The Africities summit is a gathering of leaders of local authorities who enunciate ideas on how to use the third tier of government to change Africa…
It is an emerging trend for local government authorities in Nigeria to assume the proactive role of promoting Nigeria at international fora, unlike in the past when their role was mainly limited to their localities, not by design but perhaps lack of vision. At the recently concluded Africities summit 2018 which held at Marrakesh, Morocco from November 20th to 24th, the duo of Kwali Area Council Chairman, Honourable Joseph Shazin and treasurer, Alhaji Abdullahi Sidi Alli made an impressive outing by showcasing the numerous human and material potentials of Kwali Area council and Nigeria as a whole.
The summit which is designed to give voice to local authorities across Africa had in attendance about 8300 participants who represented seventy seven countries including fifty three African countries. The international summit was also boosted with the attendance of three thousand elected representatives and local government officials including the chairman of Kwali Area Council of the federal capital territory, Abuja and the council treasurer, Alhaji Abdullahi Sidi Alli.
From inception twenty years ago it was anticipated that the Africities summit will be a gathering of leaders of local authorities who will enunciate ideas on how to use the third tier of government to change Africa for better. At this year’s assemblage of bright minds from across the local government authorities in Africa, the anniversary of twenty years of the Africities Summit was celebrated and highlighted with the presentation of the anthem of United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG AFRICA).
During the summit, three special days were organised which included Migration Day November 22; Climate Day November 22 and Urban Planning Day which held on November 23, 2018. There was also the reading of the Royal Message by Her Royal Majesty, Princess Lalla Meryem who also launched the pan-African campaign titled “African cities without street children”. The objective of the campaign is to sensitize leaders of local authorities on the urgent need to embark on measures aimed at rehabilitating the poor among us especially children, and discouraging them from street begging.
Similarly the summit focussed on strategies to be adopted by the leaders of local governments across Africa towards empowering women and youths. Already this is an area that the Kwali area council of the federal capital territory has devoted significant resources and efforts through the support to local farmers, traders and the elderly.
The administration of Honourable Joseph Shazin has also concentrated on rehabilitating schools in the area council and awarded numerous scholarships to indigent students. This is in line with the vision of the organisers of the Africities summit in Morocco and at different interactive sessions many attendees considered the Kwali area council template as not only sustainable but worthy of emulation.
In the area of urban renewal, the Chairman of Kwali area council has paid attention to the rehabilitation of dilapidated infrastructure like roads, bridges and reconstruction of primary and secondary schools in the area council. The administration has also made the payment of salaries a priority, while healthcare and reduction of infant mortality are being given utmost attention.
As we await the hosting of the next summit tagged “Africities 9” in Kisumu Kenya in 2021, it is noteworthy that this year’s summit devoted twenty five percent of the sessions to gender issues, including the fight against violence against women and paying adequate attention to the economic empowerment of women in Africa.
The summit identified and highlighted women and youths as the two key players without whom the transition to sustainable cities and territories cannot be possible, hence the need to give them support at the local government level.
The summit also used the urban planning day to focus on urban planning as a basic tool for achieving sustainable cities. It emphasised the need to set up urban agencies to monitor and supervise the dynamics of urbanisation, and to put in place mechanisms for dialogue between all stakeholders in order to define the allocation and policies surrounding the use of land in the various local authorities to check ecological problems.
In this respect, Kwali area council administration can be commended for their foresight at ensuring proper planning of their urban area and decongesting the council of traffic and removing slums by allocating spaces for trading, timber shed, abattoir and cattle grazing.
It can, therefore, be said that the Africities summit provided an opportunity for cross-fertilisation of ideas between the Kwali Area Council delegation led by the chairman, Honourable Joseph Shazin and the treasurer, Alhaji Abdullahi Sidi Alli and delegates from over seventy seven countries.
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Enekwechi, an Abuja-based journalist, writes via [email protected]