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1.1 Background of the Study
Local government is widely accepted as a viable instrument for rural transformation and for delivery of social service to the people.
Local government is the third tier of government in a federal system like Nigeria. As a third tier of government, it is charged with the responsibility of rural and community development. It is divided into political sub-division of the nation into units to power. This is why the National guideline for local government reform of 1978 of Nigeria conceived of local government.
Government at the local level exercised through a representative council established by law to exercise specific functions with defined areas. These powers should give the local government substantial control over local affairs as well as staff and institutional and financial powers to initiate, determine, and implement profit so as to complement the activities of government in the area (Ezeani, 2004).
As a third tier of government endowed with statutory grant from federal and state government, local government were expected to serve as effective agent of social, political and economic development at the grassroot level.
The 1975 local government reform assigned more authority and functions to the local government. They were recognized as third tier of government in the country with the responsibility of facilitating community development through bringing the government nearer to the local people through local government transformation. (Abubakar, 2010; Aluko 2006; Anyanwu 1992).
The reform was a method designed to bring an improvement in the social and economic life of the people, the rural communities and making process of their development self sustaining by reducing rural muting the basic needs of the people increasing employment and providing amenities like roads, water supply, light, good communication network, hospitals, designed to improve their rural social political, economic and cultural lives.
Prior to the nationwide reform, the performance of local government in community development was very poor, although since the reform (local government) have also performed much in this context. The low performance of local government can be attributed to various factors hindering factors or problems include poor management of resources, poor financial allocation from both state and federal government, poor implementation strategy of their project, unskilled personnel from local people, state and federal government and many more (Barikor, 1984).
The need for effective and efficient local government for community development cannot be overemphasized. For community development to take place properly in a developing country like Nigeria, local government must be used. The local government needs to mobilize and deliberately involve the local people in the participation of the political and social activities at the state and federal levels. Local government is responsible for creating necessary awareness among the local people.
Community development is the process of improving the general standard of living of the people at the local area through positive, social, economic improvement, high industrialization, socio-cultural and political change to enhance social improvement. Since change is an in edible character of nature, then there is need for improvement in the standard of living of the people. This improvement can only be achieved through local transformation of the local communities by the local government. It is against this background the study was undertaken.
1.2 Statement of Problem
Local government may be regarded as government of the grassroot, it is created and it derives its power from the statutory instrument of the state or central government. It performs certain duties and functions. According to the 1970 local government reform, a local government is a government at the local level exercised through representative council’s area (Ibodje 2000). The same reform also recognized local as the third tier level of government at the local level.
In Nigeria, the structure of local government varies from one to another before 1976 to include divisional council, district council and local council. In some, local government was known as native authority.
Nevertheless, several problems hinder the local government from achieving its community development objectives in the country (Adeyemi 2012).
Sagbama Local Government Area since its creation like any other local government in Nigeria has its own problem which inhibits the effort of the local government to achieve effective community development. There is several criticisms hold by different people against the performance of the local government authority towards community development.
The aforementioned therefore, require a sociological investigation to assess the performance of Sagbama Local Government Area in community development.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The general objective of this study is to investigate the role of Sagbama Local Government in community development.
i. To assess the performance of local government especially in the area of development, education and infrastructural facilities and social amenities.
ii. To identify factors militating against Nigerian local government system in community development.
iii. To ascertain the level which Sagbama Local Government has been living up its constitutional responsibilities in terms of community development?
iv. To provide intellectual thoughts on the issues raised and stimulate areas for new research.
v. To suggest solutions to the problems identified.
1.4 Research Questions
This research seeks to answer the following questions
i. What is the degree of seriousness towards the provision of infrastructural facilities by Sagbama Local Government Area to its citizenry?
ii. Is Sagbama Local Government Area satisfied with the revenue available to her?
iii. Have the available financial resources bun misappropriated?
iv. What type of project does Sagbama Local Government Area carry out?
v. Has Sagbama Local Government Area embarked on any agricultural and industrial programmes in the course of governance?
1.5 Significance of the Study
The significance of this study will be viewed in three perspectives, which includes; theoretical, practical and methodological significance.
i. Theoretically, this study is significant in the sense that it will provide governments at all levels the much needed data for policy formulation, its findings shall serve as basis to many other literatures to be written and also contributing to the variety of written and also contributing to the variety of knowledge that exist in Bayelsa State, Nigeria and the world at large concerning the issue under study. This research work shall serve as a beaconing light to other research that would be carried out on similar subjects. In essence, it shall serve as a major source of literature review to other researchers.
ii. Practically, this study shall recommend some practical alternative measures aimed at improving the role of local government in community development.
iii. Methodologically, this study is significant in the sense that various research methods have been used in explaining different phenomenon. Their suitability will be proven here thereby enabling us to contribute to the research methods used.
1.6 Definition of Terms
Role: Role is that complex of pattern of behaviour associated with a particular social status in a given social group (Martins 2005). Operationally, the conceptual definition stands for this research work.
Local Government: Local government has been defined in the guideline for local government reform of 1976 as government at the local level exercised through representatives, council established by law exercise specific powers within the defined areas (Bello-Imam 2007). Operationally local government is seen as a system of local administration under which local communities and towns are organized to maintain law and order, provide aid encourage some cooperating and participation of the inhabitant in joints endeavours towards the improvement of their conditions of living.
Development: Development can be defined as a systematic increase of man’s capabilities for mastering his environment, satisfying basic human needs and realizing his potentials (Claude Ake, 1980). Operationally, development refers to the fundamental efforts by people or society to come to grip with the imperatives of their environment.
Community Development: Community development is defined as the process by which the efforts of people are united with those of government authorities to improve the social economic, social cultural conditions of the community’s life of the nation and enable them to contribute fully to the national progress (UN). Operationally, the aforementioned definition still stands for this research work.
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