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1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
There has been change in the role of traditional rulers in Nigeria as it applies to community development, since the introduction of local government reforms of 1976 in the said reforms, leadership roles were clearly expressed, which states that it is not the intention of government to destroy the organic unity of the traditional institutions. The traditional emirate and chiefdom will remain, although their functions will be changed to accord with the present day circumstances.
Although the paramount of chiefs was undone by colonial rule, traditional rulers have served as important adjuncts in the administration of post-colonial government in both Nigeria and Africa (William F.S. Miles, 2007).
Local governments are creations of state government. As such, the Benue State Government under the delegated, powers enacted the 1976 local government edict number 14 of 1978. This in effect streamlined the procedure for the selection, recognition and roles of traditional rulers. This therefore, formed the constitutional framework for traditional democracy, by a community selection of an acceptable ruler.
There were the warrant chiefs during the indirect rule system, and the then colonial government recognized local chiefs, who performed as native court judges. The first class chiefs were recognized in the middle belt of Nigeria during the colonial era. All these sets of traditional rulers contributed in no small measure, to the upliftment of community development (ojo, 1976).
The Tiv traditional society is purely a republican one; ruled by ideas of political sovereignty, egalitarianism and human co-operation. The Guma political authority includes the traditional ruler (Ter), district heads, local government officer responsible for chieftaincy matters and the council of elders.
The role of traditional rulers in Guma has been undergoing change as the democratic dispensation within the country develops. It has therefore become necessary that they redefine their role as heads of their polities within the framework of developmental efforts by the central government and its adjuncts; as well as, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) (Wilhelmina. J. Donkoh, 2002: 105-114).
Traditional rulers in Guma remain for a variety of reasons, important to the design and implementation of development projects within his area of jurisdiction. Their core functions include mobilization of their communities for developmental purposes. This includes the provision of infrastructure for enhanced standard of living within the community. Sometimes, traditional rulers initiate development projects and secure the support of both internal and external development agents for the execution of these projects (Wilhelmina. J. Donkoh, 2002:105-114).
Traditional rulers work in conjunction with their subjects and therefore carry the whole community along to accomplish development projects that will be of benefit to the entire community. Thus, this study is aimed at finding out the role of traditional rulers in Guma local government area of Benue State.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM (S)
The traditional rulers in Guma local government area, knowing well of their role and expectation in their area of jurisdiction most often deviate from these role and expectations which brings about change and ushers the community into development.
What then is the role of traditional rulers in community development? , what are the constraints facing the traditional rulers in the discharge of their community development programmes? , how can the role of traditional rulers in community development be improved in Guma local government area?
1.3 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
This study attempts to provide answers to the following questions formulated.
1. Can traditional rulers be able to embark on community development programme(s) in Guma?
2. Have traditional ruler (s) executed any community development programme(s) in Guma?
3. What kind of community development programme(s) have they been able to execute?
4. What are the causes hindering traditional rulers from carrying out community development programme(s) in Guma?
1.4 AIM AND OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The aim and objectives of this study include:
(a) To know the extent of the involvement of traditional rulers in community development.
(b) To find out the constraints faced by traditional rulers in community development projects, in Guma local government area.
(c) To suggest ways to improve and encourage traditional rulers in developmental projects.
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The study of the role of traditional rulers in community development programmes is sociologically important because contemporary society is geared towards development; either socially, economically, politically, technologically e.t.c
The study is also significant because it will help to find solution to the problems hindering traditional rulers from carrying out community development programme (s) not only in Guma but also beyond. More so, it will help the government to assist traditional rulers in community development programme (s).
Theoretically, this research work may help members of the public to have vast knowledge about the role of traditional rulers in embarking on community development programme(s); as well as, the problems they encounter in Guma. This may help them to be constructive in their criticism; and may also help subsequent researchers, to built on it and improve on their work.
1. Traditional ruler (s) can make a positive impact in community development programme(s) in Guma.
2. Traditional ruler (s) will be ineffective in carrying out community development programme(s) in Guma.
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This work is limited to determining the role of traditional rulers in community development programme(s); on how they initiate, embark and execute projects in Guma, and make useful recommendations on how traditional rulers should have executed community development programme(s) within 2000 to 2009.
The scope of this research is however limited to Guma local government area due to lack of funds and proximity of time.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
This study would define the following terms.
1. Role: This refers to the part a person or thing plays in a specific situation or operation. In this study, it is related to the expected functions that a rulers of a community plays or should play for the benefit of his subjects and community.
2. Tradition: It refers to a cultural continuity transmitted in the form of social attitude, beliefs, principle and convention of behaviors derived from past experiences and helping to shape the present. In this study, it portrays the legacy that the installed ruler will leave behind, the blue print that stands the test of time.
3. Traditional Ruler: A control authority, the reign of a monarchy and the accepted controller by the people over them in their affairs of life. In this study, it means a collectively elected person (s) selected by the community to pilot the affairs of his people in line with customs and traditions of the community.
4. Community: A place in which an interacting group of people living in the same territory: town, village, suburb, or neighborhood. In this study, it means a trait or concern commonly shared by people, children, and youths in terms of social relations characterized by personal intimacy, emotional ties and social cohesion.
5. Development: Is regarded as a continuous process of positive changes in the quality and span life of a person or group of persons. Thus ‘Development’ used in this context is more meaningful when it has to do with progressive improvement in the quality and living standards of the people pertaining to their aspirations and resources at their disposal.
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