The development of rural areas constitutes an important sector in any nation’s economy and this is even as their rapid development and modernisation have gained the attention of policy makers and governments globally, EMMANUEL BESONG writes
Generally speaking, infrastructure is essential for the sustainability of human settlement. Today, it is no longer arguable that the imbalances in the provision of rural infrastructure when compared with that of the cities have negatively impacted cities’ sustainability.
Over two-third of Nigeria’s population resides in rural areas. Increasingly, poverty in the country is wearing a rural face as insecurity and vulnerability, lack of empowerment, lack of opportunities for income generation and benefits from markets, access to education, safe water supply, sanitation, health, modern energy, telecommunications and roads have remained the nightmare of rural dwellers.
In fact, this rural-urban imbalance in development provides an explanation for the unprecedented growth of urban centers and slums. Rural development is the provision of physical infrastructure. The logical basis of this concept is that, the provision of such socio-economic amenities like schools, hospitals, recreational facilities, good road network, electricity and pipe-borne water are capable of transforming the rural communities and eventually making them attractive for habitation.
Little wonder, analysts have insisted that the most important sector of the Nigerian population is the rural areas. This, according to them is because the rural sector is the major source of capital formation for the country and a principal market for domestic and raw materials for industrial processes.
These grassroots development vanguard’s argued that rural area dwellers have been found to engage in primary economic activities that form the foundation for the country’s economic development. As it is conspicuously apparent, given the national economy, enhancing the development of the rural sector should be central to government and public administration.
Regrettable these rural sectors of Nigeria that are vital to the socio-economic development of the nation are faced with the problem of retard development. This has been attributed to the top down approach policies of most Nigerian government in the approaches to rural development.
Among those who have raised their voices for this course are an APC lawmaker in the 9th National Assembly, representing Birnin Kebbi/Kalgo/Bunza federal constituency of Kebbi State, Hon Bello Yakubu.
For Yakubu, Nigeria’s rural communities need to be given much priority infrastructural wise to enable them feel the impact of governance; this is because the people at the grassroots constitute large population of voting.
He said, “The rural people are used during elections but are dumped after it, with nobody to voice for them thereby making their problems unresolved. They are faced with several challenges of life and with no laws compelling government to develop their villages or focus attention to their communities for infrastructural development.”
The lawmaker who advocated their inclusion in governance in order to liberate and advance the concept of good governance to them said, “rural dwellers are facing serious problem of insecurity, unemployment, child infant mortality, poverty, disease, lack of good water, lack of good education, shelter among others which needs to be urgently addressed.
He expressed worry that rather than abate, the challenges which emanates from the rural areas increases on a daily basis across the federation with no government intervention.
Hon Yakubu lamented that even, “local governments chairmen that needs to deal with the matter are cash trap and handicap to solve their problems, thereby leaving it to linger.”
Burdened with their dilemma, Hon Yakubu promised to sponsor bills that would bring development to the people at the grassroots where the federal government would be compelled to develop rural communities across the nation.
He said, “The rural people lack good roads and electricity, worst is that during the rainy season, they are cut off from major cities and towns due to bad roads, which is enough reasons for government to give them attention”.
The lawmaker and lawyer by profession further described the plight of rural dwellers as pathetic and as one that must be addressed headlong.
He said, “Empowering local communities at the grassroot level is my priority, having known their plight for I intend to impact on my people’s lives by ushering in the needed development in my place as a way of appreciating their confidence on me.
Some don’t have good shelter, food and if they are sick they don’t have proper medication.”
Yakubu who had won two elections into Kebbi State House of Assembly and was also elected majority leader in his second term, said he doesn’t and will not consider religion or tribe as a yardstick to accessing his programmes.
His constituency seems to be the largest with Birnin Kebbi being the state capital with a high population of unemployed youths, while poverty and education needs to be tackled.
Youth unemployment, child infant mortality, poverty, disease, health and quality education are among the vises and challenges he is facing at his constituency and tackling them will be a difficult task for him because of paucity of funds .
Skill acquisitions and manpower training are paramount for him to accommodate the large chunk of unemployed youths in his constituency.
He said that Kebbi is relatively peaceful because of the governor’s efforts in combating crimes and other social vice, he also said the governor has provided a level playing ground for farmers as an incentive to boost the agricultural sector of the state.
Yakubu further express confidence that the governor is planning to do more to the state and encouraged the people to support his initiatives for the state to grow strong economically.
National coordinator, Group for Good Governance Network, (GGGN), Mrs Mimidoo Odey said, improving accessibility to basic services such as safe water, electricity, sanitation, and social infrastructural facilities for rural dwellers has been acknowledged as one of the principal ways of promoting sound human settlements, good health, and appropriate and decent living conditions.
According to Odey, “Urban people are perceived to be ‘better-dressed, better- fed and better-exposed to modern civilisation than rural people hence, the urgent need for a balance.
She argued that improving rural infrastructure development remains a gateway towards solving the problems of urbanisation no doubt, as it is key to internal security, socioeconomic and other important growth.
Also, chairman, Grassroot Development Initiative, Sarah Ekpeyong Imekpa said, “It’s a fact that the rate of urbanisation, which has, in turn, outstripped the provision of basic service and facilities, is now calling for attention across different cities of the world today. The rapid growth of the cities and the immediate consequences of such growth have continued to be an issue of concern to both individuals and the government.
Imekpa concluded by pointing out that the importance of providing rural dwellers with their needed facilities and services is a sure tool for the sustainability of the modern day cities infrastructure.
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