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Addressing our chaotic geo-strategy

By Rekpene Bassey

Geo-strategy is a comprehensive approach to analysing, implementing, and effectively managing the intricate web of relationships between geo-territorial politics, demographics, and the dynamics of economics and social issues. In Nigeria, this holistic approach is notably deficient, leading to significant setbacks in the nation’s overall progress.

Traditionally, geo-strategy involves carefully calculated planning, utilization, and management of a nation’s physical features, such as land, demographics, and natural and economic resources.

This strengthens the value chain of national stability, safety, survival, and the overall well-being of citizens.

It also reinforces key institutions and the territorial integrity of a country, with particular regard to national security, encompassing institutions like the military, paramilitary systems, and political strategies vital to strategic security.

This treatise examines geo-strategy in the context of guiding the growth, development, and good management of Nigeria’s geo-political territories and citizens in cities, urban areas, and suburbs.

One of the most negative impacts of the chaotic geo-strategy in Nigeria is rapid urbanization without adequate infrastructure to support the growing population.

This has resulted in the proliferation of slums and informal settlements characterized by poor living conditions, crime, inadequate access to basic amenities such as water, electricity, sanitation, and healthcare, and high levels of poverty and unemployment.

According to the United Nations, over 50 per cent of Nigeria’s urban population lives in slums, lacking essential services. Poor geo-strategy has also led to inadequate transportation systems, resulting in congested roads, long commuting times, and air pollution.

The lack of effective public transportation makes it difficult for people to access employment opportunities, education, and healthcare, significantly impacting productivity and economic growth.

Inadequate provision of potable water has led to the spread of waterborne diseases, while the lack of access to electricity has hindered economic development and productivity.

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The World Bank reports that over 50 per cent of Nigeria’s population lacks access to electricity, significantly stunting economic growth and development.

An ineffective geo-strategy is evident in the congestion of Nigeria’s major cities—Lagos, Abuja, Kaduna, Kano, and Port Harcourt. For instance, the persistent traffic gridlocks in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), reflect poor planning. Despite being a planned city designed by top development and architectural firms like the International Planning Associate (IPA), Wallace, Roberts, McHarg & Todd (WRMT), and Archi Systems International, Abuja suffers from narrow roads, lack of trams, subways, or train networks, and inadequate bus stops and urban mass transit buses. Even the international airport struggles to accommodate current usage volumes.

A marked aspect of our chaotic geo-strategy is the frequent disordered traffic system on our urban roads.

Only recently several vehicles caught up in a traffic gridlock in Port Harcourt went ablaze because their drivers could not meander into safety from a fire incident involving one of the vehicles.

Apart from urban transportation issues, poor geo-strategy leads to environmental degradation due to ineffective waste management systems, resulting in polluted waterways and land.

This has also led to biodiversity loss and degradation of natural habitats. Nigeria’s natural habitats, including forests, wetlands, and wildlife reserves, are under threat due to poor geo-strategy.

Additionally, the lack of effective disaster management systems leaves the country vulnerable to natural disasters like flooding. For instance, the 2012 flood in Nigeria affected over seven million people, resulting in significant property destruction, deaths, and economic losses.

To address the impact of poor geo-strategy in Nigeria, there is an urgent need for effective urban planning, renewal, and management. This can be achieved through comprehensive new urban plans that consider the social, economic, and environmental needs of the population. Investment in state-of-the-art infrastructure, including transportation, water, sanitation systems, and electricity, is essential.

The government should develop comprehensive urban plans that account for the complex and dynamic sociocultural, economic, and environmental needs of the growing population. This includes new master plans, zoning regulations, and building codes.

Governments at both national and state levels should invest in modern infrastructure, including transportation systems, water treatment plants, and electricity generation and distribution systems. Establishing effective governance and institutional frameworks to manage urban development is crucial.

Strengthening urban planning agencies and introducing viable policies and regulations to promote sustainable urban development are necessary steps.

Engaging local communities in strategic planning processes and involving them in addressing urban challenges through community-led initiatives and community-based organizations (CBOs) can enhance urban services.

Encouraging private sector participation and investment in urban renewal, including public-private partnerships to finance and deliver urban infrastructure and services, is also vital.

Additionally, investing in professional capacity building and training for urban planners, managers, and other key stakeholders through training programs, workshops, and conferences is essential.

Leveraging technology and innovation to address urban challenges, such as developing digital platforms to manage urban services and using data and analytics to support urban planning and management, is crucial.

In conclusion, poor geostrategic has profoundly impacted urban development in Nigeria, resulting in rapid urbanisation, inadequate infrastructure, poor living conditions, and environmental degradation.

Addressing these challenges requires strong political will, effective governance and institutional frameworks, community engagement, private sector investment, capacity building, and the integration of modern technology and innovation. The time for renewed geo-strategy is now.

*Rekpene Bassey is the President of the African Council on Narcotics (ACON). He is also a Drug Prevention and Security Expert

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