Physical planning in a democratic setting: Public expectations and challenges for professional practitioners


Urban and Regional Planning in the Post Military Era: 1999 to Date
The new democratic era in Nigeria 1999 to date witnessed many planning activities. For instance, the implementation of FCT master plan was pursued vigorously with El-Rufai firm posture on development control and strict adherence to the content of the plan. The period witnessed the commissioning of several master and structure plans for many educational institutions, state capitals, districts in Abuja and the review of existing plans. The Niger Delta regional development master plan was commissioned and is being implemented.

The post military era also witnessed the use of urban planning as a political tool where political leaders support development control only when it is against political opponents. Railway transportation mode, airports and seaports were revitalized to meet international standard. We also observed the creation of regional development blocks in Nigeria viz: BRACED State. Oduduwa States and the already existing Arewa States for all the 19 northern states. A major planning step expected of these regional blocs is the development of regional physical and socio-economic development plans which have not yet being realized. It need be emphasized that all economic development planning efforts must be accompanied with a corresponding physical development plan.

Urban and Regional Planning Under the Military 1966-1978
Witnessed the first attempt to decentralize the political administration from four regions to twelve states and the emergence of some urban centers as state capital hence, spatial re-ordering of urban centres in the country. The 1946 Planning Act was perhaps, the only legal framework for urban and regional planning activities and the new states adopted it in one form or the other. However, the civil war that lasted almost three years was a huge distraction to the states in relation to any meaningful physical planning. It was thereafter that government went back on track to plan holistically for the country starting with the NDP approach.

The second NDP, 1970-73 was designed to reconstruct the eastern parts of the country mostly affected by the civil war. At the end of the plan period, both economic and other problems that are related to physical planning took a centre stage (Olomojeye, 1999) The third NDP added certain objectives and goals of physical planning to the usual social planning activities by including certain policies that relates to environment and rural development, the establishment of FMHUD & E. FHA as a parastatal of FMW & H. the former NBS was transformed to the FMBN as part of the policy on direct housing construction programme.

Through the third NDP, the Military Government also intensified the provision of infrastructure, particularly rural roads and potable water. The RBDA were established. The regional planning implication of RBDA was overwhelming and considerable challenge to town and regional planners. This was particularly so as RBDA was likening the USA approach of regional development to the likes of Tennessee Valley Development Authority. However, the enthusiasm was short lived and the RBDA approach stood alone as agricultural and water development strategy, rather than comprehensive regional planning policy.
The contributions of the FG to urban and regional planning at that time were the institutionalization of the concept of new towns, which led to the emergence of Abuja, Onne, Satelite Town and Festac Town. World Bank made inroads into the states for urban development programmes with site and service scheme projects. Besides the FG initiated studies on twenty major urban centres, and promulgated the Land Use Decree in 1978 as a policy to provide easy access to land for its numerous housing and other social service projects. Thus, the third NDP has the most significant and concrete contributions to urban and regional planning by the Federal Government and these subsequently trickled down to states and local government areas.

Urban and Regional Planning During the Return of the Military: 1984-1999
The military, continued to drive for fresh legislation in several states and for example the government of Lagos State in 1986 enacted two planning laws: Lagos State Edict No. 1 of 1986, also known as the Twon and Country Planning Edict 1985 (Planning Activities, Planning Commission etc) and Building Plan Regulations 1986. It is pertinent to note that despite this array of legislations for physical planning activities in Lagos State, the recurrent planning problems remained interact able. Although the legislations were adequate, particularly for those periods, they were not fully utilized for the purpose of which they were made (Deinde, 1999). The urban and regional planning law of 1992 and the Town Planner Registration Council Decree were the hallmark of this period.

Professional Development
The NITP was inaugurated by a handful of about thirty five town planners in September 1966. Their activities became noticeable after the civil war in 1970. At that time, the inadequacy of professionally training town planners made it necessary for the course to be taught locally hence the mounting of the programme in our institution of higher learning. In addition to this, private candidates were prepared to sit for the Institutes professional exam. Graduates were admitted as members of the NITP. The growth in the Institute membership and strength rose above 110 in 1977 to about 250 in 2012.

The awareness as to the necessity of professionalism and enrolment in planning programmes account for the increase in membership. Furthermore, the NITP nurtured Development Programe for registered planners and fought for the establishment of the Town Planners Registration Council (TOPREC) as Decree No. 3 of 1988. The Council among others accredits planning schools, vets and approves their curriculum. In collaboration with NITP, it organizes mandatory Continuous Profession. The trend of growth could be explained by the same parameters as in NITP membership. It rose from about 550 in 1990 to just about 2800 in 2012.

The conception and establishment of ATOPCON in the early 1990s assisted in implementing these laws and strengthen the practice of URP thereby building a virile team of practitioners capable of delivering services that are comparable with other urban planners anywhere in the world. Two decades after, the association has grown steadily. From membership strength of less than 15 meters prior to 2000, the association membership increased it 73 in 2011 and over 100 in year 2015.

CITIZENRY’S expectation based on dividend of democracy and the place of planning on delivery and quality living are focused in this section. In the light of emerging issues, Gyuse (2008) stated that there is need to re-invent urban planning, particularly in the area of addressing the expectation of the citizenry occasioned by the dynamism in the world today. The scenario is well depicted in Nigeria, the rate of urbanization is increasing. UN-Habitat noted that by 2030, 85 per cent of the world’s population will be in developing countries, with 15 per cent in the developed world. Hence, it become more imperative for physical planning professionals to be proactive and address issues inimical to urban and rural settlemtnents and dwellers in order to achieve a sustainable national development.

Physical Development Plan
One of the major experience is the initiation and where available implementation of realistic physical development plans. All over the world, physical development plan remains a major tool in advancing socio-economic development. Hence, the growth of human settlement should be guided by development plans. Settlements which do not have development plans tend to grow unguided, they become inefficient and unsafe, while those that have plans feature functional spaces and vibrant economy. Although some principal settlements in the northern and southern part of the country have plans, the Master Plan for Metropolitan Lagos (1980-2000) became a national reference.

The implementation of the Master Plan has been activated through the preparation of some Model city plans. Nonetheless, it is worthy to note that the value of the Plans is in their implementation. For example, due to the nature of some of the Development Plans, there is the need to prepare other lower order plans in order to facilitate implementation. This is an expectation of the citizenry.

Land Management
In States where there were excised Villages, management of land and land use planning use to be weak and retrogressive. The challenge here is that these villages continue to grow in the absence of any guide, leading to disorder and obsolescence. A continuation of this trend, therefore, is contrary to people expectation. Again land regulazation for persons who have interest in acquired lands or hitherto carried out development on such acquired lands is done without recourse or reference to any Plan. The present system in which regularization of land is done creates confusion and it is inimical to effective land use management. An expectation therefore is for the preparation of the necessary enabling framework for these villages.

Provision of Public Spaces
Apart from their use and value for recreational purpose, as a public open spaces also serve as breathing space for neigbhourhood, communities and the city at large. Although, there have been greater efforts in maintaining and beautifying many of the open spaces in some States in the federation, a lot still need to be accomplished. Indeed, total size and number of public open spaces cross country is grossly inadequate. This has affected the participation of residents in outdoor recreation.

GOING by the global planning recommendation that 8.0 per cent of the developed area of a town should be reserved for recreational uses, the citizens certainly has expectations in this regard. In addition, the condition of the existing open spaces in terms of location, provision of recreational facility, maintenance/management has also not encouraged their use. There are also instances of conversion of public open spaces and other recreational lands to other uses both by government and private concerns.

TO be Continued

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