Minister Promises Increased Collaboration with Town Planners to Boost Sustainable Urban Planning

By Taiwo Ajayi

The Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Arc. Ahmed Musa Dangiwa, has assured the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP) of increased collaboration to bolster efforts towards a more sustainable housing and urban planning environment.

The Minister gave this assurance when he hosted the leadership of the institute on Thursday, September 21st, 2023, at the Ministry’s headquarters in Abuja.

Arc. Dangiwa stressed the importance of effective urban and regional planning, noting that the institute’s input and its members’ expertise will be vital in the ministry’s efforts to build livable, decent, and sustainable cities and communities.

“As you are all aware, our great nation is at a critical juncture in its history. With a rapidly growing population and urbanization trends, the challenges facing our cities and towns have become more complex and demanding. It is evident that proper urban planning and housing development are key to addressing these challenges effectively,” he said.

He further emphasized the essential role the institute plays in shaping the physical, social, and economic development of cities and communities, noting that “expertise in spatial planning, environmental management, and infrastructure development is critical in ensuring that our urban areas are well-planned and able to meet the needs of our citizens.”

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The delegation, led by the institute’s president, Town Planner Nathaniel Atebije, highlighted the challenges confronting the institute and the sector. They called on the Minister to support the delivery of specific demands, including facilitating the completion and adoption of the Revised National Urban Development Policy, as well as the National Physical Planning Standards. They also urged the implementation of the Nigerian Urban and Regional Planning Law to guide physical development and the establishment of relevant institutions like the National Urban and Regional Planning Commission.

Atebije also noted that “presenting an executive bill to amend areas of the law that do not have sufficient provisions for effective enforcement to make the law more contemporary, particularly with the possibility of putting physical planning matters on the concurrent list in the constitution, is an important step to take.” The NITP boss further urged the Ministry to embark on urgent and rigorous capacity building for professionals to enhance the performance of their job.

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One of the institution’s demands is the creation of an agency to collect and analyze data on housing to assess the deficit in quantity and quality and facilitate effective planning and implementation of the housing policy.

Responding, the Minister assured that most of the issues relating to the legal and regulatory frameworks of urban and physical planning raised by the institution are already being examined by the relevant departments, along with partner agencies and bodies concerned with such matters. “For instance, we’re already working with the National Population Commission to conduct a housing census to determine the quality and quantity of houses in Nigeria so that we can ascertain the true situation. We do not believe there’s a need to create another agency for that purpose, as it would further increase the cost of governance, which this administration is trying to reduce. Besides, that would amount to duplication of responsibilities.

“On the issue of placing the law in the concurrent list, we’re already working with the states to make that a reality. However, it also depends on the cooperation of the National Assembly, which we’re confident we will receive. I can assure you that the other issues you raised, including those related to the implementation of the Urban and Regional Planning law, undue tenure elongation of your council members, and the recruitment and training of professionals, are matters we are taking seriously as a ministry, and they wation also took the opportunity to invite the Honourable Minister to the institute’s National Conference scheduled for October 23rd to 27th, 2023, in Asaba, Delta State, where he is scheduled to deliver a goodwill message. The Minister, accepting their invitation, promised to work closely with the NITP to bring about meaningful development in the built sector.

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The Minister’s assurance of increased collaboration with the NITP is a welcome development, as it will help to address the challenges facing the housing and urban planning sector in Nigeria. The institute’s expertise and input will be vital in the ministry’s efforts to build livable, decent, and sustainable cities and communities.

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