LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND THE MAINTENANCE OF SECURITY IN RURAL AREAS
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This work focuses on the role local government play in the maintenance of security in rural areas, case study the Buea Municipal Council. After a successful and careful analysis of the problems and difficulties encountered recommendations were made to strengthen and improve the efforts of local government and also recommendation for future studies. The data used in this study is the primary and secondary, that is by the use of questionnaires, textbooks, and other relevant but unpublished materials. From the study, it can be concluded that local governments (especially the Buea Council) should improve their efforts towards the maintenance of security.
From the suggested topic above, it would be disadvantageous for the state not to empower the local people (Rural areas) because it will help in developing a better society, advance rural development and security.
Primarily, Local government was not evolved to provide a coordinate system of administration for the logically defined range of services; it emerged, piecemeal in answer to a succession of separate needs and demands. The very origin of modern local government was part of the libertarian trends in the first half of the 19th century. Liberty for the local communities to develop according to their own preferences was a powerful ideological element in the introduction of local government system in most European countries. Local self-government was perceived to be an expression of freedom of society. The creation of local self-government in the first half of the last century in Scandinavian as well as other countries was a deliberate attempt to limit the intrusion of central governments in the affairs of local communities. (International Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences vol. 5. No 6(1); June 2015)
The rise of local government is closely tied to the process of industrialization which gathered momentum in Britain from the middle of the 18th century. Until the beginning of the 19th century the system of local government by corporation in the boroughs and justices of the peace in the countries had worked reasonably satisfactorily because the needs of communities were deemed to be small, their tasks were primarily judicial and administrative. The mid-19th century saw the culmination of the first great phase of urbanization in English history caused by the development of machinery and the factory system of production and the comparative reduction of dependence on agricultural production. The movement of population from rural to urban areas was accompanied by severe problems of overcrowding, law and order and ill-health. The existing system proved inadequate to meet the needs of the new urban areas. The immediate response to this was the creation of a series of adhoc, single purpose bodies which included poor law boards, turnpike trusts and boards of improvement commissioners. The improvement commissioners were responsible for paving, cleaning, and lighting of streets and also provision of watchmen. These adhoc bodies were effectively controlled by Tory Squires and traditional land-owning interests. The prosperous entrepreneur who dominated the expanding cities and towns resented their lack of control over the full range of civic affairs. Under these pressures the 1835 Act was created which elected municipal councils and gave to them a range of powers and property (International Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences vol.5. No 6(1); June 2015).
Sidgwick (1891), said “the term local government in a unitary state means organs which, though completely subordinate to the central legislature, are independent of the central executive in appointment, and, to some extent, in their decisions and exercise a partially independent control over certain parts of public finance”. The term local government is applied to those organs which exist at the will of the central government, and which, while they exist have certain definite powers of making regulation, of controlling certain parts of public finance, and of executing their own laws or the laws of the central legislature, over a given area. These organs are essentially subordinate bodies but they have independence of action within certain stated limits. They represent a subdivision of the functions of government for the purpose of efficient administration. Part of the administration, as it was is parceled out to bodies each of which has its own area of operation. Rural people in most developing countries have been reduced to passive recipients when it comes to any meaningful security and development strategies and policies which will eventually affect their lives. As a result, they bear the consequences of the results of the decisions they had no say in (Barraclough 1995). The government of the people and by the people as visualized by Abraham Lincoln is obviously not possible in the modern nation states. It existed in ancient Greek city-states where people used to govern themselves due to smallness of area and population. In modern states, it is not possible for entire population to have a direct share in the government as expected by Seeley. In such situation, the national or central governments have created small self-governing units at the local level where the representatives of the people can sit to settle their problems and suggest measures for the welfare and development of the local areas. These small self-governing units viewed together form the local government in the country. So the local government in modern times is a combination of small self-governing non-sovereign units with maximum authority devolved on them by the central government to manage the local affairs with local resources without any interference from the center. (International Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences vol.5. No 6(1); June 2015)
Cameroon is a bicameral parliamentary republic with two levels of government, regional and local (regions and councils) there is a constitutional provision which is found in article 55 for local government, as well as for an intermediary higher territorial tier (regions). The main laws governing local government are law No. 2004/17 on the orientation of Decentralization, Law No. 2004/18 on Rules applicable to councils and Law No. 2004/19 on Rules applicable to regions. The then Ministry of Territorial Administration and Decentralization was responsible for government policy on territorial administration and local government until recently when it was been split into two. The Constitutional Council is one of the newest institutions created by Law N⁰ 96/06 of 18th January 1996 on constitutional revision of 2nd June 1872 (modified by the Law No.2008/001 of April 14th, 2008). The government of Cameroon which had enacted Law No 74/23 of 5th December1974, creating councils decided to democratize the system in order to devolve power to these decentralized units to champion the planning of rural security and development. There are over 370 local government councils, consisting of 360 municipal councils and 14 city councils. Local councils are empowered to levy taxes and charges including direct council taxes, cattle tax and licenses. (Municipal Development Counseling group publications: Law on Decentralization)
Redefining ‘security’ has recently become something of a cottage industry (industries whose labor force consists of family units or individuals working at home with their own equipment). Most of such efforts, however, are more concerned with redefining the policy agendas of nation-states than with the concept of security itself. Often, this takes the form of proposals for giving high priority to such issues as human rights, economics, the environment, drug traffic, epidemics, crime, or social injustice, in addition to the traditional concern with security from external military threats. (The concept of security, David A. Baldwin 1997).
Security is essential to society as food or water is to living organisms, they are mandatory for all maintained growth and it is sought by all individuals, organizations, towns and states. Thomas Hobbes in the ‘Leviathan’ 17th century wrote that humankind had dwelled in a state of nature before the dawn of the organized state. In the state of nature humans lived solitary, cold, nasty, brutish, and short lives where death haunted us as he depicts the scenario during the dreaded revolutionary years of the Civil War in England. Anarchy reigned and trust was scarce. To Hobbes, this state of nature needed to be overcome either by a monarch or an institution like a parliament who will be charged with the responsibility of maintaining peace. In this light, security and the sovereignty of the state will be guaranteed.
In line with the current global trend of the smooth-running the role of the state, the governments of most developing countries have devolved power to local institutions with the aim of enhancing security and development. Local government is expected to become more active in the maintenance of security at the grassroots. However, local government is a potential booster of not only security domain if well-equipped but also in the economic, social and political domains. There is need to empower the people of the local areas because it is often seen in developing countries that the local people lack control of their resource and are dormant when it comes to decision making which concerns them. Although some factors like inadequate finance, lack of technical manpower, denial of autonomy all militate against the efficient administration at the local level, the local government still tries to maintain or keep a high standard in the domain of security despite these problems.
This study aims at investigating the role which local government as decentralized public institutions play in maintaining security within its local territory. Thus in my analysis of the case of Buea municipality, I seek to critically explore why the security in this area is low (below the people’s expectations)?
This study will therefore be guided by the following broad questions:
- Does the Buea Council contribute in the maintenance of security in rural areas?
- What are the problems encountered by local government (Buea Council) in implementing an effective security maintenance procedure?
- To what extent has the Buea Council played its role in the maintenance of security in its rural areas?