Local government as an institutional framework for socio-economic and political transformation of the grassroots in Nigeria has its own historical background. Its emergence as a bureaucratic establishment is regarded as a Western innovation, therefore alien. Though, the various political communities prior to the formation of an entity called Nigeria had their own native administrative system which eventually became labeled by the colonial administrators as traditional political system. This posture is viewed as discriminatory of the culture of the various ethnic groups.
The importance attached to this third tier system of governance has warranted its unrivalled reforms to make it more effective and result-oriented in terms of meeting the objectives for which it was established.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Local government in Nigeria is generally regarded as an effective instrument for the development of the communities within its domain and for provision of social services for the local population. The essential function of local government is regarded as provision of services (Chadwick, 1990: 65). Its closeness to the local population makes it to be in a better position to provide essential services for more efficiency than other levels of government. This closeness to the people at the grassroots as well as its pivotal role in national development has made local government the focus of every successive government in Nigeria and has warranted its unrivalled reforms as far as institutional reforms is concerned.
The practice of local government administration is to enhance efficiency and effectiveness of the local government level under representative officials, since it has been generally agreed that no central government can satisfactorily conduct administration wholly from the capital through the civil servants based at the headquarters. It logically follows, therefore, that there is need for a form of decentralization such that it will enable the government to reach out to the people at the grassroots level.
It is important to assert that before now, different forms of local administration and organization in Nigeria existed. But one important fact is that the first attempt of bringing about a unified form of local government reforms which brought about the first democratically elected local government councils nation-wide and granted them financial autonomy and a statutory recognition as the third tier of government. In fact, the year 1976, is historic and pivotal in the evolution and development administration and finances in Nigeria.
But the recent calls from some quarters for its scrapping from the Nigeria political system coupled with problems of inefficiency associated with it have been a course for concern which warranted the choice of the topic “Local Government as means for Socio-Economic Transformation of Nigeria using Lokoja Local government Area as a case study. Attempt will be made here to unveil how local government became an institution for the socio-economic transformation in Nigeria.
1.2 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
Discussions in respect of local government administration as an institution for the socio-economic development of Nigeria have drawn serious contributions from scholars. As a build-up into the research topic, attempt will be made at critically assessing the following purpose of the study:
- To look at the local government as a means of job creation for the local populace.
- To assess the contributions of local government in the area of providing social and economic services to the people.
- Attempt will be made to ascertain the need for local government as the third tier level of governance.
1.3 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study is hinged on the following significance:-
-It serves as a means of identifying the importance of local government administration in the area of providing socio-economic services to the rural people.
-it equally serves as a means towards integrating the various ethnic, culture and differing value systems among different people.
-it is very strategic in identifying and training future political leaders in the earth of governance.
-it equally avail us the opportunity to know the feelings and believe of local people on the need and suitability of local government.
-it enhances grassroots mobilization for the nation’s development.
-it will equally avail us the opportunity to identify problems that hamper rural development.
-the discussion will further encourage other researchers in the chosen topic in the near future.
-it is a requirement for the award of higher national diploma in Public Administration.
1.4 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
Due to time and financial constraints, the research work covers Lokoja Local Government area been my case study within the range of year 2000 – 2016 as my reference point.
1.5 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Local governments had over the years suffered from continuous whittling down of their powers. The state government had continued to encroach upon what should normally have been the exclusive preserves of the local government.
One other striking problem is instability in structure and form. Reflecting on this, dilemma, Dare (1988: 14-21) lamented that, “no Nigeria institution has been subjected to as much review, reform; reorganization or revitalization as the local government”.
Corruptions, either bureaucratic or political have been as well recognized as the bane of our development socially and economically. All these have tended to create friction and lack of confidence on the administrators of local government by the people resident in the locality. These are some of the basic research problems which the project topic will likely addressed.
1.6 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
Hypothesis is tentative statements about the relationship between two or more variables it can also be define as specific, testable prediction about what you expect to happen in your study.
The followings are the research hypothesis;
- H1: Effective local government administration is a requisite for the socio-economic transformation of the nation. H0: Effective local government administration is not a requisite for the socio-economic transformation of the nation.
- H1: Local governments as an institution impacted positively on the lives of rural people. H0: Local governments as an institution do not impacted positively on the lives of rural people.
1.7 LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
To every research work, there are constraints, such constraints or limitations ranges from finance, time, inaccessibility of data especially from government ministries or institutions as well as inadequate materials for consultations.
However, some of these limitations will be overcome especially with the recent passage of freedom of information bill, inaccessibility of data will be removed. Also, these are presently a long list of authors who have written on local government administration which will serve as reference point to this discussions.
1.8 DEFINITION OF KEY TERMS
For the purpose of clarity and understanding, it is pertinent to explain some major concepts likely to be used in the discussion among which are:
Local government: Hobson (2008) defined local government as involving the conception of a territorial non-sovereign community possessing the legal right and the necessary organization to regulates its own affairs. Local government, according to the guidelines of the 1976 reforms and as further posited by Adamolekun (2013), is government at the local level, exercised through representative councils established by law to exercise specific powers within defined areas.
Administration: Generally speaking therefore, administration refers to the process by which various activities performed by several people are linked together, processed or coordinated accomplishment of previously determined objectives.
Transformation: As a social process, transformation is complex and multi-dimensional. It entails processes in the social economic cultural and other facts of life throughout history; people have sought to increase their ability to conquer the environment with a view to improving their standard of living. At the micro level, transformation entails qualitative and quantitative increase in the capacity skill, creativity and general materials of well-being of individuals.
Social services: This is usually provided by the local government to help people who have financial or family problem, as cited in oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. Some important services that are not within the reach of an individual in the society are usually classified as social services.
Economy: According to Oxford Advanced learner’s Dictionary, an economy situates the relationship between production, trade and the supply of money in a particular economy, market economy etc. An economy is an area of the production, distribution, or trade, and consumption of goods and services by different agents in a given geographical location. Understood in its broadest sense, ‘The economic is defined as a social domain that emphasizes the practices, discourses, and material expressions associated with the production, use and management of resources’. Economic agents can be individuals, businesses, organizations, or governments. Economic transactions occur when two parties agree to the value or price of the transacted good or service, commonly expressed in a certain currency, but monetary transactions are only a small part of the economic domain.
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