1.1 Background to the Study
The local government constitutes the most critical level of government in the move for a sustainable national development. Over the years, national development has been canvassed to take off from the grassroots as the local government is widely known as a vital instrument for rural transformation and machinery for effective delivery of socio-economic services to the people (Adeline, 2014; Otoghile and Edigin, 2011). More than 70% of Nigerians reside in the rural areas where there is acute shortage of social infrastructure and economic needs. In the light of this in 1976, the local government nationwide reform was initiated where the local governments were saddled with more functions, responsibilities and finances to correct the anomaly of rural areas challenges. As a tier of government, the local government retains its position as the closest level of government to the people to cater for the development of the local areas (Fajonyomi and Olu-Owolabi, 2013). Also, the local government has the responsibility to provide the local population with basic social and economic amenities as well as form a training ground for democracy and participation. Therefore, the development of rural areas or local governments will automatically transform into the development of the country.
However, the local government is faced with several challenges which have undermined the essence of a level of government which derived its mandate from the constitution in the pursuance of its developmental objective (Eze and Muanya, 2013; Odigbo, 2013; Odigbo and Osuagwu, 1998). These challenges root from what increasingly looks like deliberate efforts to stem the advancement of development from the local government level in the country. It has therefore inhibited the local governments in the performance of their constitutionally assigned roles of shaping development from the grassroots (Idike, 2014). Therefore, the focus of this study will be an assessment of Local Government Administration as a strategy for rural transformation by using Kaltungo LGA, Gombe State, as a case study.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The major idea for the creation of local government in Nigeria was predicated on the need to uselocal government as growth centres for rural and urban development since the larger chunk of the Nigerianpopulation reside in the rural areas. On the contrary, these noble objectives have not been achieved owingto the fact that the rural populace are still grappling with the problem of starvation, ignorance, diseases,deprivation, unemployment, teenage pregnancy, environmental degradation, oppression and lack of accessto basic amenities despites the series of reforms carried out by successive governments in an attempt toenhance the financial independence of local government. This made most of the rural dwellers to move tothe urban centres in search of greener pastures (rural-urban drift) in the form of higher education, whitecollar job, access to adequate social amenities such as good roads, pipe borne water, electricity and so on.Therefore, the major thrust of this study is the an assessment of Local Government Administration as a strategy for rural transformation by using Kaltungo LGA, Gombe State, as a case study.
1.3 Research Questions
This research will be carried out to answer the following research questions:
i) What are the contributions of Kaltungo Local Government Area to rural transformation and development?
ii) What are the problems facing Kaltungo Local Government Area towards rural transformation and development?
iii) What are the possible solutions to the problems facing Kaltungo Local Government Area towards rural transformation and development?
1.4 Objectives of the Study
The aim of this research is to assess Local Government Administration as a strategy for rural transformation by using Kaltungo LGA, Gombe State, as a case study. However, the specific objectives of the study are:
i) To examine the contributions of Kaltungo Local Government Area to rural transformation and development
ii) To identify the problems facing Kaltungo Local Government Area towards rural transformation and development
iii) To proffer the possible solutions to the problems facing Kaltungo Local Government Area towards rural transformation and development
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 rural 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 fully 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
For the purpose of reliability and validity, the study will be carried out in Kaltungo Local Government Area Gombe State since that is the case study for this work.
1.7 Definition of Terms
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 its entire entirety whether political, economic, socio-cultural and infrastructural.
Rural Dwellers: the people living in the remote areas of a country and lackbasic infrastructure like good road network, pipe borne water, electricity, good healthfacility etc. The term refers to the ordinary people who are far from political decisionmaking process at the centre. These groups includes small scale farmers, tenants, etcwho seek livelihood in the rural areas.
Democracy/local government: the term democracy “literally signifies” the rule of the people: the termdemocracy as it is used in the study synchronizes with Abraham Lincoln’s definitionof democracy. Gauba (1981) quoting Lincoln and it reads: Democracy is thegovernment of the people by the people and for the people. It implies that ultimateauthority of government is vested in the common people so that the public policy ismade 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.