Every level of government is constitutionally required to provide essential services to all citizens within their jurisdiction, and this could be satisfactorily achieved through mechanisms that insure citizen participation. Hence, grassroots political participation in local government’s level affairs presupposes direct contact with the people to allow them to be actively involved in initiating and innovating measures that leave beneficial impact. This reality, stirred the thought to examine the extent to which local government administrations particularly that of Isi Uzo Local Government Area of Enugu State, Nigeria encourages grassroots political participation in the current democratic dispensation (1999 and 2019). David Easton’s System theory, which posits that the political system is the basic unit of analysis in understanding the dynamic interactions and effects of all political actors, was adopted as theoretical framework. According to the theory there is an implicit interdependence between the system and its environment and a change in one affects the others. The data for the study were collected using interview, observations, focus group discussions (FGD) and questionnaires as primary source, while textbooks, journals, internet resources are the secondary source. The necessary data were analyzed with content analyses and T-test statistical analyses. The study found out that people do not participate effectively in governance in Isi Uzo LGA. The researcher however recommended credible elections at the grassroots and community involvement in governmental decision making process.
Citizen political participation in grassroots governance is the bedrock of every democracy. Participation is a cardinal principle in government. It becomes even more important when the local government is involved. This is primarily because the local government is the first contact ordinary people have with the government. For this obvious reason, it is imperative for the citizens to be involved in one way or the other in the decision making process of the local government. According toEgbefo (2015), no democracy can become dynamic, acceptable and sustainable if the system of governance at the grassroots level is not people oriented, friendly, participatory and accountable.
The origin of local government administration in Nigeria could be traced to the colonial rule. Thereafter, during the early post-independence era, the heterogeneous nature of Nigeria led to the emergence of various types of local governments, which were practiced by different regimes in Nigeria. According to Ovaga (2012), the federal system of government adopted after independence further confirmed these differences, when it provided that each of the then four regions was responsible for the structure, legislation and operation of its local government councils. That was why between 1967 and 1970, the names given to local governments were different in all regions or states. In the north, the local government was then called Local Authority, while it was called Local Government in the west, and in the east, it was known as District Council. During this period, the traditional rulers had overwhelming influence on these grassroots governments.
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