The Impact of Local Government Status Question in Nigeria on Developmental Projects at the Grassroot. The Study of Biu LGA
Purpose Of The Study
This study seeks to look at the contribution of local government development of rural areas in Nigeria using Biu local government area of Bornu state.
This research also aimed at identifying different factors militating the effectiveness of local government and solutions to those problems identified and it will be offered at the completion of the research work.
Finally, the study makes a modest attempt to fulfill this purpose in the social and project development of the effective delivery of service to the respective local populations scattered all over the country. It also make a recommendations on making local government an effective third level of government, the development and management of the human resources of local governments and the development of the financial resources of local government. The overall thrust of the recommendation is on how to ensure faithful implementation of local government.
LITERATURE REVIEW AND THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
The Concept of Policy
Forman (2008) asserts that the concept of policy has two distinct meanings in the field of public administration. First, policy is seen as a way of doing things or decision rule. Secondly, he posits policy as substantive programmes referring specifically to the context of what is being done and not necessarily how it is being done.
Ross (2009) suggested that policy should be seen as “a long series of more or less related activities and their consequences for those concerned• rather than as a discrete decision”. Lasswell and Kaplan (2001) had given a systematic definition of the concept which appear more applicable and relevant to many area or fields of the social and behavioural sciences. In their words: “Policy is a projected programme of goal, values and practices; policy process is the formulation, promulgation and application of identifications, demand and expectations concerning the future interpersonal relations of the self”
Also contributing to the understanding of the concept of policy, Lowi (2000) emphasized the importance of the concept of coercion in thinking about policy. According to him, policy, involves deliberate coercion or in other words statements intended to delineate the purpose, means, subject and objects of the exercise of coercion within the context of power relationships in organizational structure. Gergan (2008) described policy as a “course-setting involving decisions of widest ramifications and longest time perspective in the sight of an organization”.
Friedrich (2019) perceives policy as an attempt to overcome and or utilize environment” obstacles and or opportunities in order to achieve a given goal or objective. Continuing he added that policy is directed towards the accomplishment of some purpose or goal.
Chikeleze (2013) made an empirical observation that policy involves purposive behaviour. Continuing, he conceived policy as a purposive course of action followed by an actor or set of actors in dealing with a problem or matter of concern”.
The Concept of Public Policy
Public policy is the principled guide to action taken by the administrative executive branches of the state with regard to a class of issues, in a manner consistent with law and institutional customs. The foundation of public policy is composed of national constitutional laws and regulations, government actions and process. Public policy making can be characterized as a dynamic, complex, and interactive system through which public problems are identified and countered by creating new public policy or by reforming existing public policy (John, 2011).
To Franklin (2014), Public Policy is whatever government chooses to do or not to do. Thus, Public Policy is a course of government action or inaction in response to public problems. It is associated with formally approved policy goals and means, as well as the regulations and practices that implement programs.
Njoku (2015) define public policy as “the strategic use of resources to alleviate national problems or governmental concerns”. Benson (2011) posits that it is the public response to the interest in improving the human conditions. In these definitions there is divergence between what governments decide to do and what they actually do. Public policy is a guide which government has designed for direction and practice in certain problem areas.
Public policy is the cornerstone of every democracy and serves a very important purpose in almost every society. Poverty alleviation, grassroot development, energy, housing and healthcare are some major public policy issues in our clime today and are the focus of most national lawmakers. There are many laws that positively benefit our society, and there are many that do not. What we can be sure about is that successful public policy is usually made up of two things: Good policy (measurable and positive outcome) and good politics (bi-partisanship). Good public policy solves public problems effectively and efficiently, serves justice, supports democratic institutions and processes, and encourages an active and empathic citizenship (Nnamdi, 2016).
The Concept of Development
Development is a household concept in both the developed and developing countries. It is however, conceptualized variously by different people. Some take it to mean change while some see it as an advancement, improvement or progress. To others yet, development entails modernization or westernization (Ele, 2006). Similarly, Okoli and Onah (2002) assert that development involves progression, movement and advancement towards something better. They emphasized further that the movement should be on both the material and non-material aspects of life. In essence, development goes beyond economic and social indicators to include the improvement of human resources and positive change in their behaviour. In any case, the prevailing conception of development connotes essentially enhancement in the well being of people (Okoye, 2000).
The Concept of Grass-root Development
The concept of grass-root development or community development will be used interchangeably to mean the same thing. The scope of the concept of grassroot or community development is very wide. It is a multi-dimensional process involving stich areas as agriculture, health, education, provision of grassroot infrastructures, social life, political and economic issues, commerce and industry, among others, and their integration with the national economy. Since the scope of the concept is wide it is the pivot on which a sound national development in all its ramifications can effectively be achieved. It is, however often assumed by policy makers and development planners that grassroot development is synonymous with agriculture. To correct this impression, it is very necessary to carry out a detailed conceptualization of the concept by scholar in the field of grassroot or community development (Ikechukwu, 2013)
Furthermore, deriving from our understanding of what development generally is, grassroot development is then that part of development that seeks to enhance the quality of life in the grassroot areas by providing basic infrastructural facilities (Ezeah, 2005). Indeed, the basic objective of grassroot development is reduction in poverty and improvement of the quality of life of the people mostly at the rural areas.
Bello-Imam (1998) in this vein defined grassroot development as spatially sectional but determined and conscious attempt to focus on the general upliftment of the living conditions of men in the grassroot areas. So, grassroot development in Nigeria entails the process of making life more satisfying and fulfilling to the millions of Nigerians who live in the grassroot areas.
Grassroot development is a many sided process or a multi-dimensional process involving the totality of the grassroot man and his environment. In essence, development in this context entails developing the grassroot human person and as well as his environment.
According to Kinnear (1989:133) “a research design is the basic plan which guides the data collection and analysis phases of a research project. It is the framework which specifies the type of information to be collected and source of data collection procedure.
A case study method was used for this study. It is important to determine the method and procedure adopted in this research report since it gives the reader background information on how to evaluate the findings and conclusion.
Population and Sample Size
The population of this study constitutes the entire people at the grassroot. 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 Biu 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.
DATA PRESENTATION AND ANALYSIS
Test of Hypothesis One
The first hypothesis for this study is stated thus: “The level of performance of Biu Local Government in terms of project development is determined by the human financial and material resources available.”
In testing the first hypothesis, data were presented and analysed in the area of manpower or staff strength of the local government, their qualification and experience and training and development.
SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Local government because of its proximity to a large majority of the rural people is no doubt a center of development. Local Government is closer and as such should be felt by the people in the rural areas. Issues relating to project development touch more on people in the rural area. project development is not only about agricultural, infrastructural development or provision of social amenities, it is also about articulating the strength, skill, and aspirations of the rural people. It is about inspiring the people to help them to achieve and reach the peak of their expectations in life. The local government, because of its nearness to the rural people is respected to play this important role.
This study is has been an attempt to examine and assess the role of role of local government administration in project development with special focus on Biu local government area of Niger state.
In chapter one, an in-depth analysis of the background of study was undertaken by identifying the various stage of local government administration in Nigeria from pre-colonial to conical and post -colonial Nigeria. Various problems were identified which formed the problem of the study. Based on thee problems the objective of the study was stated which was identify the reasons behind the problems highlighted and solutions proferred. In line with this, hypotheses were formulated to guide the study. The chapter, also contain the methodology adopted to gather and analyze data. Finally, operational definitions of important terms were included in the chapter.
Chapter two was devoted to the review of related literature and theoretical framework of the study. Literature review on the definition and concept of project development, past project development efforts of the government and ways in which local government could perform the role of project development was carried out. Also in the chapter, the foundation of the study was built by adopting the modernization theory of project development.
In chapter three, a historical perspective of Biu Local Government was undertaken. Thus from historical perspective Biu Local Government was created in 1991 by the military government of Ibrahim Babangida. The chapter further identified the functions of the Local Government, its sources of revenue as well as the operational and structural organization.
Chapter four was devoted to presentation and analysis of data using tables, percentages and frequencies. The data was gotten form questionnaire drawn for staff and beneficiaries and interview granted by the heads of department/ sections in the local government. Information from other secondary sources also formed part of the data presented.
After the analysis of data, findings revealed that due to ineffective and inefficient manpower, financial and social amenities have been constraints t the development of Biu Local Government Area. It was also gathered that excessive political interference and control from other tiers of government has hindered the performance of the Local Government Area.
From the study we can conclude that the Local Government has not been able to perform its role as a vehicle for project development due to inefficient manpower, financial and material resources. The study further shows that excessive political interference and control by other tier of government ahs affected the performance of the Local Government.
The findings reveal that majority of the staff necessary qualification and experience for work. This study shows that despite this inadequacy, the Local Government has not undertaken any training of the staff to improve their efficiency at work.
Inadequate financial and material resources is another problem at the grassroot. The study shows that the total fund accrued to the Local Government is too small. Also the internally generated revenue is too low and this leads to over dependence on statutory allocation. This low revenue base in every respect has hindered the local government from achieving its objective of rural transformation through provision of social amenities and infrastructural facilities.
The study also shows that excessive control and political interference has greatly affected it effectiveness. There are so many reasons added for this. One, the local government’s over dependence on statutory allocation discussed extensively in previous chapters; two, the powers given to the state house of assembly over the local governments are excessive. According to Ugwu (200:62)
The Local Government system extent in 1979 and 2015, and for which the constitutions provided guarantee was widely regarded as conforming to the democratic model of local representative government. It was the product of the reforms of 1976 which the reformers thought would stimulate “democratic self government” a the local level and ensure autonomous participation of local people in the development of their communities.
But the state government by the same provision of section 7 of the constitution exercise authority over the local government. This section gave the state government the power to ensure the existence of democratically elected local government councils under a law which provides for their establishment, structure composition, fiancé and functions. This power has been grossly abused. Niger state government dissolved all the local councils and appointed a transition committee headed by a chairman. Another implication of the exercise of section 7 is that local government council cannot exercise its constitutional function unless empowered to do so by the State house of Assembly.
Nwabueze (1983: 129) argued that the constitutional power to established local governments, to define its structure; composition and functions belong to the state government. He went further to advance that if the state government exercise such enormous powers over the local government, then the latter is mere agency or creation of the stage government. It is therefore enormous to see it as an independent third tier of government.
In furtherance of the excessive control of local affairs in Niger State is the flagrant abuse of the operation of state/local government authorities. The state government used this to short charge and divert local government fund. The local government in spite of its enormous responsibilities has not been given enough fund. The findings show that only fund to settle recurrent expenditures were released to the local government for over two years.
In such situation, the local government has been rendered ineffective in carrying out its constitutional responsibilities.
The study so far has shown the inability at the grassroot to play its role as a vehicle for project development. This is as a result of certain identified constraints, which include inadequate skilled manpower, financial and material resources and excessive control and political interference by other tiers of government, especially the state government.
In view of this, the researcher would recommend the following:
The local government service should try to motivate qualified and highly skilled personnel/ profession as to join its service.
The workforce on the ground should be trained to improve their proficiency for greater performance.
The higher level governments should set up a board where farmers could purchase fertilizer, improved seedling, other agro chemicals as subsidize rate all year round.
The federal government should help the local government prove equipments like graders, tippers etc to enhance road construction in rural areas.
The federal government should make it compulsory for each local government to engaged in a least one water and one road project every year. T is assumed that within a ten- year period almost every rural area would be linked and enjoys portable water.
In terms of revenue generation, the local government should endeavour to improve on the internally generated revenue. Areas like property tax tenement rates which has been neglected could yield much revenue. This will reduce over dependence on statutory allocation form federal government. Furthermore, the state government should be made to always release the 10% internally generated in the state meant for local governments.
Dishonest or corrupt revenue collectors should be adequately disciplined to deter others. Their activities of revenue officials should be closely monitored supervised and evaluated. They should be given a target, which they’re expected to meet. They should equally be motivated.
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