UNILAG Economist Advocates Renewed Interest In Rural Development As Path To Sustainable Development


An integrated approach that takes into account the interdependence between the rural and urban areas is necessary for achieving sustainable development and inclusive growth in Nigeria”.

That was the kernel of the 4th Inaugural Lecture of the 2023/2024 Academic Session delivered by Professor of Development Economics, Simeon Oludiran Akinleye, of the Department of Economics, Faculty of Social Sciences on Wednesday, November 8, 2023.

With his lecture titled, Robbing Peter to Pay Paul: Formulating an Agenda for Redressing Unbalanced Development, Professor Akinleye traced the transition of the Nigerian economy from one that was powered by the proceeds of agriculture and exploitation of other natural resources to an economy that is mono-product and heavily dependent on crude oil.

He traced that transition from the time when regional governments planned their economies to benefit from their relative advantages in key agricultural products, thus leading to the rise of agriculture-based industries in the rural areas to the 1970’s when crude oil displaced agriculture as the country’s top earner.

“From the 1970s, the rise of crude oil as the mainstay of the Nigerian economy displaced rural-based agricultural export industries – and the rounded development model that they entailed – in favour of the freewheeling growth of urban centres financed by petrodollars, which has been nothing short of disastrous for the rural areas”, he said.

According to Professor Akinleye, Nigeria is a classic example of duality in development, defined by a stark contrast in the fortunes of rural and urban areas respectively.

“In practically every facet of development outcome, the rural areas lag behind the urban centres. There are fewer children in school, lower school completion rates, fewer employment opportunities and higher maternal and infant mortality rates.”

He called for an urgent rethink of Nigeria’s development approach in order to arrive at policies that promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth in both rural and urban areas. He also advocated for initiatives that will promote equitable distribution of resources and opportunities across the nation to ensure that no region is left behind in the development process.

Professor Simeon Oludiran Akinleye was born on November 10, 1973 in Ibadan, Oyo State. He attended St Clare’s Private School, Osogbo; Maryhill Convent School, Idi Ape, Ibadan and Navy Secondary School, Ojo, Lagos. Thereafter, he gained admission to the University of Ibadan where he obtained a Bachelor of Science (Hons), Masters and Doctorate degrees in Agricultural Economics in 1998, 2000 and 2007, respectively. He also holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Education from the University of Lagos (2016).

After a brief stint working in the finance industry, he moved to the tertiary education sector as an Assistant Lecturer at the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye in 2001. He joined the services of the University of Lagos in September 2008 as a Senior Lecturer, and was appointed an Associate Professor in 2012 and Professor in 2019. He has taught and supervised thousands of undergraduate and graduate students.

The current Head, Department of Economics has served the University meritoriously in several positions including member of the Central Research Committee, Central Planning Committee of the UNILAG Research Conference and Fair, University Ceremonies Committee, Housing Committee, and Budget Committee, among others. He has also served as elected President of the University of Lagos Senior Staff Club.

A member of the Nigerian Economic Society and Associate member of the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers, Professor Akinleye is widely published with over fifty (50) publications in reputable national and international journals. He is happily married and blessed with two children.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here