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THE USE OF SYNERGY IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT ADMINISTRATION
Development in Nigeria starts from the grassroot. Negligence of local government areas in political administration in Nigeria has caused impediments to development and economic growth in Nigeria. It is disastrous that a Nation like Nigeria does not pay much attention to the needs of the local government. Notwithstanding much effort is needed on the part of each individual. If individuals synergize, they will achieve their vision.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Any person, who wants to know why Nigeria is not developing as rapidly as it should, should visit any of the local government areas. Life is pressed out of almost everything. The people are financing varied development projects (community hospital, road construction, rural electrification, water projects, etc), because monthly allocation to local councils are not properly utilized.
Local governments, at least in principle, deal with grassroots politics (keeping law and order, basic sanitation, constructing and maintaining local roads, supplying water, administering local schools, providing skill training and employment for residents, et cetera). However, community development is “the process or effort of building communities on a local level with emphasis on development programs are aimed at improving the quality of life of the people in the community.
Are local government administrators in Nigeria performing their functions? If not what are the obstacles?
Local government areas are supposed to be the engines of national development. A quiet rural community grows into a busting city, and the local leader makes this possible. However, in developed societies, when people are tired of loving in the cities they relocate to rural communities where life is less strenuous. However, the opposite is the case in Nigeria; living in a rural community is difficult, because nothing works, as it should. The local government administrators are part of the problem. Like their counterparts at the federal and state levels, they are mired in pursuit of personal goals at the expense of broader community interests
As noted earlier, life in the local areas is a bit more difficult that that in cities, party, because some of the council administrators lack the skills and knowledge to perform their duties. An administrator should understand what community development is, and what it takes to develop an economically distressed community. Like a business manger who determines what should be produced, an administrator directs and determines the pace of community development. But, an individual cannot give what he/ she does not have.
To develop and implement good policies and administrator must have the skill to develop and analyze social an economic data. Although, data collection and analysis is a serious problem in government agencies in Nigeria, it is more problematic at he local areas. One cannot over emphasize he importance of reliable data. In particular, demographic date helps to identify the buying power and market size of a community and provides investors with information about the economic health of an area.
There are inconsistencies and organized chaos in local government administration in Nigeria. The system has elected local government chairs and appointed administrators, and some states are creating development center’ in the local government areas. All these are conduits to channel public funds to cronies of state governors. As mentioned earlier, some of the individuals who administer these ‘looting carter’s are dangerously lacking in the skill and knowledge to develop a community. As it were you cannot give a backbone to an invertebrate; one of such administrators’ in Imo state who parades himself as a “Dr (and other bogus titles) does not even posses a high school diploma. What type of leadership would such a fraudulent and hollow individual provide a community? There are business opportunities in rural in communities, but they lack requisite infrastructure to lure entrepreneurs and investors. For any community to attract new investment and foster economic growth and development it should have basic infrastructure, effective leadership, and an environment conductive for human habitation, because bad environment cause health problems and negatively impacts property values. To improve their “bad image” local government administrators should change the way they perform their duties. For instance, they (with their officials) should educate property owners news that there are no access roads to many of the million-dollar residential and commercial buildings across cites and communities in Nigeria. The government (local, state, federal) should also define (zone) residential and business districts, establish building standard (there have been spate of building collapses lately) and ensure proper enforcement. Oddly, people are known to live in business zones, set up structures without approval, and when disasters strike families are affected.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Failed Development Vision, Political Leadership And Nigeria’s Underdevelopment
Immediately after the Nigeria civil war in January 1970, the Gowon-led federal government (1966-1975) came up with the vision of the 3Rs. Reintegration, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction, as part of a follow-up development plan to the No victor, no vanquished declaration to end that war. Till date, marginalization, which led to the war, has not become anachronistic in Nigeria. Rather, ethnic militia and insecurity are tools for resisting continued grave marginalization of some section of the country, which unarguably account for the human and material resources of the nation. In burgeoning poverty, the people are far from being rehabilitated and the economy has degenerated overmuch from the pre-war situation of the early 1960s, when the Eastern Nigeria’s economy, for instance, was adjusted one of the fastest growing economies in the world (Eneh, 2005).
The Gowon administration also launched the Second National Development Plan with 5 main goals of building: (1) A Free And Democratic society, (2) A just and egalitarian society, (3) A united, strong and self-reliant economy, (4) A great and dynamic economy and (5) a land of bright opportunities for all citizens (Eneh, 2008; Onah, 2006b).
Over 37 years after the Plan was launched in 1970, none of its 5 goals has been achieved. Instead of a free and democratic society, we have a militarized Nigerian society, with a great havoc done to the psyche of the citizenry. For a just and an egalitarian society, we have injustice and insecurity conundrum characterized by child abuse, ritual murder and extra-judicial killing, cultism, hostage-taking, ethnic and religious riots. Far from being united, strong and self-reliant, the Nigerian nation is divided along tribal and religious lines. Patriotism is a stranger to an average Nigerian’s lexicon, the federal character and Nigerian factor having replaced merit and eights. Rather than offer opportunities for all citizens, Nigeria is a land of failed people, with corruption, stealing and unemployment characterizing the country’s political leadership. Wrong reactions or responses to this ugly situation include brain-drain (Eneh, 2008).
Under the cover of addressing poverty and the food needs of the nation, the same administration also came up in 1972 with many programmes, including the Import Substitution Programme, the National Accelerated Food Production Programme and the Nigerian Agricultural and Co-operative Bank. But, today, the country is worse off with import dependency and food insecurity (Enhe, 2008).
Similarly, the Obasanjo-led federal government of 1976 – 1979 introduced the operation feed the nation. The Shagari government of 1979-1983 came up with green revolution. The Buhari/Idiagbon administration 1983 – 1985 introduced the war against indiscipline, to which the Abacha government added corruption, to get war against indiscipline and corruption. The Abacha-led government also baptized the Babangida’s Better Life Programme to obtain the Family Economic Advancement Programme and introduced the Vision 2010. The Babagida-led government of 1985 – 1993, known for political Maradonaism and self-styled evil genius, had the longest list of development visions and programmes, including the National directorate of Employment, the Directorate for foods, Roads and Rural Infrastructure, the Better Life Programme, People Bank, Community Bank and the National Economic Reconstruction Fund. The Obasanjo-led Third Republic of 1999 – 2007 came up with the National Poverty Eradication Programme, National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS), the sectoral reform agenda and mentioned the Vision 2020 (Onah, 2006a; Abdphlhamid, 2008).
These development visions, political and programmes are often paraded alongside the international goals, treaties, conventions, protocols, etc., which the political leaders merely parrot. Usually, the National Planning Commission (NPC) goes into elaborate packaging of the visions, programmes or policies. For example, the NEEDs was so well packaged to the point of having blueprints for the State level programme State Economic Empowerment and Development Strategies (SEEDS); the local government level programme Local Economic Empowerment and Development Strategies (LEEDS) and the community level programme Community Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (CEEDS).
The Yar-Adua-led federal government has a 7-point agenda of power and energy, agriculture and food security, wealth creation and employment generation, qualitative and functional education, the Niger Delta, mass transportation and land reforms (Newwatch, 2008). Within 16 months, it has been white-washed or modified to: electoral reform, rule of law, the Niger Delta, power and energy sector, rebuilding human capital, accelerating economic reforms and security reforms and security (Daily Times, 2008).
Yet, neither the first nor the second version can be disntinquished form the NEEDS, the Phase 1 (2004 – 2007) of which has been adjusted a failure. But, they are being given flesh and articulated as fresh vision documents. Most policies in Nigeria are wonderful, but ultimate summersault, abandonment or failure awaits them. Nigeria is replete with brilliant, impeccable and well written policies. The problem is implementation. The logical and expensively produced policies often end there as policies. Weak efforst at implementation often rubbish them through corruption. Thus, NEEDS have failed to sort out needs (Ebigbo, 2008).
Onah (2006) opines that all development visions and programmes fail in Nigeria because of poor handling by corruption and poor/hungry politicians/bureaucrats, leading to growing poverty symptoms, including electoral frauds; untrue and inefficient representatives; violence: religious crises, crises in Middle belt and Niger Delta regions, hostage taking and cult; food insecurity; low agricultural production; illiterarcy (that also weakens democracy); crime; high mortality and morbility and morbidity rates; prostitution and poor health and national image; low GDP and GNP and high unemployment rate.
Reacting to a report, Aniekpon (2008) challenged Nigerian leaders, rulers and political heavyweights to think of where Nigeria was heading for if an individual could burn a whopping sum of N270 million and gather only the ash for a fetish deal, in a country of grinding poverty where many homes cannot solve even problems that may require just N100.
Nigeria dropped in global economic ranking to 101st position out of 125 nations studied and the economy is still burdened with double-digit inflation, estimated at 13% and deteriorating infrastructure. Nigeria was placed 159th out of 177 countries of the world examined for the human development. Nigeria also lost 34 places (falling to rank 1120 in the basic requirements sub-index, which highlights the fundamentals for achieving sustainable growth, namely strong institutions, adequate infrastructure, a supportive macro-economic environment and good basic health and education (Famakinwa, 2006).
The World Bank estimated that 50% of the federal roads have deteriorated in the last 6 years to the extent that it costs more to send goods from Lagos to Maiduguri than to send them to Europe. Due to the poor conditions of the roads, 33,600 people died in road accidents from year 2001 to 2005, while 34,200 people sustained various degrees of injuries during the period. The power sector is in perpetual crises and cannot drive meaningful development (Onah, 2006b).
Although, there is an overdose of natural water in Nigeria, citizens groan daily under the weight of lack of safe domestic water. The average urban resident, who cannot afford to sink a borehole, resort to fetching water for domestic purpose from shallow wells or from streams up to 3-hour walking distances away. At the current estimated 5.3% rate, urbanization in Nigeria is among the highest in the world. Graduate unemployment has occasioned sophisticated crimes and social vices of alarming dimensions leading to palpable security conundrum, manifested in youth restiveness, cultism in schools, unprecedented wave of armed robbery, drug addiction and the attendant mental derangement, etc. Lack of jobs is pushing increasing number of Nigerian youth into the commercial auto transport business, where a regrettable number of them encounter road mishaps on daily basis (Eneh, 2008).
The incidence of street children, hazardous and exploitative child labour, child unemployment, poor nutrition and health, commercial sexual exploitation, girl prostitution, sexually transmitted diseases, juvenile abortion and wastage/spilling of human lives/blood, teenage motherhood and child abandonment and dumping on the street, stunting and wasting (among under-five children), child begging, youth drug addiction, delinquency and crimes with the danger of the child becoming hardened criminals and various other vicious means of livelihood, as well as various harmful traditional practices against women remain nagging symptoms of underdevelopment and deepening poverty in Nigeria. With the Nigerian population quite (47% under-18 and 20% under-5), it is quite worrisome that about 570,000 nigerians were infected with the Himan Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in 1999 (FOS and United Nations Children’s Fund, 1999).
Agbase (2008_ noted “Nigeria remains the most populous black nation in the title world, rich in human and vast mineral, natural and agriculture resources, with great scholars and dazzling footballers and has the most vibrant, irresponsible and iconoclastic press in Africa, nay the third world. It mints more billionaires in a year than all other African countries put together can come close to in a decade. Its democracy is a government of contracts and contractors by the few and for the few while the people wallow in poverty and misery in the midst of plenty”.
Abu (2008) opines that corruption is Nigeria’s number one enemy. It is responsible for nearly all the pains that we now experience as a nation and as individual Nigerians. Corruption has crippled our economy, ruined our roads, health and educational institutions. It put so much money in the pockets of a few privileged people and rendered the vast majority of the people poor. The level of improvement is getting more acute and the pains of the even growing legion of the poor become very unbearable.
Amidst corruption in Nigeria, vision, policy, planm politics, principle, conscience, wealth, commerce, pleasure/sports, knowledge, science, worship and morality are all corrupt. In its eight years of existence, the Independent Corruption Practices (and other related offences) Commission, ICPC, has remineded a toothless bulldog, having very little to show as evidence of its success in the war against corruption. It almost watches like a spectator in the war against corruption. On the other hand, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, another anti-graft agency/faces enormous challenges from indicated former public office holders, who use their loots to buy their ways to freedom (Akintunde, 2008).
As the erstwhile Minster of National Planning confirmed, the circumstances are still so devastating for the vast majority of Nigerians in spite of the nation’s enormous endowments/ because we have no serious intention to turn thinking around or lack the capacity to face the challenges or still searching for the right strategies to tackle the core issues of true development (Dagash, 2008).
Proffering a solution, Nwosu (2008), urges the policy makers and implementers in the democratic Nigeria to pay attention to the battered/dehumanized/deprived and neglected Nigerian citizenry. Democracy without improved quality of life for the generality of the citizenry is useless, nonsensical, empty/unsustainable and an unforgivable insult to the people’s intelligence. More than 95% of the 140 million Nigerians (FRN, 2007) are traumatized and dying of extreme poverty and hunger, while a 5% privileged few have by fair or foul means corned and monopolized Nigeria’s economic, political, health and socio-cultural common wealth.
1.3 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The study seeks to address the following issues
1) The need to change from passivity to innovations that are activity oriented.
2) The need for everybody to see that there is leadership potential in him.
3) The need for people to see that good principles in life contribute to national development.
1.4 TARGET AUDIENCE
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