural areas.
The problem of governance, particularly at the local level has
been a recurring decimal in the political history of Nigeria. The
history or genesis of local government in Nigeria can be traced back
to the pre-colonial era and the formative period of large-scale
kingdoms and powerful empires in the country. The existence of
provincial systems, which operated in Borno and Oyo empires, as
well as the Emirate system of Sokoto Caliphate “exhibited
rudimentary conception of Local Administration” (Minna: 1993). In
these areas, there were smaller districts, villages and wards that
were subject to the Kingdom and Emirate government. These smaller
or subordinate levels of government could be seen or described as
local governments (Ugwu: 2000:5).
The local government system in Nigeria started during the
colonial era when it was vested in traditional rulers. The basis for
local government in Nigeria became the indirect Rule System.
Historically, Local Government system in Nigeria, as it is today,
metamorphosed through many reforms or re-organization. From
1950, no decade passed without a major reform or re-organization of
the system. The Local Government system has witnessed more
reforms and reorganization when compared with the core civil
service (Obas: 2000:1).
Before 1950, the Local Government was known as Native
Authority or Native Administration System. According to Gboyega
(1987), Local Administration system comprised of four main
interdependent parts, namely:
i) The Resident, who provided direction and control;
ii) The Native Authority, usually headed by a Chief who enjoyed
legitimacy under the indigenous political system;
iii) The Native Treasurer; and
iv) The Native Court.
The whole process or system was hinged on the principles of indirect
The major function of Native Administration system then was
the maintenance of law and order and the collection of taxes within
their territory. According to Obas (2000), the Native Administration
System was identified with the following strength. First, it provided
organization suitable for maintaining contact with the people.
Secondly, it maintained law and order successfully. Third, they
provided social services such as education and dispensaries. Fourth,
they preserved the long-standing tradition of the people from
collapse and decay. These virtues were highly visible in the then
Northern Nigeria where Indirect Rule succeeded more than in the
The System, however, had its shortcomings. According to
Gboyega, the foremost shortcoming was that it was
unrepresentative. Aliyu (2000) opined that the procedures adopted
were often irreconcilable with democratic norms. It did not show
total responsibility in the management of public funds and with few
exception, the system failed to attract qualified staff.
Ugwu (2003:3) put it more succinctly:
This system of indirect rule, as it was popularly known, degenerated into direct rule through indirect means because the traditional rulers became mere local agents of colonial officers. The Emirs in the North, the Obas in the West and the Warrant Chiefs in the East became Sole Native Authorities in their domains. This made them swollen headed, dictatorial and autocratic to the extent that seldom were the views of the populace sought in evolving and executing any policy or project.
According to him, avalanche of accusations were leveled
against the operators of indirect rule. Some of these allegations
include: abuse of political office, extortion, embezzlement, coercion
of labour for production and commerce and nepotism.
It was on the basis of these shortcomings that the Native
Authority System was subjected to reforms in the early 50’s. The
overriding aim was to introduce representative system of government
at the local level. The reform first started in the Eastern Region and
then in the Western Region in 1952 with the 1952 Western Region
Local Government Law. In the Northern Region of Nigeria, the Native
Administration System survived and remained strong, until the
collapse of the first republic 1966, as the structural basis of local
The federal system of government came into operation in 1951
with the Macpherson Constitution in which the country was divided
into three regions. The multinational composition of the federation
impacted on the local government system. Each of the region had its
own separate system of local government reflect their regional elite
perception of the appropriate pattern of decentralization of political
authority. Also, the rich cultural diversity of the people grouped
together in a region for administrative convenience by the colonial
authorities shaped the local government system through the tiered
structure which enabled the regional government to link differential
levels of development of the traditional political system with the
administrative organization required and the level of authority
devolved to the units of local government. The regional systems of
local government so established prevailed with various refinements
until the collapse of the First Republic in 1966.
The overthrow of the civilian regime by the Military had severe
repercussions for the local government systems which were radically
changed to accommodate not only the hierarchical military
command structure but also to redress the abuses that the systems
had been subjected to. They had to be re-structured to meet the
aspirations of the people for greater political participation and
empowerment in local government. The period of military rule from
1966 to 1975 therefore witnessed extensive experimentation with
different theories and patterns of local government with quite mixed
results. From the colonial era to 1975 there was no uniform system
of local government in the country.
The 1976 Local Government Reforms introduced radical
measures. This was a result of the failure of the various reforms
adopted before. The reform established a comprehensive
standardization of a system of local government within a national
framework. The adoption of a common national local government
system followed extensive consultations at all levels of the federal
structure and among various stakeholders and experts. The reform
designated local government as a third-tier of government
empowered through representative councils established by law to
exercise specific powers within defined areas.
Election to the Councils could be direct or indirect. Two
committees, namely, Finance and General Purpose Committee and
Education Committee were established. The councils exercised
political authority over their departments through supervisory
councilors. A unified local government service Board was set up to
employ, post and discipline staff from grade level 06 and above. The
Federal Government Guidelines specified also the aims and
functions of Local Government. Another major provision of the
reform was that the Local Governments were given statutory
allocation from the Federation Account, in order to make them
financially viable.
The 1979 Constitution, which ushered in the Second Republic,
further guaranteed the major provisions of the 1976 Reforms
especially in the area of preserving he democratic character of the
Local Government and the statutory allocation from the Federation
Account. This period was a testing period for the Federal and State
Governments as they contested control of Local Government policy
with each other Attempts by the State to re-establish their primacy
in local government policy formulation created conflict with the
Federal Government but also weakened the Local Government. State
Governments voided aspects of the 1976 reforms that they were
displeased with and distorted these that were merely
inconveniences. Such behaviour pointed the states as villains and
provoked demands for a greater federal role in local government
The re-emergence of the military on the political scene in 1984
provided the opportunity for complete take over of local government
policy-making by the Federal Government. The period between 1987
and 1993 witnessed a series of sequential reforms. The Federal
Government radically transformed the status of local governments in
the federal system. The Federal Governments’ scheme of
decentralization deliberately and consciously focused on transferring
greater powers and resources to local governments rather than to
state governments. The devolution can be deemed to have been
made at the expense of states. This provoked negative reactions from
the states and suspicion about federal motives in promoting the
reforms. Ugwu (2000:30) observed that:
There are some shortcomings in the reforms. First, staff of the local governments were not prepared for the reforms, as there were no induction courses to familiarize them with the new system. Secondly, most local governments lacked financial base to sustain the autonomy, as many of them could not generate more than 5% – 10% of their needed money from local revenue sources.
There was too much dependence on the direct subvention from the
federal government for their financial survival (Minna, 1993:50).
When Abacha seized power in 1993, he dismissed all the
elected governments and appointed management committees.
However, the 1994 constitutional conference summoned by the
regime decided to restore state competence and control over local
governments. Thus, it granted states the exclusive power to create
new local governments. It also provided for the establishment of a
state electoral commission in each state to conduct local government
elections. According to Ugwu (2000:31) the reform provided for a
democratically elected local government, which has the duty within
the state to participate in economic planning and development of the
local government area.
This was the setting before the hand over of power from he
military in May, 1999 to the democratically elected civilian
administration of President Obasanjo. The period between 1999 and
2003 witnessed another turbulent time for local government in
Nigeria. The 1999 constitution created a lot of confusion in the
running of local government administration. Firstly, the constitution
promised for a democratically elected local government council but
it did not make provision for the tenure of local government office
holders. Secondly, the constitution in the concurrent legislative list
gave the National Assembly the power to make laws with respect to
election to a local government council. The same constitution also
gave state Houses of Assembly the same power. The confusion
created by the constitution later became a source of controversy
between the National Assembly and State Governors, which became
a subject of litigation at the supreme court in which the supreme
court held that “no law by the National Assembly can increase or
alter the tenure of elected officers of local government.
The confusion led to the setting up of a technical committee on
the review of the structure of local government in Nigeria in 2003.
The committee was headed by Alhaji Umar Sanda Ndayako, a
traditional ruler, the Etsu Nupe. The reasons for the setting up of
the committee included the non-performance or gross under
performance of the local government councils, the high cost of
government, and near prohibitive costs of electioneering campaigns
to individual political contestants in Nigeria and atomization and
continual fragmentation of local government councils including
impractical division of towns and cities into unworkable mini-local
governments. Because of these fragmentation, the federal
government refused to recognize all newly created local governments
by state governments. Some states like Lagos and Niger were denied
their monthly financial allocation from the federation Account
because of this problem.
The essence of all these problems is to ensure that local
government is made responsive to developmental needs of the rural
people. This is because in most emerging states of the world, Nigeria
inclusive, local government administration has been adopted as the
main fundamental instrument for the acceleration and sustenance
of rural development. So we can see from the historical review so
far, that from the colonial era to date, the local government has
been so recognized as a vital instrument to enhance rural
development in Nigeria. 1.2 Statement of the Problem
It is not in doubt that the local government system is widely
acknowledged as a viable instrument for rural transformation. The
strategic importance of local government in the socio-economic and
political developments of local communities is reflected in diverse
functions they are assigned under the schedules of various reforms
and constitution. Top among these functions are health, i.e.
Preventive health, infrastructural development, roads and drainage,
sanitation, education, etc.
Local Governments are strategically placed to carry out these
functions for two basic reasons: Firstly, their proximity to the
people. This, not only removes the physical and psychological
distance between the officials and the governed, but also helps in
articulating and aggregating their demands of the people. Secondly,
the provisions in the reforms and constitution empowered the local
government to take full responsibility for rural development within
their area of authority.
However, this has not been the case in many local government
in Nigeria, including Wushishi Local Government Area of Niger State.
Instead, the rural areas have witnessed depression, degradation,
poverty and deprivation. In most local government areas, including
Wushishi Local Government Area, the basic infrastructure, that is if
they exist, are too inadequate for any meaningful development.
According to Obiangwe:
Rural dwellers often depend on shallow wells and untreated water. The villagers, most of who are farmers work on the land from sunrise to sunset, only to produce food for the uncontrollably teaming city population. Ugwu (2000:135) painted the picture of the situation in the
rural area this way:
In and around the villages, one readily comes across children with distended tummies and spindly legs who are found wanting of a complete diet, formal education and a technical sense of belonging.
The above statements aptly capture the situation in Wushishi
Local Government Area of Niger State. It is scenario of
underdevelopment, poverty and outright negligence despite the
resources allocated to it.
The concern of this study is to examine the factors that have
impaired or constituted constraint to the effective functioning of the
local government system in the transformation or development of the
rural areas. 1.3 Objective of the Study
The study is aimed at assessing the activities of Wushishi
Local Government in performing its role as an instrument/agent of
rural development. Specifically, the objectives of this study are to:
i) Examine the material and human resources of the local
government in performing this role.
ii) Examine the effectiveness of these resources (i.e. finance,
manpower, etc).
iii) Within the framework above, analyze its contribution to the
development of the area.
iv) Examine the major factors that militate or stand as constraint
to the local government in performing this role.
v) Recommend ways for improving the performance of the local
government. 1.4 Significance of the Study
Among the three tiers of government in Nigeria, i.e. Federal
State and Local Governments, Local Government provides the
greatest scope of grassroots development. Local governments are
supposed to be closer and greatly felt by the people. Its importance
or relevance in transforming the rural areas and people cannot be
overemphasized. Considering the fact that 70% of Nigeria populace
lived in the rural areas and that the development of these areas is
development of the nation as a whole. Local Governments are
supposed to be agent of growth and development. As such any study
of local government is equally relevant to the nation.
This study is imperative because of the confusion that trails
the local government system in Nigeria. Various reforms have been
undertaken by successive government of Nigeria, yet, the
performance of the local government system as an agent of rural
development has been that of disappointment. As the government
strives to find a lasting solution to the problems of local government,
the findings of the study will provide information for the government
of Niger State and Nigeria as a whole so that appropriate step can be
The study will also fill the gap in knowledge in the various
studies carried out on local government, which emphasized on the
problem of local government in relation to structural problem,
resources allocation and state or federal government intervention.
This study will examine the activities or operation of local
government in relation to the above stated problems.
Also the study will be of great benefits to other researchers or
studies on local government development, students of Development
Administration and Local Government Studies, Research Institute
1.5 Statement OF Hypotheses
The following hypotheses were employed for the purpose of
this study:
i) That the level of performance of Wushishi Local Government
Council in terms of rural development is determined by the
human, financial and material resources available.
ii) That political interference by other tiers of governments is a
constraint to rural development efforts of Wushishi Local Government Area.
1.6 Scope and Limitation of the Study
The study examined the role of local government as an agent of
rural transformation in Nigeria, but its major focus was on Wushishi
Local Government area of Niger State. The study will cover all the
activities of the local government geared towards this transformation
of the area for the benefit of the people from 1999 to 2003.
One of the limitations of this study is the dearth of data,
especially on the revenue accruing to the local government from the
Federation Account, as well as internally generated revenue in the
Local Government. This might constitute a barrier in making
accurate assessment of the Local Government performance. 1.7 Research Methodology
The following techniques are adopted for the purpose of
collection and analysis of data: 1.7.1 Sources of Data
Both the primary and secondary data are derived for the
purpose of his study i) Secondary Data: Secondary data were obtained through the
examination of official documents of Wushishi Local
Government (i.e. Financial Memoranda, Gazettes, Personnel
records, etc), books, journal, articles and papers, presented,
Newspapers and magazines, official documents etc,
publication from both local and international bodies or
agencies and research institutes. ii) Primary Data: The primary data were obtained through the
administration of questionnaire on some selected respondents.
Both the open and close-ended questions were utilized in
eliciting responses from the respondents. Some principal staff
of the local government as well as prominent residents of the
area were also interviewed. 1.7.2 Population and Sample Size
The population of this study constitutes the entire people of
Wushishi Local Government Area. It also involves the entire staff of
the local government area.
In a study of this nature in which the population is relatively
large and the people have their different unique identities, to ensure
a wider representation, sampling is inevitably, since it would be very
difficult to reach the entire population. Even if it is possible it will be
arduous expensive, and time consuming (Asika: 1991:40). Osula
(1982:58) define sampling as the procedure by which we take any
portion of a population or universe. A sample is precisely a part of
the population (Asika: 1991:39).
In selecting the sample for this study, Random and stratified
sampling methods were adopted. Since the population of the local
government comprise five ethnic groups, the population was
stratified based on these five ethnic groups and respondents
randomly selected from each stratum. 120 respondents were
randomly selected from each of the five strata, making the total
sample size of the people to be 600.
Also the staff strength of Wushishi Local Government is put at
300, including both senior and junior staff. In selecting respondents,
the staff were stratified into two – junior and senior staff and 10% of
the staff were picked from each stratum. As such, a sample of 80
from junior cadre and 30 from senior cadre: making the total sample
size for the staff to be 110. thus, the total size for the study is 710:
comprising 600 representing residents and 110 representing staff of
the local government area. Table 1.1.a: The summary of the sample size.
Community Respondents According to Ethnic Group RESPONDENTS ACCORDING TO ETHNIC GROUP SAMPLE SIZE Nupe 120
Hausa/Fulani 120
Gbagyi 120
Kamuku 120
Pangu 120
Total 600
Source: Researcher’s survey 1.1.b: Staff Respondents STAFF ACCORDING TO CADRE
Junior Staff 80
Senior Staff 30
Total 110
Source: Researcher’s survey
Total: 710
The researcher is of the opinion that the sample size is
considered representative of the entire population for making of
inferences and achieving validity from the information obtained and
enough to make generalization on the total population of study. 710
questionnaires were drawn and distributed to both residents and
staff of Wushishi Local Government, but only 685 questionnaires
were duly filled and returned. Method of Data Analysis
Tables, frequency and percentages were used as statistical
tools for the analysis of data collected in this study.
1.8 Operational Definition of key Concepts i. Development: Development is said to have taken place when
there is positive change in a country resulting in improvement
in the living conditions of the people. Development entails the
pursuit by societies of the three core values of life-sustenance,
self-esteem and freedom. ii. Rural Development: A strategy designed to improve the
economic and social life of a specific group of people – the
rural poor. iii. Local Government: Government at local level exercised
through representative councils established by law to exercise
specific powers within defined areas.
iv. Social Infrastructures:- These basic amenities aimed at improving the
general living standard of the local people through the provision of
water, electricity, construction, reconstruction and maintenance of local
and other access roads, bridges and culverts to further improve the
mobility of the local people in terms of facilitating the evacuation of
farm produce.
v. Community Effort:- Any attempt by the community to better their
living standard through the provision of social amenities e.g. roads,
water supply, hospitals, schools etc.
vi. Human Resources: – These are employees both skilled and unskilled
that facilitate in the provision and delivery of goods and services
vii. Financial Resources: – This refers to statutory allocation and internally
generated revenue that accrue to the local government.
viii. Political Interference: Excessive control or undue influence in the
policy-making and execution exercised by higher-level governments,
especially the state government, over the local governments.
Aliyu A. Y. and S. KUMO (1980): Local Government Reform in Nigeria. Institute of Administration, ABU, Zaria, Department of Research and Consultancy, P. 3.
Asika N. (2000): Research Methodology in Behavioural Sciences, Lagos Longman, P.40.
Minna, MTM (1993)(Ed): Seven Years of IBB: New Political Culture. Vol. 6 p.43.
Osuala, E. C. (1985): Introduction to Research Methodology Africana – FEP Publishers Ltd.
Obasi, IN (1992): Local Government Reforms under Babangida’s Transition to Civil Rule Programme; a Characterization and Critique: Paper presentation at a National Conference on social Scientist and Nigeria Development, Held at Alvan Ikoku College of Education, May 3–7, 1992, P.7.
Gboyega, A (1987): Political Values and Local Government in Nigeria. Lagos Malthouse Press.
Ngwu, S. C (2000): Issues in Local Government and Urban Administration in Nigeria Enugu Academic Publishing Company.
Federal Government of Nigeria (1976): Guidelines for Local Government Reform; Kaduna Government Printer, P.1.
Guidelines for Implementing the Local Government (Basic Constitutional Provisions Amendment, Decree No 23 of 1991).
The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Gboyega, A (1997): Local Autonomy in Federal Politics: The Nigerian Local Government System in Historical Perspective. Being a paper presented at an international Conference on “New Directions in Federalism in Africa”, Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Abuja.
Igbuzor, O (2004): Local Government and Constitutional Review in Nigeria. Article Sent to Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD).
Adeyeye, M (2002): The Dynamics of Administrative Reforms: An Analysis of Nigeria Local Government. Being a paper presented at the Mid-term International Conference, organized by IPSA RC 4 in association with the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Auka, Anambra State, Nigeria and Centre for Democratic Governance (AFRIGOV), Abuja 15–17 October 2001


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