On the rural-urban divide in Nigeria – By Emmanuel Akinwotu

The rural-urban divide is a challenge in Nigeria as it is in countries across the world. According to the World Bank, in 1960 85% of Nigerians lived in rural areas. Today less than 50% do.


Understandably, the narrative of rural areas does not easily feature in the national discourse which is overwhelmingly metropolitan. Rural areas are not the focus of governance and state institutions but are often ignored by it. The divide between rural and urban areas in Nigeria requires a greater focus from government for several reasons. But few more so than security. In rural areas insecurity, such as by the Boko Haram insurgency, is often less adequately addressed than in cities.


At the height of the Boko Haram insurgency, Yola was a fearful place. The militants, spreading down from Northern Adamawa, never managed to occupy it. But the threat of suicide bombings and explosions were constant. The militants may not have controlled Yola, but they changed it. According to locals, the market areas became more and more scarce. Attendance at schools dropped. As in many Northern cities, there was an apprehension about gathering in public places, a fear that it was an easy target for bombings, and they often were.


But those fears are now mostly behind it. A suicide attack in a market in Madagali in December, killing over 50 people, was a depressing but rare return of the kind of insecurity which in urban areas of Adamawa, had largely been absent for over a year. Yola however is a safe, peaceful and vibrant place. There is a strong military and police presence. It is close enough to insecure areas for people to be vigilant, but insulated enough for life to be relatively normal.


But in rural areas north of Yola, in villages and towns deep into the countryside, kilometres away from main roads, insecurity is a part of their lives. When Boko Haram occupied northern Adamawa in 2014-2015, their process of destroying and occupying villages and rural communities was deadly but not rushed. In Dabna, locals explained that the militants took their time, finding people who had hid in and around their homes, and killing them. They harvested the crops they could find and stole their cattle and produce. According to residents it took days before few soldiers arrived to the villages and when they did they were immediately pegged back.


The sense that the state government still isn’t really aware of the dangers they face in secluded, less accessible rural areas, is widespread. A vigilante group is now in charge of security. In the absence of Boko Haram in much of Adamawa they have still had to face threats from armed bandits and Fulani herdsmen. The vigilantes in several cases have not been able to protect residents from attacks but they have been a deterrent and are their only reliable defence.


The efforts of the vigilantes in helping protect these villages from Boko Haram and aggressive herdsmen has encouraged donations from local residents to help sustain them. According to locals, they also receive funding from the police who are aware of their inability to reach to these areas. The funding helped the vigilantes but vehicles helping them to respond quickly. Without the vigilante groups, their exposure to insecurity would be far worse. In Gombi, even the police admit that they rely on communities finding security solutions for themselves as they aren’t manned enough to always address them.


All across Nigeria the vulnerability of rural areas in comparison to urban areas is stark. The state’s inability to protect in rural areas should not be an accepted norm but a challenge that ought to be addressed. Much of the north-east relies heavily on agriculture based industry. In rural areas where education levels are lower, the reliance on farming is prevalent. In states like Adamawa, with rich, arable land, rural areas are a key part of the economy. That they can remain so vulnerable to attacks and so insufficiently protected is unacceptable.


The Shaping Davos event in Abuja tomorrow, as part of the World Economic Forum in Davos this week, will focus on how Nigerian policy makers can address the challenges that the urban rural divide presents. In addition to security, the event will focus on governance, education, health and infrastructure.
Rebuilding is evident throughout Yola. Many of the roads and buildings damaged by insecurity have been rebuilt.


There city is a peaceful, quietly bustling place. In many villages however, rebuilding of their schools, clinics and places of worship has been slow and difficult. Infrastructure spending scarcely reaches those areas, with the rebuilding reliant on help from NGOs.


The recession has placed even more strain on government spending. But the disconnect between urban and rural needs to be addressed if Nigeria, as a state, is to work for everyone.

FG To Spend $150m On Rural Electrification Projects- Fashola

The Federal Government on Wednesday expressed its readiness to spend 150 million dollars on the rural electrification.

Mr Babtunde Fashola, the Minster of Power, Works and Housing, disclosed this in Abuja at a business forum on ‘’Financing Opportunities in the Nigerian Power Sector’’

He said government would use 44 tertiary institutions and small hydro dams in the rural areas as anchors for the electrification programme.

Fashola said the money would be deployed towards providing Independent Power Plants (IPPs) to supply electricity to tertiary institutions and rural communities.

He said that 37 out of the 44 tertiary institutions audited for the project were universities, while seven were teaching hospitals.

The minister said government would deploy 37 IPPs made up of nine gas plants and 28 solar plants with a combined generation capacity of 120 megawatts to power all the universities.

According to him, the 37 IPPs will replace 1,105 generators that were hitherto serving the institutions and generating 210 MW of inefficient and unclean energy.

He said the amount would cover capital expenditure, operations and maintenance.

On financing opportunities in the Nation’s power sector, Fashola, emphasised the need for financing and liquidity stability in the sector.

He said the Distribution Companies (DisCos) required financing for the supply of meters, upgrading distribution equipment like transformers, ring mains units, feeders for DisCos and funding, especially in foreign exchange.

For the GenCos, the minister said adequate liquidity was acquired to procure turbines, parts and accessories which were largely imported.

“They (DisCos) need a lot of operating capital to buy meters, to change transformers that are old, to extend access to their customers, to replace transformers and so on and so forth. They need operational capital and they need it in the mix of foreign exchange because some of the things they want to buy are not made in Nigeria and there are some made in Nigeria”.

Fashola said investment in the GenCos was also profitable, saying that when the market settled and stabilised, the return would be marvellous.

He said the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) would benefit from the financing of its grid expansion programme if it could present a detailed prospect plan that would demonstrate investment needs and return potential.

The minister said that solar, coal, and other energy suppliers required investment to finance the acquisition of photovoltaic panels, heavy duty equipment and related machines not made in Nigeria.

Fashola said Nigeria Buck Electricity Trader (NBET), a government-owned company, was planning to raise a bond for investors to buy into it.

On the financing opportunities in rural electrification, he said: “there exists a list of endless possibilities and opportunities for investment in the nation’s power sector.’’



Olawale Rotimi: Education in Rural Nigeria; An Assessment

In the Nigeria’s National Policy on Education (FRN 1998), it is stated that the Federal Government has adopted education as an instrument for effecting National Development in all areas of the nation. However, this does not reflect the situation in rural Nigeria where there is overwhelming widespread of illiteracy. Education in rural Nigeria is characterized with very poor infrastructure, insufficient academic staff, insecurity, and non-payment of academic staff among others. It is common knowledge that majority of the population in developing countries like Nigeria live in rural areas. Nigeria is predominantly a rural society as the vast majority of her population live in rural area. Generally, rural areas in Nigeria are incessantly neglected by the government when it comes to development of any form, educational development inclusive.

Despite the fact that rural dwellers in Nigeria are usually not recognized on government development activities, the nation’s wealth is derived from rural areas across the country. Crude oil, limestone, coal among other resources possessed by the country are hugely deposited in rural areas. The under-development in Nigeria as a country has been linked to lack of development in the rural areas. A view states that no serious, active, conscious, sensitive, and organized government would want to neglect rural communities. Lack of development has a positive correlation with the neglect of rural areas. Rural neglects brings negative consequences such as exodus of rural dwellers to urban areas, with resulting problems of unemployment, crimes, prostitution, child labour, insecurity, money laundering, bribery, poverty, proliferation of shanty living areas, spread of diseases, and overstretching of the facilities and infrastructures in the urban areas.

Having travelled to and through rural areas in various geo-political zones of the country, the sight of education facilities in rural areas of Nigeria is disheartening, particularly in the 21st century. From broken classroom walls, to opened roofs, damaged chalk board, over population and lack of sufficient chairs and tables in classes, bushy environment that houses reptiles to mention a few, the educational plight in rural Nigeria calls for immediate “unpolitical” attention. Having visited some rural schools in South West, North Central and North West Nigeria, the current situation tends to endanger the nation’s future if not revived. In one of the North Central states (picture below), pupils have been learning under a shade for many years before the local government authority managed to erect a single building for all classes. This is one of others been faced by critical challenges.

In a rural school in North Central Nigeria where pupils study under a shade

Education is to a nation what the mind is to the body, just as a diseased mind is handicapped in the coordination and direction of the bodily activities. Therefore, the single most significant complex of social – control tools for national development is found in the educational system. Since majority of the population still live in rural areas, education which is believed to be the bedrock of any serious nation’s development should be experience serious development in rural areas, hence it is expected of Nigeria’s government and relevant stakeholders to take the issues of education in rural areas seriously. Challenges confronting rural education in Nigeria include:

Lack of Infrastructure: There is a huge infrastructural deficit in rural education development in Nigeria. Majority of the rural schools are poorly built and very old with damaged roofs and walls. Other educational facilities such as chairs and tables are usually not sufficient; libraries do not exist in many rural schools e.t.c.


Poor Legislative Oversight Duty: Legislative oversight duty is a serious way the legislature can check the executive by supervising projects awarded and asking important questions on budget and expenses on such project. However, the legislators have performed poorly in their oversight function. Thus, some of the approved rural schools are not well constructed or not constructed at all.

Insufficient Academic Staff: There has been an incessant shortage of academic staff in rural schools for many years in Nigeria. This explains why a teacher can be saddled to teach two or more subjects/courses, sometimes outside his/her discipline.

Poor Learning Facilities: Learning facilities in rural Nigeria are in very poor conditions, if at all they exist. Computer laboratories, internet and other things that will expose the children to global standard in their studies are absent.

Poverty: This is an underlining factor in Nigeria as a whole. People in rural areas live below a dollar daily. The poverty level is so high for them to afford schooling opportunities for their children.

Corruption: This problem has affected Nigeria negatively in all sectors. Embezzlement of educational funds, scholarship and grants has marred the effort to develop education in rural Nigeria.

Speaking to teachers and students in a rural secondary school

Critically assessing the first post-independence National Educational Nigerian Conference on Curriculum development organized in 1969 by the Nigerian Educational Council with the following resolutions:

– Provision and expansion of educational facilities to ensure education gets to the door step of every Nigerian child.
– Overhauling and reforming the content of general education to make it more responsive to the socio-economic needs of the country.
– Development and consolidating the nation’s higher education in response to the manpower needs of the country.
– Developing technological education in order to meet the growing needs of the nation.

All these resolutions failed because of the lack of commitment from the government. Education is fundamental to growth and development, and serves as critical indices to measure progress of development agenda. Therefore, deliberate effort should be made to develop the sector particularly in rural areas. This will include provision of educational infrastructures and facilities, sustainable curriculum and policies, employment of more academic staff, strengthening oversight function on educational facilities and scholarship for students. Education is the most powerful tool of reducing poverty, ensuring peace and stability and advancing a people through inventions, a nation cannot grow beyond her level of education, for Nigeria to grow, education must grow.

Olawale Rotimi

(BA, MA Ilorin, DELF Paris)

Olawale can be reached via olawalerotty@gmail.com or 08105508224

Views expressed are solely that of author and does not represent views of www.omojuwa.com nor its associates