Nigeria is among the fastest growing population with a growth of 2.8% per anum. The population growth can be attributed to factors such as, high birth rate, oil boom, state creation, increase fertility due to improved medical care and agricultural activities.
These population growths tend to be more in the urban area as witness in many parts of the world. It is unfortunate that the rapid urban growth is accompanied by high rate of uncontrolled and unplanned development. The Nigerian government in the past has initiated a number of policies/laws to care of urban development. Among these policies is the national urban development policy 2006.
Urban areas in Nigeria are facing an unprecedented increase of population which is accompanied by unplanned and uncontrolled growth that has brought a number of problems and challenges to the government and urban dwellers. Cities are important engine room for the growth of a country’s economy; therefore there is a need to plan them well.
In most cities in Nigeria, residence is faced with conditions of poor housing, increase crime rate, poor infrastructure, and increase growth rate of shanty towns, slums and ghettos. One may ask, that with all the abundant material and human resources in Nigeria, must we go through this dark stage in a period of global civilization. Past governments have made policies for urban development but have made certain challenges, some of these policies are summarized below, under the colonial and post colonial period.
The post colonial period (1900-1960)
The past colonial government came up with some policies, interventions, responses and laws to guide urban and regional development, some of the policies include;
Cantonment proclamation of 1904, which was made for segregation of Europeans reservation from the native areas.
Ordinance No. 9 of 1914 was made to empower the government to acquire land for public reasons.
Road and transportation ordinance No 29 of 1917 was used to provide grades of urban settlements and classification of towns into classes (1st, 2nd and 3rd) and to establish broad physical layouts of towns.
Establishment of town planning committees for the northern and southern province in 1924.
The Lagos executive development board (LEBD) as a response to the bubonic plaque, slum clearance and reclamation and industrial estates.
The Nigerian town and country planning ordinance No. 4 of 1946. It was enacted to provide for the planning and implementation of schemes by town planning authorities.
Post- independence 1960- date.
After Nigeria got her independence the government initiated a number of national development plans to address the emerging needs and challenges of the citizens. The national development plans are as follows:
The first national development plan (1962-1968).
The second national development plan
The third national development plan
The fourth national development plan.
The rolling plan of 1986 was also adopted by the three tiers of government.
The land use decree of 1978 to control the use of land and ensure equitable access to land by Nigerians.
The creation of infrastructure development fund (IDF) in 1985 with the help of the World Bank to finance urban development project.
The 1991housing policy
The 1992 Nigerian urban and regional planning law No. 88.
The federal urban mass transit programme.
The national urban development policy.
All these policies and intervention have met with stiff difficulties both in implementation, application and maintenance.
The Goals of the 2006 national urban development policies.
This is aimed at developing a dynamic system of urban settlement which will foster sustainable economic growth, promote efficient urban and regional development and ensure improved standard of living and well being of Nigerians.
The objectives of the urban development policies are as follows:
For efficient urban development and management.
Strengthen planning agencies and authorities with capacity for effective urban planning.
Encourage private sector participation and general public in planning.
Review related policies to be more responsive to the challenges of land use planning in Nigeria.
Guide the planning of new states capitals and local government areas.
    The strategies to aid the achievement the goals and objectives include:
The creation of an appropriate institutional framework for ensuring orderly urban development.
To make deliberate efforts in the classification of urban areas.
To also revise the existing town and country planning laws and regulations.
To restructure all exiting public institution involved in urban management in the three levels.
To empower the national council of housing and urban development to coordinate policies and programmes of urban development issues.
Produce cadastral maps and other necessary base maps needed for urban planning and management.
To make master plans and development plans for designated towns and settlements and to also adopt functional designs that will provide easy access to urban facilities and amenities.
The policy addresses issues which include: access to land, urban economy, urban transportation, urban renewal, urban environment, urban infrastructure, urban finance, urban management information, human resource management, human security, urban governance, urban planning. These issues have not been fully addressed by the policy as many problems are still evident in our cities, even the federal capital territory (Abuja).
Challenges and problems
The national urban development policy, just like many other policies in the country has faced a lot challenges that have affected its proper implementation. Access to land is an issue that must be considered because every development is done on the land, but the cumbersome nature in the process of acquiring land has made it easy for land speculators to make indiscriminate profit from selling land to desperate buyers, the situation has led to an unplanned and uncontrolled urban growth. This is because the legal and technical institutional frameworks for land management are not properly linked for effective coordination.
Mr. Nduese Essien, the former minister of lands, housing and urban development in august 2010 said that, ‘the shortfall of infrastructure and imbalanced regional development, unemployment and low productivity are among the major challenges militating against the Nigeria’s quest for development’. He complained that most of the strategies adopted to resolve the problems had largely been uncoordinated, while the three-tiers of government had continued to operate independently.
He lamented that the sprawl of our human settlement, due to inadequate physical planning and control is adversely threatening the sustainability of the country’s development, which must therefore be built on consensus that will evolve a national framework. (Salihu, M. 2011)
Urban problems in Nigeria are also associated with the colonial antecedents of Nigerian cities, urbanization and issues that come with developmental challenges, urban production and consumption patterns and psychological orientation of urban residents as well as institutional failures. These problems pose serious environmental, economic and social challenges to achieving sustainable development in the country. (Daramola, A & Ibem, E.O. 2010).
In the face of increasing urban population, there is inadequate supply of housing and infrastructure for the teeming population, as a result, the existing infrastructure and housing are overstressed, while unsanitary living conditions characterized by filthy environment, unclean ambient air, stinky and garbage filled streets and sub-standard houses continue to dominate the urban landscape in Nigeria.
The concentration of more people in urban areas of the country has brought more pressure on the land space for the production of food, infrastructure, housing and industrialization. This affects the carrying capacity of the environment as each additional person increases the demand on the infrastructure and natural system and as result creating ecological imbalance which comes with adverse environmental consequences such as hazards and disaster. (Daramola, A & Ibem, O.A. 2010).  In this circumstance, attempts to address the situation are difficult and capital intensive, because rapidly growing population does not provide ample room for the introduction of new and innovative approaches to tackling the problems.
The legal, institutional and technical frameworks for land management should be linked, so as to ensure the relevant stakeholders in the land management process are adequately involved to remove the influence of land speculators in the acquisition of land within the country.
Also, there is the urgent need for the recruitment and training of land surveyors, town planners and other technical staff, all of whom are in short supply both at the Federal, State and Local Government levels to enforce the existing building, urban and regional planning regulations as provided for by the Urban and Regional Planning Act of 1992. The government must make deliberate effort in embarking on a survey of property boundaries as well as the provision of cadastral maps. Furthermore, the Federal Government should commission, without further delay, the registration of title to land with a view to keeping a land register which should be available at Federal, State and Local Government levels. With recent advancements in the use of satellite imagery, Geographical Information System (GIS), as well as Geographical Positioning System (GPS), the issue of land registration should not be that difficult. (The Guardian Newspaper, 2011)
It is important for our government to make serious effort in addressing the challenges of urban growth and development. Many policies are either made in isolation or without consideration of the country’s constitution. This means that all stakeholders must play their part in harmonizing all the existing policies in order for the system to run efficiently and effectively.
Daramola, A  and Ibem, E.O. (2010). Environmental problems in    Nigeria: Implication for sustainable development. Journal of sustainable development in Africa. 7(1)
Salihu, M. (2010). Minister enumerates goals of national development plan. Fortune News.
The Guardian Newspaper (2010). Land management under the land use act. May 10, 2011.
The urban development policy 2006.

Written by
Charles Kyom Bijimi.


  1. Pingback: “A REVIEW OF THE 2006 URBAN DEVELOPMENT POLICY” | kyomben's Blog

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