Contents - Previous - Next

This is the old United Nations University website. Visit the new site at

6 The challenges of growth and development in metropolitan Lagos

Josephine Olu Abiodun


DEPUIS la Deuxième Guerre mondiale, Lagos a connu une croissance démographique et spatiale phénoménale. Alors qu'elle ne comptait que 665,000 habitants en 1963, la ville s'est élargie, absorbent des villes et villages voisins et en 1990 l'on estimait sa population à 7.9 millions d'habitants. Mais le nombre réel d'habitants n'est pas sûr puisqu'un recensement controversé de 1991 établissait la population métropolitaine de Lagos à 5.3 millions. Cependant, le taux de croissance de la ville s'est ralenti, passant de 14 pour cent par an pendant les dix premières années suivant l'indépendance en 1960 à environ 4.5 pour cent par an en 1990. De plus, quoique l'exode rural se poursuive, la croissance démographique de la ville est légèrement moins importante que l'augmentation naturelle. Lagos est la plus importante des villes du Nigéria en termes d'activités secondaires, tertiaires et, plus récemment, quaternaires. Elle est le centre d'opérations des manufactures nigérianes et domine les activités commerciales et financières du pays. Elle est le plus important centre national de communications et de transports terrestres, aériens et maritimes. Après l'amalgamation des protectorats du Nord et du Sud du Nigéria en 1914, Lagos devint le centre de l'administration politique, puis la capitale du pays jusqu'en 1990. Elle est au cœur de la diffusion dans le reste du pays des innovations endogènes comme exogènes. Le présent chapitre analyse et examine les facteurs opérationnels et la dynamique des processus de croissance et d'aménagement urbain. Divers aspects, chômage, administration et gestion politique, transports, logements et systèmes sanitaires, y vent examinés brièvement en relation avec la croissance et le développement de la ville. Après avoir pris acte du retard pris par les services par rapport à la demande, l'on recommande d'accorder plus d'attention à améliorer les capacités des administrations locales.


Since the end of World War II urbanization in developing countries has accelerated greatly, with an increasing proportion of the urban population in each country concentrating in the large urban agglomerations. Nigeria has been no exception. Since the turn of the twentieth century, Lagos has grown phenomenally, both demographically and in spatial terms. In the first part of this chapter, the historical patterns of population and areal growth will be analysed. The second section examines the city's economy, focusing in particular on manufacturing industry and services (commerce and financial services) and on the implications of the deterioration in Nigeria's economic situation in the past 15 years or so. Changes in the political and administrative structure are then described and their implications for urban management mentioned. The problems of urban management are taken up again in an analysis of the most important elements of infrastructure and the built environment: transportation, water supply, electricity, telecommunications, environmental sanitation, and housing. The demands posed by rapid growth, attempts to deal with them, and constraints on successful approaches are examined. It is concluded that the vitality of Lagos's economy and its nodal position in the national economy and transport networks explain its large-scale and continued growth, despite the partial or complete breakdown of many basic infrastructure services and the difficulties caused by this for both economic enterprises and individual residents.

Population growth

Pre-colonial Lagos originated as a fishing and farming settlement in the seventeenth century. Owing to its physical characteristics as the only natural break for about 2,500 km along the west African coast, it became an important slave-exporting port in the eighteenth century, continuing, despite the abolition of the slave trade, until the mid-nineteeth century, when the British enforced the trade's termination (Mehretu, 1983). With a population of about 25,000 in 1866 (Ayeni, 1981), Lagos was one of the smaller settlements in Nigeria, the largest being Sokoto with a population of 120,000 (Mabogunje, 1968). The end of slave trading caused a temporary decline in the population of the settlement, growth of which was resumed only with its cession to the British as a colony in 1861. Earlier refugees from slavery and war in the interior, freed slaves from Brazil, and later colonial administrators and traders settled in the port, the population of which reached 40,000 by 1901 and 74,000 by 1911. By 1963 it had reached 665,000, covering 69.9 (km²) (table 6.1 and figs. 6.1 and 6.2). Today, this settlement has engulfed neighbouring towns and villages and metropolitan Lagos now encompasses about 1,068 (km²) 209 (km²) of which is covered by water and unreclaimed mangrove swamps (fig. 6.2). The provisional results of the 1991 census gave Lagos metropolis a population of 5.3 million or 93 per cent of the total population of Lagos State (table 6.2). The population is projected to reach 7.5 million by A.D. 2000. However, based on water demand, the Lagos State Water Corporation estimated a population of 7.9 million for metropolitan Lagos in 1990.'

Fig. 6.1 Metropolitan Lagos (Source: LSDPC, n.d.(b))

Table 6.1 Population of Lagos, 1911-1963

Year of census Area covered by the census (km²) Total population
1911 46.6 73,766
1921 52.3 99,690
1931 66.3 126,108
1952 69.9 272,000
1963 69.9 665,000

Source: Federal Office of Statistics, Population Census of Nigeria, 1952 and 1963, Lagos.

It is significant to note that, between the two world wars, the growth rate of Lagos never exceeded 3.3 per cent per annum. In contrast, in the first decade after independence in 1960, metropolitan Lagos was estimated to have experienced a growth rate of 14 per cent per annum (Lagos Executive Development Board, 1971). The relative importance of natural increase and migration in the growth of Lagos to date has varied. In-depth analysis for this is hampered by a lack of accurate information, due, among other things, to boundary changes. While natural increase must have played a dominant role in the growth of the settlement up to 1950, from the decade preceding political independence to perhaps the end of the 1970s internal migration seems to have been predominant. Today, it appears that natural increase is probably more important. Again based on water demand, the Lagos State Water Corporation estimated a population growth rate of 4.5 per cent per annum for metropolitan Lagos between 1985 and 1990. Today, metropolitan Lagos is a melting pot of different ethnic groups from various states within the country, as well as expatriates from neighbouring African and other countries (Peil, 1991). The predominant ethnic groups (mainly Yoruba) are from the neighbouring states of Ogun, Oyom, Osun, On do, Bendel, and Kwara. Other ethnic groups that are particularly prominent in the informal sector of the economy of the city are from the eastern states such as Anambra, Imo, Cross River, and Rivers. Migrants from various parts of the northern states are also significant.

Table 6.2 Population of Lagos State by local government area, 1991

Local government area Total population
Agegea 650,274
Badagry 118,704
Epe 99,567
Eti-Osaa 170,948
Ibeju-Lekki 24,825
Ikejaa,b 639,762
Ikorodu 181,914
Lagos Islanda 164,352
Lagos Mainlanda,c 869,601
Mushina,c 986,847
Ojoa 1,011,808
Shomolua 767,179
Total 5,685,781

Source: National Population Bureau, 1991 Census, provisional figures, Lagos State, Ikeja.

a. These local government areas comprise metropolitan Lagos as defined in this study Together, they account for 5,260,771 or 93 per cent of the total 1991 population of Lagos State. The provisional figure for metropolitan Lagos has been challenged by the state government, which considers it to be an under-enumeration. School enrolment figures and water rate payments were among the facts used to argue the case at the census tribunal set up by the federal government.

b. Including Alimosho.

c. Including Surulere. The former Lagos City Council was split into two in the 1976 local government reform to give Lagos Island LGA and Lagos Mainland LGA.

d. Including Oshodi-lsolo.

Fig. 6.2 Growth of the built-up area of metropolitan Lagos, 1900-1984 (Source: Town Planning Services, Ministry of the Environment and Physical Planning)

The absence of uncontroversial population figures makes a comparative demographic discussion of urban centres in Nigeria difficult. Nevertheless it is accepted that Lagos is now the largest city, followed by Ibadan and Kano, probably in that order. A number of factors have combined to account for the pre-eminence of Lagos metropolis in the Nigerian urban system. These include its political and administrative roles as Nigeria's capital and seat of administration after the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern protectorates in 1914. By the late 1950s, with the approach of political independence, Lagos grew in importance as the economic, social, commercial, political, administrative, and financial hub of Nigeria. It remained the capital after independence and, when 12 states were created in 1967, Ikeja, within the metropolis, became the seat of administration for Lagos State.

The employment generated by these functions continues to attract both domestic and international migrants to Lagos. Despite the movement of the federal capital to Abuja in 1990, metropolitan Lagos is still the main economic, social, and financial centre and the hub of national and international communications. Consequently it is the most important point for the dissemination of information and innovation throughout the country. It is also the nerve-centre of manufacturing industries and of commercial activities, with the headquarters of major national and international manufacturing, business, and financial institutions, and is unrivalled by any other urban centre in Nigeria. Metropolitan Lagos has over the decades attracted to itself important secondary, tertiary, and most recently quaternary (financial and business services) activities. In addition, it possesses the best harbour on the west coast of Africa. It became the premier seaport with the Apapa and Tin Can Island wharves. It is also the premier international airport in Nigeria, accounting for 98 per cent of international and 44 per cent of combined international and domestic air passenger movement in 1992. Moreover, being the focus of rail, road, and air transportation, Lagos has a special advantage over any other city in Nigeria in assembling raw materials and distributing finished goods, both nationwide and for export. Until 1967, the share of Lagos in Nigerian foreign trade remained at about 70 per cent. After that, it rose sharply to 90 per cent during and just after the civil war. In terms of the value of foreign trade, with 80 per cent of the total value of imports, it is still the largest Nigerian port. However, as a result of the development of the petroleum sector, its share in the total volume of exports has fallen in recent years.

The urban economy

For the whole of Lagos State, primary activities (fishing, mining and quarrying, agriculture, and forestry) accounted for less than 2 per cent of total workers in the enumerated sector in 1978, and the main formal sector employment-generating activity during the 1970s was manufacturing (Lagos State Government, 1981). Metropolitan Lagos accounted for 38 per cent of total manufacturing employment in Nigerian cities in 1976, and over 60 per cent of the total value added in manufacturing in the six major industrial centres (Enterprise Consulting Group Ltd., 1988). Commercial activities have always been very strong in the city and are carried out at both the formal and informal levels. Agriculture and fishing and distributive trade are the largest employers of people without formal education. The role of agriculture within metropolitan Lagos is, however, less than 2 per cent of the workforce, although the precise figure of employment in this sector is not available. It finds expression in market gardening and other forms of agriculture, mostly on the outskirts of the metropolis. About one-quarter of all workers are in distributive trade. Public administration accounts for another one-quarter and other services have about one-fifth of the employment in the formal sector. During the oil boom years, the multinational companies were very strong in both manufacturing and trade. However, with the downturn in the economy, the trend has been for many of them to divest their operations. Relevant figures are, however, not available. With the federal political decision-making organs and key federal ministries having moved to Abuja, industry and commerce continue to be the live wires of the economy of the metropolis and will each now be examined in more detail.

Manufacturing industries

A survey of manufacturing industry in Nigeria by the Federal Office of Statistics in 1984 (quoted in Lagos State Government, 1989) showed that 53 per cent of all manufacturing employment in Nigeria was located in Lagos State. In addition, Lagos State accounted for 62 per cent of gross industrial output and 61 per cent of the total national industrial value added. As of December 1985, 1,227 industrial establishments were identified in Lagos State, constituting more than 31 per cent of the national total (Lagos State Government, 1989). About 80 per cent of these industrial establishments and jobs are located in Lagos metropolis, illustrating continued concentration since 1976. A more recent survey of manufacturing establishments nationwide is not available.

A number of significant factors have stimulated the concentration of manufacturing activities in metropolitan Lagos. First, the presence in Lagos of the largest seaport in Nigeria offers minimum transportation costs for imported inputs from the port to the factory sites. This was particularly important from the late 1950s, when Nigeria adopted an import substitution industrialization strategy of development. Secondly, good transportation facilities linking Lagos to other parts of Nigeria are available. Thirdly, metropolitan Lagos has the largest concentration of skilled and semi-skilled manpower in Nigeria. For instance, the national survey of 1977 estimated that 40 per cent of the skilled manpower in Nigeria were employed in Lagos (quoted in Lagos State Government, 1989). Another estimate was that one in every four workers in the formal sector in Nigeria was employed in the city. Fourthly, there is a large and ready market both within the metropolis and at the national scale for the outputs of the manufacturing establishments. Fifthly, metropolitan Lagos has fairly well-developed basic infrastructural facilities to support manufacturing industries. Sixthly, Lagos has the premier national and international airport in Nigeria. Thus, it has a considerable advantage over any other centre in Nigeria in terms of communication by air. Seventhly, Lagos State has, since 1979, been participating actively in trade fairs and exhibitions. The annual International Trade Fair organized by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industries attracts both national and international entrepreneurs.

When, in the late 1950s, Nigeria adopted an import substitution industrialization strategy to achieve economic development, attempts to attract industries were made by both federal and the then regional governments. Lagos, with its pre-eminent seaport, had a great advantage over any other location in Nigeria. Owing to the poor state of infrastructural facilities in the country as a whole, one of the earliest efforts aimed at promoting industrial development in an otherwise agrarian setting was the establishment of industrial estates. The first set of such estates to be established in Nigeria were in Apapa and Mushin in 1957, followed by Ikeja in 1959 (see fig. 6.1). All these are now within metropolitan Lagos. There are now 22 such industrial estates currently operating in Lagos State, of which 18 are located in metropolitan Lagos. Recently, there has been a deliberate effort to stimulate small-scale industrial enterprises. An industrial incubator project has been introduced, whereby industrial estates with basic infastructural facilities are made available to small entrepreneurs, who are given supervisory and technical advice. The pilot project for this is located in Agege (fig. 6.1).

In line with its free enterprise posture, particularly since the introduction of the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) in 1986, the government has concentrated its efforts on providing necessary infrastructural facilities and an environment conducive to ensuring the growth of small- medium-, and large-scale industries rather than getting involved in actual manufacturing. Thus, although the Lagos State government has divested itself of actual manufacturing, it has set up an Investment Holding Company to manage government-owned equity shareholdings.

Nevertheless, there are problems and constraints faced by industrial establishments in metropolitan Lagos. Some of these problems are national in nature, while others are specific to the city. Among the national problems has been the impact of the SAP on the ability of manufacturers to secure the foreign exchange needed for raw materials procurement and the importation of spare parts. Owing to the inadequacy of foreign exchange to fund the Foreign Exchange Market (FEM) initiated in 1986, there was continued devaluation of the national currency, which led to escalating costs for industrialists, especially those who depend heavily on foreign inputs. Thus, the initial optimism of the government in introducing the FEM - that it would produce a realistic and sustainable market-determined exchange rate for the national currency - did not materialize. Moreover, the SAP had other elements, such as high interest rates and trade liberalization measures, all of which adversely affected the capacity utilization of local manufacturing establishments, which fell to an average of 36 per cent across all industrial sectors, as reported in December 1992 by the Manufacturers' Association of Nigeria (1993). By December 1993, it had fallen to an average of 29 per cent. Many small enterprises have closed down, while rationalization and staff layoffs are being experienced in many medium- and large-scale establishments. Between the second half of 1992 and the equivalent period in 1993, only the Food, Beverages, and Tobacco and Plastics, Rubber, and Foam products subsectors registered growing employment. The persistent economic downturn and the uncertain political climate are major contributory factors to this situation. The general insecurity of life and property in the city also tends to scare off potential investors.

A number of specific problems and constraints on manufacturing activities in metropolitan Lagos result from the performance of government parastatals responsible for providing certain basic services. Most important are the National Electric Power Authority (NEPA; now known as National Electric Power plc) and Nigerian Telecommunications Ltd. (NITEL). The report of a consulting group engaged by the Lagos State government gives the principal problems for industries in metropolitan Lagos (table 6.3). Electricity, telecommunications, and water supply were almost universally considered to be inadequate and inefficient. Physical infrastructure and services are discussed in more detail below. Other problems include poor roads, drainage, and waste disposal facilities, and problems of security, fire services, and public transport. These problems find expression in the final cost of manufacturing output. For example, many establishments are forced to install generators as back-up for their electricity supply needs and to provide their own boreholes to obtain water (Lee and Anas, 1992).

Table 6.3 Problems of industries in metropolitan Lagos

Service No. of establishments reporting % complaining of unsatisfactory service
Electricity supply 20 100
Telecommunications 20 100
Public water supply 23 91
Access roads 16 44
Drainage 16 56
Waste disposal 22 64
Security 7 86
Fire service 9 78
Public transport 20 55

Source: Enterprise Consulting Group Ltd. (1988), p. 6.20.

Commerce and finance

Commercial activities in Lagos pre-date the manufacturing sector, because they accompanied the period of early contact with the outside world before the nineteenth century. They grew during the colonial period, as Lagos became a colony in 1860 and in 1914 the seat of the federal government of Nigeria. Lagos maintained the latter position until 1990.

The Nigerian financial system is dominated by metropolitan Lagos. Of the 50 commercial and merchant banks operating in Nigeria in 1988, about half had their head offices in Lagos. Others had branch offices in Lagos that may be considered pseudo head offices, based on the volume and value of transactions relative to other branches and the head office. All but one of the development finance institutions (i.e. the Nigerian Industrial Development Bank, the Nigerian Bank for Commerce and Industry, the Federal Savings Bank, and the Federal Mortgage Bank) have their head offices in Lagos - the only exception is the Nigerian Agricultural Bank, which is located in Kaduna. Along with the banking sector, the insurance industry in Nigeria is also dominated by metropolitan Lagos. Of the 83 insurance companies registered in Nigeria as of April 1982, 68 per cent had their head offices in Lagos, while virtually all the others had major branch offices in Lagos.

The introduction of the SAP in 1986 and the associated deregulation of the economy saw the emergence of a spate of financial establishments, including both banking and mortgage institutions and allied finance houses. Many of them were located in the metropolis. Indeed, an unprecedented growth in quaternary activities (financial and business services) occurred, with metropolitan Lagos playing the leader. As of 31 May 1994 there were 285 licensed finance companies located in the city. The activities of these finance houses have had both positive and negative impacts on the economy of Lagos and of Nigeria as a whole. With the deregulation of foreign exchange activities in 1986, most of the new finance institutions engaged primarily in foreign exchange trading. This had adverse effects on the value of the naira, which declined relative to other international currencies, stimulating inflation. Interest rates soared to unprecedented levels, sometimes exceeding 40 per cent. The new mortgage banks target the property market, financing the construction of housing and office blocks. In some areas land prices have risen by more than 120 times since 1986. This trend has found expression in soaring production costs and high costs for housing, transport, and other services. Information concerning the precise impact of the activities of these institutions on the provision of houses is, as yet, not available. However, with the re-introduction of currency regulation in January 1994, many of these mushroom financial institutions, mostly banks and mortgage finance establishments, are experiencing serious financial problems and some have collapsed. The Central Bank of Nigeria liquidated four banks in 1994. It is believed that there were 40 more distressed banks in the system as at October 1994 (Nigerian Tribune, 20 October 1994, p. 1).

The Nigerian capital market was founded in Lagos, with the setting up of the Lagos Stock Exchange in 1961, which thus became the first stock exchange in West Africa and the sixth in Africa. In 1978 the exchange was transformed into the Nigerian Stock Exchange, with two additional trading branches at Kaduna and Port Harcourt. About 90 per cent of the companies quoted on the Nigerian Stock Exchange have their headquarters in metropolitan Lagos, with their market capitalization running into billions of naira.

Trading activities have always been predominant in the informal sector of the metropolitan economy, although manufacturing and other services are also significant (Ayeni, 1981; Fapohunda, 1985; Peil, 1991). Trading is concentrated in but not confined to traditional markets such as Obun Eko, Ebute Ero, Egerton Square, and Faji. Many of these markets are not well serviced with piped water or refuse disposal, so, in addition, modern markets with lock-up stalls, such as Tejuoso and Alade, have been provided either by the Lagos State Development and Property Corporation (LSDPC) or by local governments. Women predominate in informal sector trading. Street trading and hawking have increased since the onset of recession. The items involved are usually meagre and often reveal a desperation on the part of the traders to eke out a living. Occasionally they are harassed off the street by law enforcement agents, but the effect is inevitably only temporary.

An adequate level of infrastructural facilities with appropriate supporting social services are a prerequisite for Lagos to sustain its leadership of the Nigerian national city system and for any meaningful programme of sustained long-term industrial and commercial development. The Lagos State government currently focuses on upgrading transportation, environmental sanitation/waste disposal, electricity and water supply services, and the provision of industrial estates (see below).


Unemployment continues to be one of the greatest challenges of the metropolis. It is extremely difficult to give an accurate estimate of the level of unemployment. However, the general impression is that, particularly among the young, it has increased over the years, with the downturn in the national economy and the expansion in the output of educational institutions. The earliest information on unemployment in Nigeria was the 1963 census, which gave an overall unemployment rate of 3 per cent for urban centres in Nigeria. The 1966/67 Labour Force Sample Survey (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1972) gave an overall rate of 8 per cent for urban areas. The National Manpower Board labour force sample survey in 1974 recorded an unemployment rate of 7.2 per cent for metropolitan Lagos, while the statistical survey of Lagos State in 1976 revealed that the unemployed constituted 7.6 per cent of the labour force (Lagos State Government, 1977). About 70 per cent of the unemployed are in the age group 1529 years. Current official figures are not available. However, it is well known that, in societies with no social security systems, open unemployment is confined to those without any means of support. The decrease in oil prices at the end of the 1970s hit Nigeria's economy hard and, particularly since the introduction of the Structural Adjustment Programme in 1986, unemployment has increased substantially, including large numbers of graduates. However, many of those affected have, as has always been the case in the past, moved into informal sector activities. An additional phenomenon that has emerged in recent years is the so-called "area boys" - unemployed, able-bodied men, possibly drug dependent, who harass other people, mostly motorists, for money in broad daylight. They operate in certain areas of the central business district on Lagos Island and may sometimes turn violent.

Protests against the adverse impacts of the SAP came to a head in rioting in 1989. As part of the SAP relief programme introduced as a result, both the federal and state governments introduced programmes targeted at unemployment. These include the National Directorate for Employment and the industrial incubator scheme in Lagos, the latter in collaboration with the United Nations Fund for Science and Technology Development. A reorientation, especially among educated young people, has also occurred, as many are now more prepared to venture into jobs hitherto passed over in preference for white-collar jobs. In addition, many are now venturing into self-employment in the informal sector. The People's Bank of Nigeria introduced a programme of rehabilitation for "area boys," including vocational training and credit. However, some are unable to cope with the discipline involved in such a programme and have returned to the streets, where they are beyond the control of the law enforcement agencies and add to the insecurity of life and property in the city.

Associated with unemployment is the issue of urban poverty. As noted earlier, the SAP has brought severe economic stress. It is now common for even those who have regular employment to engage in subsidiary economic activities. There is no doubt that the urban poor are experiencing untold levels of deprivation. The problem is of great magnitude and continues to grow. It is important that effective measures be introduced that could enable the urban poor to work, earn, and begin to overcome their deprivation. In this connection, labour-intensive approaches to infrastructure development (with international aid and technical assistance) may be explored.

Politics, administration, and management

The management of a large metropolis depends both on the formal political and administrative structures and on how these work in practice, which may be governed more by informal relationships than by formal procedures.

Politics is the lifeblood of Lagos... Land rights, employment, industry and other sources of wealth rely on political interaction, involving patron-client relations, bribery, corruption, nepotism and/or "long-legs" (contacts). Almost everyone knows someone with a link, however tenuous, to power.... Political leadership... operates at many levels. There is considerable interaction (some would say interference) between leaders at national, state and local levels and at least some sectors of the general public... Chieftaincy councils, landlords' and market women's associations, trade unions and other pressure groups operate through particularist, face-to-face networks to further the goals of members and clients. These lower-level groups are particularly efficacious in local government, pressuring for building permission, exceptions to sanitary regulations, licences and tax reductions. Councillors are necessarily dispensers of patronage, and civil servants are under considerable pressure from kin, friends and neighbours to humanize the bureaucracy. Frequent investigations and even penalties for those found guilty of bribery, corruption, nepotism and so on are unlikely to change the system radically, insofar as it serves the needs of many people who would be ignored if bureaucratic norms were followed and civil probity were more widespread. (Peil, 1991, pp. 45, 65)

Metropolitan Lagos has been administered under a variety of different territorial schemes. Historically Lagos started around the Island and Mainland areas as a fishing and agricultural village and grew into a small town. When it was "ceded" to the British in 1861, it was administered as a city-state with its own separate administration. In 1866 it was included in the "West African Settlements" under a Governor-in-Chief resident in Sierra Leone, but it retained a separate legislative council and a "local" administration. Various changes followed, through its status as a separate colony, to its merger with Western Nigeria in 1951.

In 1953 a federal territory was carved out of former Western Nigeria, including the colony of Lagos, in response to two sets of problems that had emerged in 1951. First, political and administrative authority was split between two antagonistic governments - the federal government, which was dominated by the Northern Peoples' Congress, and controlled the federal territory, and the Action Group, which administered the rest of the province. This resulted in fragmented political authority, which in its turn led to a gross lack of coordination in service provision over the territorial space then constituting metropolitan Lagos. The second problem derived from the first. Owing to the much greater financial resources and administrative capacity available at the federal level, the federal territory of Lagos had a much higher degree of infrastructural development than the outer metropolitan area. Thus, there were evident contrasts in the quality of urban services available in the two areas within the metropolis.

From 1958 there was political agitation for a separate Lagos State. This was achieved in 1967. Ikeja, within the Lagos metropolis, became the capital of the new state. Since its inception, the state has been ruled by a succession of military administrators. This pattern was interrupted by only two periods of civilian administration, between 1979 and 1983 and again between 1991 and 1993. Lagos State inherited two divergent legal, administrative, and financial systems from its federal and Western Region territories. In 1967, a committee was set up "to study the existing laws applicable in the city of Lagos and the former Colony Province and to recommend laws that should apply throughout Lagos State." Following the recommendations of the committee, there was a reorganization of the local councils, because most of them were unable, even if willing, satisfactorily to promote the welfare of the communities for which they were responsible (Olowu, 1990).

Another reform took place in 1976 as a result of the federal government inspired national reform of local government. In that reform the two urban councils that exceeded 1 million in population were each split in two - thus we have Lagos Mainland and Lagos Island, as well as Mushin and Somolu. During the civilian administration of 1979-1983, 23 local governments were created within Lagos State to replace the 8 inherited. This created problems of viability, efficiency, and effectiveness. When the military administration took over again in 1983, there was a reversal to the earlier 8 local government areas. There are now 12 local government areas within the State, 8 of which are located within metropolitan Lagos (Olowu, 1990).

During the first period of military administration (1967-1979), four areas received top priority: environmental services (water, sewage, and drainage), general administration, public transportation, and education. Under the succeeding civilian administration in 19791983, this order was generally maintained, except that expenditure on roads and housing rose considerably and edged education into fifth position.

The problems of political control and service delivery manifested themselves once again during the brief civilian government between 1991 and 1993. Because the state government was controlled by the national Republican Convention and the local governments by the Social Democratic Party, there were allegations that the state administration was frustrating efforts at refuse clearance by not settling bills due to the Waste Management Authority, for political reasons. Whatever the truth of the matter, there is no doubt that the administration of the metropolis would be more efficiently and effectively performed if political control were the same at the different levels. During that same period (1991-1993), however, there was also a demonstration of what a dynamic local government chairman can achieve. One of them succeeded in effectively mobilizing the population in his council area for development activities, to the extent that his pace of activities outshone that of the state government.


Contents - Previous - Next