Addressing the national illusion of development called urbanization

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Rub and shine is a coping technique girls often apply when there is water scarcity on campus. They scrub their bodies with wet and perfumed fabrics, and apply make-up on their faces. Then, they draw people’s attentions to their faces in order to conceal the staleness of other parts of the body. Likewise, Nigeria’s social administrators choose small areas of the society to concentrate socio-economic activities in order to appear efficient. With this practice of urbanization, they seek to justify the irresponsible and restrictive system of government that hinders balanced development.

 

The gap between urban and rural areas in Nigeria and other African countries exemplifies paying Paul from robbing Peter, James and John. Despite the bounteous deposit of human and environmental resources, many villages lie fallow and undeveloped since independence. Some villages from which the country get agricultural and mineral resources for foreign exchange or sustenance live in poverty and neglect. Some other rural areas are in poverty and neglect despite producing many prominent people of national and international fame. This raises questions on why some people abandon or even contribute to exploiting their place of origin.

 

Each person is first a native member of a family and community before a citizen or resident of a state or country. A country is like human body with many interconnected parts and organs that continually perform their respective functions for the whole. Hence, a progressive country consists of various communities that collaborate and contribute to the country’s progress from developing and producing what they can. Such national formation evolved from the earliest phases of human organization, when production was scattered according to family and communal identity.[1] Eventually, production advanced, leading to product specialization, larger industrial collaboration and socio-political alliances between former independent communities.[2] One community specialized in producing steel, another in rubber and another copper or leather, all for manufacturing wagons. These industrial collaborations and socio-political alliances formed the basis of most industrialized countries and civilizations.

 

So, for relevance in a country, each community develops its capacity for producing something it uses or trades with other communities. And what develops any community for producing tradeable items is the collaboration between school, industry and bank. School teaches people the most suitable ways of harnessing human and mineral resources within their environment; industry organizes human labour to process and use natural resources for solving problems and satisfying needs; bank facilitates trade of products and labour within and beyond the community. If these conditions are available, why would anyone leave his community to live in other places as urbanization?

 

CAUSES OF URBANIZATION

Among the factors contributing to people’s migration to urban areas are:

 

  • Business expansion: when people’s productivity increase, they seek to expand their customer base beyond their local communities. This enables them exchange their products for a wider range of other people’s products, and to gain wider social influence. Business expansion in this case, is not limited to trade in material products, but extends to trade in skills. Business expansion is the most organic cause of urbanization, which allows a person maintain his base while extending his economic influence to other parts of the country, continent or the world.
  • Natural disasters: “real wealth consists in what is produced and consumed: food, clothes, houses, vehicles, factories, schools, books, (gadgets) and churches.”[3] And people create wealth by applying scientific knowledge on natural resources to produce useful items.[4] However, when the atmospheric conditions of a place does not support wealth-creation due to flood, dryness, pests or fire, people migrate to other places for better chances of survival or prosperity.
  • Insecurity and social disorder: sustainable wealth-creation requires a civilized collaboration between different people involved in production and distribution of goods and services. But with internal crises and social disorders, there may not be a cordial agreement between the people for production. Hence, the insecurity and unproductivity in such places will lead to mass exodus to urban areas.
  • Political plotting: some political decisions directly or indirectly restrict people from securing and using their natural resources for developing themselves and creating wealth. With such restrictions from productivity and its resultant poverty, people desperately migrate to urban areas. This is the mechanistic type of urbanization with an exploitative intention for enriching Paul by robbing Peter, James and John.
  • The first step is making policies to restrict, seize and auction the different people’s access to their crucial production resources.
  • Second step is to establish few ports, industries and amenities in your locations of interest. Thus, most roads and railways are channelled to the ports for exporting seized resources.
  • Third step that draws bright brains to the area is classifying the type of people to be employed in such ports, industries or jobs. With this step, the brightest brains pool from various rural areas to work in the arbitrarily-made cities.

 

Nigeria’s urbanization is a predatory form of urbanization that comes from series of political plotting. British colonialists created Nigeria by violently binding unconsented kingdoms and communities[5][6] under militarized rule for collecting mineral resources.[7][8] They killed those who opposed their invasion and trained few loyalists to assist them in enforcing the colonial rule. Before leaving at independence, colonialists fixed a constitution to guide their indigenous replacements[9] in seizing and exporting people’s resources[10][11][12] in exchange for European consumer goods.[13] To appear democratic, Nigeria’s colonially-imposed government created states, local governments and ministries to share few foreign products as infrastructure, salaries and charity handouts. Since then different Nigerians struggle to occupy the colonially-made offices for sharing imported products and amenities where they want.

 

Effects of misbalanced urbanization in Nigeria

  • Brain drain from rural areas: in response to seizing people’s resources for local productivity, natives troop into cities and towns in search of jobs for survival. Among those migrating are the brilliant natives, who could have used their intelligence for creating wealth locally.
  • Overpopulation, gridlock and overuse of amenities: these come from the steady migration of the frustrated natives to cities that have ports and few industries. After weeks and months without economic breakthrough, they resign to the slums and ghettos of the urban areas. Finally, their huge number overwhelm the few amenities installed in the urban areas.
  • Physical and mental health hazard: the overpopulation of small urban areas makes it easier for epidemic outbreaks, especially in the city slums.
  • Class segregation: the establishment of firms for importing, distributing and installing foreign goods segregates between economic classes. Top government officials and business allies form the high class; skilled government, taxmen and private workers form the middle class; while the unskilled workers and unemployed form the low class. The low class almost always constitute about eighty percent of the population in urban areas.
  • Unemployment and crime: the seizing and auction of the production resources to foreigners takes away the jobs that could have assimilated the population. With that, many people stay unemployed and desperate for survival. In that desperation, they are eager to commit any crime just to cater for themselves and their families.
  • Intertribal enmity: influx into urban areas often become threatening to the natives. After few period of residence, acquisition and economic activities, visitors may begin referring to urban areas as no man’s land. This is one of the reasons for intertribal conflicts between different tribes in the urban areas of Nigeria.

 

Addressing the problem of predatory urbanization in Nigeria may not be possible without addressing the lopsided formation of Nigerian society. Hence, a sincere government could take the following steps:

  • Conduct a social research to discover and acknowledge the different Nigeria’s peoples, their beliefs about humans and their respective lands and resources.[14]
  • Organize intercommunal conferences among kingdoms, local governments and districts for a national conference where Nigerians will discuss and agree on their mode of partnership.[15] Hence, the constitutional decisions and laws will reflect the people’s beliefs and agreement for human development and productive partnership.
  • Invite and integrate local and foreign-trained specialists to train the various natives to process their local resources for more industrial production. Then establishing secondary industries to use the processed mineral resources for productivity.
  • Release people’s lands and resources for industrial productivity and eventual tax-payment to the central government. This will encourage the government to protect the people’s productivity for better tax-returns, and encourage citizens to become productive and socially responsible. Productive and socially responsible men with active industries will have enough resources to develop their rural environment before extending their businesses to the urban areas.

 

When people are able to use their resources for producing what they can, they will definitely move to urban areas. But no more in a survivalist and desperate frenzy that signifies a systemic collapse and rural weakening. Instead, they will move into urban areas as extended markets for their products and more industrial collaboration with other producers for higher productivity.

[1] Walter Rodney, How Europe underdeveloped Africa, 2009 edition (Abuja: Panaf Publishers, 2009) p.217

[2] Ibid. pp217, 139-140

[3] Henry Hazlitt, Economics in one lesson (New York: Pocket books, Inc. 1946) op. cit. p.149

[4] Walter Rodney, How Europe underdeveloped Africa, 2009 edition (Abuja: Panaf publishing Inc. 2009), p.23

[5] S. O. Oyedele, “Federalism in Nigeria” in Issues contemporary political economy of Nigeria (edited) Hassan A. Saliu, op.cit, p.57

[6] cf. Richard Dowden, Africa altered states, ordinary miracles. (New York: Public Affairs, 2010). p.3-4

[7] Walter Rodney, How Europe underdeveloped Africa, 2009 edition (Abuja: Panaf publishing Inc. 2009), p.273

[8] C. C. Dibie, Essential Government (Lagos: Tonad Publishers, 2012), p.137

[9] Cf. Walter Rodney, op. cit. 319.

[10] Nigerian minerals and mining act 2007 act no. 20, chapter 1, Part 1, Section 1, paragraph 2 “… all lands in which minerals have been found in Nigeria and any area covered by its territorial waters or constituency and the Exclusive Economic Zone shall, from the commencement of this Act be acquired by the Government of the Federation…”  “No person shall search for or exploit mineral resources in Nigeria or divert or impound any water for the purpose of mining except as provided in this Act.”  “The property in mineral resources shall pass from the Government to the person by whom the mineral resources are lawfully won, upon their recovery in accordance with this Act.”

[11] Nigerian minerals and mining act 2007 act no. 20, chapter 1, Part 1, Section 2, paragraph 1

[12] Nigerian minerals and mining act 2007 act no. 20, chapter 1, Part 1, Section 1, paragraph 3

[13] Walter Rodney, op. cit. p.319.

[14] Chukwunwike Enekwechi, “The social research for a new Nigeria” in Restartnaija June 5, 2018. https://restartnaija.com/2018/06/05/social-research-new-consented-nigeria/ retrieved 29th May, 2019.

[15] Chukwunwike Enekwechi, “Organizing the national conference for a new Nigeria” in Restartnaija February 5, 2019. https://restartnaija.com/2019/02/05/organizing-nigerian-national-conference/ retrieved 29th May, 2019.