In terms of economic development quality of life, access to opportunities facilities and amenities, standard of living and general livability, the gap between the urban and rural areas in Nigeria is very wide.  This leads to what is appropriately characterized as the rural urban dichotomy.  The rural areas are usually grossly neglected as far as development projects and are infrastructure are concerned. As a result of the relative under development of the rural areas when compared with the urban countries, rural areas are usually zones of high propensity for our migration.   

The challenges and prospects of rural development in Nigeria hare been of great concern to the different tiers of government due to the rate of rural urban migration.  Onibokun (1987) sees rural development to the faced with the paradox that the production oriented rural economy relies headily  on non- productive people who are ill- equipped with outdated tools, technical information scientific and cultural training and whose traditional roles and access to resources pose problems to there effective incorporation into modern economic systems, whereas the consumption oriented urban economy is who are either unemployed or unemployable, or marginally employed or underemployed in the urban centries where they chose to live.  As a result of this mass exodus , the rural areas hare become qualitatively depopulated and are progressively less attractive for social and economy investments which the urban areas are becoming physically congested, socially unhealthy and generally uneconomic to maintain.  The various polices of the Nigerian government on rural development are to improve the living condition in the rural areas with a view to curbing the streaming rural urban migration of different governmental organizations (NGOs)which has led to the proliferation of development agencies.  

Despite the counties number of rural development polices introduced at different omes by successive governments coupled with the huge financial and material resources employed, little or nothing is felt at the rural level as cash  policy has often died with the government that initiated it before it starts to yield dividends for the rural dwellers.  Onuoral (2006) support this chain when he states that not molding the loft) objectives (policies and government initiatives )such efforts ever endured beyond the government that initiated the schemes.It is pertinent to note that rural development.Plays an important hole in the Nigerian economic development both at the micro and macro level Agriculture and oil which lie in large reserves below the Niger- Delta, which is dominated by rural communities, proper the Nigerian economy.  Regrettably, oil and agriculture wealth which is derived from the remotest parts of the rural areas and those of the Niger Delta has been used by successive government to finance major investment in the country’s infrastructure to the detriment and perhaps, underdevelopment of the rural areas and it’s dwellers.  Stock (2005)laments that as a result of the neglect of Agriculture  and the rural areas Nigeria now imports farm products to feed it’s (her) people with untold hardship on the rural people.  
The concept of rural development in Nigeria lacks a united deliration as different scholars tend to view it from varying perspective.  Some scholars loot at rural development from the aspect of education\training like Handed (1990) and hinzen (2000) obinne (1991) perceived rural development to involve creating and widening opportunities for (rural) individuals to realize full potential through education and snare in decision and action which affect their lives.  He views effects to increase rural output and create to employment opportunities and root out fundamental or extreme) cases of poverty, diseases and ignorance.  Others like okyide, oguntowora.  Essang and idachaba (1981)view rural development as means for the provision of basic amenities, infrastructure, improved agricultural productivity and extension services and employment generation for rural dwellers.
An understanding of the concept of development will give a clear picture of rural development. Homby (2000) defines development as the gradual growth of something so that it becomes more advanced, stronger etc. The process of producing or creating something new. These definition implies that development involves a gradual or advancement through progressive changes.
Proposed institutional frame work for rural development
The following five tier hierarchical structure was proposed for the achievement and sustainability of rural development as well as for the provision of appropriate linkages among the various agencies of rural development in Nigeria:
(1)       The National Rural Development Commission (NRDC) – This to be located in the presidency to ensure strong government backing. It should form the central coordinating body that oversees, monitors and regulates the activities and performance of the relevant agencies of rural development in Nigeria.
(2)       Zonal rural development – The six geo – political zones in Nigeria should be adopted for the purpose of implementing rural development projects especially agriculture and industries should not be randomly located in the country because of the spatial variation in the endowment in physical and natural resources. Zones should therefore identify priority projects and determine their locations.
(3)       The State Rural Development Agencies. Nigeria has at the moment 36 states and the federal capital territory (FCT), Abuja. It is proposed that each state and the FCT should have SRDA. The SRDA should have a link to the ZRDC.
(4)       The Local Government Rural Development Authorities (LGRDAS)- For now Nigeria has 774 local government areas. It is the therefore proposed that each local government area should have a rural development authority in line with what obtains at the states
(5)       Rural Community Development Councils (RCDCs)- It is proposed that the RCDCs in each autonomous rural community in Nigeria should form the base of the institutional frame work. The objective is to encourage the participation of rural communities in the administration of rural development in Nigeria.
Overtime, successive government have embarked on several programmes targeted at rural development. Other approaches have been by non – governmental organization (NGOs), cooperatives, individuals through private initiatives, corporate bodies as well as international organization. The various programmes initiated and chiefly targeted at the rural sector by the government include the following:
1.                  National accelerated food production programme (NAFPP)
2.                  River- Basin Development Authority  (RBDA)
3.                  Agricultural Development programme (ADP)
4.                  operation feed the ration
5.                  The green reduction
6.                  Agriculture credit guarantee scheme (ACGS)
7.                  Directorate for food, road and rural infrastructure (DFFR)
8.                  Better life for rural Dwellers
9.                  National Agricultural insurance corporation (NAIC)
10.             National Directorate of Employment Authority (NDE)      
11.             National Agricultural land Development Authority (NALDA)
12.             National poverty Eradication programme (NPEP)
13.             National rural roads development fund (NRRDF)
14.             Rural banking scheme (RBS)
15.             family support programme (FSP)
16.             Universal basic reduction (UBE)
17.             Rural Infrastructure Development scheme (RIDS)
A cursory look at the introduction establishment, implementation and the objectives majority of the above programmes will reveal that the are mainly targeted at rural development in an attempt to better the lives of rural dwellers, stimulate and enhance economic growth, as well as get the rural sector to contribute meaningfully to the national economic and social development. These programmes have direct or indirect impact on rural development and can broadly be grouped into specific and multi – specific programmes. The specific programmes are those directed mainly at agriculture, health, education, housing, transport, infrastructure, finance and manufacture. Such programmes were initiated in the early 1970’s and 1980’s. On the other hand, most put in place in the early 1990’s and thereafter to handle general projects. Such as NDE, DFRRI, BETTER UFE, family support etc. some positive effects on rural development although Obadan (2002) says that target population for some of them were not specified explicitly to be poor people (rural dwellers). Examples of such as the RBDAs, ACGS, RBs, etc which were designed as employment generation, enhancing of agricultural output and income and streaming rural- urban migration, which no doubts impair rural development. Other development programmes such as OFN, Green Revolution, free and compulsory primary education, low cost housing schemes etc impacts positively on the rural dwellers but most of them could not be sustained due to lack of political will and commitment, policy instability and insufficient involvement of the intended beneficiaries of the programmes hence according to them died with the government that initiated them.
Rural development is taxed with challenges which have made the effect of government’s effort at different levels. NGOs, private initiatives and international involvement not felt by the intended beneficiaries. Umebali and Akubuilo (2006) listed some of them to include:
(1)     Vicious cycle of poverty.
(2)       Poor infrastructure.
(3)       High population density.
(4)       High level of illiteracy.
(5)       Low social interaction and local polities and
 (6)     Rural – urban migration.
A major challenge is that the hypothetical rural dweller who is the thermometer through which one determines the impact of rural development in the words of Chinsman (1997) continues to give negative readings as it is seen to be ravaged by an excruciating poverty, ignorance and disease. A lot of rigors, bottlenecks and unnecessary bureaucracy are often attached to rural development process. This evident in the history of most of the rural development programmes which are often saddled with disappointments. Another challenge is the issue of proliferation of development programmes. Some are so supercialy implemented that the average targeted population (rural dwellers) doubt the sincerity of the initiators. Such proliferation can easily be noticed from the many numbers of such that died with successive government that initiated them. The problem of implementation  is another glaring challenge.
The issue of funding is also a big challenge. Some of the rural development programmes are so bogus without a clearly defined source of funding. The cases of the housing for AU, UBE etc. are clear examples. They are often initiated before sourcing for funds from philanthropists and international donors which may never come. Other challenges include armed conflicts ranging from ethnic, religious and communal, issues which do not provide enabling environment for the implementation of sustainable development programmes in such areas for instance, a situation where foreigners and government workers in some coastal rural areas are target of kidnappers demanding ransom is obviously not favorable or conclusive for developmental work.
Corruption poses a very big threat to rural development. There is lack of integrity, accountability and transparency on the part of people who are supposed to implement developmental projects in the rural area.
Nwokoby (2007) laments that public funds (made for rural projects) are starched away in banks vaults in Europe and America while an overwhelming proportion of the population live in abject poverty.
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