The major concern of this research work is to assess the role of Idemili South Local Government Area of Anambra State in rural development of its constituent communities. In achieving this, the research work relies on descriptive approach and structured questionnaire and interview for data collection. A simple size of one hundred and fifty (150) 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 of the study
Nigeria is regarded as a developing country and this informs, the ideas that her rural communities, which are part of the entire political system is struggling, to facilitate socio-economic growth. Idemili South Local Government Area in Anambra State, which represents a good sample of rural administration in Nigeria reflects a number of rural development concerns.
The expediency for the creation of local government anywhere in the world stems from the need to facilitate development at the grassroots. The importance of local government is a function of its ability to generate sense of belongingness, safety and satisfaction among its 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, national integration, administration and development.
In Nigeria’s socio-political context, with multiplicity of culture, diversity of languages and differentiated needs and means, the importance of such an organization in fostering the needed national consciousness, unity and relative uniformity as well as preservation of peculiar diversities cannot be over-emphasized. Central to the creation of local government, however, is its ability to facilitate an avenue through which government and the people intermix, relate and more quickly than any other means resolve or dissolve issues that may have heated the system. Local government has been perceived as a panacea for the diverse problems of the diverse people with diverse culture.
As important as this tier of government has been, there seems to be some impediments that have been infringing on its performance and functions in recent times. These impediments range from political but undue interference of the higher levels of government i.e. federal and state governments, bribery and corruption to embezzlement and gross inadequacy of well-trained and qualified personnel to mention a few.
According to Nnoli (1981:36) and Rodney (1972:11), all people have shown a capacity for independently increasing their ability to live more satisfactory life than before. This is then a progressive process that has no end.
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. According to Agbakoba (2004:3), a local government is a political and administrative unit that is empowered by law to administer a specified locality. It involves philosophical commitment to the idea of community participation in government at grassroots level.
There is general assumption among scholars and practitioners, that local government are not only established as representative organ but also as a channel through which goods and services are delivered to the people within the framework of laws establishing them.
In fact, democracy itself originated and developed along the line of local government initiatives. This is why the executive, legislative and judicial arms of these governments are elected or appointed as the case may be. In Nigeria, local government is created to bring government closer to the people. The definition of local government by the Nigerian Federal Government leaves one with no iota of doubt that it is largely both theoretically sound and service oriented to the people. It talks of representative councils with substantial control over local affairs, for the provision of services and implementation of projects in their areas, to complement the activities of both the State and Federal governments. The definition also amply recognizes the need for local government autonomy as the substantial control of local governments is aimed at staff, institutional and financial matters, among others (Nigeria, 1976). In addition to the above, the Nigerian Federal Government is one of the few governments in the world perhaps in addition to Brazil (Erero, 1998) that have elevated LGs to a third tier of government. By so doing, the State governments do not exercise absolute controls over local governments.
According to Dike, V. (2006), Local Government Area’s are supposed to be engines of national development. A rural community, grows into a bustling city and the local leader makes this possible. Idemili South Local Government Area was created out of Idemili Local Government Area in 1989. It is bounded on the north by Idemili Local Government Area, on the east, by Anaocha Local Government Area, on the South by Nnewi North and Ekwusigo Local Government Areas and on the west by Ogbaru Local Government Area. However Idemili South Local Government Area is not immune to the challenges of rural development in Nigeria. According to Arowolo, D. (2008), as important as this tier of government, there seems to be some impediments, that have been infringing on its performance and functions in recent times. These impediments range from political to include, interference by the higher levels of Government i.e federal and state governments, bribery and corruption, embezzlement and gross inadequacy of well-trained and qualified personnel to mention a few.
This study therefore is an investigation of the perceived challenges in rural administration, using Idemili South Local Government as a case study.
1.2 Statement of the problem
Despite the justification of Local Government and its importance to the people at the grassroots level, this tier of government, in practice seems not to have justified the reasons for which it was established. The questions that summarily come to one’s mind are: why has local government administration not lived up to its expectation such as in Idemili South Local Government Area? What are the causes of this seemingly conspicuous weakness? What are the challenges of the local government? And how can this weaknesses be corrected and the challenges overcome?
The problem of Idemili South Local Government Area seems multifarious and it is the preoccupation of this study, to explain them in details.
1.3 Objectives of the study
The major objective of this study, is to examine the perceived challenges of rural administration in Idemili South Local Government Area in Anambra State.
Other specific objectives include determining if government revenue is appropriately and sufficiently utilized.
- To ascertain whether Idemili South local government has contributed substantially to rural development.
- To find out if inadequacy of skilled workers (like qualified engineers all types, medical doctors, etc) affect the ability of Idemili South local government council in carrying out rural development programme.
- To verify whether inadequate financing by both state and federal governments hinders the council in carrying out developmental programmes.
In the light of the research question and of related literature, the following hypothesis will be tested:
HO1: Idemili South local council has not contributed substantially to rural development in the local government area.
HO2: The inadequacy of skilled workers (like qualified engineers all types, medical doctors, etc) affects the ability of Idemili South local government council in carrying out rural development programmes.
HO3: Inadequate funding by both the Anambra State and the Federal Governments hinders Idemili South Local Government council’s ability to carrying out developmental programmes.
1.5 Significance of the study
This study would provide an improved and proper guide for stakeholders of rural administration in Nigeria to among other things, pinpoint the major challenges to rural development in Nigeria.
The result of this study would provide the basis for developing variety of ways for reducing the challenges to rural administration.
This study would also reveal, whether the revenue accrued and generated for development in Idemili South Local Government is sufficient and properly utilized by the government.
1.6 Scope and limitations of study
This study focuses on finding out the challenges of rural development in Idemili South Local Government Area. It will attempt to see how these problems hinder economic development at the grassroot.
This study limits itself to the development challenges of the Idemili South Local Government people. Due to the nature of social science research, it is expected that a study of this nature, would be met by certain limitations and this is evident, as this study suffers, from inadequate finances, to make for proper investigation.
Another important limitation to this study is improper documentation of administrative activities in the local government. This study is also limited by the researcher’s inability to access Local Government Offices.
Finally this study is limited by the high level of illiteracy at the grass root in Idemili South Local Government Area.
1.7 Organization of the study
This study is organized into five chapters. Chapter one deals with the study’s introduction and gives a background to the study. Chapter two reviews related and relevant literature. The chapter three gives the research methodology while the chapter four gives the study’s analysis and interpretation of data. The study concludes with chapter five which deals on the summary, conclusion and recommendation.
1.8 Operational definition of terms
For the purpose of this study, a few but important terms have been selected for proper clarifications. They include; Grassroots, Political system, Rural area and Underdevelopment.
Grassroots: The ordinary people in an organization or society.
Political system: The political arrangement of a society, embracing all factors influencing collective decisions,
Rural area: refers to that part of a county that is considered less developed. Especially in the African Parlance, it is characterized by low cost houses, Agro-based economy and less sophisticated socio-economic system.
Underdevelopment: This refers to the state of growth in society that is associated with poor/non infrastructural facilities, weak economy and poor level of technological and industrial capacity.
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