EVALUATION OF SOCIAL SERVICE DELIVERY AT THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT LEVEL IN ABIA STATE, NIGERIA (2007-2014)
This study evaluated the deteriorating state of social services at the Local Government levels in Abia State, Nigeria (2007-2014). The objectives of the study were aims were to ascertain the contributions of elected and appointed local government officials towards social service delivery, identify other bodies that complemented the efforts of local governments towards basic infrastructural provisions and to identify the challenges hindering the effective and efficient social services provisioning by the Local Governments. Three research questions were posed to guide the study. The Efficiency Service Theory was adopted for the discourse as it sees the local government as the best agent for providing social services at the local level in the most effective and efficient manner. Descriptive survey design was adopted for the study while questionnaire was used to collect information from the respondents in the study area. Systematic sampling method was used to select three Local Governments from the three Senatorial Zones in the state for the study. The data collected were analyzed using simple percentage. Qualitative data and extensive literature review were also used in the analysis to reflect historical evolution and the objectives of social services in the study area in order to establish the present state and nature of service delivery. The findings of the study revealed that although the Federal and State public agencies, NGOs, local communities and philanthropists complemented the efforts of the local government in social service delivery, the local government as the closest level of government to the people has failed to meet the desire of rural and grassroots development through social service delivery. These failures were largely due to appointment of local government chairmen which resulted to less service delivery because those appointed owed their allegiance to the people who appointed them rather than the masses, excessive interference of the federal and state governments in local government affairs, top-down policy approach, lack of financial and qualified personnel, corruption through bribery, embezzlement and misappropriation of public funds among others. The implications of the study were that poor performance of Local Governments on social service led to underdevelopment and these would continue to thrive in the rural areas of the state if measures were not taken to curb these problems. It is therefore recommended that there should be election of local government chairmen rather than appointment to encourage the political leaders’ commitment to the needs of the people, sourcing for alternative sources of revenue apart from federal and state allocations, and involvement of the people in projects and programmes concerning them to avoid negligence and decay among others.