Bothered that Nigeria is not keying into new wave of creative urban planning that helps cities evolve, town planners have urged the Federal Government to set up a national urban and regional planning commission.
The commission is supposed to formulate national policies for urban and regional planning; initiate, prepare and implement National Physical Development Plan, regional and subject plans as well as establish and maintain urban and regional planning standard.
The Second National Vice President, Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP), Mr. Toyin Ayinde who made the call at the First Annual Lecture Series organized by the Centre for Planning Studies, Lagos State University, Ojo in conjunction with the Nigerian Institution of Town Planners, Lagos State Chapter at the University Campus, said such policy direction will promote sustainability and inclusiveness, which are components of Sustainable Development Goals (Agenda 2030).
Speaking on the theme: “Evolution of Lagos into a modern megacity: The role of effective stakeholder engagement”, said that for Lagos State to attain the status of a modern megacity city status, political leaders must engage in wider consultations and of the citizenry in the implementation of physical planning and development.
He lamented that experience has showed that most decisions for town planning and physical development in the past, are influenced by the chief executives’ interest or the interest of a few, which has often put a lid on the extent of progress that could be achieved.
“We must recognize the people as the key element that determines a city’s success; embrace the idea of “People before Things”. Most of those in governance have reasoned the other way, putting things before people. We must place value on man: Consider the logistics around human development, investment in people: small businesses, affordable housing and education should be top priority.
“Let’s do all in our power to ensure the vibrancy of our city, make it beautiful and functionally efficient. We can give life to it by investing in all the development plans we really need, and implementing them faithfully. It is an assignment for everyone and all stakeholders in the human settlement system. We can make our cities more inclusive and sustainable”, he said.
According to him, Lagos has given practitioners in the built environment cause for concern over “Life on land” stressing that experience from time to time is that there are quite a number of challenges which include; building collapse, deficits in housing, flooding, crime and insecurity, traffic congestion, power failures and unemployment amongst other.
In his remarks, the Director, Centre for Planning Studies, (LASU), Prof. Ayo Omotayo said the centre instituted the lecture series because there is the need for marriage of ideas between the ‘town’ and the ‘gown’ for Nigeria to produce best brains in the town planning profession. He appreciated the Lagos state chapter of NITP for the partnership especially bringing in someone who has seen it all in terms of practical aspect of town planning, to debut the lecture series of the centre.
Prof. Omotayo commended the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Lanre Fagbohun whose vision and support for the centre and the entire university has brought to fore tremendous physical, moral and academic development of the institution.
According to him, with history having showed the course of development of Lagos, from its humble beginning of fishing and trading towns, with a scanty population, to a mega city whose population is estimated to be over 21 Million residents, noted that the dynamics of urbanization has set on the state than any other cities in Nigeria.
He therefore said: “What residents want is provision of affordable and adequate housing; Road redesign, construction, upgrading and rehabilitation; Integrated (multi-modal) transportation system and traffic management; Waste disposal and functional drainage systems to prevent flooding; Health care delivery: Security of lives and property; regular power generation, distribution and supply; Urban design: greening, landscaping, open space beautification, recreational facilities; Security of Tenure; and Ease of Doing Business.
Originally published in The Guardian