1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
One of the most significant development world wide is the rapid increase in urbanization. This is more so in developing countries where urbanization is proceeding at an alarming rate. Nigeria is not exceptional to this trend. It is the most urbanized country in Africa in terms of degree and spread of urbanization.
As the population of Nigeria increased from 30.4 million in 1952 and 1953 to 55.6 million in 1963, then to 88.5 millions in 1991 and 107.2 millions in 1997, the number of urban centers and their population also increased tremendously as a result of the influx of migrants (people’s movement) from rural areas to urban areas Ezeani (2001).
Also creation of states in Nigeria has not only bring development in remote areas but has created a certain amount of healthy competition in economic development between states and has also encouraged rapid urbanization in the country. This is because as more urban centers become state capitals, the rate of urbanization also increased. For example, the creation of 12 states in 1967 create eight more urban centers, which include; Bauch, Makurdi, Yola, Owerri, Ikeja, Minna, Abeokuta and Akure. The same trend of urbanization was experienced when the number of states in Nigeria increased to 19 states and 21 states and then to 30 states.
Today, Nigeria has a total number of 36 states with the federal capital territory Abuja and the all the states capitals urban centers.
The local government reform of 1976 also contributed to the high rate of urbanization in Nigeria. The reform shows that local government should serve the population of between 150,000 and 800,000 since it was aimed at bringing people nearer to the government, at the same time share resources, particularly oil revenues more within the federal system like Nigeria. The state government used those guidelines in the subsequent arrangement for the creation of local government areas. This resulted to the creation of over 302 local government areas in 1980’s and has increased to the current level of 774. also local government headquarters have been selected from existing urban centers and new urban centers where none existed before.
The increased number of urban centers in Nigeria resulted from the creation of states and local government areas as well as other administrative, commercial and industrial activities in the country have resulted in large urban population and this number is likely to continue increasing.
Furthermore, Nigeria being a developing country is experiencing a rapid increase in urbanization. The urban area exists at the expense of the rural areas. Many rural dwellers keep migrating to urban centers due to the backward nature of the rural areas. The process of urbanization continues as more and more people migrate from rural area to urban centers. In 1952 Nigeria had fifty four (54) towns with a population of 20,000 and more. During this time, the total population living in these towns and cities was about 3.1 million. The population and the number of towns and the cities increased tremendously in 1963 with 10.7 million respectively.
It is important to note that some Nigerian states are highly populated and urbanized than others. For instance, every state has urban centers, but the degree of urbanization differs from state to state, city to city and even within the same state. In former Eastern states of Nigeria, some cities are more thickly populated than others. Such as Enugu, Onitsha, Abakaliki, Owerri, Calabar and Aba etc. This does not mean that other minor cities or urban centers were not in existence. The large population noticed in some of these old urban centers was as a result of early migration (movement) and concentration of people in these areas. Making reference to the western states, some states are more urbanized than others. There is no how the degree of urbanization in states like Lagos, Ibadan, Abeokuta, Ogbomosho can be compare with other cities in the West. For instance, in Lagos alone by 1963, 73 percent of the population lived towns with 20,000 or more people and for western states, the comparable figure was 52 percent. No other state had more than 20 percent of its population in the urban areas of this size.