The retrieval characteristics for a city-scale satellite experiment was explored over a Nigerian city. The study evaluated carbon monoxide and aerosol contents in the city atmosphere. We utilized the MSA Altair 5× gas detector and CW-HAT200 particulate counter to investigate the city-scale monitoring capabilities of satellite pollution observing instruments; atmospheric infrared sounder (AIRS), measurement of pollution in the troposphere (MOPITT), moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS), multi-angle imaging spectroradiometer (MISR) and ozone monitoring instrument (OMI). To achieve this, we employed the Kriging interpolation technique to collocate the satellite pollutant estimations over 19 ground sample sites for the period of 2015–2016. The portable pollutant devices were validated using the WHO air filter sampling model. To determine the city-scale performance of the satellite datasets, performance indicators: correlation coefficient, model efficiency, reliability index and root mean square error, were adopted as measures. The comparative analysis revealed that MOPITT carbon monoxide (CO) and MODIS aerosol optical depth (AOD) estimates are the appropriate satellite measurements for ground equivalents in Zaria, Nigeria. Our findings were within the acceptable limits of similar studies that utilized reference stations. In conclusion, this study offers direction to Nigeria's air quality policy organizers about available alternative air pollution measurements for mitigating air quality effects within its limited resource environment.