A look at the present desperate situation of Nigeria is enough to force one into the usual conclusion of bleak and unenviable economic future– a future of permanent or structural emergencies. This condition has in part been aggravated by inadequate shelter, low health standard, lack of gainful employment, low wages and inadequate income for subsistence and self sustenance. Above all, there is also the problem of poverty. By this mid 20th century. It had become a very profound problem associated with, and threatening the development aspirations of the country. The growth oriented development theories and strategies employed by the country, at the producing of western capitals counties resulted in little or no growth; but they occasioned serious inequalities in income distribution and development in the country.
The benefits of economic growth and development did not “trickle- down” as predicted by the new- classical development theorists (Wilber, 1979) instead, they became concentrated at the top; the rich got richer and the poor got poorer. this situation led to paradigm shift in development theory in the late 1960s and early 1970s with focus of development shitting from growth to growth with equity (James and weaver 1981).
Development strategy came to favour meeting basic needs of citizens, rather than an exclusive concern with rate of economic growth, measured in terms of G.N.P per capital (chenery et at, 1974). Consequently, concern with the problem of income inequalities, poverty, and with the need to meet basic needs of people in the developing countries led the world bank to declare “the assault on world poverty” in the decade of the 1970s, there by elevating the issue to a global political context. But efforts by the world Bank failed to resolve the problem, if any things the recovery and adjustment programs initiated by the bank in the 1980s aggravated problem. E.g the sub- Saharan African region that, statistically, has one of the highest incidences of poverty in the world remained severely afflicted despite the adjustment programs introduced in virtually every country. Between 1970 and 1985, the number of those categorized under absolute poverty in sub-Saharan Africa, ie. Those whose income could not meet their basic needs, increased by two-thirds compared to an increases of one fifth for the entire third world (UNDP, 1981).
The opinion that grounded Nigeria economic prospect in the 60s- the first decade of independence- was soon replaced in the 70s by increasingly poor performance in many facets of the economy as substantial gafs began to appear between hopes and achievements, between promises and performance and between expectations and realities. But unfortunately for the nation, the international economic on which country is so much dependers became increasingly hostile.
At the root of economic backwardness, stagnation and decline in Nigeria is the poor performance of the agriculture sector, which ideally, should have been the predominant sector and of course the root cause of the rapid decline in food production are well known. Domestic policies with regard to agriculture had often constituted a disincentive for farmers, while the high rate of rural-urban migration has further aggravated the situation. This has resulted in shortage of rural labour force, while at the same time increasing rapidly the population of urban dwellers who have to be fed by the rural people consequently, by the decade of the 1980s, instead of getting their basic needs satisfied, a majority of Nigeria found themselves edged down, below poverty level; that is being able to only earn and live on an income which is less than what is considered essential to cover basic needs. Indeed, many could not even earn enough to satisfy their basic needs, thus characterized by absolute poverty.