THE ROLE OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT IN SOCIO-ECONOMIC CHANGE: CASE STUDY OF BUEA
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This work was aimed at examining the Role of Local Government In Socio-Economic Change; Case Study Of Buea Municipal Community. In an attempt to meet up with this broad coverage, the work was broken down into different objectives which were; Examine the extent to which the activities of the municipal authorities of Buea contribute to the socio-economic development of local communities in the municipality; Assess the possible challenges encountered by municipal authorities in the socio-economic development of local communities in the municipality.
From the findings and hypothesis tested, it was logically concluded that the local government its self is more responsible for the failure of the decentralization policy than the central government, and this is long run tends to affects the state in general by retarding national development. This is because the local government does not execute most projects when and where necessary, instead they tend to embezzle the funds or focus on the development of mostly their villages of origin. This marginalizing amongst others and this greatly influences the misinterpretation of the decentralization.
The growth of decentralization can be traced by as to the early 1950s and 1960s, in which many countries around the world followed state-centered governance strategies to achieve their development objectives and which led to the development that prevailed in the contemporary world. The aim has been to arrive at concrete recommendation for action (SZIRMAI 2005). The concept of global development calls on improving more than half of the world’s population living in destitute and poverty in primitive societies.
To savage the poor and improve their living conditions, Truman proposed what he called ‘’democratic and fair dealing’’ By this Truman meant a society where nations would respect the rights of mankind; where all men have a right to freedom of thought and, of expression and of opportunity to share and participate in the common good. According to him democracy alone can provide the vitalizing force to stir the people into triumphant action. By this he meant according to voice to local people in deciding their own affairs. This framework also suggests that politics and economics could work together to achieve development and political freedom.
In the past, African states were not so concerned with the issue of development at the time because everywhere they were involved in liberation struggles and wars of independence from their colonizers. But upon attainment of independence, most African states designed and implemented multi- sectarian strategies aimed at improving conditions germane to the multiethnic secretaries. These strategies were usually based on five- year development plan that set targets to be achieved in each sector of the economy. Unfortunately, these five-year development plans were designed and implemented most often by paternalistic and dictatorial one party and military regimes. The result has been the neat. Almost absence from some basic services in some rural communities such as schools, health centre, good water supply, and better road networks. Hence, in order to create a balance in development between urban and rural areas, many of these governments felt that substantial state intervention was required to achieve greater equity and poverty all aviation in rural areas (potter et al 2004)
By the end of the 1980s, Potter contended that development policy reflected a concern for accountability and efficiency, which was translated into limiting the role of the state. Both internal donors and governments began looking for alternative institutions aiming at delivering services and foster development in the rural area. This has been followed by discourses centered on development paradigms that involve local people in designing, planning, implementing and delivering projects based on local interests and realities.
In order to limit state powers in development processes and empower local communities within developing countries, Prof. Rick (2000) proposes the use of democratized political institutions according to him, this institution matter in rural socio-economic development because of the propensity of democratic practices to moderate social conflict and induces compromise.
This study focuses broadly on impact of local councils that is decentralization on development in Cameroon. Under pressure from donors (Primarily the World Bank) on the one hand for an alternative development paradigms, internal public demonstrations in Cameroon in the 1990s and in response to some critical developments on the other, the government of Cameroon which had enacted law No. 74-23 of 5 December 1974 creating councils decided to democratize the system in order to develop these decentralized units to champion the planning and implementation of rural development. The law on decentralization part 1, sections 2, and article I and 2 under the general provisions states: ‘’decentralization shall consist of devolution by the state of powers and appropriate resources to local authorities and decentralization shall constitute the basic driving force for the promotion of development, democracy, and good governance at local level’’.
Decentralization is the grounding of power to the rural area by centre (central) government. Decentralization as an important aspect of development has not been ensured in Cameroon. The general fact has been that the state has been controlling the political economic and social activities. Buea is not improving because decentralization has not been taken in to practice. However, the state should grant full autonomy to the rural areas so as to improve on development which is the primary objective of each local area through their local leaders like chiefs and mayors. And this has to be done through political empowerment of local authorities. Moreover, political empowerment through decentralization will ushered in competition amongst the rural areas which is a good aspect of development since each of the areas will be competing to develop more than the order.
Local development partly with local institutions was supposedly a scheme to better understand rural communities and be more responsive to be perceived as privations and constraints of the rural fowl (Santis02000:453). Local governments were considered to be more successful in promoting local participation and empowerment, democracy and cost effectiveness within the framework of the one-party system. The devolution of power to local governments (L.G) seems to me, as one model of development from below adopted by the government of Cameroon.
In appraising the functioning and performance of the LGs as institutions which have been given the responsibility to spread head rural development, Senian Conception of freedom would be used to illustrate the importance of freedom and in socio-economic development (Sen 1999). In his book development as freedom, the relationship between freedom development the way in which freedom is both intrinsic and extrinsic led to development, that is a basic constituent of development in it and in enabling key to other aspects such as stability and security.
Senian suggested a focus on what he calls capabilities, that is, substantive human freedom encompassing processes and opportunities and for recognition of the heterogeneity of distract components of freedom. George ALLEN (1999) argues that development consists of removal of various types of freedom that leaves people with little choice and little opportunity of exercising their reasoned agency. In other words, he argues for a focus on the capabilities of people to do and be what they value one of the vital points is that, human freedom tends to promote freedoms of other political freedom or democracy help to reinforce other such as economic freedom.
Operationalization is subject to stringent central government controls. As a result, there is no effective participation and representation because there is in effect little room for participation and representation at local level; yet participation and representation are indispensable ingredients of democracy.
An analysis of the provisions of the 1974 law and its implementation over the past twenty years reveals that it has not achieved and cannot lead to the achievement of an effective and viable decentralization program. The decentralization policy has by all accounts been a failure in the sense that there has in fact been little or no substantial transfer of power and resources to local councils (Rondinelli et al., 1983). Furthermore, the ambiguity of key provisions of the law has enabled central government officials known as ‘’Supervisory authorities’’ or ‘’autorites de tutelle’’ in French, to encroach upon the powers and prerogatives of local government officials. These ‘supervisory authorities’ have instead transformed their authority merely to ‘supervise’, to their authority to command, to issue orders, to give instructions, to direct, to the right to employ resources, to make commitments, to exercise formalized control (Bjorkrnan,1968) over local government resources
There are reasons why this local council are more; if not the most developed in Cameroon through fiscal decentralization is by the huge taxes it receives from companies, thus reaping the benefits of decentralization. Ironically, the municipality still has some challenges which by now ought not to be existing, this brings out the problem that the council have not been handed all its competences like the collection of taxes from these major companies thus, the situation which is different from what ought to be.
1.3.1 MAIN RESEARCH QUESTIONS
What Is The Role Of Local Government In Socio-Economic Change; Case Study Of Buea Municipal Community?
1.3.2 SPECIFIC QUESTIONS
The study will therefore be guided by the following broad questions:
- To what extent do the activities of the municipal authorities of Buea contribute to the socio-economic development of local communities in the municipality?
- What are the possible challenges encountered by municipal authorities in the socio-economic development of local communities in the municipality?
- What is the impact of the decentralization process on the socioeconomic development of local communities in the municipality?