This study adopts an interdisciplinary approach to provide an account of why Buea is still backward in terms of socio-economic development. It examines the role of Local Governments (LGs) in rural development in supposedly democratic decentralized systems via the framework of empowerment. In other words, what are the consequences when power is devolved from the central government to the LGs? The study is conducted in the South West Province of Cameroon and in Buea precisely, which has its own peculiarities in both demographic and ecological terms when we closely observe rural areas and its associated concerns. The study argues that political empowerment is a necessary prerequisite in development. This perspective also assumes that political decentralization enhances empowerment which provides an appropriate framework for responding efficiently to the needs of the local populace. This paradigm is rooted in the conviction that authoritarian governments have often failed to reach out to the local people through top-down approach to development. From this perspective, empowerment can boost development by providing capacities, values and avenues for local people to fully participate in decision making and any meaningful effort towards improving their lives. Hence, democratic decentralization is perceived as an engine for development. The results of the study reveal that power has not been devolved in its entirety from the central government to the decentralized units and that the rural masses are still not empowered and therefore do not participate fully in the development of Buea. The results of the study also reveal that in Cameroon, there is decentralization without empowerment. The state has officially espoused democratic ideals but its practicality is absent. Implicitly, what operates is still a state led development paradigm (top-down approach) which has met with failures since the attainment of independence. Analysis of the data on elections used for this study suggests that the Buea Rural Council is not representative of the Buea folk because the council representatives are not the choice of the people.