1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
According to Nnoli (1993), the Nigeria economic and socio-political development, especially at the grassroots and community levels has reached a dead end, precisely because it is not built around the people. Even the government established agencies, as well as foreign donors and non-governmental organizations who took part in the implementation of the programmes have come to realize that the development vision, programmes and strategies pursued, ended up being inappropriate and even irrelevant to the real need of the vast majority of the people (Yusif, 2008).
Perhaps, that is why the Agricultural development programmes funded by the World Bank, such as water, electricity, roads and health, among others in Nsukka LGA of Enugu state could not yield a fruitful result. A critical analysis of the above mentioned projects show that they contributed little to the welfare of the bulk of small peasant communities in Nsukka LGA. In the recent endeavor to overcome the problems of the community will enhance success in promoting rural development through community active participation becomes very imperative since it is the community that knows the basic needs of the people and what possibly need to be done and how to overcome such problems. These include those of poverty reduction, empowerment, provision of motor able roads, clean and portable drinking water, rural electricity among other basic needs such as health related programmes and sanitation.
Consequently, the search for community participation as an alternative development strategies and well-conceived programmes has now become necessary particularly among the people of Nsukka LGA. This is because; social scientists and policy makers point out that the past development strategies have only succeeded in breeding poverty among the population. The main focus of the development Strategy being searched must be one which taps the initiative of the people through their active participation on conceiving, planning and implementation of the African charter for popular participation in development and transformation (ECA, 1990 as cited in Yusif, 2008).
Conceptually, the acceptance of people participation approach to development can be regarded as a breakthrough, especially if we take into cognizance the present day domain of rural development programmes in Nigeria. However we have to use important principle for participation in rural development. This is because even the World Bank has agreed on the principle for participation of the rural populace in the integrated rural developmental projects it had sponsored in Nigeria.
Generally the history and structure of community administration in Nigeria has taken various forms over the years. Each of the structure is of different components and orientation of local government employees. Therefore the contemporary community in local government structure is closer to the modern civil service in the Weberian sense. It is organized with hierarchical arrangement and chains of command as well as with particular specialized staff responsible for expert duties. That is why in Nigeria and communities in Nsukka in particular, local government system has employees for community works who go to the fields to organize the people for rural development Projects. Consequently one of the cardinal objectives of the local government as third tier government is the provision of at least limited range of social services and public utilities needed by the rural populace. Therefore, communities in Nsukka local government area are expected to sensitize and encourage the cooperation and participation of the people in rural areas to enhance the improvement of their living.
In simple terms the main objective of community participation in development of their areas is to ensure that the people make their lives worth living for themselves through the assistance of the local government administration. This include provision of clean and portable drinking water, rural electrification, provision of agricultural incentives (loans, machines, chemicals seedlings), good feeder roads, conducive education and learning facilities, among others which can only be achieved through joint efforts between the local government authority and the populations within their own communities.
The role of the people in the communities in this regard therefore range from participation approach which mean wholesome provision of specific amenities or services to specific communities of Nsukka LGA with handful support by the people. This midway approach would mean that Nsukka local government joint effort with the various communities in sponsorship of developmental projects to the people which could also, include granting of aids among other means.
In Nigeria out of the 774 local governments in the federation, Nsukka LGA like some others is very poor and backward. The local government area is primarily a rural settlement, being sustained on subsistence agriculture and petty trading. The farmers in the rural areas also account for poor and low agricultural output. They lack access to good roads; the domestic water system is very hard to come by, with the absence of streams and rivers. The educational infrastructure is poor and the health services incomprehensive to carter for preventive purposes.
It is important to note that, many communities in Nigeria are so poor that the people are too busy fighting for their daily bread. The country is structured in such a way that the rich feed from the poor, the rich get richer while the poor get poorer and in such a community, there can never be united front and there cannot be a defined goal to pursue. It is a society of the winner takes it all and the looser, loose it all. In Ihe-Owere Nsukka, there have also been instances where the community will contribute money for community self initiated programme and one politician will come and make a promise to see the programme to a conclusive end, there by stopping some rich men in the community from generous donations and at the end of the day, once election is over, the politician will be no were to be found and such programme will die a natural dearth.
Therefore the gag this research work have tried to unravel and fill, is the structural dynamics of Nigerian political system which is the reason why communities do not participate actively and effectively in community development of their areas. In the course of search and searching again we discovered that, Nigerian political system is structured in such a way that does not encourage community cooperation towards a particular goal. To our chagrin, we found out that Nsukka local government does not have the demographic data of their communities at their disposal. And in such a situation how can the local government mobilize the people towards development of their areas. We found out that in Ihe-Owere community (Nsukka local government area), the people are willing and ready to collaborate and work with government to see that their area is developed but because of the insincerity of government, people are reluctant to support community programmes. “It is a country of every man to your tent oh Israel” etc.
However, the joint effort of community members and government is to make provision for social services and public amenities to improve the living standard of the rural communities of Nsukka LGA as a cardinal objective. And possibly, to improve the productive sector of the area, which is predominantly agrarian mode of production and make it alleviate object poverty by mobilizing and sensitizing the community for rural development. Moreover, development of rural areas is one of the series of local government reforms instituted in Nigeria etc
Therefore, the focus of the study is to examine the extent of community participation in rural development in Ihe-Owere, Nsukka local government area of Enugu State between 2012 and 2014.
1.2 Statement of Problem
Community development is the process of helping a community to strengthen itself and develop towards its full potential. Mobilizing community members for community development purpose is important; hence community active participation towards the development of their own environment cannot be over emphases, as that will give them a sense of belonging and the will power to focus on their long term needs than just identifying them. Taking care of their felt-needs as a collective responsibility, gives a sense of belonging and control of their environment (Community).
Prior to local government reform of 1976, which made Nigeria local government the third tier of government system in Nigeria, various efforts had been made towards community participation for the development of rural areas and other programmes which are seen to be inadequate.
Hence, after independence there were efforts to enhance community participation in rural development in order to improve the lives of the rural populace. Consequently, Ihe-Owere in Nsukka local government area was one of those areas which made every possible effort to bring rural development to the domain of the common man. Projects embarked upon were roads, primary schools, bridges, markets, health centers, electricity among others.
The major problem at a point in time was lack of fund to make such projects formidable and durable for the lasting needs and demands of the people. And when Nsukka local government was created in 1976, hopes were raised as par issue of rural infrastructural development. The local government is the best basis to realize the rural development because, it has the capacity to mobilize the rural communities to participate in programmes that will be meaningful to their lives.
The above factor is important because, many development projects from the first, second and third national development plans have failed to bring development to rural communities in Nsukka local government areas including development agents like The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), nongovernmental organs and in recent time, the millennium development goals (MDGS). This is because the development projects initiated could not incorporate the people properly. As such, basic programmes and projects that are supposed to be beneficial to the people are not initiated and properly projected in the way it will serve the needs of the people. It is in this respect that community participation is necessary in the realization of community development in Ihe-Owere, Nsukka local government area of Nigeria.
This study therefore, intends to assess the extent of community participation in community development in Ihe-Owere, Nsukka local government area of Enugu State. It attempts to provide answers to the following questions.
- Has Ihe-Owere community participated effectively in the development of their area?
- Does the problem of inadequate funding hinder Ihe-Owere community from active participation in the development of their area?
1.3 Objectives of the Study
This study has both broad and specific objectives. The broad objective is to determine whether communities in Nsukka local government area participate substantially in rural development. The specific objectives are as follows:
- To ascertain the extent of community participation in community development in Ife-Owere, Nsukka LGA.
- To determine whether the problem of inadequate funding hinder Ihe-Owere from community participation in community development.
1.4 Significance of the Study
This study has both theoretical and practical significance.
Theoretically, this research work will be of significance since it will add to the existing literature on community participation and community development and the role of local government to the people. It will contribute immensely in academia by providing relevant information on community participation in community development and assist the researchers who would like to carry out research in similar area in the future. It will also be of importance to the students and staff of public administration and local government especially on the topic relevant to community development.
Practically, this research work will be relevant to local government administrators particularly those of Nsukka local government area on how to promote rural development through the participation approach.
Similarly, the communities will benefit from this research work since it will serve as a guide to them on how to partake in developmental projects relevant to their lives. In addition, this work will assist local government extension workers in Nsukka local government on how to implement community projects with assistance and cooperation of the people. Finally, policy makers and planners will find this work relevant since it will enable them to be acquainted with the delinquent information necessary to incorporate the rural communities in community projects planning in order to achieve the desired objectives of the plan.