1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Urban growth refers to the expansion of a metropolitan or suburban area into the surrounding environment. The term ‘urban’ has generated more controversy in the literature and involves economic, sociological, psychological, ethnic, racial, and numerical dimensions. In Nigeria, some urban settlements are inhabited by people whose occupation, are primarily agriculture. These settlements sometimes lack basic infrastructures such as electricity, pipe borne water, and good roads.
Before the United Nation’s definition of Mega City as quoted by Mabogunje (2007) there have been series of definitions of urbanization. The 2009 definition by Wikipedia of Urbanization is the physical growth of rural or natural land into urban areas as a result of immigration to an existing urban area. While the United Nations defined it as movement of people from rural to urban areas with population growth equating to urban migration (The Associated Press, 2008). Jones (1966) in his ‘Human Geography’ refers to West African towns as urban villages, remarking that their only qualification for the urban status is their size. This has always been the attitude of many foreign writers in defining an urban settlement in this part of the world. In fact, the term “Urbanization” is a rather subjective concept which has been given different interpretations in many books depending on the purpose and criteria used. In Europe, size alone does not qualify a settlement to be designated as an urban settlement, it must satisfy other conditions, namely that it is usually an administrative, educational, service, commercial and in some cases, an industrial centre. In this case, most of the inhabitants are not in any way connected with the land. This is not the situation here, and it is this that has led foreign writers to refer to our urban settlements as out-sized villages.
Dickson (1965) also wrote that “a town is a compact settlement engaged in nonagricultural occupations”. It is difficult to see how this applies to Nigerian towns where the majority of urban dwellers also engage in farming.
Also in the contribution of Wirth (1938), he defines an urban centre as ‘a relatively large, dense and permanent settlement of socially heterogeneous individual. While accepting size as a criterion, Wirth added other factors which appear more to be dependent on size than to be preconditions for urban development.