Rural Development In Nigeria: Concept, Approaches, Challenges And Prospect.
RURAL DEVELOPMENT IN NIGERIA: CONCEPT, APPROACHES, CHALLENGES AND PROSPECT
There is an overwhelming need to accord rural development a priority on the ‘must-do-list’ of government at different levels if the rural communities must contribute meaningfully to the social, cultural and economic development of Nigeria. A bulk of the Nigerian wealth is derived form agriculture, and oil which lies in abundant quantity in rural communities. Current estimates put the rural population at over 80% of the entire population of almost 140 million people. So far, not much in terms of infrastructural development has been done to bring this bulk of concentration of both human and material resources to contribute optimally to national economy. Te neglect has resulted to the mass exodus of rural dwellers and in turn has made the rural area qualitatively and quantitatively depopulated, and progressively less attractive for socio-economic investment. There is the nee dot strengthen and encourage cooperative and community based initiatives in the formulation and management of rural development programmes. Also, cooperative philosophy should inculcated in rural dwellers as its grassroot appeals make it an ideal means of promoting sustainable rural development.
In terms of level of economic development, quality of life, access to opportunities, facilities and amenities, standard of living and general livability, the gap between the urban and rural areas in Nigeria is very wide. This leads to what is appropriately characterized as the rural urban dichotomy. The rural areas are usually grossly neglected as far as development projects and infrastructure are concerned. As a result of the relative underdevelopment of the rural areas when compared with the urban centres, rural areas are usually zones of high propensity for our-migration.
The challenges and prospects of rural development in Nigeria have been of great concern to the different tiers of government due to the rate of rural-urban migration. Onibokun (1987) sees rural development to be faced with the paradox that the production oriented rural economy relies heavily on non-productive people who are ill-equipped with outdated tools, technical information, scientific and cultural training and whose traditional roles and acess to resources pose problems for their effective incorporation into modern economic systems, whereas the consumption oriented urban economy is flooded with make (people) many of who are either unemployed or unemployable, or marginally employed or underemployed in the urban centres where they choose to live. As a result of this mass exodus, the rural areas have become qualitatively depopulated and are progressively less attractive for social and economic investments while the urban areas are becoming physically congested, socially unhealthy and generally uneconomic to maintain.