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Manpower development and utilization is of utmost importance to any sector, as it deals with how best to keep employees comfortable in their jobs, up-to-date, resourceful and versatile; this is expected to ensure optimal and continual performance of their assigned roles in an efficient and effective manner. The above is very important given the nature of human existence in the contemporary times (Ajieh, 2014).

Nigeria’s continuous struggle for socio-economic and political development can only be achieved through efficient and proactive indigenous manpower to serve as the propelling force for national growth and development. This is quite indispensible considering the argument of the concept if transfer of technology as a propelling force for the development of the developing countries.

The quality, efficiency and effectiveness, as well as the general administration of a country or firm or organization’s human resources to achieve its goals depends to a large extent on the ability of its manpower. As such, manpower development is a critical factor in the achievement of organizational objectives. Notably, “human resources administration relates to the overall organizational planning process by which the organization tries to ensure that it has the right number of persons and the right kind of people, … at the right time and at the right place performing certain functions, …which are economically useful and which satisfy the need of the organization and provide satisfaction for the individuals involved, and all geared towards efficiency and productivity by the organization (Ezeani, 2005:15-18).

The development of manpower has been a critical issue for organizations over the years, owing to the fact that that some employees may not possess adequate skills required for a particular job or may be wrongly placed within the organizations; and also the fact that employees need to adapt to changes introduced by science and technology for the increment and achievement of important results.

The concept of manpower development, which is often interchangeably used with human resources development and utilization, staff development or training, has many connotations which more or less mean the same thing, or to a large extent, talk about the same thing. It is an organized, coordinated development of knowledge; skills and attitudes needed by an individual to master a given situation or perform a certain task within an organizational setting. According to Saraswathi (2010), manpower development in the organizational context is a process by which the employees of an organization are helped in a continuous, planned ways to acquire or sharpen capabilities required to perform various functions associated with their present or expected future roles; develop their general capabilities as individuals and discover and exploit their own inner potentials for their own and/or organizational development processes; and develop an organizational culture in which supervisor-subordinate relationships, team work and collaboration among sub-units are strong and contribute to the professional well-being, motivation and pride of employees for the general well being of the entire organization.

There are two major components of manpower development – individual and organizational. The one refers to the development of new knowledge skills or improvement of behaviours that result in performance enhancement and improvement related to one’s job. It involves formal programmes, but is most often accomplished through informal, on-the-job training activities. On the other hand, organizational development is directed at developing new and creative organization solutions to performance problems by enhancing congruence among the organization’s structures, culture, processes, and strategies within the human resources domain. In other words, the organization should become a more functional unit as a result of a closer working relationship among these elements. The ultimate goal of organizational development is to develop the organization’s self-renewing capacity through self-assessment, and geared towards improvement of the organization (Ubeku, 1975).

While manpower development is a necessity that contributes significantly to the overall effectiveness and profitability of an organization, the effectiveness and success of an organization lies on the people who form and work within the organization. It is the developed human capital of an organization that constitutes its wealth. Thus, the performance of employees towards achievement of set goals and successes is a function of the quantum of the relevant skills and knowledge programmes acquired on the job.

With this in mind, this study is therefore aimed at critically examining the issue of challenges of manpower development and utilization within the Rivers State Local Government system between 1999 and 2011. We shall also attempt the identify problem areas and also suggest possible ways of overcoming them so as to achieve greater success towards the realization of the overall goal.



It is an indubitandum that manpower development and utilization is critically uppermost in the minds of any public or private organization for the purposes of optimal productivity. This is so much so in the local government system. But, for some time now it appears manpower development in the Rivers State Local Government system has been unsatisfactory, unplanned and unsystematic, and several of its employee such as machine operators, junior and middle level engineers, account clerks, computer operators, secretaries, drivers and many other category of workers, have not qualified for any form of training nor is there any systematic process of staff development in place.

From evidence available to us, there is inadequate manpower development in the Commission,

There is lack of training and development of employees by management and employees have often had to train themselves at their personal expenses for their own good and promotion on the job. According to some of the respondents, some of the employees who expressed the desire to pursue university education were not given any form of assistance like study leave with pay. Their applications were turned down with those who were persistent being advised to resign. Those who sought for part-time programmes were disengaged after their studies as management claimed their programmes were not relevant to the job. The few ones who were retained had no promotion to match their added skills and competencies (Oluwatobi, 2012:183-4).


Apart from the above, it was also observed that there is a paucity of poor data base needed for manpower planning, more emphasis is placed on the traditional personnel management functions like recruitments, placement, wages, administration, discipline and employee welfare at the detriment of manpower development. Moreover, where staff development is carried out by the Commission, workers are not deployed based on the skills acquired during the training. Some of the staff that has benefitted or sent at all for training, with all the financial resources incurred on the government name, have not been given the opportunity or placed in their rightful places according to the relevant training received. This has also been a very big problem as it leads to frustration and general inefficiency.

Many scholars (Miachi, 2006; Yesufu, 1962; Onuka & Ajayi, 2012; Omodia, 2009; Ojohwoh, 2011; McClelland, 1994; Finegold et al, 2005; Abdullahi, 2013; Okorafor & Soludo, 1991; Ugwu, 2000; Okoli & Onah, 2002; Ezeani, 2005) have thus far dealt with such issues as lack of training for staff of the local government.

Others (Ubeku, 1975; Tokunbo, 1977; Onah, 2006; Drucker, 1999; Caroline & Charles, 1997; Akindele 7 Adeyemi, 2010; Ajieh, 2014) have talked about the lack of proper human resources development in the local government service in Nigeria. However, there was insufficient treatment of the issues of manpower development and utilization in Rivers State Local Government system.

Based on the above, this study is set to examine the following questions:

  1. To what extent did inadequate manpower development affect productivity in the Rivers State Local Government system between 1999 and 2011?
  2. Are the manpower development programmes based on the manpower needs of the Local Government system in Rivers State between 1999 and 2011?
  3. Could educational training serve as manpower development strategy to improve workers’ productivity in the Rivers State Local Government system?



This study has both broad and specific objectives. Broadly, the study seeks to underscore the challenges of manpower development and utilization in the Rivers State Local Government system between 1999 and 2011.

The specific objectives of the study were to:

  1. Examine the extent inadequate manpower development affected productivity in the Rivers State Local Government system between 1999 and 2011;
  2. Ascertain whether manpower development programmes were based on the manpower needs of the Rivers State Local Government system between 1999 and 2011;
  3. Determine whether educational training could serve as manpower development strategy to improve workers’ productivity in the Rivers State Local Government system.



The critical nature of manpower development to the success or growth of any organization is given. This is because an inadequately trained employee is completely useless to the full achievement of the organizational goals. This applies to the Local Government Service in general and the Rivers State Local Government system in particular. As untrained civil servants lack the necessary capacity and confidence to perform their duties, thus affecting productivity, there is need for them to be trained adequately and for the government to ensure that the needs of the local governments are met.

Thus, the study is crucial and timely as it brings to the fore the importance of employee development and utilization of the manpower of the Local Government in Rivers State for optimal productivity. It will be useful for employers, employees and the entire academe as it will add to the existing literature on the possible way of leading manpower development and utilization in the Local Government System in Nigeria, and ensuring that it helps workers.

It will also help the Rivers State Local Government System get maximum value from the employees by introducing training programmes at various cadres of the workforce; and enable them bring out better manpower development and utilization training programmes for its employees. A well trained manpower will lead to better results for the local government system in Nigeria and in Rivers State in particular.




According to Ojohwoh (2011), manpower occupies an indispensable position in any establishment, be it an industry, commercial or educational institution. This means that without manpower no establishment can function. In essence, human effort is greatly desirable and crucial in achieving the goals and objectives of the organisation. Effective management is used to mean the training of personnel to improve their application of knowledge, skill, behaviour or problem solving techniques which they acquire through previous education, training and experience. In the past, libraries and information centres had Agaja (2000) examined the nature of professional continuing education in Nigerian universities and looked at the reasons why they are unable to capitalize on available opportunities. These include lack of finance, obsolete equipment for practical, apathy toward further training by employees, delay in remuneration of beneficiaries and wrong perception of development by the society. He submitted that training prospects are good if the problems associated with it are reduced to a minimum level. Other problems like poor linkage between school and work, lack of encouragement on research work, etc also militate against manpower development in Nigeria.

Conroy (2000) defined manpower development as a purpose effort intended to strengthen the library’s capability to fulfill its mission effectively and efficiently by encouraging and providing for the growth of its own human resources. He described manpower development as factor that improves the competence of personnel through opportunities for learning on the job. This implies that manpower development can be achieved through training and education of staff. However, the continual enrichment of staff with knowledge is to mutual benefit of the individual and the organization.

Akpan (1982) cited in Onah (2008) defines staff development as whereby an employee is enabled to grow in the job, through acquisition of wide experience, breadth and increasing confidence resulting from the exercise of varied and tested responsibilities, the aim being to enable him to reach the top or achieve his best in his profession of employment. This is achieved through combined efforts of training and education.



According to Okoli (2004:1) “development is the promotion of the promotion of the welfare of the individual”. It involves the enhancement of the good life of the individual. According to Conyers and Hill (2006), the understanding of the word develop will help in explaining development. To develop means to change gradually progressing through a number of stages towards some sort or state of improvement or completeness or a state in which the subject’s true identity is revealed (Onah, 2010). Development therefore means a process of progressive change in the physical, social, economic, or even mental attributed of a given phenomenon. It could be positive or negative depending on the circumstances and the nature of the change.



Manpower Development could also be tagged as training and development of employees which is the acquisition of new skills, and knowledge to bring about proficiency and the potency of such an employee of an establishment (Jones et al. 2000; Okotoni & Erero, 2005). Rao & Narayana (1987) was of the view that Manpower Development is an attempt to bring a change in an individual’s attitude and behavior by improving their knowledge, skills and job performance so as to achieve a better fit with the system as well as accomplishing the goals of the organization and that of the individual. They contended that manpower is just an aspect of organizational development which is broader. Training and development is a mode of tilting or a process of altering employees’ behavior and attitudes in a way that increases the probability of goal attainment. There are various types of training programmes; some last only a few hours, others last for months. Some are fairly superficial; others are extensive in coverage (Akintayo, 1996; Hodgelts & Luthans, 2000 and Oguntimehin, 2001). Jones et al. (2000) were of the view that training is a way of impartation on organizational members how to perform their current jobs and helping them acquire the knowledge and skills they need to be effective performers by taking up new responsibilities, and adapt to changing conditions while they opined that developments deals with the building of the knowledge  and skills of organizational members so that they will be prepared to take on new responsibilities and challenges but training is being used frequently at lower levels of an organisation. Development is a word that is frequently used with the professionals and managers. However, before the creation of training and development programmes, managers should perform needs assessment in which they will determine who among the employees needed to be trained or developed and what type of skills or knowledge they need to acquire (Jones et al., 2000).

Objectives of Manpower Development

Adeoye (2002); Okotoni and Erero (2005), as well as Olaniyan and Ojo (2008) enumerated the objectives of manpower development with the view that the responsibility of every manager in an organization is to improve or increase the effectiveness of his employees. Moreover, training is an investment in people, so it has some certain objectives to accomplish and these include:

  • to increase the performance of the employees
  • to impart knowledge, skills and capabilities to both new and old employees
  • to create room for team spirit and high morale in the organization
  • to encourage the employees to develop their career to meet individual yearnings and aspirations
  • to help in adaptability of the employees to ever changing work environment and technological changes that is occurring on daily basis
  • to help bridge the gap between existing performance ability and desired performance
  • to help in the creation of job satisfaction for the employees.



Human resource can be described as the set of individual who make up the work force of an organization. Ndiomu in Ezeani (2003:2) opined that “the human resources of an organization comprise of men and women, young and old who engage in the production of goods and service and who are the greatest assets of the organization”. Quoting Gant (1979), Ezeani (2002:2) pointed that “the people are the human resources and they constitute the source of supply for technical and professional skilled men who are germane for effective and efficient planning and implementation of development policies programmes, projects and daily activities”.

Organizations consist of human beings who work together to achieve specific goals constitutes the human resources of the organization. According to Eze (1995:2), “human resources include the foundation owners or the entrepreneurs or the leaders of the enterprise, the directors, the managers and supervisors and the rank and file workers employed by the management”.



Training is a purposeful development of the required skills, knowledge and attitudes in an employee (Ocheni 2013:2). According to Bedeian (1987:361), training is “the process of developing an individual’s skills, knowledge and abilities so as to improve present and future performance.” The specific advantages derivable from training are varied, but the common denominator is improvement of employee performance. Training becomes meaningful only if trained staff are effectively utilized where they can apply the knowledge and skills gathered during training in the work environment. Training is a costly exercise and the organization can only justify such expenditure by utilizing the trained staff maximally towards the attainment of organizational objectives which invariably culminate in improved productivity.



Inyang (1995) defined productivity as the output and input ratio within a given time frame and with special attention to quality and the efficient of resources. It is doing the right things the right way, getting more output within less input, getting more output with the same input, punctuality and promptness, elimination of wastes in all forms, justifying your pay, improvement in all aspects of life, producing more and more of better quality. Ulrich (1997), defined productivity as the ratio of output to input; Input may include labour hours or costs, production costs and equipment costs. Output may consist of sales, earning, and market share. Many firms now assume or have shown that productivity is affected by employee’s knowledge, skill, abilities, attitude, motivation and behaviours. The improvement programme starts with this assumption and proceeds with different intervention strategies. Prokopenko (1996) defined productivity as the relationship between the output generated by a production or service system and the input provided to create this output.



The concept of Local Government may be seen as “a segment of a constituent state or region of a nation state”, established by law to provide public services and regulate public affairs within the area of its jurisdiction (Ikelegbe, 2005:38-9). Although the lowest level of government (and therefore, closest governmental authority to  the  people),  it  is supposed  to  possess  the  necessary  powers  to  function  and  control  its own  finances and personnel. Although territorially and functionally demarcated as a constituent unit of a larger and higher level of government to which it is responsible, it must also have some level of autonomy which is commensurate with its functions, local peculiarities and democratic credibility. “It  is government under  the  responsibility of  the  local people and  in  the  interest of  the  local population by local representative bodies” (Ikelegbe, 2005:39). As King observed, the local government is universally found in modern politics, although it goes by various appellations.

Its  legitimacy  lies  in  its “claim  to represent  the  interests or wishes of  the  local  inhabitants and  to administer  to their  needs”. Founded  on  democratic  ideals,  it  is  required  “that  they  be  given  an  opportunity  to  control  their affairs  at  this  level,  especially since  this is  the point  at which  their  interests  and welfare  are most  likely  to be directly affected” (King, 1988:3).

According to Wunsch (2001), African states, since the early 1980s, have expended much rhetoric and, in some cases, substantial resources on political and administrative decentralization, expressed in terms of local governance (genuine local autonomy and control over important services and investments). These reforms involve significant changes in planning, budgeting, personnel, and expenditure and service functions. They range from very substantial efforts, as in post-1985 Uganda, Botswana and Nigeria in the early 1990s, to more limited efforts as in Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania (Olowu, 2001). To achieve functioning local governance systems each country  has  had  to  wrestle  with  the legal and administrative details  involved  in  this  substantial  political-administrative reform (Olowu and Smoke, 1992).

Mukoro (2009) tells us that the desire to strengthen local government and thus make it a veritable organ for development has a long history around the world. Its philosophic roots can be traced to the works of Rousseau and that of Alexis De Touqueville. Rousseau’s works focused on the discussion on how government ought to be set up and run if they are to be good government, that is, when the reason for government is aimed for the common good and is wholly supported by all citizens of good will (Thomson, 1968). Rousseau’s ideal state is a very small, compact, more like the tiny Greek states of old. Touqueville (1969), on the other hand, was fascinated by the nature of America’s democracy and public administration. This arose from his visit to the United States of America (U.S.A.) and the realization that the citizens were very much involved in the management of their government whether at the local, municipal or at the metropolitan levels.

History  abound within  the African  continent  to  prove  that  organized  state  structures  existed  in most parts of Africa hundreds of years before its social structure was laid waste by slavery and colonialism according to Johnston  (1998).These states, under hereditary monarchies, were characterized by complex  institutions  such as age-based military conscription, taxation, advisory structures, an education system, a judicial system, markets and  so on  (Mukoro, 2009).The experience of many African countries with  the  style of adopting  the  system of government inherited from their colonial masters has often  turned out to be a failure (Green, 1995; Wunsch and Olowu, 1990). Several  reasons account  for  the  failure,  ranging  from a combination of uninhibited particularism with  fallouts  such as corruption, incapacity to resolve social  conflict  peacefully, external  pressure  and intervention,  rapid  technological outclassing and economic incompetence. In the view of Johnston (1998), this has led ‘since the late 1970’s to declining legitimacy on the part of the African state and its institutions in some countries. This has in turn led to the marginalization of the state and in some cases its collapse’.

In the Nigerian context, it has been argued that the formal structures of government in Nigeria have increasingly become a fiction in governance. According to Olowu and Erero (1997), the services they provide have declined sharply in quality and quantity, which inadvertently has given rise to the development of alternative institutional structures for providing essential services.

Considered from another dimension, empirical studies have shown that highly  centralized states are expensive to run, they are cumbersome, inflexible and are subjected to being abused (Esman, 1991). Similarly, it has been argued that democracy must be rooted in functioning local, participatory self-governance institutions (Wunsch, 2004). Democracy has certainly shown itself to be the best system for controlling governments and engaging people in their own governance. The position of several literatures on governance is in no doubt unanimous that African governments have not been doing well politically and economically. They are therefore of  the belief  that emphasis should now be shifted to the growth of civil societies, public ownership of political institutions, mobilization of talents and  resources  into constructive patterns and countervailing power vis-à-vis national institutions.

This new re-awakening is undoubtedly a reaction to years of frustrating experience with highly centralized national governments. A very ready explanation that can be given for the continuing malaise of governance in African nations is the choice of their policies and the strategies employed in pursuing them. These policies  include  centralization (Olowu,  1995), central control of resources both  fiscal  and  jurisdictional (Gboyega, 2003; Skelcher, 2005;Mutahaba,1989), turbulent economic and policy  environment  which  have undermined local institutions (Olowu and Wunsch, 1995, 1996), leadership attitude to the laws of the land as if they are unchangeable and the absence of complimentary reforms in the legal systems (Ayee, 1997). According to Wunsch (2004), the underdeveloped local civil society left local governments rudderless as they tried to develop policy and deliver services.



The Local Government Service is the general term designating the administrative personnel of the public authority. Okoli and Onah (2002:76) said that Local Government Service administration is described as the measures taken by governments to organize their public employment in relation to the country’s manpower requirements, the dictates of the economic and social policy of the state and the need