2017-18 Atlantic Fellow for Social and Economic Equity
In Nigeria’s current election cycle, the election of the president has dominated public discourse. This has diverted attention away from the March 9 election of public representatives at the state government level — even though they are the public office holders who will have the most significant impact on the lives and livelihood of the majority of Nigerians.
Lagos is the most populous state in Nigeria and in Africa, with an estimated 21 million people. This is 2.5 times the population of New York (8.8 million) and five times the population of Johannesburg (4.4 million). Earlier this month, the outgoing governor of Lagos State presented the 2019 budget to the State House of Assembly. The proposed 2019 budget is $2.4 billion, while the 2018 budgets of Johannesburg and New York were $4.4 billion and $89 billion respectively. This shows the grand challenge of tackling social issues in Lagos with very limited financial capital to do so.
Lagos has been dubbed the city of the future, and many foreign media have been lauding new public-private partnership projects such as the Eko Atlantic City (10 million square metres of land reclaimed from the ocean) currently being constructed with new urban designs and self-energy generation.
However, this story of Lagos’ development initiatives ignores the larger story of housing inequality in the city.
A review of the Lagos Master Plan for development 2012-2025 that lies at at the heart of the electoral promises of the current ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), acknowledges the myriad challenges facing an overpopulated city like Lagos, including on issues such as housing. In the government’s own analysis in the Master Plan, an estimated 15 million (70 per cent) of the population of Lagos live in slum housing. A 2016 World Bank Report confirms that two of three people in Lagos live in slum dwellings.
Fola Adeleke is a 2017-18 Atlantic Fellow for Social and Economic Equity at the International Inequalities Institute, London School of Economics, and author of International Investment Law and Policy in Africa. He tweets at @foladeleke.
The views expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity programme, the International Inequalities Institute, or the London School of Economics and Political Science.