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Rural development in Eastern Nigeria: An assessment of colonial and post colonial development plans in the former Owerri Province, 1946 - 1976

Obi Iwuagwu


How to effectively transform Nigeria's rural areas where an overwhelming majority of the people reside and thus check the perennial rural–urban drift has remained a recurring problem for successive administrators and policy makers. Because of the lack of proper attention, especially in the provision of amenities, Nigeria's rural areas have increasingly become quantitatively depopulated and progressively less attractive for social and economic investments, even as the cities have overtime become physically congested, socially unhealthy and generally uneconomic to maintain. The genesis of this unbalanced development could be traced to the colonial period. The reasons are not farfetched. It ran contrary to colonial policy, which emphasized the exploitation of local resources for the development of the British Empire. Unfortunately, the post-independence administrations found it convenient to continue with this policy, perhaps because of its immediate benefits. Hence, the paper argues that for as long as this biased development approach continues in the country, Nigeria's rural communities will remain backward and unattractive, and this will in turn retard the national economy.

Lagos Historical Review Vol. 6, 2006: 118-132