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1.1 Background to the Study
The need to catalyze balanced development, maximize citizen's participation, and arouse government responsive necessitates the creation of the local government. The local government serves as a form of political and administrative structure facilitating decentralization, national integration, efficiency in governance, and a sense of belonging at the grassroots. The local government is a unit of administration all over the world (Mbaya, Audu andAliyu, 2014; Agagu, 2004).
The development of any nation depends to a very large extent on the calibre, organization and management of its human resources. In the specific case of Nigeria where diversity exerts tremendous influence on politics and administration, the capacity to increase the benefits and reduce the costs of this diversity constitutes a human resource management challenge of epic proportion in its local government administration (Anyim, Ikemefuna and Mbah, 2011).
In today’s modern competitive environment, organizations particularly local government administrations are facing emerging challenges in the form of acquisition and optimization of human resource. In the bid to surmount these challenges, there has generally been the need for a comprehensive Human Resource Management (HRM) practices to translate organization’s human resources into a sustainable performance. The success of most, if not all, organizations depend largely on its human resource. According to Khan (2010) in a dynamic working atmosphere like Nigeria, for organizations to achieve better performance, there is the need for an articulate approach to implement HRM practices.
Human Resource Management (HRM) is the function within an organization that focuses on recruitment of, management of, and providing direction for the people who work in the organization. Human Resource Management can also be performed by line managers (Anyim, Ikemefuna and Mbah, 2011).
Nigeria’s experience in local government administration, whether in military regimes or in democratic era, has clearly shows that local government is faces with daunting challenges in their mandate to promote development and provides essential services to the rural dwellers. Sadly, local government which is statutorily established to be the closest tier of government to the people is not doing its bidding coupled with the fact that resident population in it is denied the benefits of its existence. The failure of the local governments in the area of services delivery or performance has made the citizens to lose their trust in government as an institution (Ajibulu cited in Adeyemi, 2013).
Existing literatures have greatly elicited the tremendous contributions of Human Resources Management (HRM) practices on local governments’ performances (Ahmed and Schroeder, 2003; Schuler and Jackson, 2007; and Agyapomaa, 2011). Moreover, Edgar and Geare (2005) vehemently posited that the relationship between Human Resource Management practices and staff performance is an increasingly researched topic in human resource management. More specifically, HRM is hypothesized to fulfill employees’ needs which enhances favorable attitudes, and subsequently improves local governments’ performance (Edgar and Geare, 2005; Kuvaas, 2008). Whether in fact Human Resources Management (HRM) practices is negatively or positively related to local government performance is an issue that remained opened to empirical studies. Thus, this study seeks to critically examine the impact of human resources management on local government performance.
1.2 Statement of Research Problem
In local government administration in Nigeria and particularly in Okpokwu local government area (LGA) of Benue State, the human element is usually volatile and unpredictable. Work environments are complex and dynamic. Rapid changes occur in the external and internal environments, impacting on the local government administration and its certain segments of the labour force are rendered redundant. Thus, the implication of the foregoing is that human resources management in Okpokwu local government area (LGA) of Benue State is basically ineffective in the management of change. Human resources managers and specialists with adequate training, technical erudition, experience that will be able to provide management with functional and line managers in the council area is apparently lacking not only in of Benue State but in Nigeria generally. More so, human resources management occupies a crucial position in economic development of any state or country, but the problem with human resources in Okpokwu LGA is poor quality service delivery and performance.
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