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Osun’s Urban Renewal Biggest of Such Exercise in Nigeria -UN-HABITAT Boss...Submits Structure Plan Reports

By Semiu Okanlawon
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The United Nations-HABITAT Programme Manager in Nigeria, Mallam Kabir Yari, has described the Urban Renewal initiative of Osun as the biggest exercise in the whole of Nigeria since UN-Habitat began its collaboration with states in the country.

Yari observed this in Osogbo during the formal presentation of Structure Plan Reports for nine major cities in the State of Osun.

The Osun initiative, according to Yari encompassed nine cities selected for upgrade into modern cities in a single project.

The cities involved are: Oshogbo, Ile-Ife, Ilesa, Iwo, Ede, Ejigbo, Ila-Orangun, Ikire and Ikirun.

He stated that State of Osun Structure Plans Project, which was revived by Governor Rauf Aregbesola, was embarked upon in recognition of the need to harness the potentials of the State’s significant urban population and build the capacity of cities in the state to support the development agenda and offer better living conditions to their residents.

According to the UN-HABITAT Manager, the Technical Cooperation agreement involved the use of the Rapid Urban Sector Profiling for Sustainability (RUSPS) methodology for the preparation of Structure Plans for the nine major cities and their surrounding villages, which formed the Planning Area for each of the cities.

Yari also affirmed that the Structure Plans, in addition to making significant contributions towards achieving the goals of the State of Osun Integral Action Plan, are to guide the physical development and management of these cities for the next 20 years.

Moreover, the Structure Plan would also facilitate effective service provision, minimize the incidence of slum formation, and ensure significant contribution of these cities to achieving the HABITAT Agenda and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Yari said: "We would like to place on record at this juncture sir, the fact that since the UN-Habitat began its collaboration with states in Nigeria, this initiative by the State Government of Osun has been the biggest such exercise, involving nine cities in a single project.

"The planning horizon for the Structure Plans project is a period of 20 years (2014 - 2033) and it is to be implemented progressively over the period.

"A five year periodic review of the Structure Plan and its implementation strategies is proposed for effective execution of the development projects. This is to be carried out by technocrats and stakeholders.

"For effective phasing of the plan in order of priority importance, consideration has been given for flexibility and practicable implementation of the proposal.

"The proposed phases of the Structure Plan have therefore been classified into short, medium and long term scenarios. This is to assist government agencies in preparing their annual development plans."

Earlier in his remark, Governor Aregbesola, who was represented by the Deputy Governor, Mrs. Grace Titi Laoye-Tomori, said Osun had physical planning problems because it is one of the most urbanized states in the country.

According to the Governor, some the numerous physical planning problems which the Urban Renewal Programmes aimed to correct include improper solid waste disposal, haphazard or unplanned development, urban sprawl, slums and inadequate infrastructural facilities.

According to the Governor, these identified problems make live uncomfortable for human health.

"The State Government of Osun collaborated with the UN-HABITAT to prepare these plans for the nine most populous cities in the state concurrently.

"This is the highest number of cities any state government in Nigeria has ever embarked upon. This is indeed an achievement for the state.

"This project is meant to indicate the direction of development for these cities over a plan period to achieve orderly growth and coordinated physical development.

"It is indeed our Marshal Plan for the development in the next 20 years," Aregbesola said.

In his own remark, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Sanitation and Physical Planning, Wale Ojo, observed that Aregbesola gave utmost attention to any issue pertaining to physical planning more than any other administration since the creation of the state.

Ojo said the Governor quickly embarked on the urban renewal programme in line with his administration's six-point integral action plan so as to speedily restore people to healthy living environment across the state.

He noted that government also followed up the urban renewal exercise with structure plans, also in conjunction with the UN-HABITAT.

He said government went this extra mile because the scope of urban renewal is limited to only one kilometer radius, saying unlike the urban renewal, the structure plan goes beyond the individual cities, extending into surrounding areas.

"In fact, the State of Osun is rather fortunate to enter into agreement for the payment of counterpart fund of N100 million for the nine cities at a go.

"Besides, structure plans were prepared for nine cities at a go in the history of this country and the whole of Africa at large," Ojo said.