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Town Planners Advocate Integration Of Physical Planning In National Politics

The Nigerian Association of Town Planning Consultants (ATOPCON) is advocating the integration of physical planning in national politics.

Mr Muyiwa Adelu, President of ATOPCON, while making the appeal during the annual workshop of ATOPCON in Enugu, Enugu State, argued that physical planning is critical in national discussions for sustainable urban governance.

The workshop is themed “Role of Physical Planning in National Politics.”

The president of ATOPCON expressed fears over haphazard development and poor implementation of government projects, which has thrown the country into disarray, and advocated for physical planning to be included in national politics.

Adelu bemoaned the unfair treatment of physical planning by the political elite, traditional institutions, and communities, who are the profession’s direct beneficiaries.

He attributed unfairly treated physical planning by the political class to ignorance. This, he argued, must be addressed by private-sector operators who, like him, have a lot on the line.

Adelu said: “I look forward to when physical planning will be in the forefront of useful tools to be harnessed by Eastern states to be championed by Enugu State and when physical planning will not just be a department but a full-fledged ministry in the state.

“I look forward to when town planning consultants in Enugu state will be the main consultants to various developmental projects in the state, when the state will call on town planners both in private and public sectors to dialogue and assist the state to help boost its Internal Generated Revenue (IGR).”

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He noted that the neglect of the relevance of planning consultants in political discussion is positively correlated with negative externalities, which is not limited to insecurity, disease outbreak, unemployment and utilisation of scarce resources, wasteful spending, poor housing, inadequate transport facilities and decline in local economy development.

The President, Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP), Olutoyin Ayinde, said that visionary leadership is required to have well-ordered and sustainable human settlements and communities in Nigeria.

Ayinde, said that physical development plans are answer to vision and mission statements set and established by leadership and the representatives of government.

According to him, government has the power of eminent domain and thus earns the responsibility to plan for the areas over it govern.

Ayinde said: “Planners are the most dependable professionals to work with in order to fulfil the goals of Agenda 2030, in particular Goal 11, which is sustainable cities and human communities.

“The role of town planners is to make policy makers understand that every policy decision eventually gets to be implemented on ground, that spatial function which is often ignored or forgotten.

“The planner should be able to bring to the policy makers the import of respecting planning and the consequences of neglecting it. We need the platform to always talk about physical planning.’’

The association advised members to develop character, competence and capacity (3Cs) in the pursuit of advocacy, sensitise political class on the needs of the people for efficient and sustainable project delivery and become accustomed with procurement process.

”We also need to sit down with our lawmakers and involve stakeholders to package acceptable laws. Domesticate the urban and regional planning laws in state and have the effrontery to implement the law.

“It might not be clear how our physical planning nosedives, but we can get out of the doldrums by being committed to our calls as town planners; by not compromising planning standards; by not subjecting ourselves to corruption of any form; by not allowing political leaders dictate override professional beliefs and ethics,” he said.

President, Town Planners Registration Council of Nigeria (TOPREC), Isyaku Mukhtar Kura, explained that national politics and physical planning are interrelated involving decision making by either individual, professionals or governments, and should be inclusive, integrated, sustainable and participatory.

He disclosed that the forum has provided opportunity to address problems associated with negative political influence on physical planning practice not be limited to poor planning, decision-making, poor implementation of projects, loss of resources, biasness in planning practice and unnecessary prolonged planning process.

According to him, while taking into account the strengths and weaknesses of existing legal instruments on physical planning, global best practices as well as emerging trends across Nigeria in tackling the inherent challenges, these he said would require the attention of the professionals to wake up and do more.

The chairman, ATOPCON, Enugu branch, Dr Lucy Ugwu, said physical planning aids national politics, adding that it is crucial in national economic growth and development.

Ugwu said the physical plan functions in national politics in the sense that it ensures judicious appropriation of funds to compatible land uses and the provision of infrastructure, facilities and amenities; ensures a conducive environment.

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