USING SYNERGY AS A TOOL FOR COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Life in Nigeria today is stressful and confusing; because of the way the government works. How will a community performs economically, politically and socially depends, in many ways, on the creativity (thinking up new things), innovation (doing new things’), boldness, and vision of its administrator. Nigeria will develop only when the rural communities are developing only when the rural communities are developed. And, this will only happen when the administrators are committed to the development of the communities.
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.
A community needs financial resources for development purposes. Nigeria’s skewed federalism is an obstacle to development. Thus, Nigeria should restructure into a true federal state to enable communities manage resources in their domain. Local government administrator should device effective methods of raising funds (e.g, through property tax, business and personal tax, etc). The federal government should ensure that monthly allocations to local government reach them directly, instead of going through the states. It should provide annual grants to communities for development purpose, and loans to serious individuals and business to enable them invest in economically (mismanagement of rising unemployment, poverty, and crime. Therefore the government should ensure that any funds allocated for community development are properly utilized. Since the local communities are the engines of national development, they should be managed by “transforming leadership” –leadership that builds on man’s need for meaning leadership that creates institutional purpose; and, thus, leadership that can get things done. However, government (state and federal) should assist local area administrator by giving them training (conducting seminars, conferences) in general administration (community development, social service delivery, human resource management, monitoring of resources, et cetera). They should empower the citizens by creating employment for the rural dwellers and improve their living standard. More important, there should be continuing investment in, and maintenance, of social infrastructures, which is the foundation for economic growth and community development..