Nigeria cities lack cohesive development, say experts
Lack of political will to implement previous national urban policies, has been identified as reason why Nigeria cities cannot measure up in development with the world known urban centres.
Consequently, experts said the cities lacked the right governance structures and institutions in cities such as Paris, London, Amsterdam and New York, which could promote investment and social cohesion.
The development specialists who spoke to The Guardian said non-implementation of the National Urban Development Policy of 1992 and 2003 has denied Nigeria the benefits of planned urbanisation.
The Project Director of Arctic Infrastructure, Lagos, Lookman Oshodi, regretted that the nation’s planned urbanisation has not maximized the capacities of cities to generate employment and wealth as well as to foster diversity and social cohesion between different classes, cultures, ethnicities and religions.
According to him, right investments that could provide equitable platform for planned environment and vibrant opportunities for residents in Nigerian urban centres are yet to be made.
He therefore urged policy makers to reconsider current urban development and management strategies with a view to making right investments in structures and institutions that will promote inclusive cities and shared development in our urban centers.
Oshodi also canvassed for the revival of the local administrations and support for formal, semi-formal and informal community development institutions as some of the pathways to achieving inclusiveness.
For a renowned town planner, Moses Ogunleye, although the nation has made some efforts at controlling urbanization through policies, lack of implementation policies has always been the problem.
Ogunleye, who was the immediate past President, Association of Town Planning Consultants of Nigeria ((ATPCON) said the growth pattern of cities and towns could not be planned because the policies were jettisoned even with their very rich ideas. According to him, cities in Nigeria have not been made inclusive socially because the roles of the poor have not been properly identified.
While, it may be true to say that most of our urban development projects or programmes are elitist in approach, he stressed that the efforts put into the planning of our cities are still minimal.
He therefore called for a refocused policy and committed government to ensure the reversal.Dr. Ibidun Adelekan, who lectures at Department of Geography, University of Ibadan, said the sprawling nature of Nigeria’s urban expansion into areas farther away from city centres means increasing number of people live farther away from the centre of economic activity and have to spend more on transportation to their work places.
Adelekan noted that Nigeria’s urbanisation pattern does maximize the capacities of cities to generate employment and wealth because of enhanced economic opportunities and the availability of large numbers of skilled and unskilled labour.