“Dr Femi Olomola (left), receiving his certificate as National President of the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP) from Mr Remi Makinde, a former National President, at the 45th Annual General Meeting of the institute, held in Lagos recently.”
Newly elected President of the Nigerian Institute of
Town Planners (NITP) promises 5m jobs
Like many of its contemporaries, the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP) has had its fair share of challenges. Its members are not being fully patronized by the federal and state governments, due to needless red tape, which tend to favour cronies of political office holders at the expense of professional town planners for public contracts. More often than not, Nigerians have had to contend with shoddily executed projects as a result.
But things are about to change. Dr Femi Olomola’s emergence as the 26-year-old institute’s president after a well-organized election, held during its 45th Annual General meeting in Lagos, has pledged to initiate some reforms.
Olomola, a familiar voice in Nigeria’s construction/built industry, holds a doctorate in Town and Country Planning from the University, Newcastle Upon Tyne, United Kingdom, and has been involved in several mega projects across the country. His firm has been championing campus planning for many years and was credited with having designed the Master Plans of the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, the Lagos City, Grace, Ronik, Allover Central, Heritage, King’s and Fedei Polytechnics, which were all approved by the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE). The NBTE regulates all Polytechnics and Monotechnics in the country.
Besides, Olomola’s firm is currently undertaking the comprehensive review of the Obafemi Awolowo University’s (OAU) master plan. A 200-member stakeholders’ forum had earlier been inaugurated to examine the current level of development, evaluate the physical condition of the academic, residential and recreational settings and is expected to make inputs into the project.
When the NITP was established back in September 5, 1966, the institute had unveiled eight cardinal objectives. One was to “advance public awareness of the importance of the living and working environments and the necessity for their protection.” Another: “the dissemination of Town Planning Education, Training, Research and Practice.” Yet another was to establish and enforce a code of professional practice and conduct for town planning practitioners in Nigeria.” While the institute has succeeded in realizing some of its dreams, there are still many rivers to cross.
No wonder the institute’s immediate past National Secretary, Mr. Nathaniel Atebije told delegates at the conference that the institute was in need of a matured leader “with a track record of integrity and who is also knowledgeable in the profession.” Olomola has both.
The institute’s immediate past National President, Chief Steve Onu, who presented his scorecard just before the election, said the institute conducted its mandatory continuing professional development programme in Bayelsa, Ekiti and Niger states.
He said the NITP also sent delegates to some international conferences, such as the CAP West Africa Conference (Ghana); World Forum 7 (Columbia); World Cities Summit (Singapore); APA Conference (USA) and Planning Africa Conference (South Africa); all between March and October last year.
While a total of 583 new members were inducted in 2014 according to him, a new set of guidelines for election into the fellowship category of the institute was approved last August, paving the way for qualified senior members to apply.
Olomola, who had served the institute in various capacities, had always believed in the town planning profession. “Between us and the next generation,” he affirmed, “there is a contract. It is our sacred duty to create the enabling environment to convince the young, upcoming ones that the moment they genuinely struggle to get their certificate of registration with the NITP, they can nod their heads in fulfillment that it (certificate) is not only a passport to good living, but also to a fortune.”
Unveiling his agenda, Olomola pledged to create five million units of jobs per annum for registered Town Planners. “This shall be via the introduction of a Land Use Planning Report prepared by Registered Town Planners, which shall accompany applications for building permits, issuance of Certificates of Occupancy, opening of corporate accounts with banks among others,” he explained.
He also intends to undertake a critical appraisal of the present scale of fees for consultant town planners, to facilitate an amendment that would incorporate charges for land use planning reports.
Expressing concern over the near zero implementation of the Nigerian Urban and Regional Planning Decree 86 of 1992 in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Olomola wondered why the law has so far been difficult to implement.
He underscored the need for a 10-year strategic plan for the institute, which would “emphasise and consolidate our role as the first among equals in all the professions in the built environment.”