International Development Planning Review

Urban development and governance in Nigeria: challenges, opportunities and policy direction

International Development Planning Review (2018), 40, (1), 27–49.

Abstract

Volumes of discourse illuminate several weaknesses of Nigeria’s urban planning and governance system, particularly in the face of rapid urbanisation, and rising levels of urban poverty and informality. However, this discourse often fails to situate the weaknesses within the context of opportunities presented by the system, and provide a clear policy direction. An in-depth understanding of the weaknesses of the system, and of the opportunities it presents especially for the ongoing construction of massively scaled urban developments to meet demands of various urban actors and their impact, is imperative for far-reaching policy formulation and implementation. Based on an examination of the perspectives of key urban stakeholders solicited through semi-structured interviews in three Nigerian cities of Abuja, Minna and Enugu, this study provides insight into how the failings of the existing regime provide opportunities for the urban developmental landscape. The findings suggest that pluralistic forms of social steering in urban planning and governance have the potential to succeed. Nevertheless, government input, especially in the area of infrastructure provision, is critical.

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Awuah, Kwasi Gyau Baffour