Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State has harped on the need for good urban planning and responsible implementation of such plans, if city residents intend to enjoy the benefits of metropolitan dwelling.
Ikpeazu, who stated this during a three-day interactive workshop of the United Nations – Habitat tagged “Urban Thinkers Campus” organised by Vicar Hope Foundation in collaboration with some line MDAs, noted that the meeting was most timely because of the way people abuse their environment.
“I believe if you don’t take care of your environment, your environment will kill you. We need to care for our environment for the sake of the future generation,” the governor said.
He said the cities of Aba, Ohafia and Umuahia had no master plan and wondered how previous administrations carried out physical development, and charged the Urban Thinkers Campus to think about how to achieve better, affordable housing in the cities and cleaner, safer environment.
Nkechi Ikpeazu, wife of the governor earlier in her speech, urged participants to evolve ideas and realizable action plans that would help turn around the conditions of the cities and make the cities better, cleaner, safer, functional and more profitable to dwellers and visitors.
She described “The City We need” as beautiful, habitable, and runs the entire gamut from affordable and qualitative housing, to functional sanitation, infrastructure, security and emergency services.”
The wife of the governor, who is the founder of Vicar Hope Foundation, thanked the UN Habitat, the World Urban Campaign, the International Women Communication Centre and the Huairou Commission for collaborating to host the Urban Thinkers Campus in Abia.
UN-HABITAT programme manager in Nigeria, Kabir Yari, said the essence of the event was to promote sustainable urbanization.
Yari was represented by Steve Onu, a member of the UN Steering Committee on making cities resilient, expressed the hope that the meeting would come out with a road-map on how to tackle the challenges posed by rapid population growth in the urban centres.
In her speech, the Executive Director, International Women Communication Centre, Limota Goroso Giwa, said that the meeting provided an opportunity for the cross-fertilization of ideas on how to achieve the UN objective for the new urban agenda.
Giwa commended the governor’s wife for her passion and commitment toward achieving sustainable urbanization in Abia. She said that her initiative had given Abia visibility on the global map.
Osita Igbe the chairman of the meeting, said Abia State was aspiring to have one of its cities as part of the 74 cities that would enjoy intervention and support from the United Nations Human Settlements Programme – UN Habitat, and buttressed the need for a report that would be in congruence with the desires of the habitants.
The event featured lectures from renowned urban planners Chibuzo Odimuko and Lekwa Ezuta who discussed City resilience, and the role sections of the society could play in realizing The City We Need project.
Among stakeholders that attended the meeting were community development associations, Civil Society Organizations, members of the state legislature, clergy, security administrators, grass-root groups, women, youth, labour Unions, workers in the mass transit sector, Farmers, pensioners, Media, Persons with Disabilities, professionals in the built environment such as town planners, civil engineers and architects, and others including lawyers, doctors.
UDOKA AGWU, Umuahia