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Faculty of Environmental Sciences, University of Ilorin, Nigeria


1.0 Introduction The development of rural areas as the bedrock of rural transformation has long been neglected in Nigeria with the ascendancy of crude oil as the mainstay of the nation’s economy. The rural dwellers produced the chunk of Nigeria’s staple foodstuffs, using crude implement and technology. The task of transforming rural-Nigeria has remained the focus of successive governments in recent years. Urban bias in Nigerian development policy is reflected in prices, institutional opportunities, availability and access to markets, health, infrastructure, communication and transport linkage and many other structural characteristics of national economies. Policy analysts, policy advocates, and other stakeholders in the socioeconomic and political development in developing rural societies have over the years placed more emphasis on rural transformation as the best policy option to develop the rural areas and promote the economy of Nigeria. Consequently, they have implemented numerous rural development programmes such as operation feed the nation (1976), green revolution (1979), a directorate of foods, roads and rural infrastructure (1986), the national directorate of employment (1986), better life programme (1989), family support programme, national poverty eradication programme etc. that have largely failed to achieve their set goals and objectives. Rural Development has been a front-burner issue in Nigeria simply because the majority of Nigerian people is rural dwellers. Indeed, increase in rural productivity must encompass mass participation of the rural population by mobilizing and allocating resources in such a manner that a balance is achieved between economic and social services. According to Eves, (2014) in most countries, rural property makes up the greatest percentage of the total area of the country but is not always the most valuable property type in that country. The rural environment plays a significant role in the national economy through the rural economy. This would eventually result in a better standard of living for the rural population (Eli, 1986). The above assertion pointed out that this would necessarily involve a redistribution of personal income of rural dwellers through the provision of job opportunities other than land bound activities for a sizeable proportion of the rural inhabitants (Ani, 1997). However, quite germane to agricultural production is the provision of basic and functional infrastructure that is embedded in effective rural transformation. Rural transformation either in physical or social forms can be used to bridge rural-urban gap, can aid the rural dwellers in their production activities and enhance the quality of rural life’. Rural transformation in Nigeria has become imperative in view of the fact that rural-Nigeria constitutes the largest percentage of Nigerian society, the most depressed segments and the potential reservoir of national foodstuffs, wealth and energy. According to Olayide et al (1979), greater percentage (about 70 percent) of the Nigerian total population lives in rural areas, and to a large extent depend on agriculture for food and income. However the United Nations (2009) reviewed and estimated that 48.3% of Nigeria’s population live in the urban areas while the majority of the people (51.7%) live in the rural areas and they are largely engaged in agricultural production. In fact, they have remained traditional in their culture and despite their rural character they have been increasingly affected by decisions and activities which occur in small but growing urban areas in the country. According to Olayide et al (1981), most Nigerian rural areas have the following peculiar characteristics; Low income, Low savings, Low investment, Low capital formation, Poor infrastructural facilities, e.g. health, road, electricity, etc., either absent or in a poor state, High population density, Gross illiteracy, Low social interaction, Local politics, Disguise or under employment, Informal groups, High rural-urban migration, Low technological base – There is low rate of transformation and abundant untapped resources resulting from the lack of skilled manpower. Despite all these, the majority of urban residents rely directly or indirectly on government employment, which has been the major stimulus for urban growth. Studies have revealed that government employees are purely overhead expenses and that they are non-productive; and that the rural production in Nigeria is what sustains the country. Despite this pivotal role of rural production, the productivity of the rural masses is low because of lack of transformation of rural areas which, if done will obviously stimulate rural development, encourage rural industrialization and check rural-urban migration and promote the national economy. However, in recent times, the productivity of the rural masses has continued to decline. Rural transformation is therefore of fundamental importance for the achievement of sustainable development and broad-based economic growth, directly linked to food security and poverty reduction in Nigeria. This is because Nigeria is one of the nations where rural poverty has been increasing and per capita food production has been declining in recent time. The next section of this paper is on rural development concept, follow by third section on



Rural, Sustainable Development


Bello, N. A., Bako, A. I., and Akinbola, K. B. (2015). Rural Transformation as a Key to Sustainable Development in Nigeria. Journal of Environmental Spectrum, 1(1), 39-50. Published by Faculty of Environmental Sciences, University of Ilorin, Ilorin.