The annual Abba Day Public Lecture is an intellectual conference that promotes ideas on the development and progress of Abba Ama Ano.
The 2017 lecture was delivered by Chief (Barr) Leonard Onwuzuruike (KSJI), Treasurer of Abba Autonomous Communities Development Union (AACDU).
Chief (Barr) Leonard Onwuzuruike
A contemporary issue is a subject that is currently in public discourse. Often, it is a problem that people are discussing and trying to bounce ideas off themselves in order to find a solution.
For example, girl child education in Africa, peace in the Middle East, the fight against hunger, economic development, agricultural and rural development.
A community that is not focused on its hunger level is myopic in attaining other forms of development.
Thus, the contemporary issue to be addressed in this forum is agricultural and human development in Ala Abba Ama Ano.
This comes first before we address structural development as a contemporary issue.
THE CONCEPT OF DEVELOPMENT
All rural extension work takes place within a process of development and cannot be considered as an isolated activity.
Extension programmes and projects and extension agents are part of the development of rural societies.
It is, therefore, important to understand the term “development” and see how its interpretation can affect the course of rural extension work in our community.
The term ‘development’ does not refer to one single phenomenon or activity nor does it mean a general process of social change.
All societies, rural and urban, are changing all the time. This change affects the society’s norms and values, its institutions, methods of production, attitudes of its people and the way in which it distributes its resources.
A rural society’s people, customs and practices are never static but are continually evolving into new and different forms.
There are different theories which seek to explain this process of social change (as evolution, as a cultural adaptation or even as the resolution of conflicting interests) and examples of each explanation can be found in different parts of the world.
Development is more closely associated with some form of action or intervention to influence the entire process of social change. It is a dynamic concept which suggests a change in, or a movement away from, a previous situation.
All societies are changing, and rural extension attempts to develop certain aspects of society in order to influence the nature and speed of the change.
In the past few decades, different nations have been studied and their level of development determined. This has given rise to the use of terms such as developed and developing nations.
In other words, it is assumed that some nations have advanced or changed more than others, and these nations are used as models for other developing nations to follow.
The process of development can take different forms and have a variety of objectives. The following statements illustrate this:
- Development involves the introduction of new ideas into a social system in order to produce higher per capita incomes and levels of living through modern production methods and improved social organization geared towards sustenance and enlightenment of mental capacity in social application and otherwise.
- Development implies a total transformation of a traditional or pre-modern society into types of technology and associated social organization that characterizes the advanced stable nations of the Western world.
- Development is building up the people so they can build a future for themselves. Development is an experience of freedom in deciding what people choose to do. To decide to do something brings dignity and self-respect. Development efforts, therefore, start with people’s potential and proceed to their enhancement and growth.
THREE MAJOR ELEMENTS OF DEVELOPMENT
Much has been written about the process of development and the approaches which developing nations should adopt in order to develop.
Reviewing this literature, it can be concluded that a process of development should contain three main elements.
Economic: The development of the economic or productive base of any society, which will produce the goods and materials required for life.
Social: The provision of a range of social amenities and services (health, education, welfare) with particular emphasis on youth empowerment programs as the successors of tomorrow, which care for the non-productive needs of society.
Human: The development of the people themselves, both individually and communally, to realize their full potential, to use their skills and talents, and to play a constructive part in shaping their own society.
Development involves the above three elements. It should not concentrate on one to the exclusion of others.
The economic base of any society is critical, for it must produce the resources required for livelihood. But we must also think of people and ensure their active participation in the process of development.
AGRICULTURAL AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT
This lecture is primarily concerned with rural extension and with the livelihoods of farmers and their families. The concept of rural development must be considered with particular reference to agriculture because agriculture is the basis of livelihood for most rural families.