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EFFECT OF RURAL RESOURCES ON ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN INI LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF AKWA IBOM STATE
1.1 Background of the Study
Resource in both human and material is a critical factor of development in all societies. Apart from influencing the course of developmentin different world countries, the availability of natural resources significantly determines the levels or stages of developmentwithin and between countries.Economic resources such as fertile soil, land, coal, sunlight, oil, trees, plants, leaves and roots, clay, gravels, woods, bamboo, capital goods, financial resources, local skill, among many others which are basically non-human resources, have been very influential to the economies of rural communities.In the urban areas, labour and management form the core of the resources that facilitate development. According to Sachs and Warner (1999),in many states or societies, natural resources havecontributed to shaping the development of local industries either positively or negatively. In their article on the resources curse, Sachs and Warner (1999) noted that natural resources have the capacity to influence investment, skills transfer, infrastructure development, employment generation, revenue and various forms of social development programs.
Rural development is the process of improving the quality of life and economicwell-being of people living in rural areas, that is, areas often relatively isolated and sparsely populated. The phenomenon is traditionally centered on the exploitation of land-intensive natural resources such as agriculture and forestry.Many studies have shown that natural resources have played significant role in driving development practices especially in the Su-Saharan Africa. Examples of the roles include enhancement of the provision of goods and services for the economy and export; stimulation or generation of rural purchasing power which ultimately affects the growth and productive capacities in other sectors; and contribution to the generation of savings, investment and manpower in other sectors of the economy. The argument is that improvements in agriculture and related resource utilization have the potential of multiplying benefits not only to individual farmers but to the wider economy through improvement in spending, contribution to tax revenue, greater investment in infrastructure and a stronger foreign exchange position.
In Nigeria, the importance of resources to development cannot be overemphasized. Throughout history, bigger and larger national development projects have centered on agrarian-and resource-based model. The Green Revolution, social investments that accompanied budget control, the structural adjustment programme, Integrated Rural Development, poverty reduction and other subsequent development programmes, all based emphasis on economic resources.Yet, it has been argued that the characteristics of the rural areas constitute the main barrier to its development.
Developing the rural areas has been important to overall reduction of poverty and improvement in livelihood opportunities. In sub-Saharan Africa, most policies on rural development are conceptualized within the framework of developing specific resources. The Rural areas of Nigeria are inhabited by the bulk of the nation’s population; they serve as the base for the production of food and fiber. They are also the major sources of capital formation for the country, and a principal market for domestic manufactures. In general terms, the rural areas engage in primary activities that form the foundation for any economic development, (Olatunbosun, 1975). However, despite the importance of the rural areas, they are not attractive to live in. Most are without infrastructures that should enhance the quality of life.
The rural people have low purchasing power and experience poor standard of living. Attempt at solving rural neglects had been the concern of the Nigerian government over the years. Examples of such attempt were Operation Feed the Nation (OFN); the National Accelerated Food production Programme (NAFPP) and the Directorate for Food, Roads and Rural Infrastructure (DFRRI). All these efforts failed to improve rural areas in whatever form, (Olayowola & Adeleye, 2005). The contention of the policy makers is that rural infrastructure, if adequately provided, can enhance the quality of rural life. However, it is assumed that the rural people have benefited very little from most rural development programmes. Since Ini Local Government Area till now remains undeveloped despite the many years of it existence, and government and non-governmental organization’s development programmes in the area, this study investigated the effect or impact of another important factor of development, that is, the rural resources on economic development in the area.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The problem of inadequate food supply and skills in food production which manifests in food crisis in Nigeria has been ofserious concern. On several occasions it has been said that low interest in agriculture occurred because of the rise of oil sector and subsequent forsaking of the agricultural sector in the 70s. As an outcome of the passive attitude to agriculture, Nigeria became characterized by insufficiency in the production of food, poor standard of living, insufficient agro allied industries and employment (Joseph 2008).According to Akinsanni (1999), the economy of West African countries is based mainly on agriculture, which together with fisheries and forestry, make-up the primary production sector of the economy. Yet, an agriculture economy is one concerned with the production of food for a growing population, wood for the construction of furniture and roofing, cotton for clothing foreign exchange and earning from cash crops such as coffee, kolanut, rubber cocoa and groundnut, among others.
Akabo (1998) in Victoria (2003) has argued that in underdeveloped countries especially in Nigeria about seventy percent (70%) of the able-bodied men do not have the necessary skills for white collar jobs, agriculture provides employment for those people who spend most of their lives in rural areas. Agriculture also provides job opportunities to others such as scientists who investigate agricultural problems, extension officers, workers in the industries that use agricultural raw materials to produce other goods and the middlemen, that is, the wholesalers and retailers that engage in the marketing of agricultural products.
Government at all levels in Nigeria has carried out many programmes towards agricultural development. Such agricultural programs include; National Accelerated Food ProductionProgramme (NAFPP) launched in 1972, Agricultural Development Programme which was inaugurated in 1974, the River Basin and Rural Development Authority established in 1976, Operation Feed the Nation launched in 1976, and the Fadama Programme launched in 1993, among others. In addition, in Nigeria like in other third world countries, local or peasant farmers are considered to occupy the lower rank countries of the world, local or peasant farmers are considered to occupy the lower rank of the society. They do not receive public recognition given to those in the urban areas and professional fields. More so, policies and programmes meant for rural development are often politicized, designed, initiated and implemented without the involvement of the intended beneficiaries as well as threatened by corruption.
The Nigerian rural areas have served principally as centers of agricultural production in the colonial era. In the colonial period, Nigeria depended heavily on peasant agriculture and also attempted to promote regional specializations in agricultural production. As observed in many previous studies, regionally-based export commodities such as cocoa in the west, oil palm production in the east, and groundnuts and cotton in the north were rural-based crops and plantation practices that contributed to the improvement of government revenue at the center through direct taxation and foreign exchange earnings and with impacts on the development of the rural areas. Besides being the major source of subsistence for the local inhabitants, Ahazuema and Falola (1987) reported that plantation agriculture accounted for about 70% of Nigeria’s total export in colonial times. This, however, was at a cost to the rural areas which provided the base for these economic activities.
Watts (1983) particularly observed that the exploitation of Nigeria’s rural resources by the colonial government was deeply characterized by forced labour and poor returns as a result of the expansionist ideologies of the European merchant firms. It can be argued that the Nigerian colonial economy was not only rural-based, it was equally structured to enhance the economic success of the colonizing powers. The ultimate impact therefore, was the subjection of the rural population, particularly farmers to endless exploitation by dominant British-based multinational capital companies (Shokpeka & Nwaokocha, 2009; Ajayi, 1999). In the post-independence era, rural development practices and policies were dominantly shaped by ‘petroleum oil resources boom’, which yielded much more revenue to the government. This has implications on rural development practices and policies (Watts & Bassett, 1986; Amuzegar, 1983).
There has been a growing contention that natural resources have played significant role in driving development especially in the Sub-Saharan Africa. Developing the rural areas has been important to overall reduction of poverty and improvement in livelihood opportunities (Akpan, 2014). In spite of the large deposits of resources, underdevelopment, poverty and social deprivation remain prevalent issues in the rural communities and pose enormous challenges for economic development and transformation. In many literature,emphasizes have been made on agriculture-based policies and resources as drivers of rural development, yet, very little has been known of the situation in Ini Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State, This studyinvestigated the effect or impact of rural resources on the economic development of Ini Local Government Area,Akwa Ibom State