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Gated Neighbourhoods and privatisation of urban security in Ibadan Metropolis

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Oluseyi Fabiyi

Chapter 5. Neighbourhood asociations’ involvement in privatisation of public space and security

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1Focus group discussions (FGD) were conducted in the selected neighbourhoods to identify the security issues and strategies adopted by neighbourhood residents to ensure the safety of lives and property. In this study, the neighbourhood associations’ officials were specifically targeted for structured interviews to extract information from representatives of neighbourhood associations. A total of 62 neighbourhood associations were interviewed in the pilot study while 109 neighbourhood associations were identified and interviewed in the selected neighbourhoods of Ibadan metropolis during the main study. The interviewers ensured that executive members of the respective associations were involved in the interview. During the discussions, about 45.3 % of the interviews were conducted with their neighbourhood association (NA) chairmen in attendance while about 54.7 % have some core officials or members in attendance.

2It was observed that about 29.7 % of all the associations investigated were established in the seventies while over 86.4 % were formed in the last twenty years. More than half of the associations were formed in the last ten years. This trend shows that the neighbourhood association is a recent phenomenon in Ibadan metropolis. The rapid increase in criminalisation in our cities resulting from the collapse of the urban economy in the eighties and the continuous rural-urban influx is a pointer to the new rapid emergence of neighbourhood grouping and informal security strategies.

3Security appears to be a major issue in forming neighbourhood associations, though some associations add other functions to security in their services. The study shows that about 88.7 % rank security as the major reason for forming the neighbourhood association. Only about 11.1% ranked other reasons such as developmental project in the area like drainage and electricity problems and the protection of the land occupancy as major reasons for forming Neighbourhood associations. Generally therefore, the basis of neighbourhood grouping and cohesion in Ibadan metropolis is security.

4Most of the associations (92.5 %) were established through mobiliation from few individuals. The mobilisation is done through house to house campaign and invitation by letters, posters or banners. The major attractive manifesto used in the mobilisation and formation of resident/landlord association is security (85.4 %). Other reasons for forming the association include infrastructural development within the neighbourhood (12.7 %), social/welfare purpose for the people and protection of land ownership (7.9 %). Ibadan, though multi cultural, still has a dominant culture of celebrating all achievements, successes, promotions and other life events, such as naming ceremonies, house warming, marriage, burials and birthdays ; such ceremonies attract well wishers including neighbours. These socio-cultural activities involving partying and wining are veritable forms of socialisation and reintegration of primary affiliation. They encourage the adoption of norms in the neighbourhoods and the enforcement of collective efficacy. In some neighbourhoods, the rallying points of cohesion are common problems facing the neighbourhoods and the need for collective efforts in solving such problems. Such problems must have direct impact on the generality of the residents to draw enough support for inaugurating and sustaining neighbourhood associations. Examples of such problems are threat on tenure and electricity problems, road rehabilitation, drainage and flood control, among others. The residents are more willing to contribute towards safer neighbourhoods than any other concern regarding the neighbourhoods. However, since security is the major reason for creating the neighbourhood association as previously observed, it is obvious that associations are formed on account of threat to safety of lives and property.

5The neighbourhood associations’ activities, leadership and governance are principally informal and based on collective aspiration of members. Nevertheless, once the association is established, it is mandatory for new comers in the neighbourhood to join and actively participate in the activities of the association. Most neighbourhood associations interviewed during this study indicated that membership is compulsory (79.2 %) for all residents, while only a few neighbourhood associations allow voluntary membership, that is about 20.8 %. The neighbourhood association territory boundaries are quite varied ; they range from small to big and very large. The basis for the jurisdictional partitioning of the neighbourhood association boundaries is very difficult to understand. It is likely based on the discretion of the initiator(s) of the associations and the physical limitation of the urban street network. In some cases, the road network patterns clearly dictate the boundaries of N.A. The NA zone boundaries are created based on convenience for administration and easy monitoring for the security personnel.

6The size of the associations’ membership also varies ranging between 20 and 100 households ; majority falls within 41and 70 households ( 45.7 %). The membership cuts across landlords and tenants. In all cases only one person represents a house unit irrespective of the number of the occupants. In few cases, only house owners are eligible to be members of the association (11.9 %) while most neighbourhood associations (88.1 %) welcome both house owners and tenants. While 90.3% agree that being in the neighbourhood automatically confers membership on individuals, about 9.7 % claims that interested individuals would have to apply to become a members. Living in a particular neighbourhood does not automatically ensure admittance into the association. Usually, the housing units serve as bases for membership and not households, each housing unit in the neighbourhood has a representative in the neighbourhood association while in some, multi-tenanted housing could be given opportunity for more than one member.

7The respondents were asked about the process of electing and changing their leadership in the association. It was observed that 43 % use the proposal and election in which interested candidates are nominated and election process is duly carried out, about 14.5 % are appointed by nomination of one or two people. While 37.9 % was by charisma ; where the richest man in the neighbourhood or the most enthusiastic person who is concerned about security issue is allowed to retain leadership for as long as he wishes to continue. It was also observed that in the poor areas, usually the oldest or the first landlord in the area assumes the leadership role until he agrees to transfer the leadership to the next interested person either due to old age or sickness. The change of leadership is usually crisis -free in Ibadan. The officials have longer tenure than conventional democracy.

8The activities of the neighbourhood association reveal a subtle existence of another informal tier of urban governance in Nigeria. At this level, the governance is very accountable and more transparent than the conventional governance in the country. People directly contribute to projects and therefore demand service delivery from the executives. There is generally no financial assistance from the three tiers of government to the association. They have however been effective and efficient in effectively dealing with security problems in the neighbourhood as well as other developmental projects. Though tax evasion is rampant in Nigeria, the levy imposed by landlord association was rarely evaded.

9In Ibadan metropolis, about 39.2 % of the neighbourhood association erect and manage street gates while 60.8 % does not have gates in their neighbourhood association jurisdiction. More than 35.7 % have about five gates under their control while about 4.3 % have more than five gates under their control. It is likely that other security measures apart from gating are used in many neighbourhoods. The gates were erected purposely to check movement of people and cars within the neighbourhood, especially at night about 48.5 %.

10The study reveals that the major issues discussed at both executive and general meetings border on security, about 37.8 % rank security first in the issues usually discussed while 32.3 % rank developmental/environmental issues first in their main topic of discussion. Such developmental issues include street maintenance culvert, electricity and other infrastructure in the neighbourhood which in recent times have become epileptic and individuals and neighbourhood associations need to combine resources to assist the government to provide or improve such services. About 12.9 % rank social issues as highest in the agenda for discussion. Such social issues include felicitation with neighbourhood members and condolences in cases of death and mishaps.

11The neighbourhood association have two levels of meetings while the executives meet more regularly, the congress meetings are usually monthly, 84.6 % while about 5.6 % meet on a weekly basis. The past military administrations introduced compulsory environmental sanitation programes on the last Saturday of the month in the mid-eighties. These periods were used by neighbourhood associations to meet and discuss issues affecting the neighbourhoods. Though the programme has been abandoned by the civilian government, the culture remains in some Nigerian neighbourhoods. Most of the associations have specific periods of meeting, usually week ends. It was observed that the meetings were conducted at the instance of the chairman. Notice of meetings was issued out by the chairman or the secretary to remind members of the next meeting day and time.

12Decisions are arrived at through balloting and mutual consensus. About 52.7 % associations vote to make decision while the executive decides on issues for 25.1 % of the neighbourhood associations. About 23.2 % of the associations claims that some routine decisions are made by the executive while the congress makes decisions on other core issues.

Affiliation with sister associations and Police on security matters

13The activities of neighbourhood associations are very vibrant in Nigeria and especially in Ibadan metropolis. The demarcation of neighbourhood boundary and the jurisdictional portioning of the neighbourhood association territory require agreement between contiguous neighbourhood associations. The form of agreement brings a form of coalition and affiliation. The study revealed that in Ibadan metropolis, about 37.2 % of the neighbourhood associations have relationships with other neighbourhood associations while only 4.6 % have no such affiliations.

14The association activities are also informally integrated into the police security network system as 68.5 % report crimes and other issues to the police and 25.0 % actually hold regular meetings with the police. Two of the associations have assisted the police in providing accommodation and other security apparatuses, about 10.3 % render some form of assistance to the police such as purchase of patrol vehicles, fuelling of cars and provision of funds for ammunition. The association have slight relationships with the local government councils about 40.7 % claim they do not have any relationship with the local government council while 59.3 % have discussions with the local government council on developmental issues. It was however observed that gates were erected without formal permission from the local government council ; 82.5 % does not inform the local government council before erecting gates on public access.

15In Nigeria, the security of the cities is the custodian of the Federal and state governments, therefore, it is unlikely that the local council will be involved in the security systems, however the neighbourhood associations are expected to involve the local government authority in any building and rebuilding operation in the neighbourhood, therefore permission to erect gates should be obtained from local government council authority, but this is rarely done by the NA.

16The associations are also relating to other bodies within their neighbourhood and in the contiguous neighbourhoods, such as churches, 17.6 % schools 12.0 % and other bodies like market women associations, especially where local markers are adjacent to the neighbourhood. Where neighbourhood exists close to markets or religious premises, such associations liase with the bodies to provide security. Some of the relationship include joint sponsorship of security programmes such as erecting and maintenance of gates among others.

Perception on crime

17The perception of residents on crime will in a long way determine the nature of measure adopted by such neighbourhoods to prevent or control crime in the neighbourhood. The association officials were asked on their view on the causes of crime and majority expressed unemployment as the bane of crime in the country (79.2 %), while a combination of other reasons such as government insincerity and corruption were also listed. More than 55.8 % believe that economic reform is the only antidote to crime in Nigeria, other forms of responses include government leading by example and police efficiency.

© IFRA-Nigeria, 2004

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