1.1 Background to the Study
The political entity known as Nigerian became a Federal State in 1946. The Richardson Constitution provided for a Federal framework dividing the country into three Regional Assemblies and a Central House in 1914. With the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern British protectorates, the Governor-General presided over all the regions for administrative governance.
The history of Local Government Administration dates back to 1920s when the British government headed by Lord Lugard for lack of money and staff, and the need to put in place units of local administration that will be economical and most acceptable to Nigerians, created Local Administrations to be run by the Local rulers as Native Administration. The concept here was to use the indirect rule system of administration where native administrators presided over native courts and settle cases for local people in the rural areas.
Apart from the selfish interest of British in Local Government through indirect rule, at least government was brought closer to the local people. Local government system in Nigeria has been undergoing series of radical changes particularly from an autocratic military system to democratic dispensation in the search for a model that will suit the Nigerian environment and fulfill the yearnings and aspiration of the people.
The local government does not necessarily imply a rural environment alone but human settlement within a large society. Umoren (2000) equates Local government with the government of an area smaller than a country, state, province etc. The importance of local government in rural development cannot be over emphasis because as widely acknowledge, it is viewed “as a viable instrument for rural development and of social services to the people”.
Broadly speaking, one of the most significant reasons for the creation of Local Government has been that of trying to impact on community that may be too far from the centre (Federal or State Level), it is a deliberate effort to bring government nearer to the very door steps of the citizenry (Ephraim 2004:15).
Rural areas in Nigeria have long been deprived of sustainable development inspite the presence of the local government which serves as government at the grassroots level to make the people feel the impact of governance. The situation in Nsit Ubium is not encouraging in the sense that, the people are rendered weak and rejected due to lack of social and infrastructural facilities that are enjoyed by those residing in the cities and towns. The poverty rate of the populace is increasing rapidly in percentage due to their economic and social backwardness sustained by various internal factors like of funds to rural farmers to encourage agricultural activities as their primary occupation, lack of human empowerment programmes to educate and orientate initiatives for further development, bad road network, lack of adequate communication channels, low standard of living, poor commercial activities etc. The situation has remained unchanged due to the fact that government has done little or nothing towards sustainable development. However, the study raises the following questions:
i. Why is Nsit Ubium Local Government Area not developed inspite of the revenue allocated to it every month from the federation account?
ii. To what extent has Nsit Ubium Local Government influence rural development?
iii. How many projects have been executed in Nsit Ubium from the inception of democratic rule in 1999?
iv. How are elected officers representing the interest of the rural people?
v. Has Nsit Ubium Local Government been able to utilize resources allocated to it effectively?
1.3 Objectivities of Study
i. To examine the extent to which Nsit Ubium Local Government has impacted on rural development.
ii. To ascertain whether or not the problem of poor infrastructural and economic development of rural areas is as a result of inarticulated government policies or poor funding of the council.
iii. To appraise developmental programmes embarked upon by the council within the period under review.
iv. To make suggestions that will enhance the performance of Nsit Ubium Council in rural development.
1.4 Significance of the Study
This study has both theoretical and practical significance. Theoretically, the study provides a theoretical framework for the understanding of the role of local government in rural development in Nigeria. Therefore considering the pivotal role of local government in development in general, such information will be of immense help for policy formulation on the development of grassroots. The result of the study will equally be of help to other researchers who may want to research on such topic or related topics on development in the academic in the future.
On the practical significance, the study will draw attention of, and enlighten both the stakeholders and those who implement policies on rural development in Nigeria who may not really understand the central role of rural development on the crucial and inescapable role of local government system. As a result, the rural dwellers will endeavour to participate fully in grassroots democratization and development, while those who implement policy on development in Nigeria will become dedicated to policy formulation, recommendations and implementation.
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