Determined to achieve sustainable development and improve the lives of all residents, stakeholders have endorsed the draft Niger State Urban Policy.
They met at a one-day policy dialogue and validation themed: ‘Draft Niger State Urban Policy: Towards accelerating the delivery of sustainable towns and cities in Niger State’, organised by the Niger State Government in collaboration with UN-Habitat.
The Secretary to the Government of Niger State, Ahmed Matane, who set the tone for the meeting said the policy dialogue was to ensure that stakeholders provided additional feedback on the current contents of the draft urban policy, after which a final urban policy will be enacted into law so that it has legal backing for the implementation.
According to him, the target of the government is to complete the enactment by 2020 while the implementation begins in 2021.
Niger state urban areas: Minna, Bida, Kontagora, and Suleja had grown exponentially and placed tremendous pressure on the state government to provide enough facilities and services for the teeming population.
This led the Niger State government to seek technical support from UN-Habitat that led to the formation of the state’s Urban Support Programme (NSUSP) and formulation of the urban policy as well as preparation of integrated development plans for Minna and Suleja.
Essentially, the implementation of the new policy would be kick-started with the Suleja smart city and digitisation of land administration as well as the strengthening of existing Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to improve their abilities to collaborate.
At the event, the South Korean Ambassador to Nigeria, In-Tae Lee, revealed that The country had dedicated $3 million to help countries develop an urban policy, Niger State, which was one of the areas selected, rather than Nigeria as a country.
“The selection of Niger State was deliberate due to the existing relationship between South Korea and Niger State as evidenced by South Korea’s development of a $1.6 million rice plant in Bida, installation of a solar-powered borehole at the General Hospital in Minna, distribution of Personal Protective Equipment(PPE) and hand sanitizers at the hospital,” he said.
He advised the state authorities to learn developmental lessons from South Korea, which was once a poor country and through meticulous planning and hard work was able to develop into a thriving and prosperous country.
The Chief Policy, Legislation and Governance Section of UN-Habitat, Remy Sietchiping, who participated virtually, commended Niger State for pioneering the formulation of a state-driven urban policy in Nigeria.
He added that the draft policy has 10 priority areas that will be consistently monitored and reviewed over time to ensure their relevance for the development of the state.
Sietchiping urged stakeholders to truly embrace the policy and be a key catalyst in ensuring its successful implementations.
Earlier, the Project Manager, Niger State Urban Support Programme, Prof. Mustapha Zubairu, said the policy will be the first of its kind to be developed by a subnational government in Africa, saying that Nigeria has produced two national policies over the years that did not work.
“The problem had been that they were developed top-down instead of bottom-up, which has prevented buy-in from state and local governments. In developing the policy, a conscious effort was made to ensure that its development was driven bottom-down to ensure buy-in and commitment to implementation by all stakeholders,” he added.
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