Lifestyle education – Key to raising Nigeria rural dwellers out of poverty

Lots have been written/said to be the contributing factors for rural Nigeria poverty so as the long list of ways in which the government could help to bridge the gap between the poor and the rich Nigerians. In the last decade, Nigeria government have been investing in agriculture partly due to reality of dwindling demands for oil also because of the massive wasted opportunity in farming.

There is one area that has been ignored in the reports which we can not afford to leave out – villagers having second home as contributing factor to poverty in the rural areas. There are different levels of poverty, some are more of the mind than material.

In my village in Osun State for example at least 50% of inhabitants whose main job is in the farm have a second home in town and at any given festival/events such as Eid, Easter, and Christmas 70% of the villagers are out to town to celebrate and will stay away for at least a week or more before returning to the village. So overall it is only about 30% people in my village that lived in the village all year round, some of them owned their house in the village, a few renting.

My village is a typical Yoruba village with dirt roads, no toilets, only primary school building which is half gone due to no maintenance, drinking water from stream hence guinea worm epidemic, subsistence farming due to lack of capital, no electricity so large-scale farming is one big dream.

Agbopa Village, Ibadan
Agbopa Village, Ibadan

The above are significant social problems that have accumulated over decades, even if we have super intelligent leaders with hearts to serve the people and give to us what is rightly ours, rural poverty may still continue in many parts of Nigeria if we leave some keys lifestyle decisions unaltered.

Why would a villager needs two homes within 15 miles of each other, mind you these two houses more often than not are two mud structures with corrugated roof and sometimes cotton fabric as windows, but the point is that these are two structures that require maintenance no matter how little.

In civilised world, most farmers lived on their farms with no second home. They too, do travel away from their farms occasionally but they didn’t have to own their accommodation so they rent a property or hotel while away from home.

However, in Nigeria especially in my part of the country people are poor to begin with and still strive to maintain two homes both homes in most cases put together is less than one ideal home.

Looking back now, most family whose children did not make it past primary school in my village have parents with houses both in the village and my 15miles away town. Many parents especially the enlightened ones made different choices – some rented both in the village and in town and only acquire a land to build when it is feasible to do so without the pressure of societal status quo.

Maybe in addition to the government initiative of helping rural families out of poverty, massive education around making the right lifestyle choices based on one’s income is equally important.