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This research titled, “Local Government as Vehicle for Grassroot Development In Nigeria: A Study Of Ohaozara Local Government Area of Ebonyi State” was aimed at ascertaining the extent Ohoazara local government has contributed to rural development, to find out the extent inadequacy of skilled workers affect the ability of Ohoazara local government council in carrying out rural development programme and also to verify how adequate financing by both state and federal governments are for grassroots development of Ohaozara Local Government Area. The researcher adopted a survey research method and system theory of David Easton as its guide. Structured questionnaire was used as the major instrument for data collection while Chi-square statistical tools was used to test the hypotheses formulated for the study. The findings revealed that Ohaozara local government has contributed political to the development it rural areas. Based on the analysis, the study recommends that the federal government should create more local government to draw development nearer to the rural dwellers, government should contribute more in the area of Human Resources Development rather than political development only and government should formulate more developmental programmes and policies that will enhance rural development.



1.1 Background of the Study

The expediency for the creation of local government anywhere in the world stems from the need to facilitate development at the grassroots. The importance of local government is a function of its ability to generate sense of belongingness, safety and satisfaction among its populace. All forms of government, regimes or political systems have so far ensured the attainment of this goal. Such strategy for ensuring national administrative development and political efficacy is found in the concept and practice of local government.

Whatever is the mode of government, local government has been essentially regarded as the path to, and guarantor of, national integration, administration and development (Elegonye, 2003). In Nigeria’s socio-political context, with multiplicity of culture, diversity of languages and differentiated needs and means, the importance of such an organization in fostering the needed national consciousness, unity and relative uniformity as well as preservation of peculiar diversities cannot be over-emphasized.

Central to the creation of local government, however, is its ability to facilitate an avenue through which government and the people intermix, relate and more quickly than any other means resolve or dissolve issues that may have heated the system. Local government has been perceived as a panacea for the diverse problems of the diverse people with diverse culture. As important as this tier of government has been, there seems to be some impediments that have been infringing on its performance and functions in recent times.

These impediments range from political but undue interference of the higher levels of government i.e. federal and state governments, bribery and corruption to embezzlement and gross inadequacy of well-trained and qualified personnel to mention a few. According to Nnoli (1981:36) and Rodney (1972), all people have shown a capacity for independently increasing their ability to live more satisfactory life than before.

This is then a progressive process that has no end. A local government is semi-autonomous territorial unit created by the constitution or general laws of a state to undertake certain functions within specified or limited geographical area. According to Agbakoba (2004), a local government is a political and administrative unit that is empowered by law to administer a specified locality. It involves philosophical commitment to the idea of community participation in government at grassroots level.

There is general assumption among scholars and practitioners, that local government are not only established as representative organ but also as a channel through which goods and services are delivered to the people within the framework of laws establishing them. In fact, democracy itself originated and developed along the line of local government initiatives. This is why the executive, legislative and judicial arms of these governments are elected or appointed as the case may be.

In Nigeria, local government is created to bring government closer to the people. The definition of local government by the Nigerian Federal Government leaves one with no iota of doubt that it is largely both theoretically sound and service oriented to the people. It talks of representative councils with substantial control over local affairs, for the provision of services and implementation of projects in their areas, to complement the activities of both the State and Federal governments.

The definition also amply recognizes the need for local government autonomy as the substantial control of local governments is aimed at staff, institutional and financial matters, among others (Nigeria, 1976). In addition to the above, the Nigerian Federal Government is one of the few governments in the world perhaps in addition to Brazil (Erero, 1998) that have elevated LGs to a third tier of government. By so doing, the State governments do not exercise absolute controls over local governments.

It is however feared that the realities on ground to some extent counter the foregoing constitutional prescriptions. With these perceptions, vis-a-via the constitutional duties and roles of local governments, the work seeks to examine local government as a vehicle for grassroots development in Nigeria with particular attention to Ohaozara Local Government Area.


1.2 Statement of Problem

Local government is the third tier government establishment to bring the presence of government nearer to the people at the grassroot, with the aim of providing some basic functions or needs of life such as, food, shelter, job opportunities primary health service, primary education, roads, markets and so on. Contrary to expectations, the local governments have noticeably failed in their constitutional responsibilities.

They are generally classified as being unproductive. Obasanjo (2003). This current reform going on now is one of the major reforms previously done on the local government system in Nigeria, with their sole objectives of reforming the local government system to be effective and efficient and responsive and objective. The local government is faced with a number of problems such as unemployment, low incomes for target group, lack of improved qualities in the basic needs of life-food, shelter, job opportunities, health service, education as will as inability of the local government council to ensures that the poorer section of the population has some share in the fruit of economic activities for the overall economic growth of the grossroot.

Thus, in pursuance of the central problem in this research a number of questions have been raised (posed) as follows:

  1. To what extent has Ohaozara local government Area contributed to grassroot development?
  2. How far does inadequacy of Skilled Workers affect the ability Ohaozara local government council in carrying out grassroot development programme?
  3. How adequate is the financing of Ohoazara local government by the state and federal government for grassroot development?

1.3 Objectives of Study

The broad objective of this study is to assess Local Government as a vehicle for grassroot development in Ohoazara Local Government Area of Ebonyi State. The specific objectives of the study are as follows.

  1. To ascertain the extent Ohoazara local government has contributed to rural development.
  2. To find out the extent inadequacy of skilled workers affect the ability of Ohoazara local government council in carrying out rural development programme.
  3. To verify how adequate financing by both state and federal governments are for grassroots development of Ohaozara Local Government Area.

1.4 Research Hypothesis

H1:   Ohaozara local council has not contributed substantially to rural development in the   local government area.

H2:   Inadequacy of skilled workers affects the ability of Ohoazara local government council in carrying out rural development programmes.

H3:   Inadequate funding by both State and the Federal Governments hinders Ohaozara Local Government council’s ability in carrying out developmental programmes.

1.5 Significance of the Study

This study has both theoretical and practical significance. Theoretically, the study provides a theoretical framework for the understanding of the role of local government in grassroot development in Nigeria. Therefore considering the pivotal role of local government in development in general, such information will be of immense help for policy formulation on the development of grassroots. The result of the study will equally be of help to other researchers who may want to research on such topic or related topics on development in the academia in the future.

On the practical significance, the study will draw attention of, and enlighten both the stakeholders and those who implement policies on rural development in Nigeria who may not really understand the central role of rural development on the crucial and inescapable role of local government system. As a result, the rural dwellers will endeavour to participate full in grassroots democratization and development, while those who implement policy on development in Nigeria will become dedicated to policy formulation, recommendations and implementation.

1.6 Scope of the Study

The study shall cover local government as a vehicle for grassroot development with a particular reference to Ohaozara local government Area (1999-2915). However, if there is need for extension of this study beyond Ohaozara it would be for reference purpose only.

1.7 Theoretical Framework

The theory which informs our discussion of local government and rural development, a study of Ohaozara local government council is the general systems theory. The scholar most associated with this theory is Easton (1965) “sees the political system as a set of interrelated and reciprocally regulated patterns of actions and orientation, pattern that cluster together in equilibrium and that have certain needs of maintenance and survival.

It is a phenomenon of whatever type, including physical, biological, social, political, etc., which is an organized whole with identifiable, interrelated structures delineating it from the environment (supra system) in which it is located and with which it interacts, processing the inputs from it into outputs for it. The general systems theory seeks to argue that every system, including political system, has subsystems which make up the entire system.

They are assigned functions and provided with enabling empowerment, including resources, appropriate authority, etc. to enable them discharge their responsibilities optimally. Where this is the case, there is said to be homeostasis (stability) in the political system. On the other hand, instability reigns in the political system where the contrary is the case and the subsystems and entire system are also unable to function optimally. Input and output analysis of a political system is very important.

This theory is relevant to this study because it obtains inputs (demands, supports, liberty or autonomy, cooperation, criticisms, resources, information, direct labour, etc.) from the environment. These inputs are what the subsystems employ to discharge their responsibilities, so that the political system can send out its outputs into the environment and obtain further inputs for its operations.

1.8 Operational Definition of Concept

Grassroots/Rural development: The term grassroots development as used in this study refers to the act or process of developing and empowering the well-being of the vast majority of the rural dwellers through the provision of basic social and economic infrastructures. Hence, it is a development from below. According to Todaro (1985) grassroots development is an advancement that makes life more meaningful in all its entirety. Whether political, economic, socio-cultural and infrastructural.

Rural Dwellers: Rural dwellers are the people living in the remote areas of a country and lack basic infrastructure like good road network, pipe borne water, electricity, good health facility etc. The term refers to the ordinary people who are far from political decision making process at the centre. These groups includes small scale farmers, tenants, etc who seek livelihood in the rural areas.

Democracy/local government: The term democracy “literally signifies” the rule of the people: the term democracy as it is used in the study synchronizes with Abraham Lincoln’s definition of democracy. Gauba (1981:421) quoting Lincoln and it reads: Democracy is the government of the people by the people and for the people. It implies that ultimate authority of government is vested in the common people so that the public policy is made to conform to the will of the people and to serve the interests of the people. From the foregoing, one can rightly say that democracy is all about “peoples” participation in government–and local government. Therefore, Democracy and local government are inseparable and are synonymous.


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