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1.1   Background of the Study

Religion Based Organizations (RBOs) provide Society Development services, no doubt, such as educational, health and social services. However, RBOs are valued to have comparative advantages over secular social service providers, for example, their moral competence, their roots within rural and urban communities, the respect and trust of their members as well as their beneficiaries. Hence, James (2009) contends that RBOs have historically been in the forefront of service delivery and social movements in development, but have been disregarded by donors for decades. The assumed disregard for RBOs in Society Development is not unconnected with the perception that religion is anti-developmental. Roberts, Odumosu and Nabofa (2009) assert that there is a need for contemporary study of Religion based Organizations in Nigeria. The recognition of the fact that faith is basically a significant driver of social change points to the pertinence of research study into the activities of RBOs in Nigeria.

Religion based Organizations (RBOs) serve as religious instrumentality of social transformation in contemporary time. This assertion remains debatable judging from different views emanating from several sectors of human society. For instance, donor agencies, which illustrate views from organized civil society, question this assertion, as re-echoed in the work of James (2009).

Kogi State, for instance, is characterized by underdevelopment. The common features of underdevelopment in Kogi State include poverty, malnutrition, primitive agriculture, underdeveloped natural resources, unemployment, technological backwardness, poor planning and implementation, corruption and political instability. A common question, an indigene, like this researcher, may ask is, what contributions are religion based communities making to improve Society Development status of Kogi State? Geographically, Kogi State lies within the tropical climatic region with an annual rainfall of 1016mm to 1524mm (Aladekomo, 2004:68). Its wet season covers the months of March to October, while the dry season spans the months of November to early March. Kogi State has a mean daily temperature of 25 to 35 degree Centigrade. Historically, the term Kogi is an Hausa word, which means river, interestingly, the State’s appellation is the Confluence State. The three (3) major tribes in the State are namely, Okun, Ebira and Igala. Coincidentally, the three major tribes correlate with the three senatorial zones in the State namely, Western Senatorial Zone made up of Kabba/Bunu, Lokoja, Kogi, Ijumu, Mopamuro, Yagba West and Yagba East Local Government Area who turn out to be Yoruba speaking people. The Central Senatorial Zone is made up of Okene, Okehi, Adari, Ajaokuta and Ogori/Magongo Local Government Areas dominated by Ebira speaking people. The Eastern Senatorial Zone is made up of Idah, Ibaji, Ankpa, Dekina, Bassa, Omala Ofu, Olamaboro, Igalamela/Odolu Local Government Areas equally dominated by Igala speaking people. In all, Kogi State has twenty-one (21) L.G.As. It is interesting to note that governance in Kogi State began with the then Brigadier-General Danladi Zakari as the first governor on August 28th, 1991 following the creation of the State on 27th of August, 1991. In the same vein, Governor Ibrahim Idris assumed leadership position in May 29th, 2003. His tenure lasted till 2012 due to re-run election held sometimes in the past.


1.2 Statement of the Problem

Religion based Organizations (RBOs) do serve as religious instrumentality of social change. Social change could be positive or negative, small scale or large scale. Expectedly, RBOs as religious instrumentality of improvement in human condition, specifically, in human living standard remain shrouded with doubts, disdain and uncertainty. Often, religion in itself appears to be anti-developmental. The recurring religious violence in most parts of Nigeria, for instance, illustrate the confusion associated with the relevance of religion to Society Development. The recurring dilemma confronting development agents, especially, donor agencies, centre on the commitment and capability of RBOs in development service delivery. This study, therefore, seeks to answer the following questions: What is the nature of RBO? What propel RBOs into development activities? What aspects of Society Development services do RBOs engage? What forms of contributions do RBOs make to Society Development? In the same vein, the study seeks to ask: What impacts are RBOs making in a society such as Kogi State? What are the peculiar characteristics of RBOs operating in Kogi State?


Recent studies by Odumosu, Olaniyi and Alonge (2009) did not point out the status of RBOs operating in Kogi State of Nigeria; however, they identified the need for further studies and advancement of knowledge about the nature and scale of Religion based Organizations. Similarly, Roberts, Odumosu and Nabofa (2009) hold the view that RBOs constitute a significant driver of social changes. The dearth of evidence-based knowledge of the nature and activities of RBOs in Kogi State of Nigeria, therefore, call for a systematic investigation into the operation and contribution of RBOs in relation to improved standard of living in areas such as education, health and social services. Hence, this research work seeks to examine the role of RBOs in Society Development with reference to Kogi State.

1.3 Aims of the Study

The research project seeks to determine the availability, activities and contribution of RBOs to Society Development in Kogi State. This is in response to the need for advancement of knowledge on the nature, scale and activities of RBOs often perceived to be anti-development. This is in contrast to other school of thought which holds the view that RBOs are actively and positively involved in religion based development activities without documentation. In specific term, the peculiar characteristics of RBOs in Kogi State would be ascertained.

1.4 Significance of the Study

The importance of the project work lies in its advancement of evidence-based knowledge on the availability, activities and contribution of RBOs to Society Development in Kogi State. The findings emanating from the research will shed light on the nature, scale and characteristics of RBOs in Kogi State in contrast to the disdain and uncertainty associated with the relationship between RBOs and Society Development.

In recognition of the fact that Kogi State is a developing society that not much is known about areas for collaboration between development partners and donor agencies; the research project will advance knowledge in this missing gap, which hopefully will promote development partnership in Kogi State.


1.5 Scope of the Study

Granted that the relationship between religion and development remains an area for further investigation in Nigeria social milieu; this study on the role of RBOs in Society Development hope to limit itself to general survey of existing RBOs in Kogi State of Nigeria and thereafter, an in-depth study of selected cases, so as to shed light on their aims and objectives, characteristics, organizational structure, approaches, funding, beneficiaries and thematic foci of the selected RBOs in the State.


1.6 Methodology

Methodologically, this project is based on analytic description of the nature, activities and contribution of RBOs to Society Development in Kogi State. This implies a survey or enumeration of available RBOs and an in-depth study of selected cases. Put differently, the research project intends to use a combination of data collection techniques and sources. First, an enumeration form on availability of RBOs in Kogi State will be used to determine the identity and geographical location of available RBOs. Second,

  • semi-structured interview instrument for in-depth study of RBOs will be used on selected RBOs with reference to pre-determined set of criteria (see appendices A, B and C). Third, secondary sources of data will be consulted such as journal, internet materials, books and periodicals. Of course the researcher hails from West Senatorial Zone of the State, which lends credence to ease of oral interview for the project work.

1.7      Definition of Related Terms

This study intends to explore and present the evaluation of religion based organizations in Society Development, particularly, a study of selected cases in Kogi State, Nigeria. Key concepts become necessary working tool in this investigation namely religion based organizations and Society Development.

(a)                    Religion based Organizations (RBOs)

Religion based organizations refer to religious and or religious-based groups connected with a stable faith community and concerned with Society Development or societal development. For example, the Catholic Institute for Development, Justice and Peace, Enugu, is a religion based organization in Nigeria.

Woldehanna, et al (2005:27) see religion based organizations as “religious and religious-based organizations, places of religious worship or congregations, specialized religious institutions and registered or unregistered non-profit institutions that have religious character or missions.”

  • Society Development

Society Development refers to improvement of the wellbeing of the human person. This usually requires provision of social service, health services and educational services. United Nations Development Programme (2010) describes the concept of Society Development as, “a process of enlarging people’s choices. The most critical ones are to lead a long and healthy life, to be educated and to enjoy a decent standard of living. Additional choices include political freedom, guaranteed human rights and self-respect.”

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