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Urban Research in Nigeria

Adepoju Onibokun
Adetoye Faniran

Chapter One


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1.1 Research Background

1Nigeria is one of the most urbanized African countries south of the Sahara. Some of Nigeria's urban centres have a history which dates back to antiquity. Indeed, a great deal of research exists on the urban environment in Nigeria, but it has never been compiled into a comprehensive reference book. The bulk of studies done on the urban environment is in the form of journal articles and university-based theses and dissertations or government reports. As a result, knowledge of the existing research on the urban environment in Nigeria is limited, and many researchers embark on projects only to discover that their research amounts to a duplication of effort.

2One of the first bibliographies on African urban development was compiled by Richard Stren in 1989, which, although it included some references to Nigeria, did not include anything on the research environment. One of the earliest studies done on the urban environment in Nigeria, (Onibokun, 1982) concentrated on urban housing. In 1994, The Centre for African Settlement and Environment (CASSAD), as part of the Global Urban Research Initiative undertook a review of the urban research situation in West Africa. This review did not contain a comprehensive bibliography of urban research literature in Nigeria and did not give adequate coverage to university-based theses and dissertations.

3This volume, therefore, represents the first comprehensive reference book on urban research and the urban research environment in Nigeria. It includes many theses on urban issues and problems, written by students and faculty members in institutions of higher learning which are rarely read by people outside the department, the faculty or even the institution. In addition, we have included reference to research findings published in journals, and consultancy and technical reports the latter are often prepared at great expense only to be stored away in private libraries. As a result, most scholars, technocrats and policy makers are unaware of the existence of many valuable research reports ; and so these reports fail to have the desired impact in the country and beyond.

4This project was embarked upon to assemble and describe the available literature, on the urban sector in Nigeria, with special reference to technical/research reports, journal articles, theses, books and conference papers. The aim is to make researchers/scholars aware of the extent and range of urban research in the country and so minimize duplication of effort. In addition, we intend to make available to scholars and all those dealing with urban issues and problems, particularly policy makers, a reference book on urban-related literature in Nigeria.

5The following objectives have been pursued :

  • review critically available literature on urban research in Nigeria with a view to characterizing its scope and limitations
  • identification and characterization of the researchers, research institutions and the research environment in Nigeria in the urban field
  • an identification of urban research themes and priorities in Nigeria
  • recommendations have been made on how urban research can best be encouraged in Nigeria
  • the production of a document on urban research and research priorities in Nigeria in the 1990s and beyond

6Although an exploratory work, this study has identified a number of themes as well as works on the urban setting in the country, which can guide the researcher.

1.2 Research Methodology

7The data and information for the survey came from three main sources :

  • Known experts in the field of urban planning and related fields in Nigeria were contacted for lists of their publications and/or curriculum vitae. These were then analysed.
  • Institutions and organizations engaged in training, study and/or research in the urban sector were contacted and comprehensive lists of their staff and student researches on the sector were obtained and analysed.
  • A team of research assistants visited a number of libraries, particularly those in institutions of higher learning in different parts of Nigeria, to search for relevant literature.

8The data assembled were then collated, classified and analysed under sixteen (16) themes and according to : (i) format (i.e. books/monographs, journal articles, technical reports, theses, conference papers or newspaper articles) and (ii) period of publication. The areas for further research were then identified and highlighted.

9Although attempts were made to ensure that all existing literature on the urban sector in Nigeria was accessed, the result cannot be regarded as exhaustive. Difficulties in retrieving information from libraries, the lack of response to questionnaires, restriction on access to documents in government offices due to bureaucracy or red-tapism, and limited resources and time available for the research among other problems, have affected the level of achievement. Nevertheless, it is hoped that the document will be a valuable contribution to the process of urban research and urban policy formulation in Nigeria, and, perhaps most importantly, generate greater interest in the subject.

1.3 Organization of the Report

10The report is divided into five chapters. Following this introductory chapter, chapter two highlights urbanization and its problems in Nigeria. In chapter three, available literature on the urban sector is reviewed with reference to themes, output, form and content. Chapter four focuses on urban research institutions and funding, while chapter five identifies urban research gaps and priorities to be addressed in Nigeria in the 1990s and beyond. The appendices (I-VI) contain the information about the institutions, firms and NGOs involved in urban research in Nigeria as well as a comprehensive bibliography on urban research in Nigeria.



Centre for African Settlement Studies and Development (CASSAD). 1993. Data Bank of Experts in the Field of Human Settlement and Environment in Nigeria. CASSAD, Ibadan.

Onibokun, A.G. 1982. In Search of Solutions : A comprehensive review of housing literature and research in Nigeria. Nigerian Insitute for Social and Economic Research (NISER), Ibadan.

Onibokun, A.G. 1983. Issues in Nigerian Housing. Nigerian Institute for Social and Economic Research (NISER), Ibadan.

Onibokun, A.G. 1994. Urban research in anglophone West Africa. Towards an.agenda for the 1990s. In : Urban Research in the Developing World, Vol. 2, Africa. Centre for Urban and Community Studies, University of Toronto, Toronto, pp. 233-272.

Stren, Richard. 1989. Select Bibliography of African Urban Development Studies. Centre for Urban and Community Studies, University of Toronto, Toronto.

© IFRA-Nigeria, 1995

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