The original settlement on the site in which Lagos grew was first inhabited by fishermen and farmers and was called Eko. This settlement was christened in 1492 as Lago de Kuramo by the Portuguese who used it only as a harbour in their attempts at finding a route to the far east. However what we have today is what you will liken to the phrase; ‘great things start from small beginnings’
The present day metropolitan Lagos came to life from a narrow low-lying island situated on latitude 6° 27′ North and longitude 3º 28′ East along the West African coast.
Lagos comprises the former 70 square kilometres of the Federal Territory of Lagos which was composed of the geographically contiguous islands of Eko (Lagos Island), Ikoyi, Victoria Island, Iddo-Otto, Ijora and Apapa.
The central and most developed of this island chain is Lagos Island which today offers a wide range of exotic and high brow settlements such as Lekki phase 1 and 2, Banana Island and probably Ajah.
It also incorporates the municipal settlements of Ebute- Metta, Yaba, Surulere, Tin-Can Island (Mekuwen) and the Eti-Osa areas all of which cover 85.53 kilometres. From these initial settlements, development has proceeded northward to the mainland up to about latitude 6º 40′ North.
With an annual population growth rate of over 13.6 percent, a growth spurt of about 77 people per hour and a population of more than 21 million Lagos is Africa’s fastest growing urban centre.
Being a focal point for regional, national and international trade and served by significant and often overloaded road, rail, ocean and air transport facilities, Lagos may be stretching beyond borders in terms of how much the tiny coastal city can take.
Rapid population growth has remained a hindrance to sustainable housing developments in Lagos and Nigeria at large. In other words, acute rise in population have led to an increasing shortage in dwelling units in Lagos state with the state accounting for one third of the 18 million housing deficits the nation incurs and consequently urban problems like overcrowding, environmental hazards, poor living conditions, inadequate and poor infrastructure, homelessness, increased rate of poverty and social vices among several others.
The need to stimulate progressive urbanization through adequate housing delivery thus constitutes a critical challenge to development.
Urbanization in most of the African countries with Lagos as the focal point, is characterized by a growing gap between employment opportunities and demand, and an ever increasing shortage of urban services and facilities which are accessible to a diminishing share of urban population.
The implication is this deplorable and alarming situation which aggravates the already acute housing problem. These factors then keep the productive capacity of the cities lower still. The financial resources for urban development is as a result, considerably limited.
The inevitable consequences of these vicious circles are: universal poverty, housing shortage, urban slums, environmental squalor and a host of other environmental and human problems which is glaringly evident in Lagos.
Environmental sanitation day was once introduced by a former military regime of Gen. Ibrahim Babangida to be observed on the last Saturday of every month but was later stopped by the civilian regime of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.
By now, some states are still observing the environmental sanitation day but not on national level again. The reason is well known, to take care of the environmental sanitation of our filthy cities. Most rural areas do not experience environmental problems.
The civilian governors of some states including Lagos State still continued with the monthly environmental sanitation day started in August 2003 until the Ambode administration abolished it last year.
Unfortunately, once the rural migrants have settled in the urban areas, it becomes exceedingly more difficult, if not impossible, to persuade them to go back to the land where at least they could contribute to agricultural schemes. So in the end, the rural population is not satisfied and the urban population is discontent and its resultant effect is either homelessness or the endless creation of slums. It can now be well understood the effects of urbanization on the environment.
With the rapid growth of population, the spread of cities and the decline in the standard of living and even in the standard of existing, living in Lagos may soon become unbearable.
The general impression that when someone lives the urban centre to resettle in a rural area, is an indication that it is finished for him and that all hopes of surviving or making it is totally lost should be disabused. Someone can return to his country home after a successful life in the city to establish and continue with a good life.
Rural migrants have played an important part in the development of their districts of origin through the introduction of new skills, crops and capital into such areas.
So there is still hope for the immigrants in Lagos whose lives are not better of.