Urban land, planning, and governance systems in Nigeria

Urban land, planning, and governance systems in Nigeria

In the face of rapid urbanisation, the issues of inadequate planning, governance, and management in Nigeria is well known, and the combination of customary and colonial practices, outdated policies and plans, and entrenched attitudes make solutions hard to come by. To make sense of this seemingly intractable problem, this report summarises the urban land administration and planning debate in Nigeria by examining the issues based on literature review, and the views of key urban sector stakeholders from six Nigerian cities.

The report is split into four sections: urban land, planning, and governance, which presents an overview of the historical factors at play, back to pre-colonial times and up to the challenges facing current administrations; emerged urban development systems, which examines formal and informal urban development process and outcomes in recent initiatives; a discussion of the views of urban stakeholders, in the context of recent literature and on-the-ground experiences; and a conclusion, which presents contributions to policy debates, and suggestions for areas that require more research.

The report also examines recent initiatives at national, state and local levels. The authors conclude that some initiatives have been met with a measure of success, and that these are typified by a flexibility that applies global principles at a local level, and that canvas the needs of local populations. The survey found that problems identified in literature are recognised by stakeholders, with questions of equity, poverty divides, gender issues, and climate adaptation emerging as priorities. Lack of resources was highlighted by all participants in the face of rapid urbanisation, and while the need for an integrated, planned approach recognised by all, political and economic pressures were recognised more by official and professional groups.

The authors conclude that sustained engagement with communities in the form of participatory approaches has led to better development outcomes. However, it still remains necessary to consider how urban governance and management practices will promote inclusiveness on a more regular basis, and ensure that the wider developmental needs of urban residents, particularly those in the informal sector, can be met. In that spirit, the paper closes by recommending that a policy review should be undertaken, with particular focus on the need for: coordinated urban planning, development, and governance; satisfying different socioeconomic groups in terms of both processes and outcomes; addressing the inadequacies of the formal system; and incorporating in the workable aspects of the informal development system.

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