Urban Research in Nigeria

Urban Research in Nigeria




This project was embarked upon to assemble and describe the available literature, on the urban sector in Nigeria, with special reference to technical/research reports, journal articles, theses, books and conference papers. The aim is to make researchers/scholars aware of the extent and range of urban research in the country and so minimize duplication of effort. In addition, we intend to make available to scholars and all those dealing with urban issues and problems, particularly policy makers, a reference book on urban-related literature in Nigeria.



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Urban Research in Nigeria

Adepoju Onibokun and Adetoye Faniran
  • Publisher: Institut français de recherche en Afrique
  • Year of publication: 1995
  • Published on OpenEdition Books: 4 April 2013
  • Serie: Dynamiques africaines
  • Electronic ISBN: 9791092312188

OpenEdition Books


Printed version
  • ISBN: 9789782015372
  • Number of pages: v-194
Electronic reference

ONIBOKUN, Adepoju ; FANIRAN, Adetoye. Urban Research in Nigeria. New edition [online]. Ibadan: Institut français de recherche en Afrique, 1995 (generated 18 December 2014). Available on the Internet: <http://books.openedition.org/ifra/534>. ISBN: 9791092312188.

This text was automatically generated on 18 December 2014. It is the result of an OCR (optical character recognition) scanning.

© Institut français de recherche en Afrique, 1995

Terms of use:

Table of contents
  1. Acknowledgements

    Adepoju Onibokun
  2. Chapter One


    1. 1.1 Research Background
    2. 1.2 Research Methodology
    3. 1.3 Organization of the Report
  3. Chapter Two

    Urbanization and urban problems in Nigeria

    1. 2.1 Introduction
    2. 2.2 The Urban Sector : Problems and challenges
    3. 2.3 Conclusion
  4. Chapter Three

    Synthesis of existing literature in the urban sector in Nigeria

    1. 3.1 Introduction
    2. 3.2 Observed Trends in Urban Research in Nigeria
    3. 3.3 Analysis of Urban Research/Publication Themes
    4. 3.4 Conclusion
  5. Chapter Four

    Urban research environment and funding in Nigeria

    1. 4.1 Introduction
    2. 4.2 University-based Research
    3. 4.3 NGOs and Private Sector Research
    4. 4.4 The Public Sector Commissioned Studies
    5. 4.5 Urban Research and Donor Agencies
  6. Chapter Five

  1. The future prospects of urban research in Nigeria

    1. 5.1 Introduction
    2. 5.2 Ameliorating the Research Environment
    3. 5.3 Issues for Future Research
    4. 5.4 Conclusion
  2. Appendices

  3. Bibliography


Adepoju Onibokun

1The research on which this publication is based was funded by a grant from Réseau d'Equipes Intervenant sur la Question Urbaine dans les Pays en Développement (INTERURBA) of Paris, France. This kind gesture is appreciated.

2The publication is jointly published by IFRA, Ibadan and CASSAD, Ibadan. The valuable encouragement received from the Director of IFRA, Prof. Georges Hérault, in the process of carrying out the research is thankfully acknowledged.

Adepoju Onibokun

Secretary General CASSAD

Chapter One


1.1 Research Background

1Nigeria is one of the most urbanized African countries south of the Sahara. Some of Nigeria's urban centres have a history which dates back to antiquity. Indeed, a great deal of research exists on the urban environment in Nigeria, but it has never been compiled into a comprehensive reference book. The bulk of studies done on the urban environment is in the form of journal articles and university-based theses and dissertations or government reports. As a result, knowledge of the existing research on the urban environment in Nigeria is limited, and many researchers embark on projects only to discover that their research amounts to a duplication of effort.

2One of the first bibliographies on African urban development was compiled by Richard Stren in 1989, which, although it included some references to Nigeria, did not include anything on the research environment. One of the earliest studies done on the urban environment in Nigeria, (Onibokun, 1982) concentrated on urban housing. In 1994, The Centre for African Settlement and Environment (CASSAD), as part of the Global Urban Research Initiative undertook a review of the urban research situation in West Africa. This review did not contain a comprehensive bibliography of urban research literature in Nigeria and did not give adequate coverage to university-based theses and dissertations.

3This volume, therefore, represents the first comprehensive reference book on urban research and the urban research environment in Nigeria. It includes many theses on urban issues and problems, written by students and faculty members in institutions of higher learning which are rarely read by people outside the department, the faculty or even the institution. In addition, we have included reference to research findings published in journals, and consultancy and technical reports the latter are often prepared at great expense only to be stored away in private libraries. As a result, most scholars, technocrats and policy makers are unaware of the existence of many valuable research reports ; and so these reports fail to have the desired impact in the country and beyond.

4This project was embarked upon to assemble and describe the available literature, on the urban sector in Nigeria, with special reference to technical/research reports, journal articles, theses, books and conference papers. The aim is to make researchers/scholars aware of the extent and range of urban research in the country and so minimize duplication of effort. In addition, we intend to make available to scholars and all those dealing with urban issues and problems, particularly policy makers, a reference book on urban-related literature in Nigeria.

5The following objectives have been pursued :

  • review critically available literature on urban research in Nigeria with a view to characterizing its scope and limitations
  • identification and characterization of the researchers, research institutions and the research environment in Nigeria in the urban field
  • an identification of urban research themes and priorities in Nigeria
  • recommendations have been made on how urban research can best be encouraged in Nigeria
  • the production of a document on urban research and research priorities in Nigeria in the 1990s and beyond

6Although an exploratory work, this study has identified a number of themes as well as works on the urban setting in the country, which can guide the researcher.

1.2 Research Methodology

7The data and information for the survey came from three main sources :

  • Known experts in the field of urban planning and related fields in Nigeria were contacted for lists of their publications and/or curriculum vitae. These were then analysed.
  • Institutions and organizations engaged in training, study and/or research in the urban sector were contacted and comprehensive lists of their staff and student researches on the sector were obtained and analysed.
  • A team of research assistants visited a number of libraries, particularly those in institutions of higher learning in different parts of Nigeria, to search for relevant literature.

8The data assembled were then collated, classified and analysed under sixteen (16) themes and according to : (i) format (i.e. books/monographs, journal articles, technical reports, theses, conference papers or newspaper articles) and (ii) period of publication. The areas for further research were then identified and highlighted.

9Although attempts were made to ensure that all existing literature on the urban sector in Nigeria was accessed, the result cannot be regarded as exhaustive. Difficulties in retrieving information from libraries, the lack of response to questionnaires, restriction on access to documents in government offices due to bureaucracy or red-tapism, and limited resources and time available for the research among other problems, have affected the level of achievement. Nevertheless, it is hoped that the document will be a valuable contribution to the process of urban research and urban policy formulation in Nigeria, and, perhaps most importantly, generate greater interest in the subject.

1.3 Organization of the Report

10The report is divided into five chapters. Following this introductory chapter, chapter two highlights urbanization and its problems in Nigeria. In chapter three, available literature on the urban sector is reviewed with reference to themes, output, form and content. Chapter four focuses on urban research institutions and funding, while chapter five identifies urban research gaps and priorities to be addressed in Nigeria in the 1990s and beyond. The appendices (I-VI) contain the information about the institutions, firms and NGOs involved in urban research in Nigeria as well as a comprehensive bibliography on urban research in Nigeria.



Centre for African Settlement Studies and Development (CASSAD). 1993. Data Bank of Experts in the Field of Human Settlement and Environment in Nigeria. CASSAD, Ibadan.

Onibokun, A.G. 1982. In Search of Solutions : A comprehensive review of housing literature and research in Nigeria. Nigerian Insitute for Social and Economic Research (NISER), Ibadan.

Onibokun, A.G. 1983. Issues in Nigerian Housing. Nigerian Institute for Social and Economic Research (NISER), Ibadan.

Onibokun, A.G. 1994. Urban research in anglophone West Africa. Towards an.agenda for the 1990s. In : Urban Research in the Developing World, Vol. 2, Africa. Centre for Urban and Community Studies, University of Toronto, Toronto, pp. 233-272.

Stren, Richard. 1989. Select Bibliography of African Urban Development Studies. Centre for Urban and Community Studies, University of Toronto, Toronto.

Chapter Two

Urbanization and urban problems in Nigeria

2.1 Introduction

1Available data reveal that the population of Nigeria has been increasing at an alarming rate. Our towns and cities are growing rapidly. In 1921, the population of Nigeria was only 18.72 million (table 2.1). In 1952, it rose to 30.4 million and in 1963 to 55.67 million. The preliminary census data for 1991 (although the 1991 census figure is still controversial) indicated a population of 80.5 million while the projection for the year 2000 AD suggests a doubling of the population within a period of 20-25 years.

2In 1931, less than 7 per cent of Nigerians lived in urban centres, that is settlements with populations of 20,000 and above. The proportion rose to 10 per cent in 1952 and to 19.2 per cent in 1963 (see tables 2.1, 2.2 and 2.3).

3Reliable estimates put the 1984 and 1991 urban population at 33 and 42 per cent. At present (i.e., in 1995), there are seven cities with populations of over one million people ; 18 cities with over 500,000 people ; 36 with over 200,000 people ; 78 cities with over 100,000 people ; and 5,050 towns with over 20,000 people (see Onibokun, 1987a ; 1989 ; 1990a).

Table 2.1 Population of Nigeria, 1921-2020

Image 1.jpg

Source : Federal Office of Statistics (1952, 1963) and projections by Onibokun based on 5 % annual growth rate for urban areas, 2.5 % for rural areas, and 10 % for state capitals.

Table 2.2 Nigeria's Rural and Urban Population, 1950-2025

Image 2.jpg

Source : Modified by the authors from UN (1986)

4Over a period of 30 years (1952-1982), the population in most major towns has increased five-fold (see table 2.4). Lagos, Kano, Port Harcourt, Maiduguri, Kaduna, Jos and Ilorin had over 1000 per cent increases over three decades. Ibadan rose from 625,000 in 1963 to 2.84 million in 1982 ; Enugu rose from 174,000 in 1963 to 850,000 in 1982 ; Lagos rose from less than 1 million in 1963 to over 4 million in 1982 (see Onibokun, 1987a).

5These population increases account, in part, for the rapid physical expansion of these cities. For example, the physical extent of Enugu was 72.52 square kilometres in 1963. By 1975, it had more than doubled to 180 square kilometres and by 1985, had more than tripled to 204 square kilometres. This gives an average annual physical expansion rate of 5.98 square kilometres between 1963 and 1983.

Table 2.3 Percentage of Population Residing in Urban Areas in the World, Africa and Nigeria, 1950-2025

Image 3.jpg

Source : UN (1991)

6The growth of Ibadan is another classical example of urban sprawl in Nigeria. In 1951, the population of Ibadan had reached 100,000 and buildings occupied an area of about 36 square kilometres, while ditches and walls surrounding the town were more than 25 kilometres in circumference. Studies based on aerial photography at scale 1:25,000 show that by 1973, the total land area had increased to about 112 square kilometres (Adediran, 1984 ; Onibokun, 1988a). All farmlands, fallow lands and river flood plains within the city had been built upon. By 1981 a total land area of about 136 square kilometres had been developed. This increased to 176 square kilometres in 1984, and 214 square kilometres in 1988 ; a spatial increase of over 84 per cent in seven years (see table 2.5). By the year 2000, it is estimated that Ibadan will cover over 400 square kilometres, considering the rate at which the city's population is growing and the trend of growth from 1981 (Onibokun, 1988a). If the present rate of expansion of the city is not curbed, surrounding towns, such as Ajoda new town on Ife Road, Onidundu village and Idi Ayunre to the south, Omi Adio on Abeokuta Road, and Lalupon-Ejioku on Iwo Road will be linked by physical development. Ibadan will then be an octopus of a city. Many Nigerian cities are exhibiting a similar growth pattern (Stren, 1985 ; Mschlia, 1986 ; Ema, 1986 ; Onibokun, 1987 ; Mabogunje, 1992).

Table 2.4 Population of Some Nigerian Cities, 1972-2000 AD, (in millions)

Image 4.jpg

Note * : Nigerian Population Census, 1952 and 1963
Note ** : Onibokun (1987a), p.98, 1952-1982

Table 2.5 Spatial Growth of Ibadan at Different Time Periods, 1931-1988

Image 5.jpg

Source : Onibokun, 1988a

2.2 The Urban Sector : Problems and challenges

7The problems and challenges posed by the rapid urban growth in Nigeria are immense. More easily observable and perhaps very frightening are the general human and environmental poverty, the declining quality of life and the underutilized as well as the untapped wealth of human resources. Housing and associated facilities (such as water, electricity, waste disposal) are grossly inadequate. Millions live in substandard environments called slums, plagued by squalor and grossly inadequate social amenities, such as, a shortage of schools, poor health facilities and lack of opportunities for recreation among others. Juvenile delinquency and crime have become endemic in urban areas as a result of the gradual decline of traditional social values and the breakdown of family cohesiveness and community spirit. Moreover, the capacity of law enforcement institutions to prevent crime is increasingly hampered by technological and resource limitations.

8Lack of infrastructure is one of the most pressing problems in Nigerian cities (see Lee, 1989b ; Lee and Anas, 1989 ; 1990 ; Linn, 1982 ; Mschelia, 1986 ; Verma et al., 1991). Significant proportions of the houses in major towns and cities have no access to electricity, pipe-borne water or hygienic toilet facilities. The proportion of existing urban housing stock that is dilapidated or is in need of major repairs is estimated at 22.3 per cent nationwide, while about 3 million housing units are required to meet the backlog of housing needs and the replacement of substandard ones (Onibokun, 1987). In many Nigerian cities, the city centres are decaying without any programme of rehabilitation while new urban peripheries develop without planning or the necessary infrastructure.

9Intra-city mobility is greatly hampered by poor planning and inefficient land use. The network capacity of the transportation system is grossly inefficient and structurally defective. The urban economy is characterized by low and marginal productivity and high rates of unemployment and underemployment. The low capacity utilization in the industrial sector also continuously worsens the employment-generating capacity of the urban economy.

10The World Bank recently carried out a study of the infrastructure situation in Lagos and its impact on productivity. The findings are revealing (see Anas and Lee, 1988 ; Lee and Anas, 1989 ; 1990). The failure of the Nigerian government to respond adequately to the increasing demand for urban infrastructural services has had the following consequences :

  1. The productivity of the economy of Lagos, and of Nigeria in general, has been seriously affected.

  2. The quality of life in the city has deteriorated ; conditions of living have worsened.

  3. The inadequate provision of infrastructural services has affected most business firms, as they spend over 20 per cent of their capital outlay on providing their own infrastructure — electricity, water supply, transport, telecommunications, and waste disposal — which, under normal circumstances, should have been provided by the municipal authorities.

11The World Bank study revealed that the capital value of electric power generating facilities alone was about 10 per cent of the total value of machinery and equipment of most of the large firms operating in Lagos. For the small firms it was worse ; about 25 per cent of their total value was committed to electricity generation. The same study also shows that the average cost of producing a firm's own power was N4.61 per kmh, about 9 times the cost in developed countries. The high cost of producing power and other infrastructural services are passed on to the consumers in the form of higher prices.

12Another aspect which the study revealed was that many small firms and enterprises which could not afford the cost of providing their own basic infrastructure became marginalized, with very low productivity. This situation is consistent with the 'incubator hypothesis' which shows that the location of small firms (employing less than 20 people) is influenced by the availability of utilities and other essential services (see Linn, 1982 ; Lee, 1989 ; Verma et al., 1991). This means that a country such as Nigeria, with its poor infrastructure, does not offer a conducive environment for small-scale enterprises which are important to the development of the economy. Those enterprises that have already been established cannot grow at a rate that would generate enough employment opportunities to meet the demand of the growing population, while fewer and fewer new ones are able to get started (CASSAD, 1993b). Since industrial growth and employment generation in a country depend heavily on the extent to which small firms and enterprises can grow and succeed, it should not be a surprise to policy makers that Nigeria continues to have a high rate of unemployment and underemployment. Poverty is also becoming more endemic in our urban centres and will become still more so unless the infrastructure problems, which contribute significantly to the breeding of poverty, are seriously addressed.

13One study of urban problems in 38 Nigerian cities and another on urban infrastructure in three major cities were recently conducted (Onibokun, 1987). The surveys showed the declining quality and gross inadequacy of urban infrastructure. Specifically, they revealed that a significant proportion (up to 34 % in some cities) of the housing units had no access to electricity, pipe-borne water and safe liquid waste disposal systems.