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STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT IN PHYSICAL PLANNING IN RURAL AREAS (A CASE STUDY OF EKET LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA, AKWA IBOM STATE
The study sought to examine stakeholder’s Engagement in physical planning in rural areas using Eket Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria as a case study. Many rural areas in Nigeria lack adequate physical planning for their environments. However, in order to survive, policy makers and stakeholders need to come to their rescue and bring a better planning of their environments in them. It is on the basis of this that this study was designed to answer research questions like: what are the contributions of stakeholders in physical planning in Eket Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State? What are the reasons for stakeholder’s Engagement in physical planning in Eket Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State? What are the benefits of stakeholders Engagement in physical planning on the people of Eket Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State?
1.1 Background to the Study
The importance of stakeholder Engagement, through positive and pro-active partnerships with the community, business, government and the development industry is enormous and cannot be underestimated. In Nigeria, there is a need to empower residents to advocate for their community of interest and endeavour to create policy and strategy which is respectful of their vision. It is not possible, nor realistic, to expect that the expectations of every stakeholder will be able to be met in every situation, recognising the diverse range of ideas, backgrounds and aspirations that stakeholders do have. It is therefore important that stakeholder Engagement is progressed in an open, transparent, responsible and respectful manner. There are resource implications associated with stakeholder Engagement, requiring the investment of time, energy and money. In addition, there are statutory timeframes established for many decision-making processes. With limited resources, it is not realistic to expect that stakeholder Engagement will be progressed for every single development proposal. This reality, however, highlights the importance of stakeholder Engagement in the development of planning strategies and policies, at a higher level and earlier in the process, which can then be used as a basis for later technical assessment of individual proposals. The art of land use planning is to bring together technical information/assessments with the ideas, opportunities and concerns of stakeholders; a difficult challenge.
The increased growth of rural-urban communities is encountering socio-economic challenges, especially in developing countries (Nnaemeka-Okeke, 2016; and Kawu, 2013). These scholars argued that government cannot exclusively alleviate the impact of unplanned urban growth, which is one of the principal factors that lead to the foundation of establishing public participation in urban planning. In the contemporary planning, urban governance becomes democratized which make use of public opinion in decision making process for urban development. Abraham Lincoln in 1864, referred to democracy as “government of the people, by the people and for the people” (Buckwalter, 2012). Consistent with the principle of democracy, effective public participation in the development of human communities becomes very imperative to achieve target goals for the present and future generations.
Stakeholders are refer to people or organisations that have a “stake” in a matter, by being either involved in or influenced by it through their sponsorship. In the rural development policy context, this covers all the groups concerned with policy delivery from the policy-makers and local administrators to the (potential) project beneficiaries. Given that rural development directly affects the quality of food, water, energy, leisure, biodiversity and other services, there is a sense in which it concerns everybody. However, when considering stakeholder Engagement in rural development policy, it is more helpful to categorise people into groups to understand how their Engagement can take place and what it can specifically contribute.
The process of land use planning has increased in scope and scale to the extent that the traditional practices where the town planners’ tool of operations, which is in the form of, established professional paradigms, concepts and models are no more adequate. This had led to the need for responsive planning approach whereby the existing gap between the public perception of how the environment should be modelled and the professional perception can be integrated. During this attempt, the stakeholders’ Engagement in the planning process will range from the individuals to voluntary organizations. However, the concept of participation could be perceived in different ways depending on the perspective from which it is viewed. Basically it means the participation of the stakeholders as citizens or a group in the planning process. It is essentially the democratization of the planning process, which allows greater say and Engagement to beneficiaries of the planning system. The policy makers must ensure the Engagement of community in the process of formulation and implementation of and policies of the physical developments of their environments. This process involves the mobilization of both men and material resources to improve the quality of their environment. This process is described by Oyesiku (1998) as an active process in which the person in question takes part in the contribution and implementation of decisions for the fact that the government cannot alone provide the need of the people. Oyesiku (1998) also revealed that it is essential for the concerned community to initiate plans and execute projects that are helpful to their existence. It is only by incorporating local people in the decision making process that the decision can be tailored to the specific needs of the people (Akinmoladun and Oduwaye, 2000). This research work is designed to investigate stakeholder’s Engagement in physical planning in rural areas using Eket Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria as a case study.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Most Nigerians in the rural areas are faced with the fact that their communities are in shambles and in trouble because of lack of proper planning of the regions and therefore there is an urgent need to do something that will reduce the emerging problems. The questions is what are the nature of the problems and how do we solve these problems. There exist many approaches to solving the emerging problems of Nigerian rural-urban regions however this study is on the nature of stakeholder’s Engagement in physical planning in rural areas. The need for this approach is based on the fact that existing physical planning framework gives little attention to citizen’s contribution to how the cities should be modelled except where they are only involved in financing projects either individually or as corporate bodies. It has seriously been noted that the professional town planner and the political class cannot do it all alone. This is important especially when it is realized that the complexities and ambiguities surrounding the mechanisms sustaining cities have become more difficult to understand, fund and implement.
1.3 Research Questions
The following are some of the questions which this study intends to answer:
iii) What are the benefits of stakeholders Engagement in physical planning on the people of Eket Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State?
1.4 Objectives of the Study
The main aim of this research is to investigate stakeholder’s Engagement in physical planning in rural areas using Eket Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria as a case study. The specific objectives are:
iii) to evaluate the benefits of stakeholders Engagement in physical planning on the people of Eket Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State
1.5 Significance of the Study
The findings from this study will be of great value to policy makers, stakeholders, organisations, as it will assess stakeholder’s Engagement in physical planning in rural areas, clarify the challenges and the ways to meet them. Researchers in related areas will also find the study a useful literature for reference.
1.6 Scope of the Study
This study covered both private and public organizations in Nigeria. The data gathered from the respondents were subjected to further analysis.
1.7 Limitation of the study
The only constraint encountered by the researcher was finance. This limited the researcher to print just one hundred and twenty questionnaires as against the proposed two hundred and fifty questionnaires. The researcher, however, came up with findings that would be worth making reference to in future and also contribute to the existing literature.
1.8 Definitions of Terms
The following terms were used in the course of this study:
Physical Planning: refers to a set of actions aimed at improving the physical, social and Economic welfare of a place and its dwellers.
Rural areas: an open swath of land that has few homes or other buildings, and not very many people. A rural areas population density is very low. Many people live in a city, or urban area. Their homes and businesses are located very close to one another.
Stakeholders: people or organisations that have a “stake” in a matter, by being either involved in or influenced by it through their sponsorship.
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