THE ROLE OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT IN NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT (A CASE STUDY OF NSIT IBOM LOCAL GOVERNMENT)
1.1 Background of the study
Local Government exists to fill the gap, which the national government is too remote to fill. This means that local government complements and extends the national government. This has been recognized as one important instrument for rural transformation and for the delivery of social services development has passed through some stages of reforms since its establishment. Local government as the third tier of government nearest to the people has been recognized as an institution capable of transforming the areas of rural inhabitant.
Consequently, there has continuous attempts either to create new local governments or lamp the existing ones in the country with the objective of utilizing them as fulcrums for achieving national development. There has been an increasing upsurge of interest in the literature of development administration and in planning circles on the positive role local government could play in national development. The emphasis is in terms of using local government as a strategic instrument for fostering, promoting and implementing national development projects.
Local government administration is used as a form of devolution of powers of the state. It is the government at the grass root level that is designed to serve as instrument of rural transformation and development to the society in general. The local government being the government nearest to the populace, is one of the best agencies for generating motivations and encouraging mobilization for self-help, as well as including the much needed wider participation of the local population in the decision making process at the local level (Ukah, 2012).
According to Edward Scouma, (in Eluwa, 2012:11), The so-called third world is a rural world where any meaningful discussion of community development really means not only “talking of overall national development,” but because “it is in community that the problems of inequitable distribution of resources or a marked lack of purchasing power and of grinding poverty in which the wretched members of society stagnate and stare one in the face with brutal clarity. The Local government ought to at least stop the deteriorating living conditions in the various communities of the country. An effective local government will be better disposed than the state or federal government, not only to stem the grim reality of the rising tide of grassroots poverty but also be better positioned to evoke communal efforts and networking to manage and mobilize the support of local citizenry in participating in all the programmes that may affect them (Eluwa, 2012). As an agent of development, the major priorities of any local government should include reduction of poverty in the community, increasing the standard of living of the local dwellers, provision of social amenities, enhancing the participation of the local citizens in political activities that concern them, enhancing their individual human capabilities, boosting nationalism, inspiring creativity and innovation as well as educating the local people (Bello-Imam, 2007).
Local government in Nigeria plays immense role especially in promoting, coordinating and providing community amenities as well as encouraging greater mass participation and involvement in the running of local government affairs and the use of local resources to the optional level. local government are designed to achieve multi-dimensional goals in terms of economic, social and political development local government, which is the focus of this write up is responsible for the provision of basic community requirements.
To achieve its objective, Nsit Ibom Local Government should be adequately funded, and manned by well trained, dedicated personnel. The Local Government in Nigeria is an indispensable tier of government in the Nigerian federal system. It is deeply rooted in the law of the land and derives its powers from the constitution. Section 7(1) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, states that the system of Local government by a democratically elected local government council is under this constitution guaranteed. From the above, it is clear that the local government is backed by law and administratively should have a democratically elected representative of the people who are charged with the responsibility of moving the government towards attaining sustainable growth for national development. Local government can be defined as a political authority which is 271 purposefully created by law or constitution for local communities by which they manage their local public affairs within the law/constitution (Ogunna: 1996).
The quest for a wide spread development in the country and economic emancipation laid basis for the federal government to create this tier of government which is seen as the closest government to the people. Okoli (2005:) defines local government as a unit of government established by act of law to administer the functions of government and see to the welfare and interest of the local dwellers under the local government system.
The fourth schedule of the same constitution similarly defines the roles of the local governments (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999). The Nigerian federation currently has 774 local government units created for grassroots administration and for delivering services to the people at the various local levels as well as creating a relationship with the local people through which the government can be responsive to their needs and demands.
In addition, local governments also exists to ensure effective political involvement of the local people in the policy making process as well as in the affairs of government (Afrobarometer, 2013:1). Though some scholars are of the opinion that the local governments have not performed their functions as agents of development; rather they have disrepute for corruption, fiscal disorderliness and overall irresponsibility. The lack of uprightness, transparency and accountability at the local level of government constitute a heavy toll on the welfare of average Nigerians (Agbo, 2010:20).
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The creation of Nsit Ibom local government in September, 1991 under Governor Idongesit Nkanga’s administration was meant to bring development to the various communities Viz. Nkanga and Mbiaso Communities of which the various wards emancipated from. It is important to note that local government should not be abandoned while drafting the constitution in order to strengthen the importance to national development. The autonomy of the local government should be recognized to enable it serve as effective third tier of government as stated in the constitution.
Nsit Ibom Local government has not been granted enough financial status and power to sustain itself and be able to provide welfare services. Again, community dwellers hardly assist the local government in implementing government projects and this is serious setback to the delivery of qualitative and qualitative services to the local communities.
1.3 Objective of the Study
The main objective of this study is to examine the role of local government in national development (a case study of Nsit Ibom Local Government Area)
Specifically, the following are the objective of this study;
- To know whether Nsit Ibom local government council is able to accelerate development in terms of national development
- To find out whether corruption among Nsit Ibom local government personnel affected the execution of community development projects.
- To examine whether lack of adequate finance has hindered national development in Nsit Ibom local government area.