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THE IMPACT OF GRACIB INVESTMENTS LIMITED ON THE SOCIOECONOMIC LIVES OF LKOT EKPENE PEOPLE DEPARTMENT OF SOCIOLOGY AND ANTHROPOLOGY
1.1. Background of the Study
The decision to study the role of small-scale industries in community development derives from my deep interest in the subject of the dynamics of societal maturation. In any way one may define development, whether in the context of developed or developing society, industrialization is usually recognized as one of its integral components. According to Meier, industrialization tends to be viewed as a superior way of life; rich countries are believed to be rich because they are industrialized; and poor countries are believed to be poor because they are primary producing. He further argues that industrialization is, on many occasions, the most effective and sometimes the only medium of growth, especially when outward-looking development, stimulated by the export sector, is no longer a possibility.
Unsuccessful development in most developing countries of the world has been attributed to several factors. But a number of scholars and policy-makers concerned with the economy of developing countries agree that industrialization is a common denominator without which a country cannot achieve economic development and social transformation. Thus industrial development is given high priority by economists and statesmen in developing countries.
This study is not concerned with industrialization per se, but with the role of small-scale industries in community development. Using the case of Gracib Investments Limited, lkot Ekpene in Akwa lbom State the study examines the scope of small-scale industrial activities in Nigeria, the real impact of such activities on the people and suggests ways to improve on the performance of small-scale industries to enhance their contributions to community development.
Studies have shown that most of the community development programmes enunciated by various levels of government in Nigeria have failed to make the desired impact on the lives of the recipients because such programmes do not reflect their needs.
But more fundamental is the notion that the incorporation of the Nigerian economy into the capitalist world-system makes it dialectically opposed to genuine community development. Thus the class structure in Nigeria, which is largely a product of colonialism, engenders a dependency relationship between international monopoly capital and the Nigerian economy. This makes it difficult for the ruling class in Nigeria to initiate any meaningful community development programme. This school of thought points to the political and class character of Development Policies so far formulated by the Government, including the three National Development Plans launched between 1962 and1980.
The concern of this study is not to establish the empirical validity of the foregoing intellectual position. But we contend that Government alone does not hold the key to community development. There are other paths to Development than total reliance on the State. Though Government policies do influence private sector investment, it is counter-productive to make direct State intervention a spear-head in community development. In her 1997 study on Institutions and Industrial Development in Eastern Nigeria, Deborah Brautigam pointed out that the emergence of a cluster of entrepreneurs in Eastern Nigeria has “substituted for the State” that is “they have successfully filled the gaps left by failures of both the market and the state”.
Given the volume of entrepreneurial activities and the proliferation of indigenous enterprises in contemporary Nigeria, the small-scale industry presents itself for inquiry as a factor in community development.
1.2. STATEMENT OF RESEARCH PROBLEM
Small-scale industries are as old as the barter economy. The craftsmen, artisans, pedlars and shop owners have carried over their business concerns from century to century, adapting themselves to the prevailing circumstances and opportunities of their times. The industrialized societies developed from small business activities. The persistence of small-scale industries can be seen in their response to technological change. For example, the invention of electricity had a declining effect on small businesses concerned with the making of lamps, wick and candles and with the supply of paraffin oil for everyday use. But small businesses serving the needs and application of electricity such as retailers of electrical and electronic accessories, repairers of electronic gadgets like Radio, Television, etc. and producers of cables also sprang up.
Thus small-scale industries play a significant role in the structural transformation of every society, and this role is different at different stages of development (Hoselitz, 1959: Banerji, 1978; Anderson, 1982: Biggs and Oppenheimer, 1986). Anderson believes that, as development takes place, household and artisana) activities decline in importance, being replaced first by small workshops and factories, later by large factories. Also, small enterprises have been recognised as a major source of employment and income in many third world countries. Summarizing his findings in his 1994 study on the contribution of small enterprises to employment growth in Southern and Eastern Africa, Donald C. According to Mead, much of this increase has come through “start-ups” of new enterprises. Other studies have equally shown that not less than a quarter of all, people of working age are engaged in micro and small-scale business activities (Fisseha, 1991; Fisseha and Mcpherson, 1991; Daniels Ngw Ira, 1992: Daniels and Fisseha, 1992).
Many writers have acknowledged the important place of small-scale industries as an approach to the industrial development of Nigeria (Lewis, 1967: Oyejide, 1977; Teriba and Kayode, 1967; Adejugbe. 1980: Etuk, 1989). Etuk asserts that, “In Nigeria, industrialization began with small-scale enterprises... (they) have more initiative than the larger firms and thus stimulate industry by creating employment opportunities” ‘the indigenous component of the industrial sector’ writes Sullivan and lkpeze”is made up, in the main, of small- scale enterprises”.
Despite the large number of small-scale industries and their well-documented contributions to the development of different communities in the various aspects examined so far, they are often seen as low-income activities that do not contribute to the economy. For example, Biggs, Grinddle and Snodgrass (1988) report that “as agents of economic development, very small enterprises are, to put it bluntly, of little interest.” But like Lewis (1 967), Nwosu (1980),Okongwu (1986), and Etuk (1989),believe that small enterprises play an important role in the development process. Thus the major task before us in this study is to investigate the real impact of small scale industries on the lives of members of their host communities. It goes beyond the previous studies by addressing the important issue of the relevance of the activities of these enterprises to the need of the people, with a view to findingout to what extent they have filled the gaps created by the failure of government development programmes.
Specifically, the study investigates the performance of small-scale industries in Nigeria against the backdrop of their set goals. Second, the detailed interview schedule and direct observation (the research student resides in the study area) regarding the operations of Gracib Investments Limited offers the ability to provide a more precise assessment of the impact of the industry on the living conditions of the people. Third, based on our situational data in Ikot Ekpene and a rich complement of relevant information from secondary sources, this work makes an enquiry into the dynamics of the survival and growth of small-scale industry in Nigeria and its implication for community development