Industrial Development and the Nigerian Environment: Paradox and Reality

Topics: Pollution, Environmentalism, Environment Pages: 8 (2469 words) Published: June 30, 2013


Department of Geography,
School of Envirinmental sciences,
Modibbo Adama University of Technology,Yola, Nigeria


The Nigerian nation like most other developing countries have shown high regards for, and indeed embarked on different schemes and policies of industrial development because it is generally believed that industrialization is the panacea for the prevailing problems of underdevelopment. The general expectation is that industrialization will facilitate more employment opportunities, increase personal and national income, improvement in peoples living standards, improvement in the country`s balance of payment through export promotion and import substitution, and the diffusion of technical and managerial skills. While these positive effects of industrialization are not in doubt, this conceptualization of the process of national development has tended to ignore the fundamental question of human welfare and environmental quality which must not be compromised in our drive to achieve national greatness.

Over the years Nigeria’s orientation towards industrialization seem to suggest that the belief (and indeed our attitudes show) that environmental degradation and hazards should simply be tolerated as long as the industrial activity associated with it results in growing personal and national income, and provides job opportunities for the masses. Currently however, Nigeria is experiencing a period of increasing industrialization, rapid population growth and urbanization which combine to exert pressure on both the rural and urban environments within the country. If care is not taken this may lead to severe damages to both the urban and rural environments and to human life. We are therefore tempted to ask whether industrialization is a Beauty or a Beast to the Nigerian environment.

This paper focuses on the paradox that "increasing industrialization, and by implication increasing national wealth, is also associated with declining environmental quality and rising health hazards." Our thesis is that with proper environmental education and awareness especially on the part of our policy makers and industrial entrepreneurs, environmental hazards and risks (the Beast) arising from our industrial activities can be greatly minimized, while the benefits (the Beauty) of industrialization and urbanization may be enhanced for national development. The paper develops these arguments in three parts, including: the impact of industrialization on the rural environment,

i. the impact of industrialization on the urban environment, and ii. the policy implications of these impacts for sustainable environment.

Impact of Industrialization on the Rural Environment
One of the dilemmas for development in Nigeria is how to give priority to the material needs of our teeming population by exploiting our resource reservoirs, while at the same time controlling the regenerative capacity of the resources from destruction due to poor management. In our bid to modernize the rural environment and satisfy the social and economic needs of our people through industrialization and the provision of infrastructural facilities, a price is often paid for environmental degradation. This is because industrialization makes great demand on the environment especially in terms of resource extraction and waste emission. Unfortunately, however, our planners usually fail to recognise the fact that health problems are frequently caused directly or indirectly by changes in the human environment. Industrialization has both direct and indirect impact on the rural environment.

Indirect Impact
Indirectly, industrialization is affecting the beauty of the rural environment through agriculture. Modern agriculture requires the use of many agro-chemicals (fertilizers and...

References: Law, N. and Smith, D. (1993); Problem-Solving Geography: Analysis in a Changing World. ST(P) Ltd.
Okafor, F. C. (1988); Rural Development and the Environment:Degradation versus protection. In Sada, P.O. and Odemerho F.O. (Eds.) Environmental Issues and Management in Nigerian Development. Evans, Nigeria. pp. 150-163.
Oyaigbevwen, V. O. (1988); A Conceptual Framework for an EnvironmentalManagement Policy. In Sada, P.O. and Odemerho F. O. (ibid.) pp. 38-45.
[1]Paper was presented at the Environmental Management Training Workshop organized by the Adamawa State Environmental Protection Agency (ASEPA) jointly with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), 30th July, 1997.
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