LOCAL GOVERNMENT AS AGENT OF POLITICAL MASS MOBILIZATION IN NIGERIA
Local government system has been defined differently by both scholars on this field and writers alike, but the one which will form our introductory definition is the one that look at local government as a grass root participatory democratic process which implies breaking down of a country into smaller units or localities for the purpose of administration in which inhabitants of the different units have an exerting influence in the affairs of government. Akpan, N. U. (1982).
One of the justifications for the existence of local government was to ensure grass root democracy. Thus for local government to have any relevance in the context of grassroot democracy, the people must first of all be politically mobilized. This means that there must exist the process of increasing people’s level of awareness to recognize and accept political values which are instrumental to political development, and at the same time engendering the people in taking part in the affairs of government. The consequence of this is the enhancement of the achievement of effective political participation in the local government political affairs.
Nigeria as we know is a developing country with a very high percentage of its population found in the rural areas. The greatest percentage of these Nigerian who lived in rural areas are marginalized, ignored and abandoned in the scheme of things over the years. For proper political development to be achieved in the country, the rural dwellers must be highly integrated in the politics of their communities. The first meaning step to open up, develop and integrate the rural areas was taken during the regime of General Ibrahim Babangida. His era witnessed the establishments of the Directorate for mass mobilization, social justice and Economic Recovery (MAMSER), now known today as National orientation agency, which was aimed at politically educating and enlightening the people, while Better Life Programme (BLP), Family Support Programme (FSP) and National Council for Women Society (NCWS) was established to mobilize and protect better life for rural women thereby fostering the realization and appreciation of their involvement in the politics of the country. The regime also attempted to enhance grassroot democracy and mass participation through making local government the foundation for a new social and political order.
Local government as the smallest and most approachable unit in our system of public administration should be able to play a major role to break down societal barriers. It therefore, become a common knowledge that for meaningful and remarkable achievement to be realized as regard political development, there should be an attempt directed at mobilizing the people to achieve this goal. Thus, there arises the need to look at local government as strategy for political mobilization in Nigeria.
But unfortunately, local government has not played a significant role in enhancing political mobilization in Nigeria. The inadequacies of local governments in evolving and developing strategies to mobilize the rural dwellers, other than those strategies designed by federal government call for greater attention to be shifted to this directed.
For political mobilization to be recorded, and for local government to ensure this, there must be therefore, the recognition of those factors that affect political mobilization. One of such factors is the improvement of socialization; political socialization can be defined as the process of transmitting, acquiring and modifying the political culture of a given political community, Verba (1961). It can also be said to mean the passing of political attitudes, beliefs, knowledge and preferences from one generation to the next. The process of political socialization in Nigeria is substantially different from that found in the more developed countries of the world. Unlike their counterparts in the more established nations, the citizens of Nigeria are not born into a national political culture to which they are socialized from an early age, divided by tribe and religion, and rooted to a small geographic are because of their dependence on an agricultural economy, most area specialized first to a parochial or traditional culture of their own immediate environment.
The process is essentially one of re-socialization because the young Nigerian is not a “tabula rasa” on which the values of the new national political order can easily be written. Not only must we values and role expectations be learned, but they must be reconciled with the old and often contradictory standards of the parochial millieu. The political re-socialization of the young Nigerian is more difficult because the people who wish to re-orient his values (in most instance), political leaders are extremely limited in the resource they command. Thus due to way and manner of our socialization, it becomes difficult for an average Nigerians to be easily mobilized politically, and this affect the level of participation in political activities.
The impact of political communication also affects political communication. Communication is vital to politics. The act of effective governing requires that some communication be established between government and the governed. I could be quickly added that where there exist communication gap between the governors and the governed, the process of mobilizing these people to achieve a desire political goals will be difficult to attain. The frequency of communication provides an insight intro-societal social isolation, distance and estrangement.
The impact of education also affect mobilization. The main issue at stake is that, what is education? How do local government in particular react towards the total mobilization and emancipation of the people from the doldrums of ignorance and political backwardness and what extend have they labour toward achieving the desire goals and education objectives. Education plays a major role in political development through the provisions of skills and techniques designed to improve human competencies. Another role of education is the spread of literacy which help to widen the process of communication among individuals and groups in the country. Mass education campaigns are necessary for through these campaigns people can understand issues, examine manifestoes, criticize the emerging leader constructively, mobilize their children to achieve political objectives. Raising the political maturity and consciousness of the masses in this country was perhaps the most critical function of MAMER Directorate. Political education in the Nigerian context can be described as a process of mental liberation which breaks down apathy and the culture of silence of the vast majority of Nigerian, and empowers them to participate effectively and meaningfully in the process of nation building.
Therefore, in recognition of local government as a strategy for political mobilization in Nigeria, and using Udung Uko local government in particular and the country in general, in order to justify local governments system and their existence as regards increasing people level of awareness so as to recognize political values which enhance involvement of the people in the affairs of government.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Local government system has been described as a vehicle for bring about political participation in the politics of this country. The primary motive behind the establishment of local government and its subsequent reforms had been to bring government nearer to the people to ensure the satisfaction of their needs and the furtherance of socio-economic and political development and public welfare at the local level.
Questions on how politically mobilized the people in the local government are, what are the various agents to bring about this mobilization and what factors affect political mobilization, are among the most troublesome questions facing researchers in studies like this.
It is obvious that government efforts both at the central and local level designing strategies for effective political mobilization of the people for political development are always disappointing. Even where they exist, are not pursued, in such an objective manner as to produce the desired goal.
It has also been found out that due to inadequate political education there is the resultant effect of low level of political consciousness amongst the rural dwellers and the task of mobilizing them politically for meaningful participation in political activities becomes Herculean. This has seriously affected the political development of this country.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
What constitute the driving motives behind the research are;
- To underscore the importance of active political mobilization in the development of any polity.
- To find out what hinders the people of Udung Uko local government area and the entire Nigerian from being actively mobilized for effective participation in the policies of their country.
- To look into certain ways in which the government, groups and individual can help to improve the level of political mobilization in the politics and administration of their country.
1.4 SIGNIFICATION OF THE STUDY
It is believed that at the end of the study the findings will be of help to people at the grassroot to exercise their franchise in both primary and general election.
It will make the people at the grassroot participate actively in decisions making process in governance.
The study will help to creates opportunity to people to function perform well while holding public office.
1.5 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
It is always an important methodological requirement in any scientific research to provide a background against which the research looks at the subject of his study. This therefore motivated the need for the research to look into theories relating to the subject matter and select the one most suitable to the researcher.
Thus for this purpose, the theory of political mobilization as was propounded by Karl W. Deutsch has been found to be very useful to this study. Deutsch defined social mobilization as the process in which major clusters of old social, economic and psychological commitments are eroded or broken down and people become available for new pattern of socialization and behaviour. Political mobilization is the process of increasing people level of awareness, leading to the recognition of political values and this also means involving the people in the affairs of government. Active political participation is a product of political mobilization. This means that political mobilization is a fore-runner of political participation.
The administration of the former President of Nigeria, General Ibrahim Babangida mapped out programmes to help increase the level of mobilization of the people in the politics of their country. One of the programme was MAMSER (now known as National Orientation Agency) which main function was to educate and mobilize the masses for active participation in politics. The campaign was to be seen as a major step in the orientation of individuals and the society. The entire campaign focused on three main programme namely;
- Mass Mobilization
- Political Education
- Mass Education Campaign
Mass mobilization focused on ways and means of mobilizing Nigeria’s labour resources to generate greater productivity so as to ensure economic recovery and self reliance. While both political education and mass education campaign aimed at creating a new and positive political consciousness among the masses. This was in the hope that politically conscious, effectively mobilized and properly motivated population is the greatest deterrent to bad governance. Karl, Deutsch (1961).
1.6 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
The method of data collection used in this research was secondary sources of information which includes textbooks, review of existing documents, reports and journals.
1.7 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
This project focuses on political mobilization. The scope of this research is limited to the geographical area of Udung Uko local government area. However, this study was based with problems of time, finance, etc.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Certain terms are hereby defined as used in the work.
System of government in which the government is under control of citizens as a whole.
A grassroot participatory democratic process which implies breaking down a country into smaller units or localities for the purpose of administration in which inhabitants of the different unit have exerting influence in the affairs of government.
An acronym which stands for mass mobilization for social justice, self-reliance and Economic Recovery.
This is the process of pooling, harnessing, actualizing and utilizing potential human resources for the purpose of development.
This is essentially the building of democracy. It becomes a transitional development of democracy from traditional system to modern democratic system.
The process in which peoples level of awareness so as to recognize political values leading to involvement of the people in the affairs of government increased.
It getting the people effectively involved in creating the structures and in designing policies and programme that serve the interest of all as well as to effectively contribute for