In an effort to transform Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) into a smart city, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has undertaken an initiative aimed at developing a five-year (2018-2022) strategic physical plan for the showpiece city.
The plan, it was gathered, is aimed at transforming the FCT into a modern city and making it compatible with the current realities like climate change.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with the EnviroNews last week in Abuja during a three-day Consultative Meeting on the Development of the Five-year Strategic Master Plan for the FCT, the Deputy Director in charge of International Cooperation of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), Mohammed Lawal Abubakar, disclosed that the strategic plan would guide the development of the FCT.
He explained that subsequent budgets of the FCT would be tailored towards making the FCT one of the best capital cities in the world.
He noted that even though there are sectoral plans for the FCT which are being implemented over the years, the strategic plan is a holistic one that will enable the capital city to develop fast and make it compatible with modern realities of the time.
While applauding the UNDP for the support in developing the strategic plan, Abubakar said: “This is just the beginning. After this, we are going to have the validation process, wherein the minister, the permanent secretary, the directors and the secretaries will sit and look at what we have done here and agree with it.
“This is just like the stakeholdership. They want to hear from the FCT, what they want to do and how they want to do it. After this, there will be another phase using this document. The resource persons will go round all these Secretariat, Department and Agencies (SDAs) and work closely with them to bring out the facts and figures about the strategic plan.”
On his part, the Team Leader, Governance of Environmental Resources and Risks Programme of the UNDP, Muyiwa Odele, disclosed that the strategic plan, when developed, would integrate waste management system in the FCT to take care of the growing population.
He disclosed that the meeting was premised on the recent high level engagement between the Minister of the FCT and the UN Resident Coordinator, Edward Callon.
The two leaders, according to him, during the high level engagement, reached a consensus on the need to transform Abuja into a modern city with the support of UNDP.
“The vision, actually is to develop a strategic plan that will help to transit Abuja into a smart city and use the opportunity to take stock of the level of implementation of the Abuja Master Plan, review it and make it compatible with the realities like making it climate change compatible, urban development plan that can then be resourced, guide investment and fully functional city working and efficient waste management system.
“This is the first stage in the entire process which is bringing together all the entire ministries to brainstorm and identify the gaps and what they feel should be the content of the strategic plan.
“We will have the strategic plan and have the review of the Abuja Master Plan and then have what we have called an integrated waste management system in Abuja to take care of the growing population.
“Therefore, UNDP is working with the FCT under the leadership of the minister as well the UN Resident Coordinator as a result of that high level engagement where they both identified the need to make Abuja a more efficient city, a cleaner city and a smarter city.”
While explaining the rationale behind the review of the Abuja Master Plan, Odele said: “Now there are new realities about climate change, energy efficient buildings, integrated solid waste management, sustainable cities that are integrated, application of ICT with cities, rail system, to make the city efficient and functional.
“It is not that there is anything wrong with the former plan, there are new realities, new technologies and it will not be to anybody’s interest not to review the plan.”
Responding to questions from EnviroNews, a consultant who pleaded not to be named commended the UNDP and the FCT for the initiative to have a strategic plan for the capital city.
According to him: “For many years Abuja, the FCT has been operating without a strategic plan and even when they have, because of the dynamic nature of the world and the society, there is the need to constantly review the plan.”
The strategic plan, he noted, “will define where you want to go and how you want to get there.
“A lot of things are changing in the world and a lot of cities are becoming smart. Nigeria has been talking about becoming among the first 20 countries in the world by the year 2020, but the year 2020 is already at the corner but we are not yet there.
“Defining the strategic plan is how to get to the best; that is why we are here to define a five-year strategic plan for the FCT.”
He further explained that the consultative meeting is for the stakeholders to define how they want to get there to make the Abuja city what they are thinking.
He, therefore, called for regular consultation and awareness creation to enable the stakeholders key into the strategic plan.
The consultant called on the other states of the federation to review their plans to make their capital cities a model one and compatible to modern realities.
“I appeal to other cities and state capitals to toe the same line to continue to redefine their strategic plans for the good of our people,” he said.
By Hassan Danmaryam