This is a trying time for the family of the Nigerian town planning profession, otherwise known as the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP), as its 21st president last week succumbed to the cold hands of death.
When the news of Dr. Femi Olomola first broke, some of his colleagues and family members had wished it was a rumour but alas, it was true that the once a vibrant man, who decided to lead his colleagues and reposition his profession, could not deliver on all his mandate. No thanks to death.
Notwithstanding his health condition, his braveness notched him to vie for the presidency of town planners in Nigeria. He got it, unveiled his agenda and immediately set to work. However, that journey was abruptly cut short 15 months after his investiture as the NITP president was done.
The cause of his demise was not shrouded in secret at all. For long, he, his family members and some of his colleagues knew that their husband, father, boss and number one town planner in Nigeria, was having a severe battle with dreaded cancer.
And since his departure, most of his colleagues, who though devastated, have described him in several ways.According to immediate past Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Lagos State, Mr. Olutoyin Ayinde, said Olomola was one of the few professionals in the private sector who demonstrated a firm belief and doggedness in the profession, defending its cause anytime he had the opportunity to do so.
For those in the private sector of the profession, Ayinde said Olomola gave hope to the upcoming, making those who were younger, making those who were younger trust that there is is future in the profession.
“He will not be forgotten for his belief that the possession of professional registration as town planner signified the possibility of prosperity. He fulfilled his mission, and his ambition, one of which was to rise to the office of national president of the institute. ay his soul rest in peace.
For the immediate past Association Of Town Planning Consultants of Nigeria (ATOPCON) President, Mr. Moses Ogunleye, “ Olomola was a large personality, indeed larger than many Nigerian town planner to ever live. His commitment and devotion to the profession of town planning was never in doubt. I have served or worked with him in many committees of the Institute during, which I was able to learn at his feet.
As Chairman of Lagos State Chapter, ATOPCON President, and NITP President, Olomola boosted the image of the profession. He was ready to face squarely any force that may want to bring down the profession. He was a fighter and a warrior for professional excellence.
“I remember very well the way we tackled the Lagos State Government when in 2008, it awarded the Lekki Master Plan project to a foreign firm that was not registered to practice in Nigeria. I was the Secretary General of the association then and I knew he was disappointed by the step taken by Lagos State Government. To drive home the point, ATOPCON alongside NITP addressed a press conference to condemn the act.
“Members of the profession except those in the employment of Lagos State Government were directed never to work with or assist the foreign consultants on the master plan project. This was the boldest decision taken in confronting a government by any professional body in Nigeria. He was not afraid of the likely backlash of such act including being blacklisted by a government that may see him as an enemy.
“Olomola’s conviction was that any professionally qualified town planner has no reason to be poor. Indeed his popular statement is that ‘TOPREC certificate /registration should be a passport to fortune and fulfillment.
“As president of the Institute, this informed his decision to promote a new service known as Land Use Planning and Analysis Report (LUPAR) to be rendered by town planners. He was also a man of strong character when it comes to probity and accountability. He never used any of the posts held to swell his purse. Rather, he spent his resources to grow the profession
“I will miss greatly, his doggedness in confronting issues in the profession and advise on professional practice. He has his imprint in the planning of the campuses of many private universities and polytechnic in Nigeria. I will miss his brilliance. I will miss his elegance. I will miss his concern for the growth of ATOPCON, which we were both lucky to facilitate its registration with the Corporate Affairs Commission after many years of its existence.”
Similarly, ATOPCON President, Mr. Olaide Afolabi, in his words said the departed NITP president was a royal gem whose type is very rare; oh, what a such nice man, he mourned.
“We will miss his style of leadership, togetherness and his simplicity over any issue.According to him, Olomola was an urban to the core; who in his lifetime would always looked at issues holistically without bias.
Second Vice President, Nigerian Institute of Builders (NIOB), Mr. Kunle Awobodu said Olomola in his lifetime, rated knowledge acquisition above material gains.
“He was a thorough bred professional, who also believed in giving back to the profession that provided him a source of income. Hence, he readily offered selfless service to his town planning profession.
Awobodu also the president, Building Collapse Prevention Guild added: “An organised settlement is admired by all, giving credence to the town planning profession. Dr. Olomola’s passion for physical planning as an important tool of transforming the Nigerian cities to international standard was difficult to fault.
“He would be painfully missed in the Nigerian built environment professional circles. May the Almighty God give his family the fortitude to bear the loss.”
Dr. Femi Ololoma was 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.
Recently, Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP), Lagos chapter honoured the firm of Femi Olomola and Company with an award for excellence as a distinguished firm in campus planning.
The firm has been championing campus planning in the profession, leading to the preparation of six campus master plans that was acceptable to the National Board of Technical Education (NBTE) for the establishment of private polytechnics, which also formed the basis of the issuance of license to Lagos City Polytechnics, Grace Polytechnics, Lagos, Nigerian Institute of Journalism, Ronik Polytechnic, Allover Central Polytechnic, Sango Otta, Ogun State and Federal Polytechnic, Gboko, Benue State.
Femi Olomola and Company has also prepared master plans for three other polytechnics, which licenses are yet to be issued. It includes Kings Polytechnic, Ubiaja, Edo State, Interlink Polytechnic, Ijebu-Jesha, Ilesha, Osun State and Heritage Polytechnic, Eket, Akwa Ibom State.In the university sector, the firm is presently engaged in the preparation of three campus master plans that will be submitted to the National University Commission (NUC) for the issuance of operation license for Chariot University, Osi, Kwara State, Elim University of Education, Imo State and South western University, Ijebu Ode, Ogun State.
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.
By Chinedum Uwaegbulam and Emmanuel Badejo