Nigeria has groped in darkness and confusion for many years. The dream of prosperity has been an illusion and recurring mirage. Various and successive governments have wallowed in the “near or no success syndrome”. Hopes of the citizenry have been dashed times without number. The poor are getting poorer and the bargain for safety has been costly and unaffordable. Slum living, inadequate social and engineering infrastructure are the hallmarks of our human settlements. Impunity and survival of the fittest built on the foundation of selfishness and greed puts the nation out of touch with the principles of sustainable development which our leaders endorsed along with many other international treaties. This is the character of the “giant of Africa”. Whoever then calls Nigeria as jungle is right.

A jungle has no plan. Each member of a jungle navigates its own way. Some members in a jungle are predators while others are preys. Nigerian settlements are a caricature of space, a travesty of order and display of environmental cacophony. Our finite space is treated as if it has limitless or unlimited elastic limit. Because our space has been turned into the similitude of a jungle, the right people have never been placed to organize, order and manage our environments. Priorities are misplaced. Budgets are traded with for the highest bidder. Little is known by people who have been in power that the order in the environment determines order is other spheres of life. Where physical planning is not achieved, economic planning and development remain a mirage, because all economic activities take place on land. Prosperity is achieved where the environment is orderly, functional, aesthetically pleasant and safe. These are the attributes that any planned space is endowed with.

What explanation can the government give to the people of Nigeria for not effectively activating the law on urban and regional planning which it enacted about 30 years ago? What justification can the government give to the people of this nation for relegating the most important function to the back space by making urban and regional planning an appendage to other organs of government? For effective function, it is believed that “square pegs should be kept in square holes”. But wither Nigeria; where non-experts in physical planning are the team leaders in decisions that affect the use of land? Common sense demands that experts should guide lay men; but the reverse is the case with issues that relate to urban and regional planning in Nigeria. There is no surprise in the results we now how which have become difficult problems such as catalogue of physical, economic, social and environmental challenges. We are faced with insecurity, insurgency, lack of safety, flooding, desertification, diseases, slum, environmental filth and squalor making it difficult for Nigerians to live good life. And because the leadership of Nigeria has paid deaf ears to physical planning, they have opened their ears to being reactionary by standing by to combat disasters through humanitarian services. This is a grossly misplaced priority..

We make bold to say that any group of people, community or government that neglects physical planning has sealed a contract to perish and has enrolled to be on the judgement line of posterity. We boldly say that posterity can never judge such persons with mercy.

Time has come and now it is, for Nigeria to chart a course for a Brighter Future for the prosperity of Nigerians and its citizens. We therefore call on governments at all levels and the people of this nation to:

  1. Urgently activate the law on urban and regional planning which was enacted in 1992 and set up relevant structures to promote the planning and development of our human settlements;
  2. Create permanent Ministry of Physical Planning rather than making it an appendage to any other organ of government;
  3. Recruit town planners to beef up the manpower gap in offices of government; train and retrain the planners in public establishments to enhance their professional capacities and improved performance.
  4. Ensure that land (which is our natural and common inheritance and patrimony for all generations) should not be dispensed and shared among people as reward for political patronage. It should only be used judiciously after it has been properly planned by town planners.
  5. Prepare national, regional and local area master plans respectively to tackle and mitigate flooding and other environmental disasters in Nigeria within the framework of twenty to twenty-five (20/25) years’ time frame.
  6. Engage town planners to prepare physical development plans to guide location of land uses for effective harnessing of resources to promote their economic and social benefits. These plans would include National Physical Development Plan at the national level, Regional and Sub-Regional Development Plans, Urban and Rural Master plans, Sector Plans, District Plans, Detailed Site Development Plans and Action Area Plans at the State and Local Government levels. It will also require the engagement of professional Town Planners in both private and public sectors as consultants and operators/implementers of the plans.

It is only in jungles that nature acts without control and direction. When jungles are to be turned into habitable places for humans and other components of life, it because an environment to develop and prosper.