Informality and the State: Understanding the State’s complexity in the governance of informal settlements: The case of Abuja, Nigeria
Nuhu Adeiza ISMAIL, Wageningen University and Research, Netherlands, Netherlands
Informal settlements have become a major defining feature of global south cities. But despite their indispensability as alternative modes of housing, informal settlements are still controversial urban spaces and are usually characterized with threats of displacement, resistance, and contentions. Different actors are in contention over land rights, tenure security and infrastructural development of the settlements. The challenges of these settlements have also overwhelmed the capabilities of most state planning institutions. Despite the dynamic set of actors that is involved in the governance of informal settlements, the state is often seen as the culprit in the complications and problems of the settlements. Drawing ideas from the concepts of governance, contentious politicking and southern planning theory, this study argues for rethinking the state relationship with urban informality. This study sees the state as merely a stage for contending actors where claims/demands are validated or negotiated. Presenting the state as an amenable entity is quite different from the usual assumptions of the state as the despotic actor that only marginalize or suppress powerless/unprivileged informal settlement dwellers. In addition to showing how the divergent components of the state made it inherently complicated, the analysis of our case studies shows that the state is amenable to different stakeholders including the informal settlement dwellers.
Keywords: Informal settlements|Governance|Amenable state| Generic actors|Contentious politicking