Rural areas are a key sector in every nation’s economy and their rapid development and modernization have gained the attention of policy makers and governments all over the world. This is because a sizeable majority of the population lives therein therefore; the future of the country depends largely on it.
The American Bureau of Census classifies a group of people living in a community having a population of not more than 2,500 people as rural, whereas in Nigeria, the Federal Office of Statistics defines a community with less than 20,000 people as rural. According to Afolayan (1995), rural areas can be easily identified by various criteria, apart from population. Such criteria include the level of infrastructural development i.e. road networks, educational institutions, water supply, electricity, health facilities, communication, etc. Other criteria used include Occupation, Housing, Extent of community planning etc.
Typically, rural dwellers are less vocal, characterized by a culture of poverty, as most people live barely above subsistence level (Laah et al, 2013). Rural areas in developing countries are usually deprived of the basic needs of life such as housing, medical care, postal communication, education, transport etc.
Specifically, rural areas refer to geographical areas that lie outside the densely built-up environment of towns, cities and the sub-urban villages and whose inhabitants are engaged primarily in agriculture as well as the most basic of rudimentary form of secondary and tertiary activities (Ezeah, 2005). Rural area, which is the opposite of an urban area, refers to the country side whose population engages mainly in primary production activities like agriculture, fishing, and rearing of livestock (Ele, 2006). About 90 percent of the rural labour workforce engages directly or indirectly in agriculture (Nyagba, 2009).
The rural sector of Nigeria is, very vital to the socio-economic development of the nation. According to Nyagba (2009), the most important sector of the Nigerian population is the rural areas. This 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 (Ugwuanyi and Emma, 2013). Rural area dwellers have been found to engage in primary economic activities that form the foundation for the country’s economic development (Abah, 2010).
Given the contributions of the rural sector to the national economy, enhancing the development of the sector should be central to government and public administration. This is necessary as such would further enhance the ability of the sector for increased contribution to the overall national growth and development. In most countries, development is most desirous in the rural areas where bulk of the population resides. The development of rural areas signals to a greater extent the level of national development and the situation of the nations in the development ladder.
Rural development has therefore been described in different ways by different authors, depending on the discipline or line of thought. This is because the approach to rural development is multidisciplinary. According to Aslam (1981) rural development is a process aimed at developing the rural poor, their economy and institutions from a state of stagnation or low productivity equilibrium into dynamic process leading to higher levels of living and better quality of life. Similarly, Schumacher (1983) defined rural development as developing the skill of the masses to make them self-reliant through instructions which supply appropriate and relevant knowledge on the methods of self-help. Rural development is a strategy which is designed to improve the economic and social life of a specific group of people, the rural poor.
It involves extending the developmental strides and benefits people who seek a livelihood in the rural areas such as small-scale farmers, tenants etc in order to improve their means of livelihood and mitigate the massive rural urban migration (Aliy, 1999). Rural-urban migration occurs at varying levels in every country. However, the challenges and prospects of rural development in Nigeria have been of great concern to the different tiers of government due to the rate of rural-urban migration.
Different motives account for rural urban migration amongst rural dwellers such as socio-cultural issues where people are forced to migrate to avoid numerous social problems at their place of origin (Agyemang, 2013), poor infrastructural development and lack of basic amenities, search for better economic opportunities such as jobs etc. Accessibility and ease of transportation and communication has also been noted to facilitate rural urban migration, this view is based on the extension of road networks from major towns to peripheral-urban and rural areas that resulted in the decrease in transportation cost and improved communication systems.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Given the contributions of the rural sector to the national economy, enhancing the development of the sector should be priority to government and relevant stakeholders. This is necessary as such would further enhance the ability of the sector for increased contribution to the overall national growth and development. Unfortunately, over the years, the development strategies and efforts in Nigeria has been more urban based resulting in the relative neglect of rural areas as evidenced by the dearth of basic infrastructure in the rural areas such as good roads, well equipped and functional hospitals, electricity, pipe borne water etc (Abah, 2010).
Abonyi and Nnamani (2011) also noted that rural poverty persists in Nigeria despite the prosperity created by the country’s oil wealth as evidenced by the difficulty experienced in getting basic daily needs such as food, water and shelter. Lack of these basic life needs in the rural areas has made a number of rural dwellers migrate to urban centres with high hopes of improving their standard of living. According to Abah (2010), the deplorable condition of the Nigerian rural sector is emphatic and more worrisome is that even the few policies and programs put in place and implemented by government over the years have not resulted in significant improvement in the development of the rural areas in Nigeria (Ezeah, 2005).
Incessant and excessive rural urban migration has brought about a lot of socio-economic difficulties both in the rural and urban areas. McCarthy (2004), opined that ‘excessive urbanization leads to high rate of urban congestion, crime and poor infrastructure such as proper sewage disposal system, safe and portable drinking water, electricity and other amenities, chronic unemployment with the attendant creation of large slums and Shanty towns’. Many developing countries including Nigeria have made several attempts to resolve these problems of rural underdevelopment and desertion. In Nigeria, from the Colonial period till date, successive administrations have tried to reform the rural areas where over 75% of Nigerians live in for the sake of attaining balanced growth and development, and discourage rural-urban migration, to no avail (Omonigho, 2013). According to Nwakeze (2004), the Nigerian population is growing at an annual rate of 2.8 percent that of the urban population is growing at 5.5 percent, it is pertinent to note that this rate is among the highest in the world today. This therefore calls for urgent measures to be taken towards fast tracking rural development to reduce urban population explosion.
1.3 AIM AND OBJECTIVES
The general objective of this study is to determine the effect of rural development on rural urban migration. The specific objectives are;
1. To determine whether rural development can serve as a panacea for rural urban migration
2. To find out the socio-economic causes of rural urban migration
3. To determine the implications of rural urban migration on rural development
4. To identify measures put in place for rural development by government
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1. Can rural development serve as a panacea to rural urban migration?
2. What are the socio-economic causes of rural urban migration?
3. What are the consequences of rural urban migration on rural development?
4. What measures are put in place by government to develop the rural areas?
In order to enable the researcher assess the effect of rural development in combating rural urban migration in Nigeria, the following hypotheses will be tested:
1. Ho: Rural development does not have any influence on rural urban migration in Nigeria.
HA: Rural development has an influence on rural urban migration in Nigeria
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY.