GUEST EDITOR’S NOTE
EVERYDAY COMPLEXITIES OF CITY MAKING AND SURVIVAL IN AFRICA’S ‘MODEL’
The Lagos Dream
Lagos is Nigeria’s largest city and one of the fastest growing in the world. As Nigeria’s only megacity
with an estimated population of over twenty million people, the city has evolved over time defying known
models of urban development and planning. Demographic estimates put the majority of the city’s
population as young migrants seeking economic opportunities, and many relegated to the margins of the
urban frontier – indeed paying a heavy urban penalty.
The allure of Lagos is strong. From her historical status as a port and trading post, crown colony and postcolonial capital of Nigeria until 1991, and current status as Nigeria’s primate city and economic nerve
centre, the city continues to attract many in search of the elusive Lagos dream. According to the Lagos
State Government, this dream is to be Africa’s Model Mega City and Global Economic and Financial
Hub But what does this really mean for everyday Lagosians, most of whom live in absolute poverty?
The Lagos state government aligns with many international economic and social agendas, including the
Sustainable Development Goals. Current development plans and programmes are articulated and
promoted within the context of this idealistic globalising aspiration. However, the situation on ground is
markedly different. This city of 20million plus is perpetually confronted with daunting challenges of
insufficient infrastructure, the pressure of continuous in-migration and consequences of wide-spread
socio-economic inequalities. Over 60% of Lagos residents are poor – living below international poverty
benchmarks and/or the national minimum wage and surviving through precarious employment in the
informal economic sector. Complex inter-relationships exist between governance systems, urban
management approaches and the survival practices of urban residents.
The city making practices of Lagosians significantly impact urban processes. However, they are rarely
recognised, talk less of documented. The articles in this special volume revisit how urban infrastructure
systems enhance and/or inhibit the attainment of the Lagos Dream for the average Lagos resident. From
housing, food security and transportation to recreation and technology, we explore how residents cope
with and respond to the challenges of urban life in light of institutional provisions and the city’s
development vision. Basirat Oyalowo and Gbemiga Faniran explore migrant housing trajectories, while
Olamide Udoma Ejorh interrogates the challenges of youth, technology and survival. Richard Unuigboje,
Damilola Odekunle, Oghenetega Ogodo and Wale Alade look at how public spaces (transportation and
recreation) are governed and accessed, while Tolulope Osayomi and Taibat Lawanson seek to understand
urban agriculture and food security in Lagos.