- Background Of The Study
Human settlement activities existed in Nigeria long before the penetration of colonial masters and the establishment of port cities and market towns. Historically, man built to protect himself, his activities, and possessions against enemies and climate. The major population of Nigeria was largely rural until recently, when rapid urban and industrial growth negated the corresponding growth of rural areas. Rural settlement in Nigeria, which manifests the cultural and historical values of the people, has therefore suffered. With the surge of population from the rural area into the old residential areas of the city, characterized by low incomes and rent, squatting and overcrowding problems were the result. These migrants, when faced with the disappointing realities of the urban scene and with the recent economic retardation in Nigeria, have no reason to remain in urban areas, but have to return to the villages, where the only chance of improving their economic conditions is from a transformation of their agricultural and rural production system. The truth is that this is exactly the trend of events taking place in Nigeria, as people are leaving the urban scene en masse for the former subsistence agricultural rural areas. This paper examines the trends towards developing rural areas and reviews the efforts of the past and the present governments of Nigeria in supporting and encouraging the people in the rural area by way of several programmes and policies, especially the new programme of the Directorate of Foods, Roads and Rural Infrastructure (DFRRI).
Asian Development Bank (2014) asserted that rural development has become one of the major aims of various assistance/intervention programmes of both individual developing countries and multilateral institutions/donors. Over the past five decades, Nigeria has never been short of programmes and reforms aimed at alleviating the failing rural economy, livelihood, insecurity and other specific policies associated with poverty alleviation and rural community sustainable development. The Document of Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN) at 50 (2010:618) illustrated that, majority of these programmes developed complications over the years. Since Nigeria gained her political independence in 1960, there has been a great impetus attached to the rural community development as a factor that advances the overall socio-economic development of Nigeria. It is this reality as highlighted by Alege (2005:55) that has made the government at different times to set up various programmes and specialized credit institutions in an attempt to transform and develop rural areas in all its ramifications and thereby moving rural dwellers from abject poverty and squalor to economic and social prosperity. Some of those programmes and credit institutions are yet on-going, some are moribund and others have gone with the regimes that initiated them. Ibietan and Oghator (2013:308) noted that successive governments have indicated desire to transform the country, be it in terms of provision of infrastructure, human capacity development and even in the realm of social and political development. In this wise, Nigeria has experimented with several development plans from pre-independence era till date, yet the needed transformation has continued to elude its citizenry in spite of the robust plans. (PAUL, December, 2014)
Although rural areas in Nigeria harbor over eighty percent of the national population, they can only boast of about ten percent of the infrastructure and other indices of development. (African Jornals Online2014). The billions of dollars, which the three tiers of government and international agencies budget for the development of rural areas are often frittered away. Otherwise, with the level of attention and the amount of money expended on efforts at developing the rural communities in Nigeria the disparity and lopsidedness between the rural and urban areas of the country with regard to the level of poverty and socio-economic infrastructure should have been a thing of the past. It appears that the more money is spent on the rural areas the greater the disparity in the level of development between the urban and rural areas. (African Jornals Online2014).