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Urban Management in the Context of Liveability and Social Exclusion in Nigeria: A Review

Urban Management in the Context of Liveability and Social Exclusion in Nigeria: A Review

Adewale Yemi Yekeen1, Siti Hajar Misnan2

1,2Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Faculty of Built Environment and Surveying,

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia


Received: 16 April 2024; Accepted: 24 April 2024; Published: 24 May 2024


Nigerian cities have some of the lowest liveability indices worldwide due to environmental degradation exacerbated by the remarkable expansion in the country’s urban population. Various studies have revealed links between city liveability and urban management, indicating the urban challenges faced by Nigerian cities are due to fundamental flaws in city management systems designed to exclude critical urban actors. Therefore, this paper examines the nature and impact of city governments’ urban management systems (U.M.S.) on inclusivity and liveability in Nigeria. Based on an extensive literature review, the paper notes that incorporating urban management under local governments (typically urban and rural settlements) redirects attention from urban centres, resulting in their current problems. Additionally, the performance of municipal administration in Nigeria has been impacted by the exclusion of critical urban players from city management. Therefore, the article urges reviewing the current urban management paradigm and advises investigating cutting-edge strategies to reposition urban management in Nigeria.

Keywords: Urban Management, Liveability, Social Exclusion


Urbanization is a significant problem for urban managers, particularly in Nigeria, where the population soared from 17.5% to 51.2% between 1969 and 2019 (NBC, 2019). The Nigerian narrative on urbanization primarily focuses on numerous concerns, such as the growing prevalence of unfavourable urban environmental results and urban managers’ failures to address the root causes. The demand for public and social services may considerably expand when urban populations proliferate. Social inclusion may be hampered by unequal access to housing, healthcare, transportation, and other essential services. Current statistics indicate that significant socio-economic disparities exist across the urban space in Nigeria. The data suggest that numerous urban residents lack access to important services and supplies (Anastasi et al., 2017; FRN, 2020). For example, poor, middle, and rich urban dwellers lack access to quality housing, social amenities, and public services (NBC, 2019).

According to recent estimations, most of Nigeria’s urban population comprises poor people, who are consistently the most at risk of social exclusion. This group is most susceptible to various low development indicators, unemployment, poverty, and deplorable living conditions (Atumah, 2019). High social exclusion rates result from a lack of opportunities, particularly for urban poor, underserved, and vulnerable groups (Shittu, 2018), which invariably affects effective urban management. Social exclusion includes the absence or rejection of rights, resources, products, or services. It is also the incapability to partake in socio-economic, cultural, or political activities and relationships accessible to most other individuals. According to Pantazis (2007) this scenario can impact people’s quality of life, cohesion, equity in the community, and, more importantly, urban liveability.

Liveability includes the features of urban settings that enhance the attractiveness of living spaces. These are categorized into perceptible structures, such as access to public infrastructure or imperceptible structures, such as local identity, social networks, and sense of place (Throsby, 2016). Typically, liveable cities are beautiful, clean, safe, affordable, and vital economically. Hence, such cities are characterized by efficient administration and functional infrastructure. These ensure the availability of effective public spaces, transportation, employment opportunities, cultural centres, and a communal sense of belonging (Balsa, 2022). According to various studies in the literature (Adegun et al., 2021; Olajide et al., 2018) the state of the urban management system in Nigeria has caused liveability challenges. For instance, there is an uneven delivery of rudimentary public amenities such as public transport, sewage or drainage systems, waste disposal, and management. Therefore, such amenities in one city region may result in their deficiency or absence in other parts (Adekola, 2021). Similarly, it is common for some cities to experience overcrowding, problems such as high air and water pollution rates, or insufficient maintenance of storm drainages. These challenges pose grave health and safety risks and aggravate susceptibility to flooding in nearby communities (Daramola, 2010).

Urban Management Systems (U.M.S) in Nigeria

The legal framework founded by the Federal Government of Nigeria governs urban management in the country. According to this framework, cities are linked to larger regional and national contexts. Due to this, the legislative framework that governs the classification and sizing of cities in Nigeria can highlight U.M.S. The legislation that regulates U.M.S. in Nigeria includes the Principles for Local Government Transformation (1976), the Urban and Regional Planning Act (1992), and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) (FRN 2020: FRN 1992; FRN 1999)

Social Exclusion and Liveability: A Conceptual Clarification

Social Exclusion

The idea of social exclusion first appeared during the 1990s. Apparent founded on the notion that people have the right to a fundamental standard of living and participation in important aspects within the community, like accommodation, career pursuit, healthcare, and schooling. The inability to obtain these rights results in social exclusion for those who are disadvantaged (Jacob, 2018). The concept’s application has increased, and it now encompasses a wider range of aspects of welfare than just poverty and material deprivation, such as the capacity to engage in community life (Day, 2021). Sen (2000) used the terms “capabilities and functioning” to describe social exclusion, which “looks at impoverished lives, not simply at emptied wallets.” The failure to connect seamlessly with people and the limitations on prospects for living, such as jobs and sufficient residence, are two major aspects of this perspective on poverty as capability deprivation. This emphasis on both the relational and distributional aspects of social exclusion is a crucial component of the notion because it brings together the numerous and complex interactions of disadvantage revealed in individuals and communities. The relational aspects of social exclusion include relationships with friends, family, the neighborhood, government agencies, and establishments (Dahl, 2018). When people encounter numerous layers of disadvantage, according to this framework, the exclusion is most severe. It is both a factor in capability failure and a factor in capability deprivation (Lynn et al., 2017). Also considered to be both relative and dynamic is social isolation. It is relative in that it only pertains to the subject and the community in which the individuals thrive and dynamic due to the fact it takes into account both the present circumstances and people’s prospects from their pasts. Last but not least, social exclusion entails agency; in other words, it goes beyond simply individual duties and decisions. Instead, the only possible way is for it to be evaluated by identifying the people, establishments, and systems that have the power to actively or passively exclude others (O’Donnell et al., 2017).

The causes of social exclusion are intricate and varied. However, the literature has revealed four primary manifestations and root reasons for social exclusion: Political exclusion may involve being denied citizenship rights like the right to vote, the right to the rule of law, the right to free speech, and the right to equal opportunity (Eflova et al., 2017). According to Bellani and Fusco (2018), One aspect of economic isolation is inaccessibility to capital assets such as credit and employment markets. Discrimination based on disability, age, gender, and race. Due to this prejudice, these groups have fewer opportunities to obtain services and can only participate less in the labour market (Freedman et al., 2016). The degree to which different beliefs, practices, and ways of life are tolerated and respected is referred to as “cultural exclusion” (Huxley et al., 2016). There are various realms of exclusion within each of these causes and kinds of exclusion (Mohanty, 2014). Additionally, they overlap and are connected in how they affect a person’s continuous exclusion (Mohanty, 2014). For instance, employers may purposefully exclude some individuals from employment. The absence of policy or the application of policy to promote equal chances in the workplace furthers this exclusion (political exclusion).

GSDRC (2014) postulates that exclusion at various levels results from ongoing unequal power relations. Peace (2001) mentions the significance of power in tackling socioeconomic marginalization in Western civilization, which is consistent with this idea. The study further claims that persons in leadership positions are determining who should be involved and what types of things they should be engaged in when discussing measures to address exclusion. In the UK, tax and employment-related laws are two examples of policies influenced by the viewpoint of those in authority, according to Peace (2001). The study argues that rather than tackling exclusion, these initiatives are more about getting people involved in the workforce and motivating them to take ownership of their lives. According to this analysis, power may also contribute to the perpetuation of exclusion in the West and its reactions. The UK Social Exclusion Unit’s (2004) analysis of some of the major causes of social exclusion is insightful. They specifically name three important contextual elements that have historically contributed to exclusion:

*Demographics This shows that the population’s demographic makeup may contribute to social marginalisation. High rates of teenage unemployment, a rise in single parenting, ageing, and migration are some significant examples of demographic trends that might contribute to exclusion, according to the Social Exclusion Unit (Social Exclusion Unit, 2004).

* The term “labour market” describes the demands, the type of work, and the age range of the labour market. Social exclusion, for instance, may be exacerbated by increases in low pay and economic inequality among groups.

* Social policy refers to changes made to welfare policies, consisting of benefit increases, reductions, or bounds. (Bohnke, 2004). Some people may become more excluded due to these changes, which may widen the income disparity between those working and those who get assistance. Thus, spending on social, health, and housing services is crucial since it can impede and lessen access to equity. As for people who cannot obtain the necessary care, this may lead to worse health outcomes and opportunities. The drivers of segregation at a micro level are the major areas of social exclusion, which include poverty and revenue, employment, health, education and skills, living arrangements, transportation, crime and fear of crime, social capital and community service, and the influence on the community as a whole (Bak, 2018) Some examinations of social exclusion concentrate on the mechanisms impacting marginalized populations, including children, youth, the disabled, and ethnic minorities and careers (McIntyre, 2014). This evaluation examines the major drivers of exclusion through people’s exclusion of others and the structural and socioeconomic drivers of exclusion to cover the individual, community, and societal domains mentioned in the literature. Next, the major and minor determinants of exclusion for disabled individuals are categorized and understood via the lens of the socio-ecological model.


The idea of liveability is ill-defined, imprecise, hazy, and loaded with connotations, making it challenging to quantify and describe. Because of the disparities in the researchers’ backgrounds, there hasn’t been any consensus in the literature regarding the aspects that should be included to fully represent the idea (Tennakoon and Kulatunga, 2019). Planners and policymakers concerned with creating or maintaining liveable cities have long invoked “liveability” as a guiding principle for the investment and decision-making that shape the urban social, economic, physical, and biological environment (Sheikh and Ameijde, 2022). Their propositions for the creation of liveability presume that livability can be defined by fundamental or immutable characteristics, many of which remain constant through time and across populations. Liveability describes the overall contribution of a metropolitan settlement that affects inhabitants’ well-being or their standard of life (Haarhoff et al., 2016). Though opinions on the precise parameters of its application remain divided, a general understanding of the concept of liveability has emerged. Vuchic (2017) provides a very helpful working description of urban livability, defining it as “generally understood to encompass those elements of home, neighborhood, and metropolitan area that contribute to safety, economic opportunities, and welfare, health, convenience, mobility, and recreation.” It is evident that the idea of liveability is more of a qualitative model, encompassing a range of attributes related to an area’s overall appeal “desirable” a location for business, investment, employment, and living (Antonescu, 2017).

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit (2018), “livability” refers to the quality of life created for humans and includes built and natural surroundings, economic prosperity, stable society and equity, educational opportunities, and access to culture, entertainment, and recreational activities. It is the categorization and measurement of a comfortable, secure, reasonably priced and environment that fosters human growth.  (Hussien et al., 2023). Affirmation by Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (2015) shows that livable areas incorporate both social and physical well-being characteristics necessary to maintain a fruitful and fulfilling human existence. Within the city’s setting (Balsas, 2022) conceptualized livability as the capacity of a city to preserve and enhance its investment viability and economic vitality. Liveability includes the concrete characteristics of urban environments that attract people to reside there (such as the presence of public infrastructure) and the intangible attributes like social networks, a feeling of place, and regional identity (Asian Development Bank, 2019).

The Centre for Livable Cities (2011) refers to liveability as a city with excellent planning that creates a lively, attractive, and secure environment for the inhabitants to live, work, and play. It has good governance, a competitive economy, a high quality of life, and a sustainable environment. Thus, it is an urban system that contributes to the physical and social well-being as well as the personal development of all inhabitants (Badland and Pearce, 2019). Sofeska (2017) described livability as the equilibrium between people and the built environment. His opinion suggests an ideal environment where the residents maintain outdoor spaces collectively.

Similarly, Wagner (2018) considered livability as the interaction between the community and the environment. They assert that how well a city works for its inhabitants is the central focus of livability (Wagner, 2018). As opined by Turner‐Skoff and Cavender (2019), livability describes the frame conditions of a decent life for all inhabitants of cities, regions, and communities, including their physical and mental wellbeing. Liveability is based on the principle of sustainability and smartness; thus, it is sensitive to nature and its resource protection. The special focus on improving livability is to consider all dimensions relevant to livability: the physical, the social, and the cultural.

Liveability measures urban people’s personal well-being and standard of life. For example, Manzini (2022) described livability as the estimated standard of living among locals as represented by human wellbeing. The quality of the city’s physical environment is derived from the performance of key urban systems and processes in the cities where people live and work. This is what gives rise to several indicators in the literature that are intended to operate as broad proxies to measure and judge the degree of livability of a city/area (Mirzahossein and Mohghaddam, 2021). According to some academics, livability is the degree to which a place satisfies the prerequisites (Rui and Othengrafen, 2023). The truth is that every individual tends to satisfy their needs and interests, mostly in their local community. If people can fulfill their needs and wants in their current location, they will wish to stay in that area. A place’s livability can influence both local and individual factors. From a personal perspective, being livable entails having stable housing, which may improve one’s quality of life (Mouratidis, 2020). Subsequently, from a regional standpoint, it is critical to avoid issues resulting from a population decrease. More specifically, a loss in population may result in a decline in municipal tax income, which could exacerbate the city’s financial situation. Furthermore, locals themselves act as crime watchers. As a result, decreasing population would increase the likelihood of crime (Paul and Sen, 2020). That is why improving the region’s livability is a crucial policy priority.

However, many American and European towns are seeing increased livability due to bettering their urban environments. As an illustration, New York, USA, and Bilbao, Spain are two of the most notable cities that have prospered again due to enhanced urban environments (Patterson, 2020). Özkan and Yilmaz (2019) have noted that certain research has examined the impact of urban surroundings and neighborhood relations on the quality of life and local satisfaction. This indicates that local dynamics and urban settings may also improve liveability.

Urban environmental deterioration and a high rate of increasing urban population have intensified, placing Nigerian cities among the lowest liveability indices worldwide (Daramola, 2010; Olajoke, 2021). Numerous urban problems in Nigerian cities suggest an underlying weakness in their management structure, as shown by studies linking urban liveability to the management of urban regions (Onu, 2012; Bloch, 2015). All important urban players’ mobilization, diffusion, and involvement in public decision-making processes are essential for the effective government (Saghir, 2018). Therefore, this paper explores Nigeria’s urban management system (U.M.S.) to establish the level of inclusiveness of city governments and its impact on city life. An administrative model for urban management in Nigeria is also proposed.


This review paper adopts a qualitative synthesis methodology to analyse and synthesize articles from diverse sources pertaining to urban management in the context of liveability and social exclusion in Nigeria. The methodology is structured to review and extract topical issues, themes, and insights from the literature. The qualitative synthesis approach allows for exploring complex and nuanced issues related to urban governance and social dynamics in Nigerian cities. The literature search strategy identified relevant articles from academic databases, institutional repositories, government reports, policy documents, and grey literature sources. Key search terms include variations of “urban management,” “liveability,” “social exclusion,” and “Nigeria”. The search strategy is designed to encompass various perspectives and disciplines relevant to the topic.

A thorough literature search was conducted using electronic databases, including PubMed, Google Scholar, Scopus and Web of Science to find relevant studies. The search sought scientific publications published in English version between 2010 and 2023. The study’s objectives guided the search strategy, designed to find unique, peer-reviewed literature that offered quantitative proof of the relationship between Urban management system liveability and social exclusions in Nigeria. The screening procedure was divided into two stages. Firstly, duplicate papers were deleted using reference management software. Secondly, the titles and abstracts of the remaining papers were assessed to determine their relevance to the study subject.  The papers that did not meet the inclusion requirements were rejected. The procedure for this screening was followed, and any inconsistencies discovered were corrected.

In the eligibility stages, the entire texts of the selected journals were extensively reviewed to establish their relevance for inclusion. The pre-determined inclusion criteria include:

(a) publications delivering fresh peer-reviewed research,

(b) publications of quantitative data on the link between urban management liveability and social exclusion, (c) publications on Urban livability and social exclusions management in Nigeri,

(d) publications focusing on issues like urban management, liveable cities, economic possibilities, infrastructure, slumps, safety and security, environmental quality, social cohesions, urban quality of life, public open spaces, and urban planning.

Review articles, unavailable publications, and studies that did not fit the primary/original research requirement were excluded. The studies that justified and satisfied all the inclusion conditions were included in the literature review. Key findings, data, and ideas from each study were retrieved and added to enhance the research objectives of this review. The identified elements’ interaction and influence on urban livability and social exclusion in the region were studied and discussed.


Urban Management and Liveability in Nigeria

The comprehensive impact of the metropolitan environment on residents’ life quality or overall health is called liveability (Urbis, 2008). The physical conditions a person lives in and the frequency of their interactions with a specific location make up urban environments (Moon, 2018). This significantly affect residential life by eliciting a reaction of Happiness or unhappiness. The level of enjoyment and, consequently, liveability experienced by inhabitants in urban areas can vary based on each sub-component (Ozkan, 2019). The three aspects of urban environments—accessibility, enjoyment, and safety—identified by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development were used in this review to assess the quality of residential settings (D’Acci, L., 2011; OECD, 2011).

According to Mouratidis (2020), accessibility refers to the available physical amenities available in the community. If numerous amenities are easily reachable, residents will be happy with their neighbourhood. The degree of accessibility satisfaction has been recognized in multiple studies as a crucial element in improving liveability (Mohit et al., 2010:Tao L et al., 2014). For instance, De Vos J (2017) explained that liveability increases with access to commercial districts, government offices, and cultural venues. However, the data shows that most Nigerian cities have poor access to such facilities. One of the most urgent issues in Nigerian cities is a lack of infrastructure, as was previously mentioned in the literature (Olajide et al., 2018; Aregbesola et al., 2017). Similarly, most homes in large cities and towns lack access to power, sanitary toilets, or piped water. For instance, only about 50% of Nigerians have access to electricity (the urban poor are excluded), compared to 100% of Mauritius and Seychelles residents (Bank W, 2022). According to estimates across the country, 22.3% of the current urban housing stock is decaying or needs considerable repairs. Most of this deteriorating housing stock is located in urban slums, informal settlements, and other run-down residential areas that receive little attention from the government (Nnodim , 2022).

Satisfaction with a city’s or region’s natural surroundings is called pleasantness. Varying arguments have been made that natural landscapes can significantly improve residents’ quality of life by offering places for relaxation (Badland, 2014; Rehdanz, 2008). Therefore, the city region’s liveability increases with citizens’ contentment with the presence and use of green parks, and vice versa. Nigerian cities are among those with the lowest liveability indices worldwide, exacerbated by rapid environmental degradation rates (Olajoke et al., 2021) According to estimates, 70% of urban residents live in areas with deteriorated natural environments (Adesoye, 2019). Specifically, Nigerian cities lack appropriate urban parks and planned green open spaces. For example, Lagos’ predicted green space to population ratio is only 81,000 per hectare (Adegun, 2021). This report explains why a 2017 study of four local government areas in Lagos concluded that, despite being a significant piece of green infrastructure, public parks are either insufficient, inadequately furnished, in bad condition, or slowly disappearing (Dipeolu, 2020). In Abuja, 82% of areas designated for parks and other green spaces are yet to be developed (Chibuike, 2018). According to Ujang (2015), the degree of contentment with green parks is crucial to urban satisfaction. In many Nigerian cities, there is little concern for green spaces and urban gardens, which inevitably contributes to the decline of the city centres in the absence of rehabilitation efforts (Adegun et al.,2021) In addition, new urban peripheries are created without substantial efforts to design green spaces (Adegun, 2021).

Safety refers to a place’s resistance to mishaps, such as fires or natural disasters, and criminal activity (Chibuke, 2018) It is marketed as a crucial component of any urban surroundings. According to numerous studies in the literature (De vos et al., 2017; Ibem et al., 2013; Marans et al., 2011) happiness in urban settings is strongly correlated with crime or accident rates. Both the frequency and seriousness of criminal activity have increased across many cities in Nigerian (IEP, 2020). The prevalence of tiny and light weapons, high levels of social exclusion, economic inequality, and weak social cohesion in the country have all been implicated in this malaise (Roosalu, 2014). In Nigeria, crimes like gang violence, armed robberies, theft, and other minor offences are nothing new, but terrorism is a severe and brand-new aspect of urban crime. In Nigeria, terrorist attacks between 2011 and 2021 resulted in 58,562 fatalities and nearly 4 million displaced people (NBS, 2021). This situation has made many cities, especially in the country’s North, even less liveable. There is also the issue of fire events in the slums of many cities. Between 2019 and 2021, Nigeria recorded 68 severe fire occurrences that resulted in 79 fatalities, with most of the fires occurring in the slums and markets of major Nigerian towns Lagbaja (2023).

Urban Management and Social Exclusion in Nigeria

When individuals or communities are denied access to the necessary services or regular components of life that others take for granted, this is called social exclusion (Thorat, 2007). Also, the denial of equal chances by some social groups to others can results in social exclusion, which prevents people from participating in society’s fundamental political, economic, and social processes (Thorat, 2007). Therefore, social exclusion is the deliberate and ongoing rejection of the fundamental rights of individuals to a decent life. People or socially excluded areas risk getting encircled by numerous problems, which includes, unemployment, weak skills, low earnings, poverty, substandard housing, high crime rates, bad health, and family dissolution.

According to the Human Development Report (Azu, 2018), human rights are categorized into seven core freedoms. These rights include freedom from injustice, freedom from fear, freedom from want, freedom to a decent standard of living, space for the realization of one’s human potential, freedom from fear, freedom from threats to personal security, freedom from participation, expression, and association; and freedom for decent work; free from exploitation. The realization of these fundamental rights must occur inside society. Therefore, the effectiveness of urban governance—how people and organizations, both public and private—plan and oversee the city’s day-to-day operations—becomes essential. Thus, efficient urban administration requires cooperation among local governments, businesses, civil society, community-based groups, and district/neighbourhood associations. As opined by Azu (2018), cities dedicated to upholding human rights and implementing excellent urban governance are more likely to guarantee equitable economic growth, infrastructural development, service delivery, and fostering social cohesion. Unfortunately, inclusion is lacking in most Nigerian cities. For instance, Nigeria’s UMS ignores the informal sector, primarily characterised by the urban poor, but remains the largest employer, contributing 57.7% to Nigeria’s gross domestic product (World Economics, 2023). Despite this, many municipalities have attempted to criminalize the informal small businesses and livelihoods in city centres (Adama, 2021). This perhaps informed the assertion of Bassey (2021) that most urban poor in Nigeria had been locked in intergenerational poverty due to sundry reasons, many of which can be traced back to a lack of good urban governance.

Social Exclusion and Liveability Issues in the Management of Abuja

According to the original master plan, the FCT development authority must “create a housing policy and programme tailored to the demands of the Capital’s population” (FCDA, 1979). Only the middle and higher classes have access to inexpensive homes in Abuja. Luxury mansions are situated away from common city neighbourhoods and adjacent to the National Assembly, demonstrating the master plan’s support for income-based residential segregation. It appears the big plan’s objective is to create a recurrent exploitation environment by employing the poor in urban settlements as inexpensive labour to direct and maintain the city as taxi operators, cleaning workers, and janitors, among others, while physically excluding them from the city so they cannot profit from it or take part in its culture. Planning and management strategies in Abuja’s outlying areas strongly emphasise exclusion and segregation. For instance, some residential suburbs near Abuja were specially constructed to contain the personnel of diverse international corporations, such as Julius Berger and Shell. Even if the communities have terrible circumstances, only the workers of these businesses are given nice homes. Whether these poor neighbourhoods are liveable is brought up by the fact that individuals without jobs are left to fend for themselves.

Another way to prevent the urban poor from accessing the city is by criminalizing informal trade. The FCT master plan allocates large areas for commercial operations, particularly on the sidewalks (average 7 to 12 m (Abubakar, 2014). However, non-stationary business activities are not allowed in the FCT due to zoning regulations. For instance, the city administration ordered the informal vendors stationed around Banex Plaza in the city centre to leave the area to provide access and facilitate business operations for established commercial activity (El-Rufai, 2005). Although Nigeria’s urban economy continues to be heavily dependent on informal street trade, neither the institutional nor systemic objective for the municipality includes it.

The underprivileged in the city are also denied access to and benefits from the metropolis because of restrictions on urban mobility. Also, the transit networks and street layout impede the town in the current city transportation arrangement. This is notably common among people residing in residential suburbs trying to cross the core city by walking the streets of Nnamdi Azikiwe and Murtala Mohammed, the exterior “ring roads” around the city, which were utilized as a strategic technique to regulate a four-lane roadblock to stop development in cities. In practice, city administrators can choose when and how the urban poor enter the city, thanks to the transportation system and strict policy enforcement. In 2006, the FCT Administration outlawed minibus and commercial motorcycle operations in the city. It replaced them with a big-capacity buses to substitute the minibuses as part of the new public transportation system (Ebo, 2006). The updated mode of transportation plan was adopted without an open citizen discussion process, and it is well known that those it intends to serve will find it unreliable and unaffordable. These restrictions have unavoidably made it difficult for commuters from the satellite towns to get to work in the central metropolis because they had to pay expensive transit costs.

In summary, Abuja’s ambition to rival “global” Western conurbation in strategizing and governance has caused Nigeria to lose a significant portion of its populace by excluding the group the town intended to serve. Although Abuja’s world-class appearance has been established and sustained by modernist architecture and strict growth controls, they have also created hurdles to access for most of the population. Although strong policy enforcement keeps an area safe and under control, it also causes difficulties for the poor living in urban settlements, whose daily activities and community-based customs conflict with the policies stated. Planning and administration strategies are required to combat urban polarization and foster inclusive, cohesive Nigerian cities.

Urban Management Issues and Challenges in Nigeria

As stated earlier, many Nigerian cities are experiencing rapid urbanization. For instance, most of Nigeria’s urban areas, such as Lagos, Ibadan, Abuja, Kano, and Port Harcourt, struggle with urbanization (Aliyu, 2017). This section chronicles the significant issues and challenges resulting from accelerating urbanization in the country.

High Crime Rate

Urban crime rates and severity are sharply rising in Nigeria’s many rapidly expanding cities (Ajide F.M, 2021). The Global Peace Index posits that Nigeria is ranked 17th among the least peaceful nations in the world (IEP 2020) Additionally, the nation is ranked the 3rd most afflicted by acts of terrorism according to Global Terrorism Index published by the Institute for Economics & Peace (I.E.P.) (IEP, 2020). Similarly, Nigeria is the 2nd and 6th country with the most significant threat of genocide (mass killing) in Africa and worldwide (IEP, 2020). While insecurity is a global issue, violent crime has been a problem in Nigeria since immemorial. But the rise of Boko Haram and other terrorist organizations has destabilized the nation. Acts of terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, murder, armed robbery, and ethnoreligious conflicts have therefore swept through Nigeria’s urban and rural environments (Osewa, 2019). According to estimates, Boko Haram killed 58,562 people in Nigeria between 2011 and 2020, with the North-East states reporting the most significant death tolls (Numbeo Africa, 2021).

Additionally, banditry, a Boko Haram spinoff, is wreaking havoc throughout the North-West and has claimed the lives of 235,723 individuals (Numbeo Africa, 2021). Beginning in the North-West, kidnapping has successfully spread throughout the entire nation. Kidnapping has resulted in 31,230 deaths,  821,000 abductions, and N8 billion paid in ransoms (Ajide, 2021). The same applies to armed robbery, assassinations, rape, burglaries, ethnoreligious disputes, and political violence (Mahmoud, 2018). As reported in Garcia-Cervantes (2021), lack of good governance, prevalent poverty, and social imbalance in cities causes people to explore alternative means (such as violence and organized crime) to sustain their livelihoods. Studies on the correlation between inequality and urbanization indicate disparities in areas such as wealth and education result in high rates of criminality (Ajide.,2021:Mohmoud.,2018)

Mobility Problem

The urban transportation system is affected by rapid urbanization as well. Over the past two decades, an increase in commercial motorcycle riders and motorized two-wheelers has dramatically exacerbated and clogged the traffic mix, resulting in many city accidents (Olubomehin, 2012). Although walking and cycling are ordinary in several cities, walkers and cyclists in Nigeria are the most commonly wounded or killed in accidents. This may be partly attributed to poor road conditions and the low helmet usage rate estimated at < 5% (Weze, 2019). Babalola (2021) reported that 70% of all roads in Nigeria are in disrepair, whereas just 30% are in good condition. Furthermore, the infrastructure measures in many Nigerian cities primarily focus on road construction, which results in higher motorization, congestion, air pollution, stress, noise, and accident rates.

Housing Shortage and High Rate of Slum Formation

Since the 1960s, many cities in Nigeria have experienced significant housing deficits. The intrinsic flaws in previous policies and programs have aggravated the housing challenges. For example, the percentage of completed and allocated 202,000 planned housing units from 1975 to 1980 was below 15% (Enoghase 2015). Similarly, only 19% of the 200,000 new housing units earmarked for construction from 1980 to 1985 were accomplished (Enoghase, 2015). According to  Adesina et al. (2019), the total housing requirements in Nigeria between 1960 and 1970 were 2,380,000, which soared to 5,591,000 from 1970 to 1980. However, major cities such as Lagos, Onitsha, Enugu, and Port Harcourt have average high-rate occupancy, i.e., 3 persons per room (Enisan, 2017). According to the Vision 2020 report, the nation’s annual housing requirements are between 500,000 to 1 million houses (FRN, 1992). Despite the economy’s growth in recent years, its impact on delivering the nation’s housing needs remains low. These challenges are exacerbated by the current and incessant incidents of collapsed dwelling structures, loss of lives and property in many urban areas nationwide (Jiboye, 2020).

Therefore, several residential units in Nigerian cities are unfit for human habitation, which comes against the backdrop of the nation’s numerous housing policies. For example, policies such as the National Housing Policy (1980), National Urban Development Policy (1997), and National Housing and Urban Development Policy (2002) were precisely promulgated to address the quantitative housing demands of Nigerians through mortgage finance (Igwe, 2017). However, the outlined policies are prone to weak organizational and inconsistent planning structures caused by the excessive politicization of implementation (Adesina, 2019). Furthermore, the wanton construction of make-shift and or permanent residential accommodation has expanded shantytowns in numerous cities (Aliyu, 2017). Consequently, one of the biggest challenges to city governance is limiting the arbitrary placement of houses and other physical constructions.

Drinking Water Shortage

All facets of human growth depend on the availability of clean drinking water. However, a severe and widespread water shortage in many Nigerian cities mainly impacts the urban population. In many cities, water quality through pipes is typically not guaranteed. When available, the water available in households or supplied via public taps is highly turbid with sediment (Tini, 2020). For instance, only 3% of Ibadan people have access to pipe-borne water, compared to only 9% of Lagos’ 10 million population.

Similarly, the survey notes that 76% of Nigerian families lack access to better drinking water (NBC 2019). The most popular source of improved drinking water accessible to 44% of residents of Nigerian cities is borehole or tube-well water (NBC, 2019). However, this scenario varies across the nation’s states and geopolitical zones. For example, street water vendors account for 37% of the water supplied to urban residents or households in Lagos, whereas water tankers account for 3% (Aliyu et al., 2017). These practices negate the Federal Government of Nigeria’s policy to provide 112 litres of pipe-borne water per capita per day for all gazetted cities NBC 2019.


The state of sanitation in many Nigerian cities is entirely inadequate. Bassey (2021) reported that the fraction of homes equipped with modern or unshared washroom amenities is limited to 42.7% in Nigerian cities. This scenario suggests that open urination and defecation are commonly practised among many urban dwellers, which pose grave health and safety consequences in densely occupied cities. No city in Nigeria has a modern central sewerage system (CSS) (Bassey, 2021).  Aliyu (2017) examined the percentage of homes with CSS connections in the 4 major Nigerian cities of Ibadan, Lagos, Onitsha, and Kano. The results showed that connectivity to CSS is deficient but varied from 0% in Ibadan and Onitsha to 2% in Lagos and 3% in Kano. Likewise, the study noted that less than 1% of wastewater undergoes treatment in the major cities examined. Hence, the state of sanitation will worsen with the rapid growth in urban populations.

The absence of effective municipal solid waste (M.S.W.) disposal and collection systems in practically all urban regions’ squatter or slum zones is another issue (Olajide, 2018). Without exception, municipal authorities have failed to effectively handle the disposal and management of M.S.W. generated due to inadequate funding. According to Dipeolu (2020), there are several reasons for many Nigerian cities’ water, sanitation, and hygiene crises. Significant factors include poor national planning, governance, and political willingness. Additionally, inadequate knowledge, exacerbated by the poor maintenance culture, ensures the ineffective use of existing systems. Others include the ambiguous allocation of responsibilities between the private and public sectors, which creates a lack of capacity to tackle such societal problems. Furthermore, another critical factor is the lack of prioritization of WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) activities in the national budgets or donor funds.

Proposed Administrative Model for Urban Management in Nigeria

If all inhabitants’ needs, concerns, and realities are not considered, urban administration cannot be considered holistically or sustainably. Urban governance must be based on thorough public consultations at all levels, periodically reviewed, conveyed in plain language, available to the public, and, ultimately, people-centred. However, Nigeria’s current UMS cannot be said to be people-centric or inclusive. From all indications, people are far removed from the management structure, and therefore, the grassroots development philosophy of local administration has been defeated. This is evident in the poor infrastructure, growing poverty, insecurity, poor service delivery, and slow economic growth, among other challenges experienced in Nigerian cities, as highlighted earlier in this review. It is, therefore, imperative to develop an appropriate administrative model that will foster the inclusiveness and liveability of urban centres in Nigeria. The proposed model is presented in Figure 1.

Fig. 1. Proposed Administrative model for Urban Management in Nigeria

Nigeria is a federation, and the federal government should continue carrying out its traditional duties, which have regional and global implications. These functions include external security, foreign relations, fiscal management, and specific infrastructure (e.g., teaching hospitals, universities, interstate roads, rail services, airports, and seaports). In contrast, all the administrative bodies in the proposed system should work together to conduct internal security functions. The second tier of government (i.e., State governments), should concentrate on creating higher-order infrastructure that affects the region, such as the construction of secondary and high schools, teaching hospitals, specialized hospitals, universities, and intercity roads, as well as other services that have an impact on the entire state.

Local governments should continue to fulfill their obligation to provide local communities with infrastructure and services. Services include waste management, urban planning, regional security, local road construction and maintenance. Others include the provision of elementary schools, provision of health centres and dispensaries, street cleaning, provision of sewerage, and other directly affecting local community services.

Within each local government region, a municipal administration should be developed for urban areas to provide the necessary infrastructure and services for the healthy growth of the municipalities. This study demonstrates how the current system, which includes local governments serving both urban and rural areas while still including major urban centres, surely contributes to the subpar delivery of municipal services. Furthermore, the proposed municipal administration should be a semi-autonomous body constituted by the LG. It should comprise technocrats, traditional rulers, opinion leaders, women associations, and community-based organizations, all of whom must be city residents. The ability to collect and spend money from local taxes should be granted to the municipal government. Thus, the LG should subject the administration to minimal supervision.

A District Management Committee should be established as a liaison between the city government and the neighbourhoods for efficient municipal administration. The idea is that different parts of a city will be categorized according to reliable criteria, such as the concentration of specific industries, commercial activity, income level, and certain ethnic and religious groups, among others. The committee will gather data on each district’s needs and then submit a report to the city administration for any required action. District committee members must be district residents, just like the municipal administration.

The Neighbourhood Management Committee (NMC) is the last organization on the ladder. The NMC will consist of the local landlord and community development associations, youth and women representatives, members from the informal economy, and other pertinent organizations. The security, roads, water system, drainages, sanitization, electricity supply, and other local services in the neighbourhood are all under the committee’s control. The provincial government should regularly and sufficiently finance the committee and give it the authority to raise cash to deliver services effectively. It is essential to underline the importance of the fiscal decentralization of power. This issue will enable LG councils to use various administrative agencies to offer critical services to their citizens. This will allow the provincial government to operate according to the needs and expectations of its people. Thus, there must be an effective transfer of intergovernmental resources among the various tiers of government. The State government should not exercise unnecessary control on the LGs, especially if they are autonomous. Lastly, there is a need to develop a good management capacity index to ensure periodic evaluation of local government, municipal administration, district committees, and neighbourhood committees.


This review explores Nigeria’s urban management system (U.M.S.) to establish the level of inclusiveness of city governments and its impact on city life and proposed an administrative model for urban management in Nigeria. Summarily, if the needs and realities of every person are not considered, urban governance cannot be regarded as comprehensive, holistic, or sustainable. Urban governance must be based on extensive public input from many different angles. In addition, it must be presented in plain language and periodically reviewed. It must also be available to the public, and, most importantly, it must focus on its constituents’ needs. If Nigeria doesn’t reform, harmonize, and develop its urban governance structure, Goal 11 of the Sustainable Development Goals—sustainable cities and communities—cannot be fulfilled in Nigeria. A significant benefit of effective urban government is its ability to moderate urban crime, environmental degradation, and homelessness and fuel Nigeria’s economic growth push. Urban governance is expected to start and carry out social welfare programs for city residents and establish job opportunities for sustainable livelihood. In addition, it must provide functional and well-planned housing settlements for various income earners to ensure a healthy environment. The existence of peace and order, complete and secure life, and property of city residents are critical to creating a sustainable environment where no one is left behind. These require good governance and the cooperation of all relevant parties to deal with such growing concerns.


The authors would like to acknowledge the support of Tet Fund for providing financial support for this research.


The authors agree that this research was conducted without any self-benefits or commercial or financial conflicts and declare the absence of conflicting interests with the funders.


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