Buhari should create a Ministry solely dedicated to rural development. Buhari’s government needs this Ministry for three main reasons: the easiest and feasible way to fight poverty, an effortless way to unveil comprehensive and feasible post-war programmes and projects to restore communities in the war torn northeast to their pre-war peaceful and productive statuses as well as tackle the age-long cry for development in the in the Niger Delta creeks.
To a large extent, Nigeria’s rural development strategies have been mainly targeted at the country’s agricultural productivity. Though, majority of Nigeria’s rural dwellers are peasant farmers; rural development should go beyond agricultural productivity. It should also be directed at the development of human and natural resources; rural road, energy, education, culture, social order, and political awareness. The creation of a Ministry solely for rural development will make rural development in Nigeria conform with the global concept of rural development- “quantitative change or uplift in the standard of people in the rural areas, brought about through integrated approach, by both governmental and non-governmental agencies and the people themselves”.
President Buhari’s rural development approach should be systematic as well as systemic. Systematic in the sense of using both reductionism and holism, while systemic in the sense of remodeling the three known rural development strategies (the technocratic, reformist and the radical).
Many countries have tried the three rural development strategies; some countries have recorded some successes while others, colossal failures. The objective of the technocratic strategy is to increase agricultural output within the framework of capitalist ideology. The reformist strategy aims at redistributing income and increasing agricultural output. While the radical approach with socialist outlook is targeted at completing social change, redistributing political power and factors of production.
As earlier suggested, Nigeria’s rural development approach should be systematic -employing reductionism and holism. Using reductionism, this implies rural development programmes and projects would target one, two or a few rural communities in each of the 774 local government council of Nigeria at a given time. And using holism, selected rural communities will be equipped with basic rural infrastructure -school, water supply, electricity, health facility and sanitation, agricultural implement and extension service. This will help communities in the war-torn Northeast and deep creeks in the Niger Delta.
Good facilities and infrastructure can be built in rural areas; but maintenance of such could be a problem. Taking cognizance of the insufficient funds and near absence of government administrative machineries in these areas, the best solution is community involvement. Government facilitates education, culture, social order, and political awareness and provides the basic infrastructure. And it hands over the responsibility of maintenance and care to the community. Considering the peculiarity of most Nigerians when it comes to managing public resources and trust, extra measures will have to be put in place to avoid mismanagement and abuse. These measures could include legislative protection and guidance, governmental checks and balances, occasional inspection and evaluation. Facilities should be provided for manageable units of the community so as to avoid giving excessive control to community heads, who could take advantage by imposing some illegal levies or taxes on such facilities.
Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Jimeta, Adamawa State, email@example.com, 08036070980.