‘I am here until development comes’: Displacement, demolitions, and property rights in urbanizing Nigeria

Author: 

A. Carl LeVan & Josiah Olubowale

Publication date: 

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Type: 

  • Article

Producer: 

External to ACUI

Project theme: 

Document: 

Government demolitions have displaced hundreds of thousands of people in Abuja, Nigeria's Federal Capital Territory, over the last decade. This housing insecurity is not simply the result of urbanization, population growth, or wealth disparities. We attribute it instead to a property rights regime that perpetuates discrimination by providing special land rights for the area's early inhabitants. Laws accenting differences between “strangers” and indigenes, and migrants' social coping mechanisms that reinforce
ethnic identities, should exacerbate the conditions for conflict. However, as indigenes have been short-changed by policies to relocate and compensate them, their interests have aligned more closely with migrants seeking improved housing security. Strategies to achieve this have shifted from judicial appeals and confrontational protests to government engagement. By pursuing the shared goal of housing rights for migrants and indigenes alike, new multi-ethnic coalitions have helped defuse tensions over land that have proved to be conducive to conflict elsewhere in Nigeria.