In planning for Nigeria’s infrastructure and building sustainable cities for the future, architects and other relevant professionals should among other factors, consider the underprivileged in the society and this is according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.
Speaking on the need to have an infrastructure plan that takes care of all strata of society, Prof Osinbajo said and i quote, “it is important that you all as professionals keep the underprivileged members of society in mind as you plan the country’s infrastructure.
GOODWILL REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO, SAN, GCON, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA AT THE NIGERIAN INSTITUTE OF ARCHITECTS, NATIONAL INTEGRATED MASTERPLAN CONFERENCE HELD AT THE SHEHU MUSA YAR’ADUA CENTRE, ABUJA ON THE 6TH OF OCTOBER, 2022
It is my pleasure to be here today at the inaugural Integrated Infrastructure Research for Development Conference. And the theme, ‘Creating Sustainable World-Class Cities in Nigeria’ is both apt and timely.
We are currently the 7th most populous nation in the world with an estimated population of over 206 million people. This population is projected to rise to 264 million by 2030 and will cross the 300 million threshold around 2036.
It is projected that by 2050, we will have the third-highest population in the world. The majority of this population will live in cities and concurrently increase the size of our towns in ever-expanding dimensions of urban sprawl.
It is estimated that Lagos, for example, will be the 9th most populous city in the world by 2030. In many respects, we are dealing with a rate of population growth and urbanization that is probably unparalleled in history. Compare the population of the UK in 1960, 52million people and now the UK has a population of only 68million people to Nigeria, a population of 45million in 1960 and 206million in 2022.
In the lifetimes of many of us, we have seen Abuja grow from its creation in 1976 with a population of 85,000 to become a sprawling city of 3.6 million people in 2022.
These are the sort of dramatic changes which will challenge our capacity for urban planning and social organization, How do we ensure sustainable urban planning that transforms our cities and growing urban clusters into truly habitable spaces, that are hubs of sustainable growth, that guarantee a high quality of life and enhanced prospects of self-actualization for our people?
Sustainable urban planning must involve planning for the clean energy needs of large numbers of people; from renewable energy for homes and workspaces to providing infrastructure for clean cooking.
And we must ask: what will greater use of electric vehicles and the decommissioning of combustion engine vehicles mean for road and related infrastructure planning in another decade or so? Many of us are probably aware that a lot of the countries that produce combust engine vehicles are looking at decommissioning in another 10-15 years. This means we must start to plan for new types of vehicles otherwise we would have to produce our own vehicles.
We must avoid a scenario of anarchic urbanization in which our urban centres are no more than densely populated and decrepit incubators of destitution and crime. The only real way out is innovative planning.
The case for sustainable cities is obvious. They can invigorate regional economies and catalyze growth on a regional scale. The positive multiplier effects are inestimable – and the benefits are not just economic. New frontiers of opportunity for social engineering with a view to strengthening social cohesion are opened up as we plan sustainable cities.
Indeed, the opportunity to shape the living spaces of millions of people from diverse backgrounds clustering in new cosmopolitan precincts is an exciting one. It is a task that we must embrace with a good measure of strategic intentionality and imagination.
A city cannot be considered world-class if it lacks a vibrant economy driven by qualitative infrastructure, functional social services and efficient urban governance that optimally deliver public goods.
In building our cities, we must deliberately ensure that the benefits of becoming world-class cities accrue not only to wealthy individuals but across all strata of society, across classes and income groups.
This administration’s investments in social housing and other welfare programmes demonstrate our consciousness of the inadequacies that cities across the world face. It is important that you all as professionals keep the underprivileged members of society in mind as you plan the country’s infrastructure. Indeed, I would go so far as to urge you to see infrastructure planning as an opportunity to create a physical environment conducive to social mobility.
The Federal Government has invested significantly in infrastructure. Over the past seven years, we have ensured that the capital expenditure for infrastructure projects is prioritized in the budget. We have embarked upon new projects as well as overseen the completion of ongoing projects.
Our investments in rail, highways, fibre optics, digital penetration, energy pipelines, electricity transmission and distribution lines and renewable energy, are not just about meeting today’s demands; they are the infrastructural arteries that will link tomorrow’s cities and give them the capacity for sustainable growth.
The Government also launched the N15 trillion Infrastructure Corporation (InfraCorp Nigeria) last year, even as the President signed Executive Order 7, which has informed the right policy framework and created additional opportunities for Public Private Partnership (PPP) in infrastructure development.
Towards this end, in 2022 we launched the revised National Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan (2020-2043) and the National Development Plan (2021-2025). The National Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan (The Masterplan) is the government’s strategic document, initially developed in 2012, to guide Nigeria’s infrastructure investment, add value to the national economy and enhance private sector participation in infrastructure development. The goal of this Plan is to raise Nigeria’s infrastructure stock to at least 70 percent by the year 2043.
In the first five years of the reviewed Master plan, investments in Energy, Transport, Social Infrastructure and Housing will be prioritised because these are crucial enablers for practically all other sectors.
The reviewed Master Plan and the National Development Plan (2021-2025) also estimate the current nation’s infrastructure stock at 30-35 percent of the GDP in 2020, against 20 percent of GDP recorded in 2015. This is still a far cry from the global practice of 70 percent of GDP but it is for this reason that I am optimistic about the innovation that this conference will ignite.
I am pleased that your discussions will focus on cities, this is as it should be. It is the States that fully control planning and development control, even with respect to Federal land in the States. These conversations must therefore have the States of the Federation as the focal participants.
Earlier this year in the month of June, I received a courtesy visit from the leadership of the Nigerian Institute of Architects. Today, I am gratified to see that they have taken up the challenge I posed to them to use their convening power to bring together the professional bodies in the built environment to partner with the Government in the deployment of Infrastructure across the country.
I strongly believe that if there is synergy between all the professionals in this sector, we will see even greater returns on our collective investments in the sector.
It is refreshing to see this collaboration between all the professional associations in the built environment, and the pledge to take ownership of the National Integrated Infrastructure Development Master Plan and the National Development Plan. This is what partnership is about – the Government creates an enabling environment through policy, and the private sector operationalizes the policy goals through its investments.
I congratulate the Nigerian Institute of Architects for taking the leadership role and coordinating the joint effort of all stakeholders and for hosting such a well-planned conference.
Thank you very much for listening and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.