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ASSESSMENT OF PEOPLE’S PERCEPTION OF GRASSROOTS COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS IN EZZA SOUTH LGA OF EBONYI STATE.
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Background To The Study
The concept of community development when viewed from the angle of improving the quality of living of the people in a given community could be said to be as old as when man began his existence on earth. This informed Aguene (1998), quoting Onokothorage and Okafor said that community development model of rural development has for long been applied in Nigeria. It is desired in Nigeria as an important aspect of development administration. Community development, according to Bassey (2002) is the stimulation of the desire for better things and the urge to attain such things. It involves the promotion of better living conditions through projects that the local people support through their own initiative and or their full involvement in the implementation process.
Anyanwu (1992) pointed out that community development was introduced to evoke the initiative of the masses in a movement in order to promote better living for the whole communities. He maintained that community development is a movement that aims at promoting better, happier, healthier and more fruitful living for all the members of a community. It is sustained by the determination to achieve a satisfying end. Kuponiyi, Olarinde and Ayanwuyi (2007) maintained that community development is an empowerment strategy which enables local people to exploit to their advantage community’s human and material resources, which would otherwise lie dormant and perpetuate ignorance and poverty. It enables the people to embark on development effort through their concerted efforts. Nzeneri and Ogili (2002) said that community development was a mechanism employed by our fathers to construct roads, develop lands, build houses and even pay dowry.
Necessity is the mother of invention. Esenjor (1995) noted that community development came into prominence due to the increasing concern to achieve rapid economic and welfare goals by the leaders of emerging nations of Africa, Asia and Latin America. He said that due to the exploitation and suppressive policies of such rulers, these countries became poor and remained underdeveloped. Some of these countries had to undertake long struggles to get things better for her citizens. The governments of these nations have assumed wider responsibilities for the promotion of well being for her citizens. Oreh (2007) opined that community development efforts within the period prior to the advent of colonialism involved the use of all available resources for the betterment of the lives of the people, thus is contending with negative customs and traditions which discouraged such synergic efforts aimed at developing the community and its people. The coming of Europeans to African nations for trade, religious and political emancipation brought with it new phases of community development. It was during this period that community development in Nigeria originated as a modern concept. This according to Itari (2002), permitted the colonialists to work for the people rather than with the people; and it was concentrated in the urban areas. From 1940, the first mass literacy campaign, which was part of the colonial government community development, had been put on the drawing board and the Welfare Act enacted in which “education” was regarded as basis for national development. The “Act” according to Okunola (2002) had its genesis from the previous views expressed on the subject matter such as the 1925 Report of Phelps Stokes Commission on African Education. Okunola reported that the Phelps Stokes Commission White Paper Report of 1925 recommended among others, that progress should not rely only on schools, but also come through improved agriculture, community development, native industries, improvement of health, training people to manage their affairs and the inculcation of the ideas of citizenship and services. Again, there was the 1935 memorandum of Advisory Committee on Education, which emphasized on educating the people in the rural communities. Later on, in April 1946, a Ten Year Development Plan was launched. The plan was meant to provide for the establishment of rural education centers, mass literacy programme, development of technical education, extension of secondary education and teacher training institutions. Thus, mass education was developed and pursued with vigor in order to improve the living condition of the Nigerian people. This, according to Nzeneri and Ogili (2002), necessitated the promotion of fundamental education which was closely related to the needs for change in attitude and in community practices. In this way, therefore, adult functional literacy and/or mass literacy education and community development tend to be a process of socio-economic action, in which people of a community organize themselves for defining their common problem and using what they have got to get what they need.
Consequently, with the regionalization of the country to three in 1947, Development Officers were given the mandate to supervise, co-ordinate and administer mass education and community development in the different provinces. Anyanwu (1992) remarked that later when the Ten Year Development Plan (1946-1956) was introduced which equally emphasized the involvement of the government in community development. The colonial government used indirect rule, persuasion and occasional use of force to make communities participate. Amidst resistance the colonial masters introduced tax payment to compel Africans to work for wages, to increase and raise the standard of living of Africans. Ijomah (2005) argued that if economic welfare in essence is the yardstick for fostering the well being of Africans, it should be the welfare of Nigerian masses and not the welfare of the colonial exploiters.
Anyanwu (1992) quoting Goble (the then Secretary of Northern Province of Nigeria) warned that development has not been witnessed in his entire jurisdiction because of lack of active participation of the people. He maintained that:
Too many of our plans for development is imposed from above: too many rests upon the initiative of Government officials. Little of lasting value will be achieved if we continue as at present with Government doing nearly all the planning and execution while the people sit back and await results. Somehow, we must convince the people that the plans are theirs; designed at their wish for their benefit, and that without the active and eager participation of every man and woman in every work of life the schemes only would be partly successful l( p321).
In a seeming bid to involve the people, community development within the colonial period was in the form of mass education. The colonial government of Nigeria to participated in an exhibition of mass education organized by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Mexico City in November 1947. The government delegations were Major Arthur John Carpenter and Mr. Edward Rowland Chadwick and another four notable Nigerians. Chadwick believed that the campaign for the education of the masses should be the responsibility of administrative officers since they were close to the people. In the process, he encouraged community members to become literate. He provided the necessary incentive that made various communities in his division to build village cooperation shops, postal agencies, maternity homes and motorable roads. Chadwick’s model was to link the world of learning to the world of work, and to marry literacy with vocational education. He was said to have traveled a lot, and popularized the film, “Daybreak in Udi”, which was based on his Udi project.
Community development, according to Chukwuezi (2005) is one of the engines of growth and development of any nation. There is need for popular participation, which ensures that the people participate actively in taking decisions, formulating policies, implementation and evaluation. This will enable the people to take part in all aspect of development meant to enhance their living standard. The community itself has to learn to realize and express its particular needs for development while executive planning must be based on the needs at the grassroots rather than on programmes laid down from the center which may neither represent what is actually required by the community, nor likely to evoke the enthusiasm of the people. Ekom (2002) maintained that the concept of participation makes a man a subject rather than an object of development.
Successive governments, according to Ogundiya and Baba (2005) have designed programmes to make life more meaningful in the communities, but surprisingly, there seems to be no sustained legacy in terms of community life improvement arising from all the efforts. For instance, President Olusegun Obasanjo initiated the Operation Feed the Nation (OFN) in 1976, with its focus on increased food production. When Shehu Shagari became the president of Nigeria in 1979, he floated the Green Revolution with objective similar to his predecessor. General Buhari, who overthrew Shagari, fought corruption and inculcated discipline. Another effort to better the lot of the people came during the regime of General Ibrahim Babangida (1985-1993). It was during this period that the first institutional structure and framework to better the welfare of the citizenry were put in place (Garuba, 2003). Some other programmes initiated were the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) saddled with the responsibility of fighting unemployment, promoted the creation of self employment, special public work programmes, the national youth and vocational skills development and the Directorate for Food, Roads and Rural Infrastructure (DFFRI) of 1986 which was established to ensure integrated rural development, received supports from local governments and community based organizations. With its direct consultations promoted basic and adult and functional education programmes mobilized rural women to enhance their awareness and participation in income generating activities, health education and family planning. Others include: the People’s Bank of Nigeria that provided credit to rural business in a way at which it can be managed by small scale operators and without requiring collaterals and the Community Banks that accepted various types of deposits, issued redeemable debentures, received money of banking instruments, provided auxiliary banking services and provided credit in 1989 and 1990 respectively; all for encouraging savings and credit facilities, thereby improving the lot of people in the community. Equally, the wives of leaders in Nigeria paraded some community improvement programmes such as Mrs. Babangida’s Better Life for Rural Women: enlightened the women folk about the importance of family planning, intensification of free education for girls, women organizations, mobilization ,welfare education, women in agriculture, rural responsibility and the establishment of the National Commission for Women, Mrs. Abacha’s Family Support Programme and Family Advancement Programme, targeted at the needs of females, children, the aged and down trodden. Even, the wife of Obasanjo, Late Stella Obasanjo showcased Child Care Trust.
More so, Obasanjo’s first tenure bid from 1999 did on assumption of office examine the various Poverty Alleviation Programmes in the nation, with the view to harmonizing their effectiveness. This gave rise to the emergence of an institutional framework for poverty alleviation known as the National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP). As stated in Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN,2002) that NAPEP was designed to help eradicate extreme poverty by the year 2010, inline with the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals of making the people and communities in Africa as well as other developing nations to experience improvement in their area by the year 2015. Apart from these, Nigerian government, under President Musa Yar’Adua has the Seven Point (development) Agenda and the Re-branding Project based on National Economic Empowerment Development Strategy (NEEDS).
The major problem is that each government tends to have unique and varied philosophical inclination to whatever aspect of development it deems fit. Specifically, Itari (2002) remarked that lack of power at the local level, absence of effective local development oriented institutional structures, lack of funds and mismanagement of lean resources and over dependence on outside models hampers development programmes It is regrettable that in Nigeria, the plethora of integrated community development programmes as enumerated above has not resulted to community improvement. Obviously there may have been administrative and structural factors that have stifled most efforts towards executing community development projects in Nigeria. Ekom (2002) asserted that often too, developmental initiative takes the top-down approach whereby planning and implementation is done at the government circle without the involvement of the target population in the decision-making process of needs identification and project design. The top-down approach tends to look at communities as often not involved as direct partners in development. No wonder Nwabuko and Oreh (2006) quoting Easterly and Levine made it clear that:
No government or organization can afford to work in isolation. We need to recognize the different strengths and capabilities different organizations have and build partnerships and methods at the national, state and local levels which make the different strengths (P.302).
Recognizing the importance of participation in community development the Federal Government of Nigeria convened a meeting of the National Stake Holder’s Consultation of Education and Development in August 2000 with the aim to review and to find solutions to it. But there is no way this can happen when the women are excluded in issues bordering on development. Onyishi (2004) revealed that women fail to participate in community projects due to conflicts between their domestic duties and the project. The attempts to empower women have travelled through the decades. It is stated under the third goal of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that promoting gender equality and empowering women is a priority. In fact, women have an enormous impact on the wellbeing of their family and societies but their potentials are not realized because of discriminating social norms, incentives and legal institutions (Kwapong, 2005). Considerable efforts have been made by governments and other agencies to address women’s needs and their exclusion from the benefits of development. In Nigeria, several policy approaches have been used such as Better Life for Rural Women and Family Support Programme. Despite these, evidence shows that women in Nigeria are marginalized in the sense that they do not have access to land, training and basic socio-economic infrastructure and activities. As a result, their contribution to community development process is minimal when compared to men (Madu, 2004). The persistent inequality in access to resources along gender line needs much to be cherished. In actual sense, it is a negation to development. Development demands increase in the production, consumptive capacity of a population and most especially the access to which all people have to basic social resources, activities and productive resources. The fundamental problem therefore becomes that women have limited access to resources and this hinders their productivity and welfare as well as their contribution to development. The situation is worse as women are not as educated as men. Male and female should work in inter-relationship and inter-connectedness. Eya (2002) asserted that community development require active involvement of all stakeholders, since it is multi-dimensional no single actor has the monopoly of its achievement and that it should be based on human rights since human rights are an essential part of development. Sustainable development policies can only succeed if the central role of women is put into full use. If women access education, training and health care, these will enable them have dignity and participate fully in project development in the communities, as the dreams of women are the dreams of their homes/communities. Community developments is not a hide and seek game, hence people’s involvement in decision-making processes in grassroots community development projects is crucial.
Efforts to develop the community has seemingly failed, there is urgent need to allow the people participate. It is in the bid to involve the citizens that various programmes such as Mass Mobilization for self reliance, economic recovery and social reconstruction(MAMSER), National Orientation Agency (NOA), National Directorate for Employment (NDE) and Directorate for Food, Roads and Rural Infrastructure (DFRRI) were launched (Garuba, 2003). But the fact was that things did not change for the better. The failure of these projects serves to illustrate the need to involve the rural people in any decision that pertaining to development of the community. Frynas (2005) said that there have been attempts at stimulating community development through self-help projects; since they result from the government’s lack of soft skills for community development, and top-bottom approach. Top-bottom approach tends to look on communities as often not involved as direct partners in development. Akinsorotan and Olujide (2007) contended that despite the government efforts towards project implementation, a lot of these projects had been abandoned due to lack of funding or other relevant resources. They said that some projects turned out to be rather useless to the community as a result of improper planning, even when it is a common knowledge that self help efforts of the people are more effective in meeting the needs of certain communities than others.
Since the emergence of development efforts in Nigeria and grassroots community projects in Ezza South Local Government Area, no study has been carried out to assess grassroots road and other community development projects in the area, hence this study.
1.2 Statement Of The Problem
Since independence, successive governments in Nigeria have initiated different community development programmes. Unfortunately, it is obvious that none of the programmes could be said to have achieved the desired objectives. Government initiated community development programmes have been criticized for its failure to properly identify the common objectives or the felt needs of the beneficiaries and failure to base the planning and implementation on democratic procedures by involving the people adequately (Omoruyi, 2001, Anyanwu, 2002).
Research and evaluation funding of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP,2001) and World Bank (1998) revealed that programmes commanding a sense of ownership by target beneficiaries and stakeholders have clearly performed better than those that did not and unless the target beneficiaries are carried along, they will never have commitment to make such development programmes work. No wonder in Ebonyi state and Ezza South LGA in particular, it is evident that so many community development projects have failed and many more could not be sustained. Going round the LGA, the researcher marveled at the level of so many uncompleted and abandoned community projects in the area.
Considering this scenario, the question becomes: Could it be that the people were not involved or that the people were unwilling to participate in community development projects? Therefore, in the light of the above statement, it has become imperative to assess the perception of the people about grassroots community development projects in Ezza South LGA of Ebonyi State.
1.3 Purpose Of The Study
The general purpose of the study is to assess the perceptions of the people of Ezza South about grassroots community development projects in Ezza South Local Government Area. Specifically, the study will seek to:
- Ascertain the characteristics of the participants in grassroots CD projects
- Identify the strategies for mobilizing people for grassroots community development projects.
- Determine the effective procedures of planning of grassroots community development projects.
- Identify the various ways of implementing of grassroots community development projects.
- Identify the nature of participation of the people of Ezza South in grassroots community development projects.
- Ascertain the factors militating against effective grassroots community development projects.
1.4 Significance Of The Study
The findings of this study will have a number of significant implications. First and foremost, the result of the study will be very imperative for future researchers in the area of the assessment of the grassroots community development projects. The result of the study will add to the existing pool of literature on the problems of assessment of the grassroots community development projects. The result of the study can go to communities in order to give them needed knowledge on how far their enormous efforts and contribution towards community development projects have been utilized, or can be harnessed.
The result of the study will make the concept of participation and human-centeredness in community development paradigms to be full appreciated by development practitioners. The significance of the study will enable the government to give the people the chance to do things in their own way, for it is erroneous to assume that the illiterate members of the community does not know what is good for their existence.
The result of this study would raise the spirits of teamwork and boost the morale of citizens’ critical consciousness during and after execution of community development projects.
This study will give credence to the unavoidability of the people in those things that concerns them. The people, according to Anyanwu (1999) should be at the center of planning, implementation, evaluation and coordination. In fact, the people should take the lead to attain the objective, and citizens can build commitment to and identification with their communities thus educating themselves and contributing to self reliance (Akukwe, 1996).
1.5 Scope Of The Study
This study will be carried out in the twelve autonomous communities of Ezza South LGA of Ebonyi State. The study of this study is restricted to the assessment of People’s Perception of Grassroots Community Development Projects in Ezza South LGA of Ebonyi State.
The content scope of this study will be delimited to characteristics of the participants, mobilizing strategies, procedure for planning and ways of implementing of grassroots community development projects. Also, the nature of participation and factors militating against effective grassroots development projects will be discussed.
1.5 Research Questions
- What are the characteristics of the participants of grassroots community projects in Ezza South L .G .A?
- What are the strategies used for mobilizing people for grassroots community development projects in Ezza South L.G.A?
- What are the effective procedures of planning of grassroots community development projects in Ezza South L.G.A?
- What are the various ways of implementing of grassroots community development projects in Ezza South L.G.A?
- What is the nature of participation of members of the people in grassroots community development projects in Ezza South L.G.A?
- What the factors militating against effective of grassroots community development projects in Ezza south L.G.A?
Ho1. There will be no significant difference in the mean responses of the men and women on the people’s perception of the effective procedure of planning grassroots community development projects in Ezza South LGA.
Ho2. There will be no significant difference between the mean responses of the men and women on the people’s perception of the various ways of implement ting of grassroots community development projects in Ezza South LGA.
Ho3 There will be no significant difference in the mean responses of the men and women on the people’s perception on the nature of participation in grassroots community development projects in Ezza South LGA