1.1. BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The transformation of communities to improve their lives has become the main challenge to the economic and social development efforts of developing nations like Nigeria. This challenge arises from the need to promote the welfare of the people of the rural and urban communities so that they could acquire a better standard of living in their homes (Onabanjo, 2012). Many countries, especially, the developing countries such as Nigeria have embarked on different pragmatic programmes to make better the lots of the citizens at the grassroots, particularly, in the areas of physical development of communities. The rate of development of any community is facilitated by the people’s recognition of the need for self-help and their readiness to take necessary actions towards achieving the development. It should be noted that every community in Nigeria needs development, especially, in terms of social amenities (Adegboye, 2009). Community development has been a veritable tool for mobilizing and integrating people into contributing meaningfully to the growth of their areas in particular and the process of national development in general (Onabanjo, 2012; Abiona, 2009). This awareness has led many communities to embark on activities that could transform their local and rural environment into urban and better developed settings. Osuji (2015) pointed out that the Nigerian communities have employed communal efforts as the mechanism for mobilizing community resources to provide physical improvement and functional facilities in their localities in the social, political and economic aspects of their life. Thus, physical development of a community is an indicator that development has taken place. Community development is an age-long practice that could be traced to the tradition before the advent of colonial administration. The traditional community development efforts evolved voluntary routine exercise in which able-bodied, young and old participated in the traditional tasks of clearing road-paths and compounds for the protection of land and property. However, with the growing complexity of our society, coupled with increase in population and urbanization, with attendant high taste of the people for modern basic and social amenities, community development witnessed a significant leap and become more complex in process, form and scope in recent years. Its scope and form witnessed rapid transformation from mere provision of rudimentary tasks to a more complex task of supplementing governments’ efforts in the provision of basic and social services (Akinyemi, 2011; Abiona, 2009). Some of the community development programmes include rehabilitation of roads, skill acquisition programmes, community education programmes, community security programmes among others (Anyanwu, 2015; Abiona, 2009). It also involves social services and activities like organization of literacy classes, youth forum, cultural and aesthetic shows by individuals and interest groups within the various communities. The vast majority of the populace is still living, devoid of both basic and social amenities. Coupled with this is the acceptance of the fact that meaningful development can only take place when the people are well mobilized for community action. In a bid to foster sustainable community development at the grassroots, government at all levels over the years have intervened in the sustenance and strengthening of meaningful and pragmatic community development programmes (Onabanjo, 2012). In spite of government efforts to achieve meaningful development at the grassroots, many communities are still in pathetic state of stagnation and neglect. On the part of the government sponsored projects, many community projects were abandoned half-way due to poor logistics and financial constraint, poor planning and management. As a result of this, the community development departments are not stable in a ministry but are tossed from one ministry to the other depending on the wishes and caprices of government in power. Lack of consensus as to the proper place of community development in the governmental machinery formed a larger problem in the low priority accorded to community development. Some problems were noticed to have impeded community development programmes such as lukewarm attitude to maintenance, exodus of people from rural to urban area, wrong belief of people that government was capable and should provide all their needs for them, inadequate funding on the part of individual members, problem of illiteracy, communal clashes among others (Akinyemi, 2011; Otite, 2008). The under-development nature of rural communities in Nigeria is evident rather than a mere expression. It is observed that many states and local governments are deficient in technological infrastructure or in all the good things of life: electricity supply has degenerated, pipe-borne water supply is non-existent, schools are ill-equipped while other social services have drastically degenerated with many of the hospitals now death centres rather than medical centres while many of the roads are now in deplorable condition. The number of beggars along the streets has increased drastically and its attendant general restiveness has become a serious menace to both social and economic development (Obanigwe, 2015; Maureen, 2009). Corroborating this view, a World Bank report (2012) cited in Ugwu (2011) observed thus: A large number of people in Nigeria in urban area do not have enough income to meet their needs, about 21% of the urban population-85 million people were estimated to be living below the poverty line. In 2015/93, about 1 million people were classified severally poor. Their cash income is insufficient to cover minimal standards of food, water, fuel, shelter, medical care and school fees. Community development involves efforts of both government and communities but in Nigeria, many communities still believe that developmental programmes are sole responsibility of government in power. Projects provided solely by the government without involving the people in many communities could not be sustained because there is no commitment on the part of the people. Members of the community should have interest in the programme that affects their welfare and participate actively in the identification of their needs, planning, and execution of programmes, utilization and evaluations. Thus, participation yields greater interest in sustainability (Abiona, 2009). Essentially, most people in Nigeria believe that it is the responsibility of government to provide, maintain and sustain all infrastructures.
1.2 THE STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
There has been a consensus of opinion by scholars that popular participation is essential for the success and sustainability of community development efforts. The above stresses the need for beneficiaries of community development intervention efforts to actively participate in all stages of the program – planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. It has also been argued that grassroots participation and community development programs could affect their participation in community development programs. This contention is borne out of the conclusion that participation will be more effective when from the outset the people have a clear perception of what constitutes development, community development and its aims and objectives. However, when the people are predominantly ignorant or still harbour some misconceptions as to what constitutes development and community development, popular participation would hardly be achieved. Thus, peoples’ perception could be the major difference between successful community development programs and failed community development efforts. Against this backdrop there is need to investigate the perception of the people on what constitutes development and community development, their perception of the objectives of these programs and if grass root participation in community development programs has been very effective. Therefore, the need to ascertain the level of peoples’ awareness of what development and community development involves as a first step towards eliminating the misconceptions to guarantee a more successful community development programs is the problem of the study.
1.3 AIMS OF THE STUDY
The major purpose of this study is to examine grassroots participation in projects and community development in Nigeria. Other general objectives of the study are:
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
H0: There is no impact of grassroots participation on community development in Obinagu-Ishiagu in Ivo L.G.A, Ebonyi State.
H1: There is a significant impact of grassroots participation on community development in Obinagu-Ishiagu in Ivo L.G.A, Ebonyi State.
H0: There is no significant relationship between grassroots participation and community development in Obinagu-Ishiagu in Ivo L.G.A, Ebonyi State.
H0: There is a significant relationship between grassroots participation and community development in Obinagu-Ishiagu in Ivo L.G.A, Ebonyi State.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The findings of this study will have a number of significant implications. Both the young and the old will gain a lot of things from this work. This research will be of advantage to everybody in the community because the knowledge of how to provide solution to community’s problems will be acquired. The result of the study will be very imperative for future researchers in the area of the assessment of the grassroots community development projects. The result of the study will add to the existing pool of literature on the problems of assessment of the grassroots community development projects. The result of the study can go to communities in order to give them needed knowledge on how far their enormous efforts and contribution towards community development projects have been utilized, or can be harnessed. The result of this study would raise the spirits of teamwork and boost the morale of citizens’ critical consciousness during and after execution of community development projects. This study will give credence to the unavoidability of the people in those things that concerns them.
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study is based on grassroots participation in projects and community development in Nigeria (a case study of Obinagu-Ishiagu in Ivo L.G.A, Ebonyi state).
1.8 LIMITATION OF STUDY
Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Grassroots Participation: Grassroots participation is seen as a process whereby the marginalised groups in a community take the initiative to shape their own future and better their lives by taking full responsibility for their needs and asserting themselves as subjects of their own history. This is a collective venture through which the 'grassroots' discover their identity in the wider society.
Community: Is a physical place, but it also can be defined as people who live in the same location, share common interests, jointly own or participate in something, share common characteristics, or have mutual relations.
Development: Relates to realizing potential, growth or expansion of something, or making something more effective. Put together simply, community development is the act of growing, expanding or making more effective groups of people who have mutual interests.
Community development: Is a group of people in a community reaching a decision to initiate a social action process to change their economic, social, cultural and environmental situation. Community development is a process that increases choices.
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