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1.0 GENERAL INTRODUCTION
1.1 Background to the Study
Local government administration in Nigeria has had a tortuous history. It is an important process of government with significant consequences for national development. It is about mobilization of human and material resources at the grassroots level for societal progress and development.
Local government is supposed to be broadly participatory and responsive to the needs of the people at the local community levels, such as villages and towns.
Yet, during the period when the British colonized Nigeria and the mid 1970‟s when a major reform initiative was launched, local government administration was essentially undemocratic and authoritarian, either directly colonial in nature, or in indirectly so, but indeed undemocratic, under various traditional governance authorities referred to as Native Administration by the British colonial rulers (Jega, 2006:1). The local government reforms introduced by the Murtala/Obasanjo military regime in 1976, sought to democratize the system, by introducing elective offices, and also tried to use the new system „to bring government nearer to the people‟ for the purpose of „grassroots‟ development (FRN, 1976).The desire by the government to maximize rural and grassroots development is one of the major objectives of local government system in Nigeria. The above role is very significant because 70% of the country‟s population live and operate within this area (Ibok, 2010:12)
Historically, local government developed as an institution for the provision of essential services to the people especially at the grassroots. Through series of reforms over the years, the system has undergone so many changes in respect of structure and function. In Omenka‟s view (cited in Tativ, 2011:2), the reforms were necessitated by the need to properly define the various organs and functionaries of local government because of the realization that local government is an essential instrument of service delivery.
According to the fourth schedule of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,the exclusive function of local government includes, economic planning, collecting taxes, rates and the provision of social amenities like market, feeder roads, health services, portable water etc. among others. These functions simply defined the rationale behind the existence of local government system in Nigeria.
Local governments have a role to play in the economic development of any nation. Constitutionally, they should provide for the democratic representation of local communities. This role covers a wide range of responsibilities and services which impact heavily on the livelihoods of individuals. They are, for example, key to determining where infrastructure should be located, to protect our environment and to provide services which are crucial to quality of life-primary schools, primary healthcare facilities, drinking water, recreational facilities, roads and other services.
It is therefore expected that local government as sub-units should collaborate with the national government in the delivery of services towards the sustenance of democratic process.
Scholars have argued that democratic governance and service delivery at the local government level is the vital tool for the social, political and economic development of Nigeria as a whole. It is worthy to note that Nigeria has been under military rule for a long time since 1966 and anytime there was a transition to civil rule raises citizen‟s expectation. The return to civil rule in 1999 after long years of military rule ushered in high citizen‟s development expectations at all levels of the three tiers of government. This is consistent with what democracy theoretically is all about and entails better life-participation, freedom, accountability of political leaders etc. This was the particular case in 1999 i.e. a revolution of expectations by citizens. After few years of civilian rule, political executives and politicians in general started to place high emphasis on their achievements at all levels of government. The study examines this issue at the local government level with an empirical focus on Uyo Local government of Akwa Ibom State. As an urban local government, it has a high population, diversities, complexities and demand for wide range of services due to its urban/metropolitan nature. There is however, a serious controversy among scholars and administrators including the general populace in respect to the actual performance of local government in Nigeria, as a grassroots government. This is particularly with reference to service delivery. To some observers and administrators, the system is an embodiment of failure and a symbol of confusion, mediocrity, inefficiency and waste (Obasanjo, 2003, Tafida, 2005). There is a general low opinion about the role of local government as an agent of development and service delivery since the return to civil rule in 1999, while the politicians have orchestrated that there have been glaring service delivery, others are skeptical. In other words, virtually all the three levels of government have not satisfactorily performed genuine developmental roles.
1.2 Statement of the Research Problem
The study assessed the nature of services delivered by the Uyo Local government vis-à-vis its financial allocations since the return to civil rule in 1999-2011.
The expediency for the existence of local government anywhere in the world stems from the need to facilitate development at the grassroots. Within this understanding, local governments were created in Nigeria as a third tier of government to ensure effective, measurable and efficient service delivery to communities. Some of the services expected from local government authority include; Primary Education, Feeder Roads, Culvert and Bridges, Agricultural and Natural Services and Health Care Services etc. Since the return to civil rule in 1999. Scholars and Practitioners have made different claims in respect of the performance of local government system in Nigeria.
1.3 Research Questions
The major questions addressed include:
(i) What is the nature of performance of the Uyo Localgovernment in service delivery in the areas of Primary Education, Health Care, Feeder Road and Infrastructural Facilities between 1999-2011?
(ii)To what extent these services delivered by the Uyo Local government impacted effectively to the development of the people?
(iii) What are the challenges that have impeded or are impeding the effective performance of the local government in terms of service delivery between 1999-
(iv) What are the possible solutions to these challenges?
1.4Aim and Objectives of the Study
The aim of the study is to examine the role of Uyo Local government area of Akwa Ibom State in service delivery. The specific objectives of the study include the following:
(i) To examine the nature of performance based on the services delivered by Kaduna
North local government in the areas of Education, Health Care, Feeder Road and
Infrastructure from 1999 to 2011.
(ii) To examine the extent to which these services have been delivered to the people of the area?
(iii) To examine the challenges facing Uyo Local government in the delivery of services between 1999-2011?
(iv) To examine possible solutions to the challenges?
1.5 Research Assumptions
The study is guided by the following research assumptions:
(i) Uyo Local government has provided some basic health and social services derived from its financial allocations.
(ii) Uyo Localgovernment has not significantly performed its role of service delivery within the available financial allocations between 19992011.
(iii) State/Local Government joint account system is a major constraint to effective service delivery by the Uyo Localgovernment.
(iv) Proper utilization of financial allocations can enhance the capacity of the
Uyo Localgovernment in the delivery of services.
1.6 Scope and Limitations of the Study
The study focuses on service delivery by Uyo Localgovernment from 1999 to 2011. Specifically the study focuses on education, healthcare service, e.t.c.
The study commenced from 1999 as the beginning of the year of our case study because it is the year of the return to civil rule after long years of military interregnum. And also 2011 as terminal date because the span period is about one decade and two years of civil rule, a period one will expect to see major differences between military and civil rule in terms of mode of governance generally and service delivery to the people in particular.
In conducting the study, the researcher faced a number of constraints which included: Finances- There is lack of adequate finance and sponsorship to carry out the research in all the local government areas of the state, that is why we are limited to the local government under study and Data Gathering- the secretive nature of government and the unwillingness of local government officials under study to reveal relevant document that they termed secrets in order to aid this research, especially those documents that have to do with the income and allocations to the local government from the federation account, internally generated revenue and files of various projects executed by the local government.
1.7 Significance of the Study
The study is significant because a lot of the studies on local government were done during the military era, now with the return to civil rule in place and the publication of huge financial resources allocated to the local government system. This has enabled us to have an insight into the activities of the local government system, which is not significantly different from the military era.
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