This study addresses the frequent changes in local government administration as a bane to rural development with reference to Owerri west local government area. This forms the basis of this research efforts geared towards injecting new ideas into local government administration and helping to solve problem arising from frequent regime changes. The objective of this research aims at how best to reduce the incidence of frequent changes in the administration of Owerri west local government which has always been a log to the wheels of development. To carry out this research work a sample size of 400 was made out of the population size of 200, 133 questionnaires were made and distributed to selected respondents, when the data collected from the questionnaires were analysed and presented in tables, it was discovered that: i) Development projects are abandoned by successive administration in Owerri west local government area. ii) Council members implement policies without operational guide but as they suit their personal interest. iii) There is no genuine leader to pilot the affairs of the council.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF STUDY
For any organization to be productive, it must learn the effective usage of its man power. But research has shown that there is a serious decline in productivity and further quest into the reason for this drop revealed that the error is a wrong thinking and attitude. Because local government affairs do not take place in a vaccum, this wrong thinking and attitude often affects the planning, organizing, staffing, coordinating and budgeting of the council.
Local government by its nature is an institution established or put in place to promote local politics. It is an organization through which political activities, information and awareness campaign are carried to the grassroots. It is also the political mouth piece of the rural man. The yearnings, needs and aspiration of the local people are conveyed to the state and central government through their various elected representatives. To buttress the above assertions, the 1976 guideline for local government reform in Nigeria vividly defines local government as:
“That government at the local level exercised through representative councils established by law to exercise specific powers within defined areas. These powers should give the council substantial control over local affairs as well as the staff and institutional and financial powers to institute and direct the provision of services and to determine and implement projects so as to complement the activities of the state and federal government in the areas so that the local initiative and response to local needs and conditions are maximized”.
When the above definition is examined, it implies that a local government is a representative government; a government empowered by law to undertake certain functions and established to implement developmental projects and policies that affect the rural people. The above definition is true because the existence of local government administration is aimed at the execution of developmental policies for the upliftment of the lives of the rural people (Nworji 2004).
In a similar vein, local government administration deals with the role of government in managing the affairs of the local people in a particular locality. It also entails making use of the available human materials and financial resources available to the local government to attend to and achieve stated need, aspiration, goals and objective of the individuals in the local community. Local government is also a grassroots government which is established world over not only for the purpose of authority maintenance, penetration of governance into the rural areas, consolidation of rural loyalty, obedience, political support and commitment of the subjects to the government and state, but also for the realization of rural development goals, increased political participation of the rural people through their representatives who are elected and also for the contribution of the rural people to the decision making process on issues that directly affects them. (Agoha 2004: 273).
Ideally, local government involves both legislative and executive processes operating under democratic principle of popular participation of local people in the management of their affairs. On the other hand, local administration is a bureaucratic process aimed at the provision of local services. Local government administration therefore has to do with authority to determine policies and execute them within a restricted area.
After independence, the federal government knew that the establishment of local government was crucial for the development of rural communities. To this end, the number of local government areas in Nigeria increased so as to accelerate national development. To achieve this policy of national development, Owerri west was carved out from the former Owerri municipal council. Since her creation, Owerri west has been abandoned and left to not and decay by successive state chief executives.
Owerri west local government was created in 1996 with its headquarters at Umuguma. The local government is made up of the following communities. Nekede, Ihiagwa, Eziobodo, Emeabiam, Avu, Ofurola, Irete, Okwukwu and Umuguma. These areas have their peculiar problems some of which include bad roads, electricity, and dilapidated road infrastructures, poor health care delivery services etc. These and many other problems are the challenges facing Owerri west since its creation. To this end, different administrations have tried to tackle this problem but the frequent changes in local government administration have always been a log to the wheels of development. This situation explains why policy implantation in Owerri west ends abruptly as soon as there is a change in administration in Owerri west and new ones formulated to the neglect of old projects.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEMS
During the cause of this research, a handful of problems were discovered. These problems must not be treated with kid gloves if the federal and state government is really sincere about grassroots development. One of the problems identified was the diversion of statutory allocation into private accounts. Over the years, Owerri west has been abandoned and left to rot. These local government areas suddenly became a town planner’s nightmare with blocked drainages and ubiquitous mountains of refuse here and there. All these are as a result of the incessant changes in local government administration by successive state chief executives. Looking back at the course of history, we shall be going down a bloodstained memory lane. From the 1970’s till now, government has raped the local people by their laisses fait administration. Having elected political representatives, it is expected that there should have been in existence, functional structures or arms of government at local level through which the elected executives can make representations to state or federal government, take decision at local level, implement existing polices, make bye-laws where and when necessary and take other necessary administrative steps to move the local government for ward but this is not the case as every new administration always want to introduce its own policies and strategies. It is against this background that development at the local level continues to suffer a setback.
There is constitutional provision for the federal government to provide statutory allocation for the 774 local government areas in the country. This allocation is meant for developmental projects but one will continue to ask why nothing is being done despite this allocations. Every organization is expected to have control mechanisms especially as it concerns the use of scare financial resources in the execution of developmental projects. One is forced to ask to what extent is this mechanism employed in Owerri west local government financial management to ensure consistency in the use of statutory allocation for development.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
This research is structured towards achieving the following purposes:
- To explain why there are frequent changes in Owerri west local government administration.
- To examine how these incessant changes impedes development at grassroots level.
- To explain why new administration in Owerri west local government abandons the projects of their predecessors at the expense of the poor masses who elected them.
- To explain the need for policy continuity in the third tier of government.
1.4 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
H0: new administration in Owerri west local government don’t abandon the projects of their predecessors at the expense of the poor masses who elected them
H1: new administration in Owerri west local government abandons the projects of their predecessors at the expense of the poor masses who elected them
H0: incessant changes does not impedes infrastructural development at grassroots level.
H2: incessant changes does impedes infrastructural development at grassroots level.
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This work aims towards making it possible for understanding that the administration of council areas should remain focused and continuity in programmes be encouraged toward the achievement of development of rural communities. The work also emphasis the importance of expanding the revenue base of this local government area that is an alternative source of revenue other than the statutory allocation, so that development will be rapid. It will also sensitize the rural people on how they should contribute their own quota towards the development of the council area through making the council aware of their needs and emphasized that the recommendation made herein be strictly adhered to by the chief executive of the state for the rapid development of Owerri west local government area. Finally this study will be an avenue for the realization that continuity in planning and programmes no matter who initiated it be encouraged for the development of the entire communities that makes up Owerri west local government area.
1.6 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY.
This study x-rays the incessant changes in local government administration in Owerri west local government area. It also has some limitations that may impede the research work. These include:
FINANCE: this may impede or cause a bridge in this research work because the researcher may not have enough money to cover the required area.
TIME: the time given to researcher may be too short there he could not cover the areas he was supposed to.
ATTITUDE: the attitude of the Owerri west council members also was a problem because these council members are not willing to give out any information for fear of being apprehended.
1.7 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Frequent: frequency could be defined as occurring or things done many times at short intervals or “frequent changes in policy”.
Changes: changes can be defined as the act of Making or becoming different.
Administration: administration is the process or activity of running a business, organization, etc.
Bane: a cause of great distress or annoyance or something, especially poison, which causes death
Rural: in, relating to, or characteristic of the countryside rather than the town.
Development: in this context, community development, refers to the practices and academic disciplines to improve various aspects of local communities
Rural development: Rural development is the process of improving the quality of life and economic well-being of people living in rural areas, often relatively isolated and sparsely populated areas. Rural development has traditionally centered on the exploitation of land-intensive natural resources such as agriculture and forestry.
OBJECTIVE: this is the expected result to be achieved in a particular task. It is futuristic because it states the predetermined result.
EFFICIENCY: is the capacity to achieve maximum output with minimum input.
POLICY MAKING: this presupposes the process of developing an effective and efficient broad guideline in a structural manna for its effective implementation.
POLICY IMPLEMENTATION: this is the process of implanting a broad guideline of action. It also embraces the full range of managerial activities associated with putting the chosen policy into place and supervising its pursuit.
Policy: this is a broad guideline used by organization in translating strategies into action. Policy aims at mapping out programmes of action that need to be pursed in order to accomplish the goals of the enterprise which are already defined.
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