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Planners move to revitalise profession

A group of settlement development practitioners appears to have taken the bull by the horn in what looks like a spirited bid to inject a fresh lease of life in the practice of their profession.

Physical Planning Renaissance Initiative (PPRI)
L-R: TPLs Moses Ogunleye, Tunji Odunlami, Bunmi Ajayi, Waheed Kadiri, Toyin Ayinde, Wale Alade, Ayo Adediran and Michael Simire, at the PPRI Formal Inaugural Meeting held on Thursday, January 10, 2019 at the Joseph Awogbemi House, Lagos NITP Secretariat, Alausa, Ikeja

Bothered about the the somewhat unsavoury image being projected to the public, no fewer than 10 town planners have embarked on a journey to right perceived wrongs and set the path of the urban planning profession towards a prosperous future.

Under the aegis of the Physical Planning Renaissance Initiative (PPRI), a not-for-profit outfit that they recently established, the experts have set out to not only highlight the essence of planning and what they do as professionals, but also to galvanise the public to further stimulate their interest in participatory planning.

The founding members of the PPRI are Yacoob Abiodun, Bade Falade, Bunmi Ajayi, Waheed Kadiri, Toyin Ayinde, Moses Ogunleye, Tunji Odunlami, Wale Alade, Ayo Adediran and Michael Simire.

At a formal inaugural meeting held on Thursday, January 10, 2019 in Lagos, members renewed their determination to realise the set vision, mission, goals and objectives of the organisation.

They likewise underscored their resolve to:

  • harp on the roles of government, the lawmakers and Policy-makers in order to guarantee institutional and legal support for planning;
  • spotlight planning achievements and best practices for wider dissemination;
  • report the sterling achievements of the individual or corporate planners to encourage mentoring and to create a retinue of proteges; and,
  • embark on self-appraisal by starting to fix any wrong perception(s) about planning and planners in order to reassure the Nigerian public that “we care”.

Abiodun, planning advocate and convener of the PPRI, said: “The emergence of the PPRI will lead to a medium where urban planners will use to get the reading public informed about the essence of planning, what planners do, showcases planning success stories and best practices for people to know where such planning interventions exist in Nigeria. Members of the profession around the country will also have the knowledge of what their counterparts are doing in the states of the federation.

“The medium will also carry contemporary news/practices about planning beyond the shores of Nigeria that could be applicable to the country’s planning situation. In a nutshell, the PPRI platform will give a new lease of life to planning in Nigeria. The students of planning will use it as a resource material including the academics. As for the prospects, the sustainability of the platform will drive the prospect.

“Once it is introduced to the Nigerian media market and the reporting is good in contents with arrays of interesting planning topics, the demand for the magazine will be enhanced. The prospect is ‘hopefully’ good once every hand is on deck to make it a successful venture. The PPRI will be filling a vacuum created by paucity of information about planning in Nigeria and among Nigerians.”

Ogunleye stated: “The birth of the group will bring in alternative views and perspectives to the delivery of effective services in physical planning.  It will stimulate stakeholders for greater action and facilitate inclusiveness. It will be most beneficial to government at all levels as they will, among others, be able to feel or gauge the expectations including anxieties of the public.

“Ultimately, the body will become Nigeria ‘s leading group raising awareness on matters that affect human settlement development for economic growth, livelihood advancement and broad sustainable development.”

Odunlami stressed: “Things have gone so bad and the human space is not left out. Our spatial experience is stressful and accusing fingers are pointed at the managers of space – the town or urban or physical planners. Virtually everyone has abandoned his spatial responsibility. There is no longer adherence to standards and rules of building and use of space, and enforcement is comatose.

“There is need for intervention to refocus all of us to the issues, reinforce our roles and reverse the trend. This has given birth to Physical Planning Renaissance Initiative, a non-governmental group of concerned, experienced and passionate professionals with a vision to continuously interrogate physical planning and development issues, educate all actors, offer opinions and proffer realistic but simple solutions to issues of urban and rural space management in order to achieve a salutary environment for all.”

Adediran submitted: “The PPRI emerged as an outcome of the concern of some planning practitioners led by Tpl Abiodun Yacoob with respect to the negative perception of the public on physical planning activities and planners. The group concluded there must be a platform or forum for projecting positive image of planners and planning activities. It is all about continuous development of planners and public enlightenment on what planning is all about. The group is also out to rebrand planning through various channels of communication. It is aimed at complementing the activities of the NITP/TOPREC in the areas of advocacy and public policy formulation.

“The prospect of the group in achieving the fundamental objectives of planning principles and practice is high. It will give experienced members of the profession and the public opportunity to proffer wide range of solutions to challenges in the environment and physical planning because of its independence.”

Kadiri stated: “It will be recalled that, in January 2016, a group of concerned town planners held a colloquium in Lagos in reaction to a series of questions raised on various social media platforms on the position of the profession in the nation. Though the colloquium was highly successful with almost 250 urban planners in attendance, however, it was realised that the momentum achieved was not sustainable. This pushed Tpl. Yacoob Abiodun to suggest to some urban planners to come together in a formal corporate body to be at the driving seat of pushing for the visibility of the profession.

“The group, now known and registered as Physical Planning Renaissance Initiative, is an NGO with the aims of putting into public space all that physical planning stands for. The NGO has set for itself the goal of bringing up dispassionate analysis of issues related to physical planning and the built environment. With this, the NGO will become a ‘go-to’ organisation for ideas and comments on issues surrounding the built environment.

“It will also provide the forum for all to discuss issues and policies. Envisaged is a publication of a specialised medium that will not only provide information but will also be medium of dissemination of research findings.

“The NGO will also not lose sight of the need for an ombudsman in the built environment process. All these are envisaged to be achieved in collaboration with NITP, TOPREC and ATOPCON and other groups and persons wanting a livable environment for all Nigerians no matter where they are.”

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