The Golden Jubilee Anniversary and the 47th Annual Conference of the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP) took place at the Nicon Luxury Hotel Abuja between the 31st October and 4th November, 2016 with the theme “Promoting Liveable Settlements”.
The conference was declared open by the Honourable Minister of Power, Works & Housing Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN). Goodwill messages were received from the Honourable Minister of the Federal Capital Territory Muhammed Musa Bello, Vice President of the Commonwealth Association of Planners (CAP) West Africa Dr. Stephen Yirenkyi, the President Ghana Institute of Planners (GIP) Alfred Kwasi Opoku (FGIP), while the congratulatory message delivered by the Chairman of NITP Federal Capital Territory Chapter Tpl. Garba T. Kwamkur; FNIP The keynote address was presented by the Honourable Ministry of Power, Works and Housing.
The conference was well attended by over 3000 participants among whom were past Presidents, Fellows and full members of the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners, non-members, as well as, other stakeholders in the built environment.
Participants and Members of Nigerian Institute of Town Planners also deeply appreciated the efforts His Excellency, President Muhamadu Buhari; GCFR and Members of his cabinet made to bring to halt, corruption in Nigeria which has become a stumbling block for economic growth, security and human development. Participants further appreciated the efforts the Government is making towards the insurgencies in the North East and the challenges in the Niger Delta.
During the conference over eight well researched papers covering various relevant topical issues to the theme were presented and well discussed and made the following observations;
1. The high rate of urbanization, scale of poverty and unemployment, decay in the urban infrastructure, road traffic gridlocks and the myriad of social and environmental challenges experienced in Nigerian cities;
2. Inadequacy, ineffectiveness and the evolving nature of existing physical planning laws in Nigeria and the non-implementation of the 1992 Urban and Regional Planning Act and related legislation; it also noted that many States are yet to domesticate the 1992 Urban and Regional Planning Act;
3. The current water governance structure that promotes water poverty among the Nigerian public especially the urban poor due to the high cost of accessing portable water supply;
4. Stagnating central areas of major cities especially the Abuja Capital City central area due to the inadequate funding necessary to provide adequate urban infrastructure and social services;
5. That informal settlements as organic as they may be are replete with traditional elements that retain our historical artifacts and rich culture;
6. Progress being made in town planning practice and consultancy in terms of the increasing number of registered planning firms and the significant increase in the volume of practice activities;
7. Myriad of physical and social challenges experienced in the use of urban streets due to the apparent disconnect between their design parameters and existing activity patterns; and
8. Re-emphasized that gully erosion remains a major threat to life and property in many Nigeria settlements and noted the challenges it presents to proper physical planning and development of liveable and sustainable human settlements.
9. The conference noted the security situation in the North East of the country where large scale destruction of human settlements with critical physical infrastructure and social facilities are ongoing by terrorist activities. Similar threats to lives and oil installations are the environment are being threatened in the Niger-Delta.
In view of the above observations and the need to mainstream the promotion of liveable human settlements, the conference made the following recommendations:
a. There is need to enhance the liveability of informal settlements in Nigeria through the effective provision and distribution of basic social amenities and physical infrastructure;
b. The periodic review and progressive implementation of physical planning laws and environmental legislations including the establishment of the Nigerian Urban and Regional Planning Commission, Urban and Regional Planning Boards and Local Planning Authorities at the Federal, State and Local Government levels; the conference commends the Kaduna State Government for embarking on the preparation of the 20 Master plans for many towns and cities in the State and therefore appeal to other State Governments in the federation to prepare Master plan for their cities. In this connection the conference calls for the review of obsolete Master plans currently in use in Nigeria;
c. Harness green economy initiatives to improve access to quality water supply through the adaptation of indigenous technology and use of local innovations in harvesting the abundant rain water to complement existing portable water supply services;
d. Advocates the development of compact and mixed land use development in central areas of Nigeria cities in order to make them more economically viable, socially inclusive and secure the necessary infrastructure investments needed in these areas in the face of declining government revenues;
e. The formation of partnerships and limited liability companies by town planning firms and consultancies to make them more viable and competitive in their service delivery;
f. Canvassed the need to adopt a “Bottom-top approach” to street planning and design whereby proper inventory, mapping and analysis of street activity patterns form the basis for their design and development; this will make our streets more liveable and socially inclusive;
g. Town Planners need to engage other professional bodies and stakeholders in the built environment more constructively in order to effectively mitigate the anthropogenic and natural factors exacerbating soil erosion and gully formation in our urban centres.
h. Town Planners should be involved in the reconstruction efforts of the North East and the Niger Delta, being undertaken by the Federal Government in order to ensure more effective protection of rehabilitated settlements from terrorist attacks and the restoration of the environment especially in the Niger Delta, through the use of appropriate planning concepts and principles to guarantee neighbourhood security by their residents and the environment.
The Nigeria Institute of Town Planners (NITP) and the conference appeal to the various tiers of government to take necessary actions to promote liveable settlements in Nigeria in tandem with the goals of New Urban Agenda.
Tpl Ogbodo Alex