ONWE, SUNDAY ONWE
Department of Political Science/Public Administration
Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki
The need for the involvement of the rural dwellers in national development and the mobilization of the available resources for sustainable national development are regarded as crucial in the socio-economic growth of any developing nation. This article assesses the various approaches that could promote or enhance rural development. Similarly, it identifies various strategies and/or programmes aimed at integrated rural development. Finally, the article summarized the problems associated with integrated rural development over the years in Nigeria and offered some recommendations.
In Nigeria, social efforts are being geared towards identifying, involving and supporting viable local community organization’s in the effective mobilization of the rural populations for sustained rural development activities, bearing in mind the need for promoting greater community participation and economic self-reliance of the rural community. Rural development programme required for national development with agriculture as its basic focus must have the family farm as its central attention. Ehirim (2006:21). The Nigerian economy is predominantly agrarian in nature and is characterized by low farm income levels and primitive production technique trapped in vicious cycle of poverty, poor yield and low income leading to poor savings and little to no investment. Due to its poor technology and poor mode of production output is low, aggregate income is low and cannot support national development. Schultz (1964) defined such as efficient but poor.
The seat of agriculture production activities is in the rural areas. Out of 120 million Nigerians, more than 55 percent of the work force is engaged in agriculture but close to 70 percent live and earn their livelihood in the rural areas. The rural environment offers the best and largest natural resource endowment and rural people exploit them for their economic activities. The interaction and integration of the rural poor is therefore important for national development and for economic sustainability. Rural development initiatives therefore call for several strategies, which include: Increase in aggregate land under cultivation; increase in productivity of cultivated land, mounting strategy for rural industrialization. All the means of achieving rural development obviously have a measure of pressure on the rural environment.
Titilola (2005) notes that economic fortune of Nigeria revolves largely around exploitation and the use of resources in the primary industry but this seems to be on the contrary in Nigeria. There is a widening gap between domestic food supply and the total food requirement. Consequently, there is an increasing resort to food importation, which amounted to NO.4 million in 1976 and about N2.3 billion in 1984. This is a clear indication of the failure of the Nigerian agricultural sector to satisfy domestic food demand. At present, there is a rapid deterioration of the government roles in rural integration. The most important and interesting feature of integrated rural development is its multi dimensional character and the heavy demand it therefore makes on coordinative management style. It is a techno-bureaucratic programme, very little of theories preached ever gets implemented at the field level.
The primary objective of this article is to examine the importance of rural integration in the scheme of national development bearing in mind that rural development is multidimensional in character which has do with making maximum use of the available human and material resources all geared for national development. It is also to offer a useful information on the problem and prospects of improved integrated rural development in Nigeria.
DEFINITION/MEANING OF CONCEPTS
It will be most appropriate to define some concepts that will be repeatedly used in this study. These concepts are as follows: Rural development: Rural development has been defined by the World Bank (Belshaw 1977) as “a strategy designed to improve the economic and social life of a specific group the rural poor”, According to the United Nations Committee, rural development means;
“a strategy designed to transform the rural life by extending to the masses of the rural population the benefits of economic and social progress… It stresses a fundamental principle; that the rural poor must share fully in this development process through equitable access to resources inputs and services and participation’ in the design and implementation1 of development programmes. (Rural Development. Jan Junl987).In the words of Mabogunje, Rural development imports:”Meaningful development of rural people must be on a self sustaining basis, through transforming the socio-spatial structure of their productive activities and implies a broad based re-organization and mobilization of the rural masses so as to enhance their capacity to cope effectively with the daily tasks of their lives and with the changes consequent upon this.Professor Ukwu (2004; 12)0 defined integrated rural development as;”… has to do with putting the entire act together, with clarifying and unifying the objectives and bringing together all the agencies, facilities and programmes necessary to attain the objectives”.
To be more emphatic, it is not possible to fully comprehend what integrated rural programmes really is or exactly what it entails. To fully appreciate this, four different senses apply according to Mabogunje (1992:68). First, rural integration is used to embrace the concept of rural economic growth. By this is meant increased agricultural production and productivity, This has been the major orientation of colonial effort at “rural development” in Nigeria and its success is well attested to by the remarkable levels of output especially of export of agricultural commodities such as groundnut, cotton, cocoa, palm produce and rubber. The ease with which such growth can be undermined emphasizes the febrile and non self sustaining nature of “rural development” when thought of simply as economic growth.
Second “rural development has been conceived of as meaning rural modernization. This is the sense in which there has been emphasis on the provision of schools and colleges in the rural areas, the extension of adult literacy, the extension of coverage of mass media particularly through radio and television, the growth in the number of health centers and medical establishment, the provision of better housing and recreational facilities and new interest in rural youths and their activities.
This is also the sense in which there has been concentration on rural electrification especially for rural residents. The objective is to inculcate in the rural population wealth oriented behaviour and values. However, what rural development conceived as modernization’ very often does is to induce a strong sense of dissatisfaction with rural conditions among rural youths leading inexorable to massive migration to urban areas.
Third, rural development has been thought of in terms of distributive justice especially as between the rural and the urban population. It has been felt that over the years of implementing national plans there has been strong, if sometimes unconscious, bias in favour of urban areas. Most investment decisions are usually for projects with urban location, factor prices are often determined with urban producers in mind and the rate of product exchange as between rural and urban producers tend to be weighted largely for the benefit of urban consumers. It is against such background that one can understand how legislation of a predominantly agricultural country could in the second republic have voted in favour of massive importation of cheap agricultural products to feed the teeming urban population to the utter devastation of the nation’s rural economy. Rural development in such context becomes a matter of restoring some justice in the relation’ between urban and rural areas. Such distributive justice could be either direct or indirect. It can be indirect in the sense of a co-ordinated programme of enhanced producer prices for rural produce and subsidization of various farms or inputs. It can be direct in the sense of programmes aimed at meeting the basic needs of rural dwellers for food, shelter and other social service. In the World Bank context of this concept, target groups of poor farmers or landless peasant are identified and concerted action programme is directed at them to raise their per capita income above some socially defined poverty level.
It has been debated in certain quarter that development as distributive justice is self defeating unless attempts are made to resolve the contradiction in the prevailing mechanisms governing production and distribution which brought about the social injustice in the first place. This ushers in the fourth idea in which the term rural development is used. For the resolution of such contradictions will conceive of development as the socio-economic transformation of a given society. Within this context, rural development would entail the total transformation of the rural component of the prevailing mode of production. This involves a transformation of not only production technology and organization but also social relationships and the social basis for co-coordinating the productive activities of the numerous individuals involved in this process of change.
RURAL CONDITION INNIGERIA
Nigeria is classified as one of the poorest countries in the world Oguonu (2006:236). According to her, recent classification of basic economic indication by the world Bank (2000/2001), shows that Nigeria has a G.N.P per capita of $310.00, ranking 179 in the world (1999 figures) and an average annual percentage growth of 0.5 (1998-1999figure) and a national poverty line of 31.7% in urban areas and49.5% in rural areas.
Most programmes and polices targeted at the poor are over politicized making the objectives unreachable. According to Agbese (2001:11)” poverty Alleviation committee set up at state level to aid its execution are packed full with P. D. P sympathizers. Originally, membership of the committees was to be made up of the staff of the federal ministry of works and Housing in the states. But politicians who have hijacked the committees in the states are said to be extorting between Nl 00.00 and N200.00 from thousands of prospective job seekers before issuing them registration form. The very pitiable condition of rural communities in Nigeria today is well known. There is excessive hardship in Nigeria. The number of street beggars is as high as 13,000,000 (Abdulahi: 1993). The question is what are the causes of this? The problem is not necessarily that of lack of attention. Over the past two decades according to Prof. Ukwu, rural development has been the subject of a stream, of conferences and workshops. It is however a sign of the fundamental problem that in spite of all that fuss, we are yet to have a National policy on rural development. There have been too many ill-considered programmes, too many institutions and agencies with poorly defined roles, many of them overlapping or even conflicting.
PREVIOUS RURAL DEVELOPMENT STRATEGIES IN NIGERIA AND THEIR CRITICISMS
Integrated rural development is never a once and for all effort. It is a process, which must always be in gear. It is against these backgrounds that successive governments in Nigeria have been establishing or initiating a number of policies towards alleviating rural problem. Some of them include:
- Green Revolution;
- National Accelerated food production programme;
- Integrated Agricultural Development Project;
- Operation feed the Nation;
- River Basin Development Authority;
- Directorate of Food, Roads, and Rural infrastructure;
- National Land Development Authority;
- Family Economic Advancement programme;
- Poverty Reduction Agency;
- Youths Empowerment Scheme, etc.
In addition to the above, various credit schemes were also initiated to support these programmes but it is obvious to government and those concerned with these programmes in Nigeria that there is no alternative to well designed and articulated agricultural policy, as instrument for sustainable national development. The problem therefore lies on the disbursement of the credit scheme.
Generally, speaking, the strategies adopted in the implementation of these programmes are said to be “elite based”, serving only the privileged few. Besides, most of them were highly centralized, having its headquarters only at the National headquarters and at the states making it inaccessible to the rural dwellers.
Consequently, government adopted a comprehensive package of policy instruments to further develop and improve rural performance for about 15 years (1 985 2000) but the package did not adequately emphasize the lowest technology of food processing industry for example so as to serve as an integral aspect of rural development. According to Ozo (2006:9) the value of agricultural exports declined from an average of N432.7m between 1978 and 1980 an average of N271.3m from 1980 1984. Nigeria’s current contribution to global G.D.P is an infinitesimal 0.22% and her share of world export of goods and services is currently 0.20% against 0.55% in the sixties (ibid).
Over the year, the various levels of government in Nigeria have adopted an unhealthy strategy of using these programmes to patronize their political associates, friends and relations. For example in Ebonyi State only People’s Democratic Party, (P.D.P) members were appointed board members of these government agencies or poverty reduction programmes; in the same vein only the party loyalists benefited from such programmes or agencies between 1 999 to May, 2007. The millions of naira loan facilities provided by the federal governments for rural farmers never got to the targeted public, rather, the relations of the ruling class siphoned it and the original farmers who were targets never heard of it.
In recent times, available literatures have revealed that development should be initiated from the grassroots and finally to the urban areas, but the case with Nigeria is that of the opposite. When this happens, local resources will not be properly harnessed because of the faulty belief that there is nothing the rural areas could contribute to national development. Even when there is any attempt to integrate the rural dwellers, the mode of administration or implementation of the programmes seems not to accommodate the rural poor.
There is absence of full participation of members of the communities in the development process a factor considered relevant to the quality and sustainability of the development effort. There is no serious encouragement to promote and support the formation of community organization’s that can establish mutual understanding and evoke a healthy partnership with them in the initiation, formulation and implementation of development programme. Similarly, there is a serious lack of special and appropriate provisions for the support of community institutions, initiatives and programmes through managerial, technical, financial and other appropriate assistance.
Previous rural development approaches in Nigeria seems to ignore the role special programmes could play in rural integration. The powerless, marginalized, less privileged and poor member of the rural areas contribute to the poverty of the rural community. The women, youths, children, elderly ones the handicapped and locally displaced people are the worst affected and the successive governments have not paid special attention them. Over the years, these groups aforementioned have continued to be isolated and when there is any move to address their problem there is always lack of sincerity in the implementation.
There is a serious negation for accelerated improvement of the productive capacity, conditions of domestic life, life chances and social status and the promotion and protection of the human right of women in rural areas.
INTEGRATED RURAL DEVELOPMENT THE DESIRED FOCUS
Due to the rural nature of the Nigerian state and its associated problems, to solve the problems of drafting the rural dwellers into national development scheme for uniform development or accelerated development, there is the need for a multi-dimensional and multi-sectional nature of the various transformations required. Rural development when seriously undertaken transcends the boundary of any single line ministry. Similarly, because socio-economic transformation implies the re-distribution of power and resources, rural development is again a societal enterprise that also transcend the competence of any one ministry. Integrated rural entails a number of processes operating both simultaneously and sequentially. These are:
Territorial re-organization. Integrated rural development can be put under way only by a process which sets great store on mobilizing all available resources. Within the rural domain, the two most important resources are men and land. To mobilize them effectively means instituting a system of organization, which allows you to appreciate where every farmer or every acre of land is.
The Chinese effort at engaging in the rural development of over 800 million people in their rural areas provides the most instructive example of territorial re-organization for purpose of effective mobilization. Chinese re-organization involved having every farmer being in a production team of some 20 to 50 household corresponding to a small national village or part of a large one; a group of production teams making up a production brigade (corresponding to a large national village or group of small ones), whilst a number of production brigades make up a commune or an administrative village or holang. Today, there are over 70,000 communes in the rural area of china.
In Nigeria, the lowest level of societal organization at present is the local government area. Its relation to the individual natural hamlet or village is, however, tenuous in the extreme. Its purpose within the production programme of the state is ill-defined and its internal social coherence for purposes of collective action is minimal. The Chinese example, if implemented will help integrate the rural dwellers for a more meaningful development.
Land Reform: If territorial organization makes it easier to have more structured access to the rural population, land reform is designed to facilitate structured and productive access to land. In Nigerian context, however, the problem here is not that of class or a land aristocracy, which has to be dispossessed to make land available to peasant cultivators. Rather, the problem like elsewhere in Africa, is that of a diffused, individual family, land ownership, which makes it difficult to have access to land large enough for modern agricultural production.
The position is worsened by the fact that the traditional land tenure system in the country basically vests in individuals only the right to usage. The inheritance system encourages further fragmentation of rights due to the fact that all sons or all children have the right to inherit a man’s land. To address this problem the 1976 land reform was promulgated but lacked clear focus or direction. A lot of complementary actions are needed. If we must have integrated rural development, the government has to realize this and give a period for families to effectively occupy all lands they intend to claim for eventual re-distribution. In the same vein rural development committees at the local levels should be encouraged to work through the various community development associations.
Infrastructural Development: The provision of infrastructural facilities is a necessary sine-qua- non for accelerated rural development. At present, infrastructural development in rural areas is conceived largely in communal terms. There are the rural feeder roads and farm roads, which are critical for general access. There are also the communal water supply and electricity system. All these are certainly important and do go to establish the live ability of rural areas.
Rural development requires policies that address the ability of individuals to better the quality of their farms. Such policies to date have been poorly articulated and poorly implemented because of some other environmental inadequacies.
Agrarian Reform: This includes not only land reform which has been discussed above but also changes in the adequacy and timelines of rural support services needed to bring about increased productivity. Such support included extension services, credit and marketing.
The issue of credit remains very much central in any programme of rural development. Nigeria has tried various means over many years of ensuring that credit gets down to the small fanner. Co-operative societies have been formed to ensure that small farmers have access to credit as members of a large group. It is the assertion of this work that various efforts by the Government abound but there is still considerable room for change. For example the absence of well-equipped, funded, wholesaling establishments stand as one of the most deficient sectors of integrated rural development in Nigeria. This will help reduce post -harvest wastage in the country.
Institutional Reforms. Integrated rural development is never a once and for all effort. It is a process which must for always be kept in gear. As such, its successful outcome requires in institutionalization. Within the framework of the new territorial organization, new institution’s must be created to ensure that the masses of the rural population actively participate in decisions that concern their lives. Every institution whether traditional or modern must be re-engineered and devolved so that they would welcome any development programmes targeted at up lifting the rural communities. It is only when each member of a community has become a true and properly financial part of the whole can any community development association claim that it-has played its role creditably in producing fully pledged citizen of the country.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION
To solve the problem of integrated rural development in Nigeria, many have argued that a concerted effort has to be made in programme approaches. Most international organizations have favoured this. The concept of programme approach evolved as a response to the problem of inadequate effective, insignificant impact on national development of the project approach which tends to see each project on its own terms rather than part of a larger whole.
Integrated development from programme perspective includes the following: Resource development community mobilization, planning, Information (creating awareness), Infrastructure, services and finance and investment. Whatever institution established or approach established, it is important to realize that within the wider national geographical realities, rural development is concerned with power relations that are with competition against powerful urban interest for access to scarce national resources. Therefore, because of the naturally atomistic nature or rural societies, it has not always been easy for them to exert an influence on the national decision-making process commensurate with their numerical importance. Integrated rural development must thus become both the means and the result of addressing this balance.
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