As Nigeria’s population continues to grow exponentially, it faces massive developmental challenges, such as high demand and pressure on social and public services, governance issues, climate chaos, conflicts, and low liveability rankings (EIU, 2022). These conditions, in addition to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread inequality, have reshaped the landscape of the country’s urban and rural areas, resulting in multi-dimensional poverty as well as gross social and economic inequalities. In recent times, there have been extensive situations of public discontent and social unrest largely triggered by this.
Unfortunately, we see that the intersection of political and economic power bends the allocation of opportunities, income, and wealth to vested interests and biases policymaking in favour of a few. Socio-economic inequalities have reinforced the vulnerabilities of marginalised groups including women, children, youth, internally displaced persons, people with disabilities and ethnic minorities who are constrained to survive in the margins of society – from slums and informal settlements to precarious livelihoods in the informal economic sector
Regional inequity is also a major challenge. With development policies and practices focused on primate/capital cities, there is gross neglect of physical and social development needs of rural and peri-urban areas, as well as the fast-growing secondary cities across the nation. This has resulted in massive migration to urban areas, and the loss of economic competitiveness of hitherto prosperous hinterland human settlements.
The rising level of inequality in Nigeria poses a growing threat to the country’s unity and stability, as well as its ability to eradicate poverty and enable her citizens enjoy their entrenched social and economic rights. However, deliberate policy interventions and political commitment, backed by an active, vibrant civil society and enlightened, proactive citizens, can break the cycle.
As we commemorate World Habitat Day 2022, with the theme ‘Mind the Gap: Leave No one and No place behind’, we reiterate the following as urgent actions that must be taken to ensure that Nigeria’s citizens in both urban and rural areas are truly empowered and not left behind
The commitment to Leave No one and No place behind require inter-sectoral alignment and the collaboration of all – government, civil society, business sector, local communities, academia and media.
Professor Timothy Nubi
03 October 2022