Local Government And Rural Development In Nigeria A Case Study Of Aninri Local Government Area In Enugu State

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Local government has existed in all countries of the world – though under different names such as local authority, local administration, county council and district administration etc., as an essential primary instrument for rural development. In Nigeria, its existence has taken different nature, character and names as there are different regions and periods. The inability of these local governments to meet the aims of its creation leads to the various reform of local government. In the reform, local government was constitutionally recognized as third tier level of government. Consequently, local government was given both statutory roles/responsibilities and revenue allocations from both the federal and state government. This stimulated the policies of development ethnicity of many additional local government areas. Aninri Local Government is one of such newly created local government with over 773 local governments created all over Nigeria. It should be expected that most of Nigeria’s rural communities would be developed or lifted up to at least semi cities. However, it has been observed that there exists an increasing trend of underdevelopment in the rural area. Thus, this work is determined to find out the extent Aninri Local Government Council have mobilized and sensitized people in the development of its areas. Secondly what factor(s) is responsible for the current level of development in the council area? It is our main objective to provide answer to the problems/question raised above. Thus, we embarked on review of related literature to discover the opinions and findings of scholars and researchers on these issues on these issues, with a view to fill any existing gap in the literature. To effectively achieve this aim we adopted David Easton’s system theory as our preferred tool of analysis. As a pattern of action and orientation, the systems theory focuses on the input, conversion and output mechanisms. The dynamism of this process shall enable us to determine the factors responsible for the identified problems. As the analysis and evaluation provided by this frame work that is, the system’s theory shall enable us test the following hypothesis:

1.     Aninri Local Government has not mobilized the rural populace in terms of development.

2.     Financial constraints has been a cog in the wheel of development strategies by Aninri Local Government Area.

In search for information and data, we adopted both the primary and secondary methods of data collection. In the primary source, 150 questionnaires were distributed local government officials, politicians’ religious organizations, traditional authorities and the masses within the ten political wards of Aninri Local Government Area. Simple percentage method was adopted for our calculations and inferences. On the secondary sources, we made reference to library text such as Books, Journals Periodicals, and Government publications.



It is never a gain saying the fact that rural development has become a national imperative in our country, Nigeria. A number of reasons can account for this. The first is the proportion of the National population resident in rural areas of Nigeria. In 1963 census, 80.7% of the national population were resident in rural areas; by 1985, this proportion has gone down to 70.13% and by 1990, it is expected to drop by 69% (OLisa, 1992).

Going by the views of Olisa, one can understand that a good proportion of the Nigerian populace is found in rural areas. The living standard of these people in the rural area is still at poverty level. Social amenities are inadequate or unavailable. Even if they are available, they are limited to the government functionaries who are serving in rural areas. It is to fight this object and total neglect,. Poverty, to mobilize and sensitize the local people for development necessitated that the new local government was established to critically cater for the need of the rural dwellers. Development of rural areas was one of the reasons for series of reform of local governments in Nigeria.

Olisa (1992) noted that “the history of local government in Nigeria portrays a sort of approach avoidance attitude on the part of Nigerian Governments. This exhibits the idea that the autonomy of local government as the third tier of government in Nigeria has been that of ambivalence. Since the British rule in Nigeria, attitude towards local government has been that of trial and reform. In 1976, the Murtala/Obasanjo regime took a giant stride and reformed local government system throughout the country. Out of nineteen states that were in existence, two hundred and ninety – nine local government were created.

In August 7th, 1991 (27), the government of General Ibrahim Babangida created thirty states plus Abuja  with five hundred and eight nine (589) local government areas. Sani Abacha also created new local government in 1997 which saw to the creation of Aninri Local government Area.

The aim of this local governments is to bring government to the grass root so that they will feel the impact and presence of government and at the same time mobilize the local populace for their own developmental efforts. The federal government cannot know better the needs of the local government because it is the person that wears the shoe knows where it pinches.


1.1       Statement of Problem

During the colonial era, various communities embarked on self help projects and other rural development but this was not measurable. After Nigerian independence the bid for rural development was intensified, the need of these communities was to better their own lots. The people of NENWE, ODUMA, NDIAGBO, OKPANKU and MPU were among those communities that made every effort to bring rural development to their area. Most of these developmental activities embarked upon by different towns and villages were in from of building primary schools, roads, bridges, markets and so on.

In 1976, the local government system was reformed and unified; secondly, its status powers and responsibilities were constitutionalized in 1979. Thirdly, numerous local government councils were created to bring government closer to the people. Fourthly, the revenue allocation formula of the federal government was so much improved to ensure the flow of enough funds to the local government council. Finally, serial of grants have been advanced to these local government councils.

Despite all these efforts made by Federal government and the rural dwellers to better their living, they still face environmental constraints and are unable to embark on any meaningful development. Poverty has continued to characterize our rural area. Infrastructure was nothing thought of by rural dwellers while agricultural production was not for surplus but where it existed it was always at low cost because of the absence of good roads to transport these products.

This research will focus on answering the following question:

1)           To what extent has Aninri Local government been mobilizing and sensitizing the rural populace for the development of their area?

2)           To what degree has the local government pursued developmental projects in their area of jurisdiction?


1.2       Objective of Study

a)           The objective of this study is to ascertain the extent to which Aninri local government area has mobilized and sensitized the rural populace for development?

b)           To know the extent Aninri Local Government Area has pursued developmental project in their area.


1.3       Significance of the Study

The significance of this study lies in an attempt to use Aninri Local government as a case study in order to assess the contribution of local government as third tier of government levels in the country to rural development. Our finding will be a huge contribution in helping to mobilize both human and material resources to the development of rural areas. It will also administrators to rank their priorities effectively and above all contribute to knowledge


1.4       Literature Review

Communal effort has not been a recent phenomenon it dates back to the time of primitive communalism when people fend for their living communal. In the early age of man, he always sought ways of conquering nature.

Bathern (1968) in his work “Communities and Development” said that development is not new but an old idea. This can be supported by the idea that communities in Aninri Local Government Area have constructed roads, bridges, markets, and primary schools through communal effort. They were galvanized by the rich cultural heritage and were protected by the laws which they make and maintained by themselves.

Igere (1992) opined that the local people are organized on community and local Government level to display dance, fashion, songs, music, arts and craft.

During colonial period all the development that took place that period was not mean to serve the development needs of the local populace but to serve the need of the colonial government. This may be attributed to the pseudo-autonomy which the native chiefs have in administering  their people. Olisa (1992) puts it that “however, the Emirs and Chiefs were soon to learn that they must depend on the caprice of an executive officer be it the Resident or the District officer”. Major infrastructures in rural areas served colonial interest such infrastructures in railways which is from the hinterland to the major sea pots in the country.

When the colonialist handed over administration, the nationalist issue of rural development and local government autonomy remained stagnant. When the military came to power, the issue was further watered down may be because of hierarchical nature of the military organization.

Igene (2992) that “up till 1976, Nigeria had no rural development programme”. He also expressed that it is not that they were no rural development problems but that rural problems were enmeshed in agricultural; issues. Local Government was for the first time called a tier of local government in 1976 guideline but the autonomy of local government was still reserved and do not enjoy autonomy as a development area, through this served as a relief to local government.

According to Odenigwe (1979), “The new local government in Nigeria is ultimate agency for mobilizing citizens and material resources for development of rural communities”. He was of the opinion that the rural populace has now the opportunity to participate in programme designed to raise the standard of their living.

Ogunna (1980) in a paper “Local government and Community development he noted that “local community has remained underdeveloped”. He attributed this to lack of revenues, low executive capacity, poor and inadequate working staff and excessive control by the state government which result in delay an red tapism. He suggested that the solution lies in the local government system particularly in area of review of financial relationship with the state government and personal”. This “dermative” or control of local government has made clear in implementation guideline on application of the civil service reform in the local government service.

Saitory (1962) in his work, “Organization of community development Programme” paid attention to practical aspect or organizing a community practice. What he was saying was that these local areas being so vital to local communities should be the concentration by local council.

Agbubuzu (1986) in his “Blue Print for community Development” advocates for effective implementation of strategies for community development, the town/community union, age grades and other groups should be linked with government. This idea he said was to involve the rural people fully through their union, age grade, and other similar organization in planning and implementation that are designed to improve their economic, social, political and cultural development”. Anyway, this was not to hold true because of approved-avoidance by the higher level of government towards local government. It was ambivalence towards local government that made development of rural areas still stagnant.

Ayande (1987) in his work, “Rural Development in Nigeria: the role of government identified the local government as veritable instrument vehicle for rural development. However, he noted that many local government councils have not made appreciable impact in this direction. He attributed this for the myriads of function allocated to local government council without commensurate financial backing. We note that the disparity between activities of the local government council in the Northern Nigeria and that of those in the Eastern part tends to contradict this generalization. Therefore, how true is it for the Aninri local government council?

Oluwu (1987) focused his own study on the approaches used by local government councils in rural development. He described the approach as imposition of development programmes on the Federal Government.  

Lisa and Obiukwu (1992) regretted that rural development activities and programme of the past, these decades of national independence have not transformed the country’s rural areas into the modern, well supplied contends and prosperous populations envisaged at the definition of independence. They observed that the numerous development programmes have made little or no transformatory impact. They cited basic social services, public utilities and essential infrastructure as still being woefully inadequate in almost all the corners of Nigeria. We contend that apart from the general nature of this work, Olisa and Obiukwu could not provide concrete analysis of the factors or seasons behind this failure.

Olatubosun (1975) concentrated on the nature of Nigeria rural communities. He identified government indifferences to the rural sector and its agriculture and non-agric sector alone, the widening gap between urban and rural sectors, rural as the main impediment to rural development. He blamed the colonial development policies and structures for this. Thus, he suggested rural diversification as a means of reducing Nigeria’s external debt, improvement of health education and nutritional facilities, provision of social amenities and the option of integrated approach to rural development as the solution to rural underdevelopment in Nigeria.

Ijere M.O., in his work “Leading Issues in Nigeria Rural Development” identified the main reasons for rural development as: the attitude of the leaders, battle with the party in power to discredit them and practice, of “authoritarian handouts”. He therefore evaluated community development efforts and identified the followings as its problems: lack of co-ordinates rural development programme, lack of provision of infrastructures; relevant education and the aspirations of the people.

Ladsu (1976) compared the potentialities of the level of governance, Federal, State and local government for rural development. He identified the local government council as the rural veritable instrument for total development at the rural areas.

Yahaya (1979) in his work “local government as an agent of rural development: And evaluation focused on only local government as agent of rural development. He defined and outlined though in details the characteristics of rural development. He observed that rural areas are not attractive for habitation because of its underdevelopment, and therefore suggested a modification of the relationship between the rural and urban centers.

Obiukwu and Olisa (eds) (1992) evaluated and scored poorly the rural development activities and programmess for the past 30years according to them, it has made little or no transparent impact on the rural areas they used as their yard stick in the provision of such amenities as social services, public utilities and infrastructure.

Moghalu (1992) shared the same opinion and opined that water, electricity, good road and infrastructure have become luxuries in the local areas.

Scholars dwelt on community development where in their focus because the study and the evaluation of the community development efforts.

However, little or nothing has been done on the local government duty or role to mobilize and sensitize the rural populace for the development of their area. It is this gap that this work intends to fill by studying the role of Aninri local government area in mobilizing and sensitizing its rural populace for the development of their area.


1.5       Theoretical Framework

In science, theory plays the role of analyzing or explaining the underlying connection between groups of related phenomena. It marks an attempt to describe precisely element of the physical and the social world relation.

The theoretical framework for our analysis shall be David Easteon Theory of input – Output matrix which is to be used in analyzing the role of local government on rural development as well as the variables that influences such processes. “Easton suggests that political system has essentially two elements – input (demand and support and output (authoritative decision) Ecsein and Apter (1963).

Inputs are those things that act on a political system and evoke a kind of response from it. The inputs are expression of desire or expectations that input is demonstration of willingness to accept a particular value allocation process and the interaction by which the political system converts the demands and support into output.

The people of Aninri Local government make demand on their local government for the provision of social and economic services and first among these demand is the provision of pipe borne water because some areas like Oduma is infested with guinea worm and Ndeabor has no natural supply of water.

“Input provides the raw material on which the system acts sop as to produce something we call the output”. Ecatein (1965). The output are decision and actions of authorities Laston (1965). Without input the government cannot identify the work done by the government. “These outcomes and inputs are communicated to the public by dint feed back channel and may affect future demands and level support


The whole process could be represented in a diagram


  Text Box: INPUT Text Box: EnvironmentText Box: EnvironmentText Box: OUTPUT











A model of the political system redrawn from Easton D.A framework for political analysis.

Thus, there is interrelated activities between input output structure of a system and its environment. Therefore, the idea of a system connotes the interdependent of pasts and boundaries between it and its environment (Geoffrey 1972). This means that local government and its people shall be interdependent and if Aninri local government lacks manpower for its rural development efforts, it can scan its environment for possible information and support. If there is increase in finance available to local government and experienced staff, it can embark on viable rural development.


1.6       Hypothesis

The vital functional output of hypothesis is that of forecasting or indicating what data are necessary for achieving explanatory power of a research phenomenon. It is a tentative answer to an identified research problems and is more or less derived from a conceptualized theory.

In order to be guarded in the process of this research project, it has become pertinent to propose to tentative answers to problems earlier suggested. These answers or guesses will be proved or disapproved latter in this project report. Hence the following hypotheses are thereby adduced:

1)       Aninri Local government has not mobilized the rural populace in terms of development

2)       Financial constraint has been a cog in the wheel of development strategies by Aninri Local government area.

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Local Government And Rural Development In Nigeria A Case Study Of Aninri Local Government Area In Enugu State