Apparently perturbed by the various environmental problems confronting the country, the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP) is calling on the government and all stakeholders to activate the law on Urban and Regional Planning which was enacted in 1992.
In addition, the institute wants the government to set up relevant structures to promote the planning and development of human settlements in order to chart a new course for brighter future for the prosperity of Nigeria.
Speaking during a press conference in Abuja with the theme “There can be no prosperity in the jungle” recently, the 25th National President of NITP, Nathaniel Atebije, who called on the government to rise to the occasion and implement the law, attributed the problems of catalogue of physical, economic, social and environmental challenges to neglect of town planning by the authority.
“What explanation can the government give to the people of Nigeria for not effectively activating the law on urban and regional planning which it enacted about 30 years ago? What justification can the government give to the people of this nation for relegating the most important function to the back space by making urban and regional planning an appendage to other organs of government?”
To correct the anomalies, Atebije called on the Federal Government to create permanent Ministry of Physical Planning rather than making it an appendage to any other organ of government.
He is also seeking the recruitment of town planners to beef up the manpower gap in offices of government; train and retrain the planners in public establishments to enhance their professional capacities and improved performance.
He wants government to ensure that land (which is our natural and common inheritance and patrimony for all generations) and not dispensed and shared among people as reward for political patronage.
Rather, he said it should only be used judiciously after town planners have properly planned it.
In order to tackle and mitigate flooding and other environmental disasters in Nigeria within the framework of 20 to 25 years’ timeframe, the number one town planner in the country called the government to prepare national, regional and local area master plans respectively for the purpose.
He also wants the government to engage town planners to prepare physical development plans to guide location of land uses for effective harnessing of resources to promote their economic and social benefits.
“These plans would include National Physical Development Plan at the national level, Regional and Sub-Regional Development Plans, Urban and Rural Master plans, Sector Plans, District Plans, Detailed site Development Plans and Action Area Plans at the State and Local Government levels.
“It will also require the engagement of professional town planners in both private and public sectors as consultants and operators/implementers of the plans,” Atebije said.
Due to neglect of physical planning, he noted that slum living, inadequate social and engineering infrastructure have become the hallmarks of human settlements, adding that impunity and survival of the fittest built on the foundation of selfishness and greed have put the nation out of touch with the principles of sustainable development which the leaders endorsed along with many other international treaties.
“We are faced with insecurity, insurgency, lack of safety, flooding, desertification, diseases, slum, environmental filth and squalor making it difficult for Nigerians to live good life.
“And because the leadership of Nigeria has paid deaf ears to physical planning, they have opened their ears to being reactionary by standing by to combat disasters through humanitarian services. This is a grossly misplaced priority.
“We make bold to say that any group of people, community or government that neglects physical planning has sealed a contract to perish and has enrolled to be on the judgement line of posterity.
“We boldly say that posterity can never judge such persons with mercy.”
The NITP boss said time has come for the government to chart a course for a brighter future for the prosperity of Nigeria and its citizens.