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The Architecture of Fear

Tunde Agbola


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1In the past, research in urban violence was not given much consideration by urban and regional planners. The eclectic nature of urban violence and the interdisciplinary nature of the social sciences have, however, compelled the much needed cooperation among scholars for a better understanding of the environment in which we live. I, therefore, acknowledge the assistance of my friend, Dr. Jinmi Adisa of the Department of Political Science, University of Ibadan for introducing me to the urban violence project of IFRA. This gave me the opportunity of being involved in the organization and planning of the 1994 International Symposium from which I have benefited immensely. During the early part of this programme, I was introduced to Dr. Olawale Albert, who has shown tremendous enthusiasm for the urban violence project, as evidenced in his many publications on the issue. I took advantage of his experience and materials on urban violence during the course of this research, for which I am grateful.

2This research would have been impossible without the intellectual and financial support of the French Institute for Research in Africa (IFRA), under the dynamic and creative leadership of Professor Georges Hérault, whose tenure has made the Institute a noteworthy name in academic and professional circles. When it became clear, however, that the project could not be completed without additional funding, Professor Hérault kindly sought the assistance of the Coordinator of the Urban Management Programme in Africa, Mr Alioune Badiane. Mr. Badiane has shown rare perception and understanding of the multifaceted problems of African cities. As a member of the Environment Panel of the Urban Management Programme in Africa, I sincerely acknowledge his assistance and I hope this project will strengthen my existing relationship with the UMP.

3This research was undertaken at a crucial time in the history of Lagos. It began when Operation Sweep (a police/military anticrime unit) of the Lagos State Government became operative. This heightened the anxieties as well as the problems of the research team. Lagos has become an environment where people are very suspicious of each other, such that even though female and male researchers were paired together to carry out the household survey, Lagosians found it difficult to trust them. I am grateful, therefore, to the undergraduate students of the Department of Real Estate, University of Lagos, for undertaking this survey, in spite of the hostility, harassment and insults that they had to endure.

4I wish to express my profound gratitude to the two coordinators of the research, Dr Fisayo Olatubara of the Centre for Urban and Regional Planning, University of Ibadan, and Dr Jacob Babarinde of the Department of Real Estate, University of Lagos, for their tireless support during the course of the survey. I also acknowledge the dedication and assistance of the survey supervisors, who were very articulate and always at hand to solve problems.

5I acknowledge my indebtedness to Mr Balogun of the Computing centre of the Nigerian Institute of Social and Economie Research (NISER), for the timely analysis of the data, and to Mr Monday Shari for producing the figures, and to the secretary of the Institute for Human Seulement and Environment (IHSE), Miss Jumoke Ogundeji for keying in the report.

6Finally, I want to express my sincere appreciation to my wife, Mrs Eniola Olayinka Agbola and my children, Yeyetunde, Olumide and Bukunmi for their patience during my long absence from home while I was conducting the survey and writing the report. My hope is that we will be able to sleep in our houses with both eyes closed when the policy recommendations of this report become actualized.

© IFRA-Nigeria, 1997

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