The Federal Government has been encouraged to put into effect the 1992 urban and regional planning law by the National President of the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners, Nathaniel Atebije, who also noted that the nation is not a jungle that should go unmanaged.
Atebije made the revelation in Abuja on Saturday during his first Quarterly Press Conference as the institute’s president, titled, “There Can Be No Prosperity In The Jungle.”
He noted that the institute had engaged stakeholders, including political office holders, religious and traditional leaders, and educational institutions, among others in the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, on the need for the implementation of the planning law which was enacted about 30 years ago.
Atebije said, “Nigeria has groped in darkness and confusion for many years. The dream of prosperity has been an illusion and recurring mirage. Various and successive governments have wallowed in the near or no success syndrome. Hopes of the citizenry have been dashed times without number. The poor are getting poorer and the bargain for safety has been costly and unaffordable.
“Slum living, inadequate social and engineering infrastructure are the hallmarks of our human settlements. Impunity and survival of the fittest built on the foundation of selfishness and greed puts the nation out of touch with the principles of sustainable development which our leaders endorsed along with many other international treaties. This is the character of the giant of Africa. Whoever then calls Nigeria a jungle, is right.”
The head of the NITP pointed out that a jungle had no organized structure, and that each animal found its own path through it because some were prey and others were predators.
He said, “Nigerian settlements are a caricature of space, a travesty of order and display of environmental cacophony. Our finite space is treated as if it has limitless or unlimited elasticity.
“Because our space has been turned into the similitude of a jungle, the right people have never been placed to organise, order and manage our environments.”
Therefore, he warned the government about the risks of not preparing ahead, adding that a town or government that did not prioritize physical planning had signed a contract to die and had enrolled to stand on the line of judgment for future generations.
Atebije said, “We boldly say that posterity can never judge such persons with mercy. Time has come and now it is, for Nigeria to chart a course for a brighter future for the prosperity of Nigerins.
“We therefore call on governments at all levels and the people of this nation to; urgently activate the law on urban and regional planning which was enacted in 1992 and set up relevant structures to promote the planning and development of our human settlements.
“Create a permanent Ministry of Physical Planning rather than making it an appendage to any other organ of government. Recruit 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.
“Ensure that land (which is our natural and common inheritance and patrimony for all generations) should not be dispensed and shared among people as reward for political patronage. It should only be used judiciously after it has been properly planned by town planners.
“Prepare national, regional and local area master plans respectively to tackle and mitigate flooding and other environmental disasters in Nigeria within the framework of 20 to 25 years’ time frame.