Planners urge review of strategic development plans in renamed councils
• Want states, FCT to carry out holistic boundary delineation
The Association of Women Town Planners in Nigeria (AWTPN) have called for the preparation or review of strategic development plans in the councils renamed recently by the Federal Government.
AWTPN, an arm of Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP), said the review would enable the councils to restrategise and re-establish existing growth poles or propose additional growth for sustainable development.
President Muhammadu Buhari recently signed into law, 16 Constitution amendment bills, out of 35 of such bills transmitted to him for assent by the National Assembly. They included the State Assembly and Judiciary Independence bills, which devolved more power to states, while granting autonomy to the judiciary.
The new law also amends the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, to change the names of Afikpo North and Afikpo South Local Government Areas in Ebonyi State and affected Afikpo North and Afikpo South councils, which are now to be known as Afikpo and Edda LGAs respectively.
Besides, the names of Egbado North and Egbado South councils of Ogun were changed to Yewa North and Yewa South, respectively, while the name of Atigbo council in Oyo State was corrected from Atigbo to its original name of Atisbo and Obia/Akpor in Rivers State reverted to its original name of Obio/Akpor council.
While making a case for development plans in these councils, planners said there is a need to also prepare a social-cultural heritage plan that will attract tourism, as well as ensure states and councils engage in resource distribution.
Under the new law, the State Houses of Assembly, State Judiciary and Local Councils across the country will now have their financial autonomy, as against the practice of running the controversial State Joint Local Government Account where monies meant for the councils were lodged with states.
In their submission signed by the association’s National Chairman, Mrs. Bukola Bello, the group urged town planners to work with lawmakers, be involved and engaged in politics to improve project implementation at different levels.
According to them, local planning authorities in the council offices should be revisited to inject more planning activities that will boost economic development at the local levels.
“Town planners should provide technical assistance to local planning authorities to enable them to perform their functions as entrenched in the Constitution and Urban and Regional Planning Law of Nigeria. The councils should consider the preparation of local plans, rural plans, subject plans and master plans,” according to AWTPN.
They also sought preparation of strategic development plans that enhance security development by town planner, ensure profiling and mapping security risk areas in addition to zoning and land uses.
“Fifth Alteration the Law alters the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, to delete the reference to the provisions of the Criminal Code, Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Act, Criminal Procedure Code or Evidence Act, and for related matters.
The planners urged lawmakers to review existing policies to ensure safety and security are in place. “By this Law, referencing the provisions of criminal codes, penal codes and other evidence acts have been eradicated in criminal or civil trials.”
The law also amends the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to delete the item “prisons” in the Exclusive Legislative List and redesignate it as “Correctional Services”. This also means that states now have the powers to establish Correctional and Custodial facilities, while State Assemblies have the power to legislate on such matters without reference to the Federal Government.
Planners also want to be engaged in the siting and designing of correctional buildings to function as a tool for rehabilitation and correctional facilities, which will promote safety, security, ease of supervision and circulation.
They recommended the provision of a less institutional and more residential-like that will spatially enhance the living environment for correctional operations, rehabilitation and correctional facilities to be included in the urban policy reform and master plans for each state.
On the error in the definition of the boundary of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, by correcting previous errors captured in surrounding areas, they urged FCT and states to work with the town planners and surveyors to carry out holistic boundary delineation. “Planners should be engaged to prepare Physical and Regional Development Plans, while each local council should have functional development and rural plans.”
Following the amendment that removed the provision of electric generation from being the exclusive duty of the Federal Government and gives states the power to generate, transmit and distribute power within its domains, AWTPN advised the State Ministry of Physical Planning & Urban Development and Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resource to prepare plan for siting and distributing power stations within each state for ease of accessibility and affordability.
They also urged them to consider other sources of power generation like mini gas power generating plants and identify existing locations of power stations and appraisal of the sustainability and adequacy for spatial distribution.