THE ROLE OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT IN RURAL DEVELOPMENT IN BAYELSA STATE (A CASE STUDY OF YENAGOA LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA)
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Local government administrations (LG) globally vary in size and structure and operate under different arrangements based on the system of government in different nations. According to Mello (2012), local governments globally strive to meet peoples’ demands for goods and services in a cost effective manner particularly at the lowest level of government or government at the grass root. Local government administration is used as a form of devolution of powers of the state. It is the government at the grass root level that is designed to serve as instrument of rural transformation and development to the society in general.
Local government in Nigeria especially in Bayelsa State plays immense role especially in promoting, co-ordinating and providing community amenities as well as encouraging greater mass participation and involvement in the running of local government affairs and the use of local resources to the optional level. From ideological perspective, local government for tiers the principle of democracy as local government rings government nearer to the people and if properly designed gives room for mass participation in governance (Okolie, 2006).
Therefore, the pride of any government is the attainment of higher value level of development in such a way that its citizens would derive natural attachment to governance. How-ever, for a nation to be in a phase of development there must be some pre-requisites, which include socio-political and economic stability (Tolu and Abe, 2011).
The gap between the developed and the developing countries is not static or narrow but is continually widening. A large majority of the world’s population in developing world lives in a state of poverty. The problem of urban population, rural stagnation, unemployment and growing inequalities continue to face less developed countries, which Nigeria belongs. Hopes of accelerated development are difficult to realize (Okoli, 2000). This gloomy situation is of great concern to stake holders and the concerned citizenry. Nigeria has not been able to engender meaningful development in spite of her huge resources endowment. This has greatly affected her quest to improved quality of life of her citizens. Poverty, unemployment and starvation still pervade the nook and cranny of the country (Gboyega, 2003).
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The need to catalyze balanced development, maximize citizens’ participation, and arouse government response necessitates the creation of the local government administration in Nigeria. 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 (Agagu, 2004).
Local government has been the root of development in terms of dealings with the people which democracy is centred upon. Hence, local government is visibly seen as co-agent of rural development and as partners in progress with both states and federal governments in rural and national developments.
To this end, this study sets out to investigate the role of local government in Bayelsa State with emphasis on Yenagoa Local Government Area, Bayelsa State. Knowing the roles the government needs to play in development of any society and the obvious inability of the national and state governments in the task of rural areas; local government has been created essentially to compliment the efforts of the states and national government in the task of rural development. Nevertheless, abject poverty and underdevelopment remains a common feature in these rural communities.
Thus, in pursuance of the problem of the problem in this research work, the following research questions have been raised (posed) for this research purpose.