The research on the impact of citizen participation in community development in Ibeku in Aboh Mbaise has analysed the data collected through stratified random sampling techniques. Data came from primary and secondary sources. The finding from the analysis showed that poverty, disunity among the leaders and corruption hindered citizen participation to a greater extent. The research also discovered that the citizens maximally participated in community projects from initiation to execution.
It was therefore needful for government assistance through technical and matching grants. This strategy will boost citizen participation and self-help efforts in the area.
1.1 STATEMENT OF THE INTRODUCTION
Citizen participation in community development is a process which provides private individuals an opportunity to influence public decisions and has long been a component of the democratic decision-making process. The roots of citizen participation can be traced to ancient Greece and Colonial New England. Before the 1960s, governmental processes and procedures were designed to facilitate “external” participation. Citizen participation was institutionalized in the mid-1960s with President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programs (Cogan & Sharpe, 1986 p. 283).
Citizen participation seeks to engage local population in development projects. It has taken a variety of forms since it emerged in the 1970s, when it was introduced as an important part of the basic needs approach to development. There is universal acceptance of local government as vital instrument for rural and urban development, irrespective of the ideological differences of societies and levels of development.
One of the major reasons for establishing local government is to bring government to local communities so that the local people can participate fully in the process of governance, in order to provide essential local services and this speed up the pace of social, economic and political development (Ogunna 1996).
Most manifestation of citizen participation in community development seek to give the poor a part in initiatives designed for their benefit in the hopes that development projects will be more sustainable and successful if local populations are engaged in the development process. Citizen participation has become an increasingly accepted method of development practice and is employed by a variety of organizations such as town unions, women organization, youths, age grades, formal groups and social groups. It is often presented as an alternative to mainstream “top down” development.
The in ability of government sponsored programmes to induce expected development, particularly in rural communities of developing counties, brought about the thinking by the people of helping themselves, inform of above mentioned strategy.
Finally, this principle in based on the people proper understanding of the fact that governments resources are limited, hence the need to help themselves by coming together as group, age grade and to union will better their living condition and increase the chance of development.
In Aboh Mbaise Local Government Area of Imo State, Ibeku the study area had embarked on self-help projects and there is the need to ensure that community groups such as age grades participate fully in the development efforts.
1.2 RESEARCH PROBLEM
Generally, it has been observed that rural areas of the world have been neglected in terms of development. However, this general neglect has led to problems to rural areas in the development of infrastructure, housing utilities and services etc.
There is also the problem of inadequate communication between the local government and various communities. The local government authority has the important function of encouraging community cooperation through frequent visits and advisory services in its area of authority. Communication gap can make citizens ignorant of the roles they are expected to play in the developmental process.
Also, shortage of skilled manpower within the communities to assist in the maintenance of development projects services also militates against effective community participation. Maintenance of some of the community welfare facilities such as electricity, health centers and even pipe-borne water require skills, which may not be readily available in rural communities.
Insufficient fund arising from widespread poverty and biting economic conditions militate against effective government community co-operation in programme implementation. Experience has shown that members of various communities are finding it increasingly difficult to pay levies imposed on them for the maintenance of existing community welfare services. For instance, occasionally, electricity transformers break down and water pumping machines develop faults. These cost a lot of money which may not be readily available, hence the common sight of such facilities lying unprepared for years.
Corruption is another obstacle to effective community participation in development projects or programmes for instance, town union or community development committee officials sometimes misappropriate funds meant for financing community welfare programme. This act aggravates the problems of shortage of fund.
Finally, party politics has also created decision with communities. This has militated against effective community mobilization. The political elites and fanatical party members always disagree among themselves over sharing of available few resources. Consequently, due to politics, they refuse to cooperate in any venture spearheaded by a person from the opposing part. Even where a political opponent is the head of the town union, they refuse to see anything good in what he does. In the same way, such party fanatics discourage unsuspecting citizens from supporting community welfare programes not organized by their party members. For instance, where citizens are levied for the hire of bulldozer for road rehabilitation, they may dissuades them from paying by making them feel that the government had provided the services free of charge and that the organizers were merely extorting money from them, which they would embezzle.
1.3 AIM/OBJECTIVES OF THE RESEARCH
The aim of the research is to assess the impact of citizen participation in rural development in Ibeku in Aboh Mbaise Local Government Area of Imo State.
1.4 SCOPE OF STUDY
The study is limited to Ibeku autonomous community in Aboh Mbaise local Government area. The study also will examine various self-help projects initiated by the citizens, those completed, those under construction and those abandoned.
It will also look at the extent to which those projects have attained to the felt needs of the community. It also contains the issues of problems citizen encounter in course of project execution.
Lastly, it will also make recommendations to government and various stakeholders, the need for improved citizen participation in rural/community development activities.
1.5 THE STUDY AREA
Starting from the apex, Nigeria as a country is bounded to the North by Niger Republic and to the South by equatorial Guinea and Atlantic Ocean to the East by Cameron and to the West by Benin Republic and fall under the latitude of 307’N and longitude of 308’E.
In the same vein, Imo state lies within latitudes of 4051’N and 7015’N and longitude 6050’E and 7025’E with an area of around 5,100sqkm. It is boreded by Abia State on the East, by the River Niger and Delta on the West, by Anambra state to the North and River state to the South.
Down to the Local Government, Aboh Mbaise Local Government area is bounded on the North by Ahiazu Mbaise and Ikeduru L.G.A, on the North-West and South West by Ngor-Okpala and Owerri North Local Government areas. While on the North-East and South-East, it is bounded by Ezinihitte Mbaise Local Government Area and Isiala-Ngwa South Local Government of Abia State respectively.
1.5.2 HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
Ibeku in Aboh Mbaise Local Government Area originated from Ezinihitte and was being addressed as Ibeku Ezinihitte in Aboh Mbaise Local Government Area until recently, in the fifties, when Ezinihitte separated from Ibeku and have their own local government as Ezinihitte local government. This makes Ibeku to change their name to Ibeku Ekwu-ato which means three kindred.
Ibeku is described as such because they are three brothers of the same great grand parent called Oparaoche”. Oparacha had three sons, namely: Umuhu (1st son). Lagwa (2nd son) and Ibekunwa (3rd son). Mr. Oparaoche is the fist son of Eziitte now popularly known as Ezinihitte. Whenever Ezitte killed or slaughtered an animal, he gave the head of such an animal to his first son-Oparaoche. Oparaocha used to complain to his father that the head of the animal given to him contained little or no meat.
One day Ezitte offered a sacrifice with a goat to the deity called “Chileke Orukwu” after slaughtering the animal, he cut out the head arod reserved it for his first son, Oparaoche. The first son Oparaoche being greedy and jealous and having complained to his father earlier about the small meat of the animal heads, stole one leg of the goat and ran into a bush, some distance from the Chileke orukwu shrine. He lived inside that bush area with a wife who gave birth to a son and whom the called Omumu uhu (short form Umuhu). He also had a second son called Lagwa and finally the third son who he called Ibekunwa (short form Ibeku) this is how Ibeku came into existence.
1.5.4 TOPOGRAPHY AND SOIL
The topography of the study area is relatively a flat terrain.
The area is covered mostly with rich humus, sandy-loan, and clays soil, the rich nature, structure texture with micro-organisms support agricultural activities.
1.5.5 CLIMATE AND VEGETATIONS
The climate of Ibeku community is not harsh; the rainy season begins in April and last until October with annual rainfall varying from 1,500mm to 2.200mm. An average annual temperature above 200c creates an annual relative humidity of 75%, with humidity reaching 90% in the rainy season. The dry season experiences two months of harmathan from late December to late February. The hottest months are between January and March. Ibeku falls within the rain forest zone of the eastern Nigeria. It is characterized by palm trees and bamboos trees.
1.5.6 TRADITION AND CULTURE
The culture of Ibeku in Aboh Mbaise is associated with their traditional belief. The Ibeku people have festivals which is the new yam festival (Iri-ji). The ceremony is celebrated on August 15th every year. The Nkwotile donce is common in Ibeku, this is the chance used for celebrating the annual yam festival. This dance has been modified over the years to ekpe, mmawu (Masquerade).
1.5.7 ECONOMIC ACTIVITIES
Agricultural activities predominantly form the main stay of the economy.
Subsistence farming still accounts for a major part of the occupation in the area. Yam, cassava, palm fruit, vegetable and fruits are the main agricultural products in the area.
Ibeku in Aboh Mbaise L.G.A. has serious economic activities going on every day of the eight days of a week. However the markets are local market. Ibeku community have mini market called ‘Eke Ibeku’ and ‘Afor Ibeku’ that is going on every Eke day and Afor day.
1.6.0 RESEARCH QUESTIONS/HYPOTHESIS
1.6.1 RESEARCH QUESTION
For this research to succeed, certain question are exposed which will be based on the objectives of the study.
The questions will guide the research in the preparation of the questionnaires. In the context, they are provided below;
In order to prove or disprove the initial assumptions made in this study, the following hypothesis are put forward for testing.
Hi: The level of citizen participation in community development projects in high.
Hi: Level of poverty is a major factor militating against effective citizen participation in the study area.
1.7.0 POPULATION AND SIZE
According to the national population commission (2006), the population of Ibeku was 64,926. Projected population at 3% annual growth rate for 7 years. The current population is 79,852.
1.7.1 PLAN OF THE STUDY
This research is made up of five chapters. While chapter one deals with introduction, research questions, problem statement, goals and objectives etc. Chapter two review literature on the topic being researched on. In chapter three, the research discusses methodology while chapter four deals with presentation and analysis of data. Chapter five handles the findings, recommendations and conclusions.
1.8.0 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The research is significant in three ways. Firstly, the recommendations will enable government promote citizen participation in community projects by assisting them through improve matching grants for projects. Secondly, it will as well encourage unity and co-operation among the citizens. Thirdly, the research will be a reference material to future researchers.
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