Apparently reacting to the socio-economic problems facing the entire globe and in the quest to safe the situation, experts are out to promote economic development capable of enhancing wealth creation, attract investments and maintain law and order.
To get these done, they believed that cities must be adequately planned in advance to make them sustainable for population growth.
These were the focus at the launch programme of the 2016 World Cities Report, organised by the United Nations-Habitat at the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA) with the theme ‘Urbanisation and Development: Emerging Futures.’
Director of the Nairobi, Kenya-based Regional Office for Africa, UN-Habitat, Professor Oyebanji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka, said while rural to urban migration was inevitable, it should not be chaotic if cities were well planned to accommodate the drift whenever it occurred.
According to Oyeyinka, urbanisation includes the provision of good roads, drainage systems and provision of housing for the teeming population. He, however, lamented that many cities in the world still relied on outdated modes of planning and unsustainable forms of urbanisation.
The director was also of the view that planning regulations were often too detailed and inflexible thereby making compliance so challenging that people often tended to bypass them altogether.
“Besides, genuine accountability and administrative capacity to implement public polices based on accurate information entails a new urban agenda.
“The new urban agenda should convey a sense of urgency, have a clear means of implementation, adopt a city-wide approach, propose concrete strategies and actions and be flexible to integrate regional differences,” he said.
He further noted that the role of planning was to make cities more productive and that this could only be made possible through the establishment of transparent laws that governed the operations of cities with special attention paid to housing.
He further noted that over the last 20 years, housing had not been central to national and international development agendas, while governments’ involvement had only focused on the middle class and home ownership that few could attend.
Making allusion to Nigeria, the professor observed that the bane of urbanisation was structural unemployment which he said was as a result of the movement of farming population to urban areas with skills not relevant to the urban modern sectors and a tertiary education void of practical skills and experience in the operation of industrial machinery.
He therefore, recommended the promotion and adoption of policies to stimulate high growth of manufacturing output which he said would raise shares of employment in industry; design and plan urban clusters and adopt sustainable urban plans and legislations to regulate orderly rural-urban transitions and growth of cities.
Earlier in his address, FUTA’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Adebiyi Daramola, said the event was very significant in many respects as it was part of concerted efforts of the university to promote research, create awareness and sensitise the general public on the need for a change in order to better respond to contemporary challenges. Professor Daramola further said the event was also designed to foster collaboration between FUTA and the UN-Habitat to address some of the challenges associated with lack of adequate preparation for urbanisation in Nigeria as in other countries of the world such as insecurity and increasing risk of terrorism, urban warfare, disease and pandemics.
In addition, the VC said the event was also designed to call the attention of the government at all levels to the significant role that the World Cities Report played in informing policies and actions taken by cities and their leaders to make a positive impact on housing and slums, risk reduction and basic urban services.
Also speaking, Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, who was represented by Mrs Rakiya Gambo Ilyasu, commended the university for taking the lead in the Nigerian education sector and indeed Nigeria as a whole, for the initiative and giant step to host the launch of the all-important report.
The minister said Nigeria had come a long way in urban development but that there was still room to do better by creating a new urban agenda that would give cities the ability to prepare for the challenges that were associated with urbanisation.
The World Cities Report 2016 was launched by the Osemawe of Ondo Kingdom, Oba Victor Kiladejo, who expressed delight at the relevance of the event to the actualisation of a new urban agenda which promotes cities that are environmentally sustainable.