A CRITICAL APPRAISAL OF THE FACTORS LIMITING THE TRANSFORMATION OF NKWEME LOCAL GOVERNMENT.
The research topic Local Government as an agent of Rural Development is centered on the strategy to improve the economic and social well-being to the people who are mostly poor. The man aim of this research work is to examine and evaluate the challenges of rural development which are enormous ranging from poor leadership, illiteracy, and unemployment adequate health facilities etc. this project formulated hypothesis that were tested an funding analyzed, recommendations made to tackled these challenges. This project work was carried out in Nkwerre Local Government Area of Imo State, the researcher found out that in spite of the concentration of the people living in this Local Government, in some parts. People are still living in high rate of poverty; low standard of living etc. earlier noted that bad leadership coming from the local government Authority has been the major problem and hindrance of the growth of rural development.
1.1 Descriptive Background of study
One of the greatest challenge that Nigeria has had since independence is developing her rural sector. This has become so crucial that it became a prominent feature on the development agenda of successive government in Nigeria emphasis in developing the rural sector are triggered for two important reason.
(1) Over 80% of Nigerians love on the rural environment.
(2) Majority of these people are poor and live in a rather tombie conditions (Ekpo 1991) Rural development is often perceived by the federal government as a strategy design not only to improve the socio economic life of the rural people but also as a first step towards developing the nation. At least on the level of meteoric, the pursuit of rural development programmes has received priority attention of the various post colonial governments. These programmes have had the common goal of ostensibly aim at the transformation and modernization of areas. Nigeria has so far experimental wit various rural development programmes including.
i) Farm settlement scheme for school leavers.
ii) Plantation agricultural development by various development boards.
iii) Operation feed the Nation
iv) River Basin and Rural Development Authorities.
v) National Green Revolutions
vi) The World Bank Assisted Agricultural Development Programmes.
vii) Directorate of Food, Roads and Rural infrastructures.
viii) Better life for Rural Women
ix) Family support programmes etc.
Although these programmes testify to the priority attention that rural development has received in Nigeria, experience so far demonstrate that rather transform and modernize rural areas in a significant manner, the various programmes have contrary to their objectives, continued to impoverish and underdeveloped the rural areas, leaving the silent majority (over 80% of total population) who reside there as victim of neglect, deprivations and exploitation. Local Government as a third tier of government is saddled with the responsibility of transforming rural areas into comfortable and habitable hamlets in the rural dwellers on Nigeria. Hence, local Government have undergone several reforms on order to make them development oriented. It is an incontestable fact that poverty, diseases, hunger, illiteracy, insufficiency infrastructural amenities etc. characterize rural areas in Nigeria. It is against this background that local growing recognition of the significance of local government as an agent of rural development and contributes in no little measure to the overall economics, social and political development of a nation.
In Nigeria, history has shown that our rural communities had for generations succeeded in organizing themselves to provide food shelter, build roads, schools, medical centers for local government to participate activity in rural development, it’s imperative for it to bring itself down to the level of rural dwellers in order to identify itself with the problems and aspirations of the people with the aim of finding lasting solutions to their problems. Despite the (1976) local Government Reforms and its objectives to bring about development which have prove abortive. Babangida regime was even wise enough to introduce DFRRI so as to effect development of the grassroots, but despite all its objectives and aims, it failure out –numbered it achievements. Development in Nigeria, particularly rural development is always, hindered by lack of comprehensive development planning, constant changes in government and a lack of acceptable and decent revenue allocation and sharing formula. All these have hindered the efficient and effective development programmes various administrations. The local government in Nigeria is aimed at extending development to the grassroots by improving the quality of life of the rural dwellers by providing the people with good roads, portable water, electricity improved agricultural facilities and community banking. Such provisions would not only raise the standard of living of the rural people but will also check rural – urban migration.
1.2 Statement of the problem
In epistemic terms, the establishment of local Government structures in Nigeria was predicated on the view that Local Government were to serve as apparatus or vehicles for transforming the lives of majority of Nigerians who live in the rural communities, it was as conceived as a bottom up approach to national development. In this regard, many communities. The expectations among other things was that it brought governance nearer to the people and could from that standpoint transform the lives of the rural dwellers. It was in line with this vision that Nkwere local Government was created following the (1976) Local Government reform. Federal government had in the past undertaken sweeping local government reforms with the aim of repositioning local governments to more proactive in their service delivery so that these agents could catalyze development in their communities in particular and in Nigeria as a whole. In the case of Nkwerre, it was blessed with abundant natural and human resources fertile lands and cheap labour. The expectations were that these two all important factors of production could serve as a catalyst to development and thus reduce the misery and suffering the people.
Fortunately, Nkwerre local Government Area has been transform though not 100% as expected, but the poverty level has reduced a little, medical facilities made available for dwellers, good motorable road from the local Government headquarters to the other villages most of the infrastructural among the wards of the local area are a way something to write come about. But even at this with the aim of the 1976 reform aimed at changing t he local government, it is said that Nkwerre Local Government Area is way behind expectation. Most people on the local Government are experiencing poverty though not chronic but their standard of living can be seen as below expectation. The crucial question we all ask, and which is the focus of this study is “what are those factors that have meleleted against the transformation of the local Government?. Could it be that funds are not available? Could it be that programmes and policies did not target the attended rural areas? Is it that there is a general bad administration in the local Government? These are some of the questions this study hall attempt.
1.3 Objectives of study
The broad objective of this study remains to find what factors militate against the transformation of Nkweme local Government However, the specific objectives are:
i) To determine whether or not lack of funds has been a major handicap on the development of Nkewme local Government Area?
ii) To determine government policy and programmes actually targeted to those who were expected to benefit from those programmes
iii) To determine the role federal and state government have played on the transformation.
iv) To make useful suggestions that may serve as solutions to the problems identified.
1.4 Study Question
The study question for this research are:
(1) To what extent has the local Government in Nigeria and Nkwerre in particular contributed to rural development?
(2) What positive impact has Nkwerre Local Government Area made in the National development efforts?
(3) Is the creation of Nkwerre Local Government Area an automatic answer to the problem of rural development?
These study questions are imperative in the research project as they direct the focus and the rhythm of the project. They also form a point of reference upon which the whole write-up will be based on.
1.5 Significance of the study
1) It will enrich literatures on development theory especially theory on local government Administration and rural development
2) The information provided in this study may serve as a guide to provide to policy makers especially especially those incharge of local government development asses. By reading through this work, these policies may have first hand into and can over haul their policy in line with available data.
3) It will bring to light, the understanding, misunderstanding and misapplication of the strategy of rural development though the introduction of local government administration in Nigeria
4) The literature review also exposes the researcher to many issues and widens his horizon on issues relating to development and under development.
5) It will suggest ways of achieving a meaningful rural development through the assistance of the local government Authority in Nigeria.
1.6 Scope of Study
This research work is focused on local Government as an agent of rural development in Nigeria and has narrowed the scope to Nkwerre Local Government Area in Imo State. It confirmed with the limit of the constraints of local government demonstration on relation to rural development. The study highlights the problem of local government administration and possibly its prospects for rural transformation. This investigation was only limited to Nkwerre Local Government:
(1) Lack of sufficient time
(2) Lack of funds
(3) Poor road network in area of case study.
(4) Acute transportation difficulties as a result of high cost fuel prices.
1.7 Definition of terms
The following concepts are carefully defined for the purpose of the study:
LOCAL GOVERNMENT AUTHORITY
This is seen as the third tier of government it is also a group of elected officials who are directly responsible to the management of staff, materials and resources of the local Area designed as such.
These are group of people with a population of about fifty thousand people or below. The man features of rural people are depression degradation, deprivation. Many rural people are embodiment of poverty, diseases and starvation.
According to Advanced learners dictionary development is the process of producing or creating new or more advance, stronger etc in this context, development is the process of attaining a high standard of economic growth, accompanied by the undividuals to utilize such resources around their environment.
Rural development is a strategy designed to improve the economic and social life of the people in the rural area. The main concern in rural development is suppose to be the modernization of rural society through a transition from traditional isolation to intergration wit the national economy for equitable and balanced development of the nation