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Local Government & Rural Development in Kanke Local Government, Plateau State

Local Government & Rural Development in Kanke Local Government, Plateau State

Local Government & Rural Development in Kanke Local Government, Plateau State

Chapter One

Research Objectives

The broad objective of this study is to assess the performance of Kanke Local Government of Plateau State council in the area of rural development. The specific objectives of the study are as follows.

  1. To ascertain whether Kanke Local Government of Plateau State has contributed substantially to rural development.
  2. To find out if the inadequacy of skilled workers (like qualified engineers all types, medical doctors, etc) affect the ability of Kanke Local Government of Plateau State council in carrying out rural development programme.
  3. To verify whether inadequate financing by both state and federal governments hinders the council in carrying out developmental programmes.


 Conceptual Review

 Historical Background Of Local Government System In Nigeria

The study of the development of local government as a tier of government in Nigeria will not be meaningful, if it is not preceded by an examination of the philosophical consideration underlying the local government system (Alex, 1987). The structure, composition and functions of local government are influenced by the political beliefs of those who have the authority and responsibility for determining the main features of the local government system. This relationship between values or political beliefs and structure for the distribution of powers in society has been argued by Stanley Hoffmann (1959:113) as he wrote: any preference for a certain scheme of area division of powers presupposes a decision on the ends for which power is to be exercised, a decision on the values power should serve and on the ways in which these values will be served. Regardless of nomenclature, local government is a creation of British colonial rule in Nigeria.

It has overtime experienced change in name, structure and composition; Between 1930s and 1940s, for instance, local government was known as chief-in-council and chief-and-council, where traditional rulers were given pride of place in the scheme of things. In the 1950s, election was introduced according to the British model in the western and eastern parts of the country with some measure of autonomy in personnel, financial and general administration (Nwabueze, 1982). It was on this premise that the rising tide of progress, growth and development experienced in the local governments in these areas was based. During this period, heterogeneity was the hallmark of local government as there was no uniformity in the system and the level of development was also remarkably different. The introduction of 1976 reforms by military administration of General Obasanjo brought about uniformity in the administrative structure of the system. The reforms introduced a multi-purpose single tier local government system (Ajayi, 2000). The reforms also introduced population criterion under which a local government could be created. Consequently, a population of within 150,000 to 800,000 was considered feasible for a local government. This was done to avoid the creation of non-viable local council and for easy accessibility.

There was provision for elective positions having the chairman as executive head of local government with supervisory councilors constituting the cabinet. This was complemented by the bureaucrats and professionals, such as Doctors, Engineers etc who were charged with the responsibility of implementing policies (1976 Guidelines). In 1991, a major landmark reform was introduced as the system had legislative arm. In addition, the Babangida administration increased the number of local government from 301 in 1976 to 453 in 1989 and 589 in 1991, the Abacha regime also increased the number to 774 local councils that we have today and the administrative structure also underwent some changes (Ajayi, 2000). In summary, it can be said that no public institution in Nigeria has been so subjected to frequent reforms than local government

Local Government

The concept of local government involves a philosophical commitment to democratic participation in the governing process at the grassroots level. This implies legal and administrative decentralization of authority, power and personnel by a higher level of government to a community with a will of its own, performing specific functions as within the wider national framework. A local government is a government at the grassroots level of administration meant for meeting peculiar grassroots need of the people (Agagu, 1997). It is defined as “government by the popularly elected bodies charged with administrative and executive duties in matters concerning the inhabitants of a particular district or place (Appadorai, 1975).

Local government can also be defined as that tier of government closest to the people, “which is vested with certain powers to exercise control over the affairs of people in its domain” (Lawal, 2000:60). Akpan (1982) defined local government as the breaking down of a country into smaller units or localities for the purpose of administration in which the inhabitants of the different units or localities concerned play a direct and full role through their elected representatives who exercise power and undertake functions under the general authority of the national or state government. Barber (1969) defined Local government as authority to determine and execute matters within a restricted area. It becomes clear from the above that the purpose of establishing a local government is to ensure appropriate services and development activities responsible to local wishes and initiatives. Local government operates at the lowest level of society.




Research Design

The purpose of this study was to investigate why local government failed to improve the lives of the rural people through development. The survey research design design was employed in the study. Cross sectional data was adopted in achieving the survey research design

Study Area and Population

It has an area of 926 km² and a population of 121,424 at the 2006 census. The postal code of the area is 933. Languages spoken in Kanke are Ngas, Myet, Boghom, Taroh & Badawa. Kanke is made up of six (6) districts. Namely: Ampang East, Amper, Garram, Kabwir, Pai  and TAi


A total of 399 questionnaire administered to the respondents of all the 10 selected rural communities in Kanke Local Government Area, 345 representing 88% were returned while 54 representing 12% were not returned. A total of 345 questionnaires were returned and analyzed.




The study identify the role or place of local government in rural development from the perspective of being the closest tier of government to the people. It is obvious from the arrangement and federal practice in Nigeria that local governments are emasculated and have not been effectively positioned to place its constitutional roles, let alone play the roles it should in rural development. Self-help as an issue in rural development and the various approaches to rural development were discussed.

Local Government is the focus of government efforts at promoting development. To effectively develop, the people’s efforts must be adequately mobilized. A Purposeful combination of local (peoples) efforts and energies with that of government with the objective of improving socioeconomic conditions and encouraging political participation are key factors in rural development. Rural Development as a strategy is designed to improve the economic and social life of the rural people. The core issues in rural development include self-help; attention to needs (felt and latent); integrated community for development; mobilization of human and material resources which could facilitate the provision of social amenities and infrastructures. The organizational environment for enhancing rural development remains the local government.

The results reveal that local administration, skilled workers and financing significant affect rural level development. The implication of this that as the dimensions of local government increase (local administration, skilled workers and finance) there is positive and significant development in local government adminsitration


On the basis of the findings of this study, it is glaring that Local Governments have contributed significantly to the improvement of the lives of the rural dwellers Plateau state. This is based on the fact that majority of the respondents disagreed with assertion that there is no significant relationship between Local Government and rural development in Paleau State. We may also draw conclusion that past government policies and programmes have improved the lives of the rural people in Plateau State.

Majority of Nigerians live in the rural communities, which have failed to witness any significant development, despite the strategic positions the local governments occupy in the scheme of affairs. Poverty is endemic and a stark reality that people die from unpreventable ailment. Farming and tin mining, the main occupations of the people is declining and, the quality of primary education has fallen, health care delivery and access roads are in deplorable conditions.

Local government autonomy means that the local government is elected at the local level and operated independently of the state and federal government. The local government is no longer an appendage or field office of the state government. But in Nigeria today, local government lack autonomy as a result of interferences by both the state and the federal governments. They lack the freedom to make their own laws, rules and  regulations, formulate, execute and evaluate their own plans and the right to recruit, promote, develop and discipline its own affairs.

Over the years efforts have been made to reform the local government system and to increase the participation of the people. Despite these reforms there are problems with the local government system. However, some of the problems associated with Local Government Area are peculiar to some of the problems of local government in Nigeria. These problems include among other things like insufficient funding or poor financial base to exercise complete independence in the provision of social services, lack of adequate human, material and financial resources both in terms of quantity and quality to carry out its own activities, corruption and poverty mismanagement of funds and lack of autonomy.

Consequent upon the major conclusions of this study a number of recommendations have been identified below:

  1. This study strongly advocates autonomy for local governments in such a way and manner that enhances its performance of constitutional and ancillary roles.
  2. Local governments should strive to raise and maintain revenue that would enable her deliver projects and services that guarantee quality living to the grass roots. This has the potency of reducing the incidence of rural-urban drift.
  • As a corollary, local governments should be more people-centred in approach, such that necessary collaboration/partnership with communities in its domain can facilitate the process of rural development. The paper recommends a further review of the revenue allocation formula with improved revenues to local governments as the closest tier of government to the people (rural and urban).


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