Despite professional bodies’ efforts to curtail the spate of disordered development in the country, especially in the built and construction sector, successive governments have failed to prioritize effective physical planning in their developmental plans, says Olutoyin Ayinde, President, Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP).
Reflecting on the state of physical planning in Nigeria at the 5th press conference of the institute on Thursday in Abuja, Ayinde said in spite of the enacted Nigerian Urban and Regional Planning Law in 1992, and other related laws, both Federal and State Governments have failed to prepare plans and structures for their implementation.
“I had in my previous addresses painted the grievous picture of the position of human settlements in this country and the need to rise to the responsibility of planning and managing those settlements in order for us to ensure stress-free living for the entire citizenry. Cities, towns and villages in Nigeria have continued to reflect the neglect that has been visited on them over the years.
“A couple of laws pertaining to urban development and physical planning have been enacted over the years; unfortunately, these laws have not been effectively activated to impact on the quality of the environment citizens demand. From the Federal Government to the State Governments, it is a galore of disobeying the law by refusing to prepare plans and structures for their implementation”, he said.
According to Ayinde, until the right attention is given to physical planning before development, Nigeria will be unable to solve the various problems associated with ordered and functional cities, National security, such as Farmers – Herders clashes; an Agricultural land use issue, ungoverned Spaces, and imbalance in the provision and distribution of physical, social and security infrastructure.
“Investing in planning human settlements will eradicate growth of slums and significantly reduce urban poverty and crime”, he added.
While assuring continuous physical planning advocacy in a bid to completely get Nigerians fully informed, he charged candidates for political offices in the next administration to pay attention to Physical Planning as panacea to Nigeria’s numerous challenges.
“When I took up the assignment of providing leadership for my Institute, it was with the hope that we will take the gospel of physical planning and the need for preparation of physical development plans to the nooks and crannies of the country.
“Between the end of March 2021 and July 2022, I have, in the company of worthy associates of our administration, been able to visit 26 States of Nigeria, including the Federal Capital Territory.
“One of the reasons we embarked on the advocacy visits was to let the general public become aware of the need and benefits of Physical Planning, and to challenge the politicians campaigning for their votes about the plans they have for the preparation of physical development plans for their environments”, he revealed.
He sympathized with families who have lost their loved ones in various incidents of building collapse in the country, urging the government and Nigeria citizens to have value for human life.
His words: “We cannot but lend our voice as a profession to the spate of building collapse in our country. It is important to know that Building Construction is a science to which some people committed the years of their lives in training to become experts. It is also a process that involves several operations.
“The refusal to engage the right professionals for delivery of buildings as appropriate will always lead to collapse. Many professional bodies and individual professionals have conducted studies, and made recommendations. Several panels, committees and tribunals have been set up and recommendations made. It’s just one thing left – commitment to doing what is right on the part of the government and the people.
“In two days from now, Nigeria will be celebrating its 62nd Anniversary of its Independence from colonial rule. For us as Town Planners, it is a moment to critically reflect on the state of our cities and communities and seek to chart positive steps forward to improve the livelihood of the people. The verdict on the state of physical planning in human settlements in Nigeria is that it has failed.”