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Adefolake Adekola: Overpopulation is a Serious Problem in Lagos



Moving from Abuja to Lagos State was exciting the first few weeks. Until reality set in. The atmosphere was choking, the public transport overcrowded, the roads full of potholes and the traffic humbling. All of these I blamed on the dense population.

Population is defined as the total number of individuals/species living in a geographical area over a period of time. This means that overpopulation is when there are more people living in a location than the economic, natural resources or space can accommodate or sustain.

According to CDC (Centre for Disease Control), there are three major causes of overpopulation.

1. Natality (the ratio of the number of births to the population): Higher natality, which is the greatest influence of overpopulation, is not the case in Nigeria. Natality is low in Nigeria and is not the cause of our overpopulation.

2. Low mortality rate: Mortality rate in developed countries is low because of high natality, health care and so on. This explains a high population in certain cities. However, this also does not apply to Nigeria and other underdeveloped countries. The mortality rate in Nigeria is still high and therefore is not the reason for overpopulation in cities like Lagos.

3. Migration: The alarming cause of overpopulation in Lagos is migration (which is the act of people leaving their communities, mostly rural, to another community, usually cities). Lagos has a population of approximately 21 million people, making it the city with the largest population in Africa, yet the smallest in total area size/land area in Nigeria (World Population Review, 2018). Studies show that thousands of people troop into Lagos State on a daily basis.

California is the most populated state in America with a population of over 39 million people, but the population per square mile does not make California overpopulated because the resources and the land area can accommodate the population.

It is important to note that there might come a time when the resources in populous cities and countries will not be able to cater to the people residing there. Oftentimes, the wastage of the resources available contributes to the shortage of resources. Humans are taking more from the earth than we are giving back. Overpopulation puts a strain on the resources in a geographic area, such as water, land, air circulation and ecosystem services. Proper management can, however, minimize the impact of overpopulation on the human health and environment. Re-using and recycling will also go a long way to increase the earth’s resource capacity.

Effects of overpopulation

1. On the Human Health:

-Extinction of animal species.

– Destruction of the food chain and the ecosystem.

– Health losses caused by the destruction of medicinal plants.

-Hunger causing various health conditions.

-Congestion leading to difficulty in breathing and other health problems.

2. On the Environment:

– Air, land and water pollution.

– Loss of crops, forests and wetlands.

– Destruction of vegetation (deforestation).

– Destruction of lands due to industrial developments.

– Climate change as a result of pollution.

-Poor sanitation and waste disposal.

3. On the Economy:

– Poverty

-Lack of jobs

– Insecurity and an increased crime rate

– Depression

– Infrastructure facilities are overstretched

-Water shortage

A common implication of these effects of overpopulation is the financial implication. The effect of overpopulation on the human health, environment and economy will affect the GDP of the country because poor management of the environment leads to poor health which affects the productivity of the people living in these areas.

The solutions for overpopulation in cities in Nigeria are:

1. The promotion of family planning.

2. Spreading awareness about overpopulation.

3. Implementing new government policies.

4. Job opportunities in every state to prevent excessive migration.

5. Security.

6. Provision of basic amenities and proper education.

Photo Credit:

Adefolake Ayotunde-Salami is a Social Safeguard Consultant on World Bank Assisted Projects. She has a B.Sc, M.Sc and hold numerous certifications. She is also an Independent Consultant for top companies in Nigeria and has work experience in Nigeria and the United Kingdom. She is the author of a book on Amazon and Smashwords titled “Functioning In The Knowledge Of Who You Are” and a website ( where she writes articles based on extensive research. She is a Columnist for Bellanaija, Nigeria's biggest blog and she loves to watch series when she is less busy .  


  1. Nnenne

    September 27, 2018 at 11:17 pm

    Nigerian military rulers are responsible!
    They located everything in Lagos.
    The answer is simply, regional government in six geopolitical zones!!!!
    People are just following infrastructure and jobs!!
    Lagos got a Lion’s share of that.

    • TheRealist

      September 28, 2018 at 6:59 am

      @NNENNE, while Lagos benefited from some basic infrastructure as Nigeria’s federal capital (Eko Bridge and Third Mainland, principally), most of Lagos’ major growth has NOTHING to do with the “military”. The biggest growth areas in Lagos – Parkview, Osborne Foreshore, Banana Island, Lekki, Oniru, etc., came well AFTER military rule (and you can add Eko Atlantic if/when it fully takes off). Even Victoria Island was primarily a residential area during military rule, while presently it is arguably the primary business district in Nigeria.

      The growth of Lagos has not been due to the federal government siting industries in Lagos (even the 2 sea ports in Lagos, which makes sense as a coastal city, is more than outmatched by the 3 federal ports in PH, the federal ports in Warri, Sapele and Koko, plus the Escravos Oil Terminal, as well as the federal seaport in Calabar). Rather, Lagos’ economic growth has been primarily propelled by PRIVATE enterprise and investment in sectors such as banking, telecommunications, oil and gas (after folks fled the Niger Delta in the wake of militancy and kidnapping), entertainment and the arts, hospitality, insurance, accounting, architecture, and other professional services, as well as thousands of small and medium-scale businesses.

    • Razz N Bougie

      September 28, 2018 at 11:26 am

      Sorry TheRealist, but Lagos state benefited OVERWHELMINGLY from being the capital of Nigeria for over 70 years. Please, are you trying to rewrite history? You cannot quantify or overemphasise the contribution that two FUNCTIONING seaports, International Airport, Trunk telecommunications, seat of power and other federal infrastructures contributed to the city. We have seen the effect that Federal Might has made in Abuja in the last 40 years or so. It is unfolding right before our eyes. In future somebody will now say that it was the “hospitality” of the local people or the local or state government that enabled it? You talk about seaports in other regions, but how navigable are they? Ships above a certain size cannot access those ports, not to talk about a myriad of other factors, a lot of them politically motivated. Federal investment makes all the difference in the case of Nigeria and the results are glaringly there for all to see. How come FCT and Lagos (one a former and the other present capital) are the only cities in Nigeria that are remotely “world class”.

    • TheRealist

      September 28, 2018 at 11:29 pm

      @RAZZ, you unduly emphasize “functioning” seaports as if the federal government or Lagos has somehow prevented the other seaports from functioning (btw, I failed to add Burutu as yet another seaport in Delta State). Perhaps, you do not know how seaports work but it is the (often PRIVATE) importers and exporters who determine which ports to use. Nonetheless, ALL of Nigeria’s crude oil and condensate exports (which is a LOT) use the Niger Delta ports (Escravos, Forcados, FLT Onne, Qua Iboe, Sapele, Bonny, Okrika, etc.), all liquified gas exports (which is also a LOT) are made from Bonny Island (Rivers), while the great majority of oil and gas related imports (apart from products) are made from Onne (Rivers). These are all significant volumes – and of course Onne has the added advantage of significantly lower costs to operators being duty-free (and tax-free) as a free-trade zone.

      Meanwhile, Port Harcourt has an international airport just as Lagos (and Abuja and Kano). In addition, apart from federal government built seaports at Port Harcourt Main, Onne Main, LFT Onne, Okrika and Tuma, Port Harcourt also has 2 federal government-built refineries, a federal government built petrochemicals complex, and a federal government built industrial fertilizer complex (the latter two since privatized as Indorama Eleme and Notore, respectively), as well as one of the world’s biggest LNG plants at Bonny Island. It also has some of the federal government’s biggest investments in electricity power generation at the 6 Afam power plants. For the avoidance of any doubt, please note that I am NOT bemoaning the siting of these federal projects in Rivers, as such siting makes perfect sense given the resource base (much as siting seaports in a coastal city as Lagos makes perfect economic sense). However, given that you have argued that the 2 ports and international airport sited in Lagos somehow accords it a substantively unfair advantage over other Nigerian states, one would therefore expect Rivers to be the most economically advanced state in Nigeria.

    • anon2

      September 28, 2018 at 12:05 pm

      Your reply seems to suggest that migration to Lagos is from the S/S and S/E alone. I bet if data were collected one will find that the most migration into Lagos is from states like Ondo, Oyo, Ekiti, Osun, Kwara and Kogi. Being Yoruba or Yoruboid, migrants from these states blend seamlessly with the Yoruba already present in Lagos, thus are hardly noticed. The aforementioned states, having not had the privileged of being a federal capital, also lack major infrastructure. Where is the Lagos or FCT type of city in those states? Are they not hospital enough in those places too?

    • TheRealist

      September 29, 2018 at 12:03 am

      @ANON2, not sure how my posts “suggests” any such migration pattern – except perhaps to the ethnocentrically-paranoid reader! LOL!

      While being the federal capital had the admittedly beneficial effect of attracting some of the best indigenous Nigerian talent from across the country initially to Lagos, TWENTY-SEVEN YEARS after the relocation of the federal capital from Lagos (i.e., before some of us here were even born), it has been to the everlasting credit and legacy of Lagos that it has not only retained a lot of that population (in addition to most of the progeny of that initial population) but it also continues to attract even more Nigerians and Africans not just from across Nigeria but also from the diaspora across the globe. In a country where Igbos were for a time denied public sector employment in the same Enugu that virtually all Igbo families gave a life or more to defend, where the Ife and Modakeke people (among many others across Nigeria) still blather over so-called “settlers” and “indigenes” and thereto indulge in the occasional orgy of violence despite the odd century or so of cohabitation, including co-matrimony, non-indigenes in Lagos can own and/or develop landed property, run for office and represent Lagos at the National Assembly, hold public office (Akubueze, Igbokwe, etc.), and even receive financial grants and/or loans (including disability grants) under the state’s LSETF program. Abeg, let’s give credit where due!

    • Dust

      September 28, 2018 at 8:07 am

      @Nnenne, stop making excuses…

      Most of the infrastructure was built Awolowo and other Lagos state governors..
      In the 90s, Lagos was terrible…

      Lagos is not even getting a “Lion’s share” of its main income.

      It is not Lagos fault that private individuals build their companies in Lagos.
      It is not Lagos fault that non-Yorubas build their businesses in Lagos..

    • larz

      September 28, 2018 at 9:04 am

      But why does everything have to be in Lagos. Even if it was traditionally that way.
      Think of America, NY is the financial district/ LA is Hollywood district/ Nashville country music/ ATL rap and hip hop (I think)/ Washington politics and journalism/ Texas I think oil

      Think of UK, London is a hub but they have expanded it into

  2. TheRealist

    September 28, 2018 at 7:06 am

    In fact one could arguably make the reasonable contention that the overall legacy of the capital being in Lagos, including military rule, has been mostly NEGATIVE and detrimental, having bequeathed to Lagos a cataclysmic collection of abandoned and badly-neglected properties (including but not limited to the National Stadium in Surulere, the National Theatre, the Ikoyi Federal Secretariat, Independence House, the motley carcasses of abandoned state liaison offices and federal government guest houses along Bar Beach, the National Museum, the old State House, which fortunately have been finally agreed to be ceded to the Lagos government), after having appropriated the best lands in Lagos (which, among other things, is why there are military camps ensconced among some of the most valuable real estate in sub-Saharan Africa – at Bonny Camp and Obalande). Federal roads and bridges in Lagos have been so poorly neglected (see the Wharf Road, for starters) that the Lagos government has been compelled to use Lagos taxpayer funds to rebuild several federal roads, including the Airport Road and Badagry Expressway.

  3. ND Babe

    September 28, 2018 at 1:33 pm

    Only reason Lagos rema in s overpopulated is because the government never invested in developing the commerce infrastructure Lagos offers elsewhere. No other port works like Lagos despite the fact that the entire Southern board of Nigeria borders the Atlantic.

    • 9ja

      September 29, 2018 at 12:20 am

      @ND Babe, but there are 20 ports in Nigeria outside Lagos.

  4. by_stander

    September 29, 2018 at 11:14 pm

    Dear Author,

    (you should have seen my first version of this post, but i read your solution again and i calmed down)

    here is what you need to know -> citizens can not be considered to immigrate within their own country.

    Just like you have the freedom of expression to publish any nonsense you like,

    Freedom of movement is an inalienable right of human beings, its also guaranteed by the constitution.

    You really need to be very clear on what message you are ‘communicating” especially when you say things like “3. Implementing new government policies.” in the context of what you consider to be “migration”.

    It will also be helpful for people like me, that you include your educational background in your articles.

    Articles like yours is a reminder what i keep saying about how we got into this hot mess.

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