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1.1    Background to the Study

The need to catalyze balanced development, maximize citizen’s participation, and arouse government responsive necessitates the creation of the local government. 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 (Mbaya, Audu andAliyu, 2014; Agagu, 2004). The development of any nation depends to a very large extent on the calibre, organization and management of its human resources. In the specific case of Nigeria where diversity exerts tremendous influence on politics and administration, the capacity to increase the benefits and reduce the costs of this diversity constitutes a human resource management challenge of epic proportion in its local government administration (Anyim, Ikemefuna and Mbah, 2011).

In today’s modern competitive environment, organizations particularly local government administrations are facing emerging challenges in the form of acquisition and optimization of human resource. In the bid to surmount these challenges, there has generally been the need for a comprehensive Human Resource Management (HRM) practices to translate organization’s human resources into a sustainable performance. The success of most, if not all, organizations depend largely on its human resource. According to Khan (2010) in a dynamic working atmosphere like Nigeria, for organizations to achieve better performance, there is the need for an articulate approach to implement HRM practices.

Human Resource Management (HRM) is the function within an organization that focuses on recruitment of, management of, and providing direction for the people who work in the organization. Human Resource Management can also be performed by line managers (Anyim, Ikemefuna and Mbah, 2011). Nigeria’s experience in local government administration, whether in military regimes or in democratic era, has clearly shows that local government is faces with daunting challenges in their mandate to promote development and provides essential services to the rural dwellers. Sadly, local government which is statutorily established to be the closest tier of government to the people is not doing its bidding coupled with the fact that resident population in it is denied the benefits of its existence. The failure of the local governments in the area of services delivery or performance has made the citizens to lose their trust in government as an institution (Ajibulu cited in Adeyemi, 2013).

Existing literatures have greatly elicited the tremendous contributions of Human Resources Management (HRM) practices on local governments’ performances (Ahmed and Schroeder, 2003; Schuler and Jackson, 2007; and Agyapomaa, 2011). Moreover, Edgar and Geare (2005) vehemently posited that the relationship between Human Resource Management practices and staff performance is an increasingly researched topic in human resource management. More specifically, HRM is hypothesized to fulfill employees’ needs which enhances favorable attitudes, and subsequently improves local governments’ performance (Edgar and Geare, 2005; Kuvaas, 2008). Whether in fact Human Resources Management (HRM) practices is negatively or positively related to local government performance is an issue that remained opened to empirical studies. Thus, this study seeks to critically examine the impact of human resources management on local government performance.

1.2       Statement of Research Problem

In local government administration in Nigeria and particularly in Okpokwu local government area (LGA) of Benue State, the human element is usually volatile and unpredictable. Work environments are complex and dynamic. Rapid changes occur in the external and internal environments, impacting on the local government administration and its certain segments of the labour force are rendered redundant. Thus, the implication of the foregoing is that human resources management in Okpokwu local government area (LGA) of Benue State is basically ineffective in the management of change. Human resources managers and specialists with adequate training, technical erudition, experience that will be able to provide management with functional and line managers in the council area is apparently lacking not only in of Benue State but in Nigeria generally. More so, human resources management occupies a crucial position in economic development of any state or country, but the problem with human resources in Okpokwu LGA is poor quality service delivery and performance. In Nigeria as a whole, it is a common knowledge that local government has the weakest capacity to initiate and manage rural development programme. This is due to the fact that the quality of human resources available at local government level is seriously insufficient. Most of the officials are performing their function without the relevant qualification to perform effectively. As a result, the available resources for accelerated and sustainable rural development are inefficiently utilized for the purpose intended. Okpokwu Local Government being one of the most important local governments in Benue State cannot afford to lag behind. It is upon this premise that this study is being carried out to investigate the impact of human resources management on local government performance with specific reference to Okpokwu local government area (LGA) of Benue State.

1.3     Objectives of the Study

The major objective of this study will be to assess the impact of human resources management on local government performance. While other specific objectives include:

i.  To identify the relationship between human resources management and local government performance.

ii.  To examine the impact of human resources training on service delivery at the grassroots levels.

iii.  To find out the challenges facing the performance of local government councils.

iv.  To make appropriate suggestions on how to better the performance of local government councils.

1.4    Research Questions

This study will be guided by this following research questions:

a)  Is there any relationship between human resources management and local government performance?

b)  What is the impact of human resources training on service delivery at the grassroots levels?

c)  What are the challenges facing the performance of local government councils?

1.5    Scope of the Study

The scope of the study is within the boundaries of theories that have impact on human resource management. The geographical area of the study is narrowed down to Okpokwu Local Government Area (LGA) of Benue State because of time and fund limitations.

1.6      Significance of the Study

This research will contribute to the extension of the boundaries of knowledge of human resources management and its application to management in government institutions. It will also be counted as one of the researches on management. Furthermore, the study will test some of the existing theories on in human resources management. It will serve as a documentary evidence for management scientists and will assist in developing workable theories.

This research will encourage the application of the right motivational factors and work procedures in Okpokwu local government area (LGA) of Benue State. This will provide reliable management techniques to ensure operational efficiency. This research will also assist the LGAs in reassessing their objectives to ensure that their work ethics are geared towards achieving their objectives. In a whole, the outcomes of this study would be a tool of intellectual pride to the Benue State University’s library.  The study would be significant to scholars, future researchers and students in the academic domain of political science as they will find the result very valuable.



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