Local planning and public participation: the case of waterfront redevelopment in Port Harcourt, Nigeria
This paper seeks to access the responsiveness of the technicalities of public participation to the social philosophy and cultural peculiarities of the waterfront communities in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. The concept of public participation is defined and the main problems of the study area associated with public participation highligted. An examination of the extent of participation encouraged by planners and the opportunities open to the public for urban development is also made. It is concluded that the problem of participation in government is primarily one of structure, process and values of the governmental system itself. It is after all, the form and content of the consultations which the Government has instigated, their definition of issues and not the attitude of the waterfront residents who do not want to participate. While public participation is a desirable ideal, it frequently cannot tackle issues of major importance decided by higher decision authorities in distance decision making centres. It is recommended that the Port Harcourt City Local Government be involved to coordinate ward and district level urban development plans. The paper ends with some speculations concerning theoretical implications for the distributional bargaining theory of conflict resolution in urban development in Nigeria.