PHYSICAL PLANNING: APPROACH TO SOLVING THE CURRENT ECONOMIC RECESS IN NIGERIA

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INTRODUCTION

Economic recession is one of the contemporary issues in Nigeria, economic recession as defined by economic statistician Julius Shiskin is a period of general economic decline and is typically accompanied by a drop in the stock market, an increase in unemployment, and a decline in the housing market (New York Times).

Generally, a recession is less severe than a depression. The blame for a recession generally falls on the federal leadership, often either by the president himself, the head of the Federal Reserve, or the entire administration.
The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) defined recession as a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in a real gross domestic product (GDP), real income, employment, industrial production and wholesale-retail sales.

This write up will assess the approach of Town Planners in providing solution to the current economic recess.
To achieve this aim the following objective is worked on:
1. Identify the cause of recess in economy.
2. Implications of the recession.
3. Conclusion and recommendation of solution on the subject matter.

NIGERIAS’ PATH TO RECESSION

Poor Physical Planning
Physical development of any spatial area is a causal to any economic development attached to the region. When we talk about physical development, Town Planners are the propelling force behind it as vital plans which are done is solely aimed at guiding the growth and development of a certain region are prepared by Town planners such plans include Master plans, Local plans, Regional plans, City plan, etc.

The cursory extract of recently proposed national budget reflects as below:

The Proposed National Budget 2017:

  • Power, works and housing N529 Billion
  • Transportation  N262 Billion
  • Water Resources N85 Billion
  • Education  N50 Billion
  • Health N61 Billion
  • Agriculture  N91 Billion

A total of One hundred and Seventy-eight billion naira (N1, 078,000,000.00) is meant for areas were proper planning is needed. The Nigerian recession problem can be traced to inadequate planning or neglect of planning. Over time, the non- availability of physical development plans has led to poor economic and social development. Getting out of recession the input of Physical Planners is imminent and is required in the actualization of all the project listed above.

For instance Ninety-One billion naira (N91, 000,000,000.00) was proposed to boost agricultural sector of the nation; if in the master plan of each State, certain areas are being zoned for a particular land use for example (agriculture), the proposed fund would be properly disbursed and used efficiently because among other contending options needed development plan will take preference.

POOR EMBRACE OF PLANNING POLICIES

Since the inception of the entity Nigeria, different planning laws have been passed. The most recent one is the Nigeria Urban and Regional Planning Law of 1992 which further gave necessity to planning at all levels of governments i.e. Federal, State and Local. However, the position of all tiers of governments has shown less acceptability hence, the apparent malfunctioning of the law under reference.
When there are Planning Authorities at all level of governments different spatial plans would have been evolved such that there will be optimal utilization of available space with conforming land uses. In other words, areas of natural endowment can be safeguarded.  In other words, areas of natural endowment can best be used for industrial purposes which would increase the revenue through taxes, been pay by employees and employers and create employment which will further decrease the rate of unemployment, (decrease in dependency ratio) and cumulatively increase the well-beings of the nation. 

DERIVED WAY-OUT OF RECESSION

Causes of recession can be checked or tackled by concentrating on the agricultural domestic products revenue generating process instead of capitalizing on revenues generated from crude oil. The need for infrastructure and effective developments for agricultural process is non-negotiable; this calls for a review of Urban and Physical Planning policies. These include:

Review of allocation policies for agricultural production

Agriculture in the 90’s is the main stay of Nigeria, in terms of GDP, foreign exchange earnings, and employment. Today, Nigeria spends billions yearly on the importation of agricultural products. There are lands lying fallow, the government should start allocating for farming on those fallow lands and assessment should be at very low and cheap rates, available for everyone made available unconditionally across social strata.

Encouragement and fast approval process for Agricultural land use

Sanusi Lamido (2016) during the economic submit on “The Search For A New Growth Model,” noted that Nigeria should learn from country like Ethiopia and then Meles Zenawi, the late Prime Minister. Instead of taking their leather and bringing back shoe. He advised that they should bring their factory to Nigeria opined that such streamlined to our physical planning instead of collecting approval for farmlands at the high side there should be a need to review our assessment fee especially on approval of farmlands so that  it could be readily  available to everyone.

ASSIMILATING A PROFESSIONAL VIEWPOINT

It is right time the nation begins to embrace the need of Physical Planning thoughts as a pivotal tool to edge out of the current fiscal predicament that is affecting the nation. As planners would do the needful, by preparing plans for the astute development of the region, state or micro community and government must also reciprocate by throwing arms across to embrace the need to ensure maximum physical planning (administration by ordering of land uses, sitting of buildings and communication routes in other to attain a practicable degree of convenience and beauty) among others.

SCREENING OF GOVERNMENT DEVELOPMENT PLANS AND ADOPTING THE MOST PROFFERED OPTION

The recession as it is, has thought all tiers of governments to avoid wastage and wild elephant projects. To this extent, physical development plans of any government should be screened towards the NEED of the people and not WANT. In addition, project with direct bearing to social welfare of the citizen should be prioritized. The era of putting scarce resources on projects of long term benefits should be avoided as much as possible.
Obviously from this point, government at all levels would have/saved their resources greatly while the positive impacts felt by the citizenry.

Tpl Ashiru Olugbenga Oladimeji
April 2017

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