The history of Community Development Associations (CDAs) in Nigeria can be traced to precolonial times when people came together to address physical and social projects in the community (Muse & Narsiah, 2015; Uko, 2019; Akinsorotan & Olujide, 2006). These included housing construction, road construction, clearing farmlands, and building the Oba’s palace, market stalls and even town halls. The involvement of CDAs in community life was also visible during the post-civil war reconstruction era when CDAs embarked on the reconstruction of damaged buildings (Uko, 2019).
CDAs were formally incorporated into development planning in Nigeria in the 1975–80 Third National Development Plan as a means to promote meaningful physical development in villages and towns, to serve as an institutional channel for robust citizen participation in democratic governance and to promote self-help and the development of social capital in each community (Wahab, 1996). The Federal Government mandated all communities to form CDAs, which were
domiciled in the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural and Social Development (Muse & Narsiah, 2015).
CDAs have legislative backing at federal and state levels and are included in the local government (LG) framework. For example, the Lagos State government enacted the Community Development Associations Law on 18 February 2008 to provide guidelines for the registration of CDAs in every local government area in the state. The law’s 16 sections set out the minimum number of members (not less than 20), the procedures and documentation required for registration, the duties of LGs regarding the CDAs in their jurisdictions, the duties of the anchoring ministry and other such provisions. While the law stipulates for democratically elected representatives into the CDA executives, and also provides guidelines for discontinuance of office by elected members, it does not categorically provide ratios for gender balance. Anecdotal reports reveal that any individual who owns a property (landlords) in the community could stand for elections.