Problems and Prospects of Urbanization in Nigeria – The Introduction. Urbanization is simply population shift from rural areas to urban areas which leads to the gradual increase of people living in urban areas in a geographical region.
This is in no way a new phenomenon, as so many of us living in the urban areas of the country actually moved from a more rural area. Even some of us that were born in these areas, have parents that moved away from rural areas in search of greener pastures.
The simple fact is that the urban areas provide greater opportunities and we as humans always want to develop ourselves and work for a better life. When this future seems not to be obtainable in the ‘villages’, we tend to move to the ‘cities’ in pursuit of our goals. So many factors are responsible for taking people away from rural areas to urban areas. Education, job, family, marriage, etc are some of these factors.
Urbanization is inevitable majorly due to technological advances, increase in population, etc. Hence, urbanization occurs in every country in the world.
Available data reveals that the population of Nigeria has been increasing at an alarming rate, and the urban growth has equally followed suit. It is estimated that by the year 2020; the Nigerian population would grow to be over 170 million. The rise in population in major cities in Nigeria such as Ibadan, Lagos, most parts of Kaduna, etc, is very evident and points to the fact that urbanization is a major happening in Nigeria.
A host of factors are responsible for the rise in population in major cities in Nigeria. Some of them are:
The need for security has circumstantially increased in Nigeria due to the high level of terrorism especially witnessed in the Northern part of the country. So many Northerners have migrated to safer regions such as Kaduna and cities much closer to the South and West. It has been observed that these violent acts are predominantly carried out in rural Northern areas, and rarely spread to the urban areas where security is top notch. Hence people migrate at an increasing rate to these areas.
The urban areas are industrialized and provide more opportunities for jobs. Urban centres, due to the presence of social amenities and infrastructure, attract companies and banks. These in turn create job opportunities for people which are not available in the rural areas.
The migration of people from rural areas to urban areas is also influenced by family members who have previously migrated and have become comfortable in these urban centres. Since they have experienced the good life and opportunities in the urban areas, they usually send for their family members to join them.
People in urban areas still go to rural areas to marry wives because of the presumed hard working nature and good character of village girls. Also, some people see the need to get married to girls or men from their place of origin. Marriage is one of the reasons why people migrate to urban centres from rural settlements.
A vast majority of tertiary institutions are located in urban areas, which forces teenagers and youths to migrate to urban centres to further their education in higher institutions and even secondary schools. The availability of social infrastructure and better equipped schools makes the urban areas the preferred location for education.
The advantages of urbanization include.
Due to migration to areas like Kano and Lagos, these states have become commercial centres. There has been growth in commerce and trade and the markets are richly developed. Different people with different backgrounds, skills and experiences engage in a vast number of businesses and trade, thus promoting commercial activities in the country.
Urbanization creates the avenue for people of different cultures to mix and learn each others’ cultures, which promotes peace, unity and understanding.
It is said that rich people only become richer. This is the case with urban areas. Due to the population growth, the government invests more in these areas, coupled with the investments of residents, making for rapid development in these areas and the country as a whole.
The beautification of cities is ensured by urbanization, which makes these cities major tourist
attractions since tourists generally love beautiful places. Hotels spring up, creating even further businesses, income and job opportunities.
One thing that urbanization brings for sure is labour. Labour moves from rural areas to urban areas and makes industrial production possible. The production in various industrial sectors like cement, textile, iron and steel, fertilizers, etc., are helping in the economic growth of the country.
Urbanization is the shift of population in rural areas to urban areas. This population shift leads to the following:
1) The increase in population in the urban areas creates uneven development since more resources are channelled into the urban centres and an excruciatingly little percentage goes to the rural areas.
2) The rapid inflow of rural population to urban places gives rise to housing problems. The first problem is that the number of houses cannot cater for the increasing population, and urban houses are sometimes relatively expensive for the immigrants. Slums are usually then developed in these places.
3) The increase in population in urban centres leads to a rise in unemployment level. Normally, in the villages, children are born into families where they learn to farm and can provide food for themselves and their families. But in the urban areas, actual jobs have to be sought… hence, unemployment becomes a serious issue.
4) The rise in unemployment equally raises the poverty level in the country, as without a source of income, people are forced to live below what can be considered appropriate.
5) The rise in unemployment and poverty levels creates social vices such as armed robbery, drugs, etc. The number of criminals increase in the society, as people start looking for any means to survive.
6) The increase in population in urban places pressurizes water and sanitation facilities leading to health hazards.
7) Also, environmental pollution is a major issue in urban centres due to the dense concentration of factories and industries. The equally dense population of people worsens this problem.
8) The decrease in rural population has effects on the agricultural production, due to shortage in farm workers. This is one of the reasons for expensive food, due to shortage… and over dependence on oil.
Urbanization is an unavoidable occurrence in every part of the world, as people are constantly in search of greener pastures. It has its advantages and adds so much to the economy and fosters development, however, the hazards it creates are alarming. Urbanization should be controlled and properly managed in Nigeria.