Niger State, UN-Habitat seal deal on New Urban Agenda

Gov. Sani Bello

Few weeks after United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) concluded its Scoping Mission to Nigeria, the agency and Niger State Government has formally signed a sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to implement the New Urban Agenda.

An eight-man delegation from Niger State led by the Secretary to the State Government Ibrahim Isa Ladan visited UN-Habitat recently to endorse the documents.

UN-Habitat was represented at the ceremony by Aisa Kirabo Kacyira and witnessed by the Nigerian Ambassador to Kenya, Sheidu Omeiza Momoh.

The parties agreed to foster the cooperation through the following, preparation of a Niger State Urban Development Policy (SUP), based on the National Urban Development Policy, 2012; preparation of Integrated Development Plans for Minna, the state capital; and the city of Suleja which lies on the state’s border with Abuja, the Federal Capital.

Other projects are the preparation of Physical Plans for the development of a new ‘Smart City’ near Suleja, on the proposed bypass between Minna-Suleja oad and Zuba, along Kaduna–Lokoja highway; and strengthening and building the capacity of the state’s physical planning institutions for effective development and management of the cities.

Ladan said: “Today marks a very important milestone in the effort of my administration to lay a solid foundation for the sustainable development of the state and for creating compact, connected, socially inclusive and self-sustaining towns and cities, through this technical urban assistance programme between UN-Habitat and Niger State.”

He extended his appreciation to UN-Habitat for securing a grant from the South Korean government to develop the State Urban Policy.

In her statement, Kacyira noted that this new collaboration will ensure the opportunities available in Niger State in terms of land area, power generation, agriculture and proximity to the National capital, Abuja are maximized. She further commended Niger State for taking the lead in enacting a Sub-National Urban Policy. She also highlighted the support of the Nigerian Government in helping develop the “Africa Common Position on Habitat III”.

Prior to the signing ceremony, the delegation made a detailed presentation where they expanded on their urban challenges and opportunities inviting UN-Habitat’s expertise to assist. Several bilateral meetings with the delegation were also held.

The visit ended with the delegation visiting Nairobi County’s Ministry of Land and Urban Planning and also the administration headquarters of Konza Techno City to learn from good practices on governance and smart city planning.

Under the proposed programme, Niger State will become the first to adopt a State Urban Development policy in lines with guidelines prescribed in the revised National Urban Development Policy adopted in 2012.

The proposed document will set out a frame work for the development and management of urban centres in the state, thereby setting a basis for improved local economic development and environmental sustainability. Already, as a fallout from the Governor’s participation at the International Conference on National Urban Policy Government in Paris, the UN-Habitat has facilitated the support of the Government of South Korea, which will assist the state with funding drawn from its commitment of USD$2.6million towards the development of National Urban Policies in Nigeria, Iran and Myanmar.

The development of Integrated Development Plans for Minna, the state capital, and Suleja is considered critical, given the rapid growth of the two cities and the need to curb the spread of informal settlements within and around the peri-urban areas of both cities.

In Suleja, the proximity to the Federal Capital has endeared it to many, while its geographical characteristics have posed unique problems that limit its expansion, despite severe overcrowding in many neighbourhoods. The integrated Plan will also seek to adopt a harmonised approach to urban planning, in which all relevant agencies of government will work in concert rather than at cross-purposes with each other.

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