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1.1 Background to the Study

Rural Development can be considered as a key factor in achieving a good form of improvement in a local government in several ways. It could be In terms of empowerment of the grassroots, in cases of agricultural production, rural infrastructure, and several other indicators of development in a rural setting. Therefore, each local government in the Nigerian polity has its own development planning and strategies to better the lives of people within and around the rural setting. In this view, Essang and Idachaba in Ogidefa (2010) describe rural development as a means of developing strategies and plans for the provision of basic amenities, infrastructure, improved agriculture productivity and extension services and employment generation for rural dwellers. Local government administration being one of man’s oldest institutions in every society, also describes rural development as an old concept that has existed as several improvements began to take place in the local sphere.

Dating back to when Nigeria got her independence on 0ctober 1st 1960 up to the beginning of 2000 to the year 2012, the problem faced by rural areas in Nigerian polity has increased. This can be traced back to the Nigerian polity prior to independence and mostly after independence in 1960. Arguments put forward by scholars like Ekpo and Ndebbio (1998) explain the root cause of the problem from the previous political, economic, and social crisis faced by Nigeria right before and after the military era from 1996-1999, coupled with the Nigerian Civil War that lasted from 1967-1970. Which all contributed in reducing development in Nigeria greatly affecting the development structure of the Local Government overtime. Therefore, development role of Local governments in Nigeria has been conflict and corrupt driven such that it has insulated a rotten portion into the political and economic development of the Nigerian State. Also, despite several rural development programmes/schemes introduced, it has been observed that the development outcome of most local governments in Nigeria is still very poor.

The contribution of rural communities to the revenues of the former regional and present state of the governments is quite significant. It is disappointing to describe that rural development planning and strategies in form of development programmes, have failed to curtail development in the lives of the people. This has further created a spill over effect that has created poor establishment and management of basic amenities such as water supply, electricity, health and other social services. It is on this basis that this research seeks to examine the impact of rural development programmes in Nigerian local governments, using the Ahoada West Local Government Area as a case study.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

The researcher has observed that rural development has been a continuous problem of local government in Nigeria since independence in 1960. Some of these problems have evolved from the neglect of development programmes/schemes of rural areas, which has resulted to neglect of community structural approach, neglect of rural education, high level corruption amongst others, escalating to poor development (social, political, and economic development) of most local governments in Nigeria. Secondly, it has been observed by the researcher that most Nigerian local governments suffer the problem of low provision and management of development programmes in form of basic amenities like water supply, electricity, good roads and quality education, which have over time created a slow and unreliable level of rural development structure in most Nigerian Local governments. In line with the observed problems, this project sets out to investigate if truly rural development programmes/schemes have aided development in Nigerian local governments, using Ahoada West Local Government area of Rivers State as a case study.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The main objective of this research is to examine the performance of rural development programmes/schemes, with particular reference to Ahoada West local government area of Rivers State. Other objectives of this study are:

i.        To examine rural development at the Local government, by ensuring that targets of rural development planning are met to further foster an avenue for rural participation in development schemes.

ii.        To increase and ensure an adequate provision and implementation of rural development programmes/schemes with basic amenities in the local government areas of Nigeria. To achieve this, the causes of the problems faced by rural development programmes and provision of basic needs in Nigerian local government will be exposed.

iii.        To recommend ways in which the local government can attain a higher level of development that will enhance a stable socio-cultural, economic, and political growth in Nigeria.

1.4 Research Propositions

Based on the research problem and research objectives, the following propositions are of great importance to this research;

i.        The existence of rural development schemes with adequate strategic planning will go a long way to educate the rural dwellers, which in turn will foster development in Nigerian local governments.

ii.        The poor state of rural development faced by local governments in Nigeria is practically caused by the high level of corruption in form of mismanagement in the local government, which has minimized the promising development outcome of the Nigerian rural setting.

iii.        The problem of rural development in Nigeria as it relates to rural development planning/strategies will be of great success if the functionality of development schemes in form of programs, are highly functional and carried out in Nigerian local government structure.

1.5 Significance of the Study

The significance of this research will be the following:

·        To countries practicing the Local Government system as the third tier of governance, like Nigeria. The elucidation of rural development programmes/strategies to better the growth of the local governments, this research work will add to the improvement of people’s knowledge. In essence, this research work is capable of making an ideal support to the improvement of local government features in Nigerian political system, especially in its process of development.

·        To political science students and citizens of Nigeria, the research work will describe the damages that have led to poor development of the local government system in Nigeria despite several development planning structures.

·        To contribute to existing literature, and as a source of data for further research.

1.6 Scope and Delimitation of the Study

The research covers Ahoada West Local Government Area in Rivers Nigeria; Therefore the scope of analysis of this research will be restricted to Ahoada West Local Government Area.  It will focus on how rural development programmes or schemes have impacted on the development of local government, using the period of 2000-2012. Specifications will also be drawn from previously initiated rural development programmes in local governments of Nigeria in order to create a better understanding of Local government and rural development.

1.7 Research Methodology

This section presents details, method and procedures adopted by the researcher to extract needed information to determine the problems that has resulted to and could cause the poor development of Ahoada West Local Government Area of River’s State, by using the adult indigenes of the local government itself. Primary and Secondary sources of data were largely employed for verification of propositions.  The primary source involved the questionnaires which were carefully administered and responses were presented in tabular form, relevant percentages were calculated and analysis was also made. Simple calculations in percentages are presented in tabular form in order to present the collected data, thus making the analysis of the data simpler for better understanding. The secondary sources involves review of related literature, of relevant textbooks, newspapers, internet and all relevant publications related to the issues of local government and rural development, with Ahoada West local government area as case study.

This information will be discussed using the following outline:
·        Study area
·        Population of study
·        Sample and Sampling technique
·        Methods and Instruments for data collection
·        Validation of the instrument
·        Administration of the instrument
·        Method of data analysis

1.7.1 Study Area

The study area of this research is Ahoada West (also spelt Ehuda West). It is a Local Government Area of Rivers State, Nigeria, located northwest of Port Harcourt, its seat is in the town of Akinima, its boundary between Rivers and Bayelsa states from the west is located at Engeni. Ahoada West Local Government Area of River State is inhabited by the Ekpeye people, who were a population of 80,000 (1991 census), that has increased to 249, 425, according to the 2006 census estimates.

1.7.2 Population of Study

The population of the study is the entire population of the area selected for coverage, in this case, Ahoada West.

1.7.3 Sample and sampling techniques

The researcher uses simple random sampling technique and selected 50 indigenes that are up to 18 years and above, who witnessed the rural development services rendered from the period of the year 2000 to 2012 within the local government area.

1.7.4 Methods and Instruments for Data Collection

A carefully designed and constructed questionnaire was used for data collection, it comprised of (12) questions were spaces will be made available for the respondents to tick [√] a yes or no in response to the range of answers. Also secondary data collection technique as regards to related literature was equally used in this study.

1.7.5 Validation of the Instruments

The questionnaire was given to the project supervisor from the department of Social Sciences Veritas University Abuja, for scrutiny and corrections based on the structure of the research. After careful study of the questionnaire, corrections were made before the final copy of the questionnaire was produced and distributed accordingly.

1.7.6 Administration of the instrument

The questionnaire was administered on 55 adults of Ahoada West Local Government Area of River’s state that are familiar with the Rural Development structure of their area. The respondents held on to the questioners for answers, after which 50 copies were later submitted to the researcher. The questionnaire was distributed and collected at a pace of time to avoid losses and miscalculations in final analysis.

1.7.7 Method of Data Analysis

The answers given by the respondents were organised, collected, and analysed using simple percentage. Following this method, the significant chosen by the researcher is to either disapprove or approve the research proposition; an above 50% level of significance will prove the validity of the research proposition.   Consequently, this research makes use of the formula below;
NR x 100 
50      1

Where:  NR= Number of Respondents with similar response to a question, divided by the total number of respondents (50), multiplied by 100 which represents percentage (100%).

1.8 Clarification of Terms

Rural Areas:  According to Abass (1993), rural areas are areas that are usually geographically located outside of big cities and towns- they could be low in population density and low settlements.

Development: Development according to Umebau (2008:6) could be defined as “a process of sustained increases in total and per capital income accompanied by structural transformation and modernization of socio-economic environment”. Therefore, development can exist in the individual, economic, social, political and even cultural levels, thus growth is an essential process of development.

Rural Development: according to Nwachukwu and Ezeh (2007), rural development is a process through which rural poverty is alleviated by sustained increase in the productivity and incomes of low-income rural dwellers and households.

Local Government: This is a third tier of government in a democratic dispensation that is said to be one closer to the people, especially to the grassroots or rural setting or local areas. It is defined by Appadorai (1975:287) as “government by the popularly elected bodies charged with administrative and executive duties in matters concerning the inhabitants of a particular district or place.

Rural Development programmes: Musa (2010) describes rural development programmes as developments plans that are organized by both the government and non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) to encourage the growth of development in a rural area.

1.9 Organization of Chapters

This project is divided into five chapters. Chapter one is made up of introduction, statement of the problem, hypothesis, objective of the study, significance of study, scope and delimitation of study, research methodology, clarification of terms, and organization of chapters. Chapter Two consists of literature review and theoretical framework. Chapter Three comprises the historical development and some basic features of Ahoada West local government area of Rivers State: elements such as the historical background, geographical features, the economy, and political structure of Ahoada West local government area. Chapter Four has the presentation and analysis of data-interpretation of the general characteristics of respondents and research proposition, and overview of findings. While Chapter Five is reflected to be the summary, conclusion and recommendation.



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