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This study investigated the influence of political decentralization on people’s participation in
Community Development Programmes in Osun and Kwara states of Nigeria. The study adopted
descriptive survey research design. The Population comprised members of Community Based
Association 1’022 (51.5%), Community Development Agents 142 (7.2%) Community Leaders 266
(13.4%), political Leaders 127(6.4%) and GovernmentRepresentatives 427 (21.5%). Multi -stage
sampling procedure was adopted to select 1,984 respondents. Data were collected using Political
Decentralization and Community Development Assessment Scale (PDCDAS). Two research
questions were raised and two hypotheses were formulated. Research questions were analyzed
using mean, standard deviation and T-test while Pearson Product Moment Correlation (PPMC)
was used to test the hypotheses at 0.05 level of significance. Research hypotheses showed that,
there was a significant relationship between political decentralization and sustainable community
development (r = 705
P<0.05); people’s participation in governance (r =537**; P < 0.05).
Results showed no significant difference in factors affecting sustainability of community
development programmes between Osun and Kwara States, Nigeria (Crit-t=.1.96.calt=.498.df=1982.P>.05 level of significance). The results of the research questions also showed no
difference in influence of political decentralization on sustainable community development
programmes in Osun and Kwara States, Nigeria (Crit-t=1.96.Cal-t=1.586.df=1986.P>.05 level of
significance). However, taking the two factors together, the influence of political decentralization
on sustainable community development programmes wasmuch pronounced in Kwara State ( x =
44.5931) than Osun State ( x = 43.4585). Based on the findings, it was recommended that political
decentralization should be a recurrent exercise which should be tailored towards effective
grassroots participation so as to enhance political stability, physical and socio- economic
The global trend of devolving the responsibilities of centralized governments to constituent units
through decentralization has become a common phenomenon. The premise of political
decentralization is to enhance administrative efficiency as measures in terms of accelerated
development through creation of local effective political units. Political decentralization depicts
dispersing of decisionmaking governance closer to the citizenry. It implies political arrangement of
transferring authority and responsibility of public functions from the central government to
subordinate or quasiindependent government such as regions, states and local governments for
development and influences in the formulation and implementation of policies (BelloImam, 2004;
Sharma, 2005). Political decentralization is a principle as well as the best management strategies for
large organizations such as government, as it facilitates all facets of development in a country. Through
political decentralization, citizen’s participation in governance is enhanced, thereby ensuring effective
planning, financing and management of public functions, from the central government and its agencies,
to local governments and semiautonomous public authorities (Bello–Imam, 1996; Bulamin, 1995;
Awotokun, 2000; Akai, 2002; Adamolekun, 2002; Sharma, 2005).
Political decentralization process in Nigeria has metamorphosedinto 36 states structure apart
from the Federal Capital Territory in Abuja. The country was also divided into six geopolitical zones.
Associated with state creation is growth in the number of local government areas. Based on different
recommendations and local government reforms, the number of local government has increased to 774
todates. (Dasuki, 1984; political bureau, 1987; Suberu,1996).
Adejuiyugbe, (1979); Dasuki, (1984); Oyovbaire; (1985); Politcal Bureau, (1987); Bulamin,
(1995); Suberu; (1998); and Adamolekun; (2002) identified the rationale for political decentralization
among which include: fostering participatory democracy; enhancing even and sustainable grassroots
development; the need for balanced federalism; pursuit of the federal character principle and ensuring
good governance through transparency and accountability among others.
Arising from political decentralization factors is the relationships with community development
that are evident among which includes: the need for mass participation in grassroots governance; and
the need for even and sustainable development. Therefore, the elements of community development in
relation to political decentralization are imperative for empirical understanding which Dusautoy, (1962);
Anyanwu, (1992); and Sarumi, (2003) identified as: induced social change at unit levels; people oriented
development projects; development of local leadership and its institutions; community as links for
development; encouragement of mass participation in grassroots governance; and initiating a self
generative, selfsustaining and enduring process of growth.
The above scenarios constitute the background against which thisresearch is anchored as one
observed with growing interest, that for over fifty years of Nigeria political independence, the country’s
geopolitical structure has been altered several times with little or no socioeconomic transformation
associated with such political decentralization. However, in spite of the large number of political units
in Nigeria with their purported benefits as envisioned, many Nigerian communities still remain under
developed. Many citizens are still agitating for more political units. In view of the yearnings and
aspirations of citizens for more units to be created, this research investigated the extent to which
political decentralization process has impacted positively on peoples participation in sustainable
community development programmes.
In Nigeria, it is observed by Suberu, (1998); Ugwu, (1998) that different successive
governments have been involved in political decentralization through public policies on the creation of
states and local governments. This process is conceived by thepublic as a development effort which is
to bring governance and development closer to the people. However, government inability to achieve
over all development has precipitated many communities to accept community development as a
strategy which is germane to selfhelp and people’s initiative to improve the physical and socio
economic conditions of the communities Thus, this study investigated the extent to which political
decentralization has influenced sustainable community development in terms of rural transformation
and mass participation in grassroots governance in Osun and Kwara States.
Democracy is one of the most fashionable buzz word of contemporary political system across the
globe. In its most generic and broadcast sense democracy is an integral part of movement of history
which Abraham Lincoln sees as “the government of the people by the people and for the people”
Generally, democracy is a form of government as which citizens in a state have political
investments of political participation and trust (Ayoade, 1998). It especially has to do with the ability of
the people to control decisionmarking (ZackWillians, cited in Omotola, 2006) which explains why
Osagbae, (1999) asserts that the central thing about democracy is to ensure that power actually belongs
to the people. Democracy emphasizes freedom of the individuals in various aspects of political life,
equality among citizens, and justice in elections between the people and the government and the
participation of the people in choosing those in governments. This presupposes that democracy is
hinged on the active participation/involvement of the people in governance.
It is a procedure whereby members of a community participate directly in decisionmaking about
development that affects the community. These are essential tools through which people can achieve
community empowerment and ownership. It covers a spectrum of activities involving people in their
communities, from more passive involvement in community life to intensive action. Community
participation means some form of involvement of people with similar needs and goals in decisions
affecting their lives. The theory of community participation underlines that the local community should
be given an active role in programmes and improvement directly affecting it. It is only rational to give
control of affairs and decisions to people most affected by the programmes. Besides, since no
government or authority has the means to solve all the public problems adequately, it is necessary to
involve people in matters that affect them. Since people are involved, the process of participation helps
to promote sense of ownership and control among the people. The advocates of community
participation therefore belief that it brings many lasting benefits to people instead of only a means of
getting things done. Community participation associate with citizen partnership with the citizen power
and control as “the redistribution of powers that enables the havenot citizens presently excluded from
the political and economic processes, to be deliberately included in the future (Anyanwu, 1992).
The inalienable attribute of good governance and democracy that can facilitate community
participation among others include
ii. Transparency in government procedures;
iii. Expectation of rationale decisions;
iv. Predictability in government behaviors;
v. Openness in government transactions;
vi. Free flow of information;
vii. Respect for the rule of law and Protection of the civil liberties;
viii. Freedom of the press;
ix. Decentralization of power structure and decisionmaking (Sambo, cited in Omotola, 2006)
However, community participation in governance is based on
i. Broad representatives, accommodating various shades of interest and opinion;
ii. Consultation and consensus building;
iii. Enlightened discussions, debate and contribution; and
iv. Active involvement of the good society (Attahiru ,2007)
Effective community participation in governance at the local level in Nigeria started in1976.
Hitherto, the authority and legitimacy of the local governments had always been threatened by the
traditional rulers who had always competed with the local governments for the royalty and resources of
the localities. Traditional rulers as local institutions got state and national recognition under different
regimes. They were invited to participate in the constituent Assembly. The outcome of the participation
of traditional rulers in this Assembly was the extension of their advisory functions from the local level
to the state level and also its documentation or entrenchment into the 1989 constitution. A national
council of traditional rulers was constituted and aimed at acquiring the rule of a standing national
advisory committee on a wide range of issues such as diplomacy, politics bureaucracy and economy.
Empowerment of the local and formal institution was extended to other local informal institutions.
In addition to the existing indigenous institutions at the local level, the family support
programme, Better life for rural women among others were created to raise women’s consciousness of
their social and political rights. They were organized into associations to attract government support
and enable them to better pursue their collective interests. Individual votes at the local level were not
left out of this empowerment to ensure good governance at the local level and even at the national
levels. It ensured effective monitoring of elections by preventing abuses of impersonations and multiple
voting. (Olasupo, 2000).
Economically, local institutions (informal) and the citizens were assisted by the establishment of
the people’s Bank to provide credit for disadvantage people who could not meet the usual conditions
of the normal commercial banks. Community banks system was established to provide banking services
to needy communities. The community banking system was a selfsustain financial institution owned
and managed by a community or groups of communities, for the purpose of providing credit, deposit,
banking services to its members, largely on the basis of selfrecognition and credit worthiness.
Emergence of the civil society based on region, religion, subnationalities and other primordial loyalties
came into limelight with those registered with the government and there are those not registered with
government. Community participation has decisionmaking structure, advisory panel, and designated
group. Those who participate in governance among the citizens are elected official, public
administrators and individuals in the relevant country who do not occupy governmental position.
However, community participation is concerned mostly with individuals who do not occupy
governmental positions among which are community based associations, family support programmes,
and better life for rural women, cooperative societies (Olasupo, 2000).
The agitation for more political units in the country is not just a recent phenomenon or a post
independence political problem. It had been in existence before this period. There were growing
demands for the creation of new states during the colonial eraas they were after independence. The
restructuring of the nation state is very old indeed.
The ethnic polarization in Nigeria led to the growing demands for states among minority
groups particularly before independence. Most of the ethnic groups concerned themselves with the
development and progress of their areas (Oyobaire, 1985; Suberu, 1994; and Omotoso, 2003). Ever
since 1954, when the minorities in the country first bombarded the then colonial government with an
avalanche of requests for the creation of their autonomous divisions, in order to ensure equity and
justice in an unfolding Nigeria federal structure; the demands for creation of additional states and localities to the already existing ones by Nigerians have become a fad. Nevertheless, the Nigerian
federation has been bedeviled with considerable instability resulting in internal restructuring of the
boundaries of the constituent states six times since independence that is 1963, 1967, 1976, 1987, 1991
and 1996; and, at the end of all those balkanizations, the country has metamorphosed into a
complicated 37units along with the federal capital territory and 774 local government areas arising
primarily from separatist agitations (Bello Imam, 1996; Alabi, 2006).
It is also pertinent to note that an important feature of federal framework of 1954 was the
three regional structure for which the country was bedeviled by problems arising from fear of
domination. For example, the minorities in Eastern Region formedthe CalabarOgojaRivers (COR)
state movement and demanded a separate state. In the Northern Region, minority groups formed
various associations to demand for the creation of a middleBelt state. In the Western Region, the Mid
West state movement demanded the creation of MidWest state. The pressures from this movement
led to the establishment of the Willink Commission to investigate the fears of minorities and the means
of allaying them. The report of the commission confirmed that there was convincing evidence of fears
among the minorities but insisted that the creation of the new state would delay the proposed granting
of Nigeria’s independence. Because of their desire for self–rule, the nationalists could not wait for new
state or region to be created (Oyovbaire,1985; Osarhieme, 1998; Suberu,1998; and Omotoso, 2003).
There were a lot of proposal for the state creation, as more and more Nigerians clamored for
the creation of their dream states from the existing ones. Agitation for creation of new states soon
became a political issue and newly emergent politicians usedthe issue to canvas for votes and political
support in their bid to gain the rein of governance. The agitation and creation of states continued as
(i) Demands for new state (1963 State Creation Exercise);
(ii) Minority agitation for another region in northern Nigeria;
(iii) Minority demand for state in eastern region;
(iv) 1967 twelve – state framework;
(v) The 1976 state creation exercise;
(vi) Demand for new state in the second republic (Omotosho, 2003).
The three tiers: Federal, States and Local have distinct role to play in achieving national community
development policy objectives. The roles of federal government according to the policy include: co
ordinate and monitor community development activities in the states, make adequate provision, grant
and other forms of support for selfhelp project in the states; and facilitate and monitor activities of
international agencies in community development projects among others. The state government role
shall include: supervision and monitoring community development activities in the local government;
assist project by making adequate annual budgetary provisions; and promote and fund research and
planning activities among others. Local government role in community development shall include:
monitor community development activities at the community level, make budgetary provision for grant
to community projects, establish Community Development Committees (CDSs) and encourage
education and training or field workers and community leaders among others. (Anyanwu, 1991;
Community Development Agency, 2007; Abiona, 2009).
The research questions for the study are as follow:
Are their differences in factors that affect sustainability of community development programmes
through political decentralization process between the selected states?
Are their differences in influence of political decentralization on sustainable community
development programmes between the selected states?
The following null hypotheses were tested for the purpose of study.
. There is no significant relationship between elements of political decentralization and sustainable
. There is no significant relationship between political decentralization factors and people’s
participation in sustainable community development programmes.
Descriptive survey research design was adopted for the study. This method described, examined, and
analyzed the variables of political decentralization and its influence on sustainable community
development programmes. The target population for this study comprised all members of community
based associations, community leaders, change agents and political representatives in nine local
government areas each from Osun and Kwara states.
A multi stage sampling procedure was used to select 1,984 participants. The first stage involved
cluster sampling technique, whereby two states were selected purposively, namely; Osun from South
West and Kwara from NorthCentral geopolitical zones respectively. The second stage involved the
stratification of these states into six zones along the existing senatorial districts in which three senatorial
districts were selected from each of the state. To ensure adequate representation, three local
government areas were selected from each senatorial district, which resulted to nine local governments
from each state. The third stage involved a random sampling technique for the selection of specific
respondents in proportion to the number of the ward in each local government area. From each ward,
50 participants were selected based on their participation in community development programmes and
political activities. The proportion sample size was 20% from population of 10,250 and the total sample
for the study was 2,050 participants.
The instrument used for this study is a questionnaire tagged “Political Decentralization and
Community Development Assessment Scale” (PDCDAS). The instrument was exposed to validity and
reliability test. It recorded a correlation index of 0.87which was considered sufficiently high to confirm
the instrument as reliable. The research questions were analyzed using mean, standard deviation and T
test while Pearson Product Moment correlation was used to analyze the hypotheses generated at 0.05