Niger State, UN-Habitat plan Minna, Suleja redevelopment
Five years after the Federal Government launched its National Urban Development Policy, Niger State Government has move to adopt it under a new initiative that will explore the potential of its rapidly growing urban centres and their proximity to the nation’s capital, Abuja.
The landmark initiative, which will effectively commence next month is being be undertaken with technical assistance from the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), as a platform to boost the economic, social and general wellbeing of its citizens.
Essentially, the comprehensive development programme with the Nairobi-based agency with the mandate to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities, involves preparation of Integrated Development Plans for Minna, the state capital; and the city of Suleja which lies on the state’s border with Abuja;
Other aspect of the initiative include 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 preparation of a Niger State Urban Development Policy (SUP).
Consequently, a team from UN-Habitat headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, has visited the state on a scoping mission, with a view to acquainting the agency on the situation in the state toward the drawing up of the work plan for the exercise.
It is expected that following the conclusion of the scoping mission, the terms of the collaboration between the Niger State Government, the UN-Habitat and the Government of South Korea would be firmed up in coming weeks, paving the way for a formal endorsement of the five-year cooperation agreement by end of August at the UN-Habitat headquarters in Nairobi.
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 Niger State Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello 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 $2.6million towards the development of National Urban Policies in Nigeria, Iran and Myanmar.
The two towns – 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. 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.
The new ‘Smart City’ project will essentially ease the development pressure on the city, while also exploiting its proximity to Abuja to promote the manufacture of complimentary renewable energy systems and components, such as solar water heaters, fans, refrigerators and LED lights in partnership with Korean companies which would be sold within Nigeria and in other African countries.
The scoping mission was hosted by the Commissioner for Lands and Housing, Alhaji Aliyu Abdullahi on behalf of the state government, who expressed delight that the framework for actualising the vision of the state was finally about coming to fruition.
“This is for us a dream come true. As a government, we are seriously concerned by the state of our towns and cities. We believe that development should be holistic with developments spread evenly in an equitable manner,” he said.
Leader of the UN-Habitat Scoping Mission, Dr Remy Sietchiping, who is Head of the Regional and metropolitan Planning Unit at the agency’s head office in Nairobi, commended the state government for taking the initiative to conceive the programme, which he said would set a sound basis for the future development of the state.
“We are grateful for the invitation extended to UN-Habitat to support the state in this very important exercise. We consider this mission to be a very important step towards actualising the terms of our collaboration on this project, which we have been discussing for some time now. We are very open to the demands of the state and pledge our maximum commitment to the success of this initiative. We hope that by the end of this mission, we will be able to jointly draw up a road map that would guide our joint efforts,” he said.