The Executive Secretary, Professor Abubakar Adamu Rasheed mni, MFR, FNAL received a delegation of the Town Planners Registration Council of Nigeria (TOPREC) last Wednesday, in his office, led by its President, Professor Layi Egunjobi.  The visit was part of a sustained relationship with the Commission, having earlier been hosted by the immediate past Executive Secretary, Professor Julius A. Okojie in 2014.

Prof. Rasheed welcomed the team and expressed his optimism to partner with stakeholders such as Town Planners Registration Council of Nigeria (TOPREC) in his resolve to transform Nigerian University System.  He intimated the delegation on the current status of Nigerian tertiary education, stressing that university education fully started with commencement of degree programmes at University of Ibadan in 1962.  He pointed out that there were only six universities between 1962 – 1970.These are considered the first generation universities in the country.

The scribe explained that the Nigerian University System now has a total of one hundred and fifty three universities. When broken down, the figure shows that  the 36 states has a federal university each including the FCT; there is  one military and one police degree awarding universities; the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), totaling 40 federally funded universities.  He said that every state has established one or more universities in Nigeria except Zamfara State, bringing the total of state universities to 45; and there are 68 Private Universities.

Professor Rasheed disabused the mind of some stakeholders who suggest that the universities were getting  too many, counteracting that Nigeria has about 180 million population with about 2 million applicants annually seeking for  limited admission spaces of half a million.  This scenario called for concern to expand access adding that the NUC regulates quality and guarantees equity and fairness. Indeed, Nigeria needs more universities to accommodate more applicants with capacity to acquire degree and competencies that would roll the engine of development and move the nation forward, he concluded.

In his presentation, the President, Town Planners Registration Council of Nigeria (TOPREC) Professor Layi Egunjobi expressed his appreciation for the giant stride taken by Prof. Rasheed as Executive Secretary, NUC in the repositioning the Commission towards achieving the change Agenda of Mr. President in ensuring that Tertiary Institutions in the country continue to become sources of knowledge, academic excellence and centres for high quality research for overall economic development of Nigeria.

The president informed the commission that TOPREC was established by the law of Federal Republic of Nigeria, CAP T7, LFN 2004, to regulate and control training as well as practice of the profession of Physical Planning in all aspects and ramifications in Nigeria; determine who town planners are; and the Standards of training and skills required to be so called.”

The leader of TOPREC lamented that Nigeria has only a few trained Town Planners and many of them unemployed adding that only 32 institutions offer the programme in town planning made up of 25 Universities and 7 Polytechnics.  He said there are “eighteen (18) accredited Bachelors Degree , eleven (11) Master Degree, eight (8) Professional  and 16 Postgraduate Diploma Progammes existing in the country.

Professor Egunjobi made three (3) requests the Council to advance the Profession of Physical Planning which has bearing with the Commission:

  1. i) Appointment of Directors of Physical Planning in Tertiary Institutions;
  2. ii) Preparation and approval of Campus Master plans by Registered Town Planners/Consulting Firms;

iii)        Nomination of Registered Town Planners as members of NUC accreditation teams to Tertiary Institutions offering planning.

The President concluded by reiterating that the TOPREC law was clear on the determination of standard knowledge and skills to be obtained by persons seeking to become members of physical planning profession.  Therefore, physical planning was the preserve of Town Planners (urban & Regional Planners, Town & country planners, city planners) and their job specification mostly land use related, were substantially the responsibility of  registered town planners. He closed his speech by soliciting for a constant interaction with the Commission for the benefit of students and the Nigerian people.  The high point of the visit was the  presentation books, magazines and journals to the NUC and wished the books would be given to universities and possibly place an order if found to be relevant and useful to staff and students.

In his response, the Executive Secretary showed his happiness that the earlier visit provoked an action that translated into writing books for Town planners.  He noted the request made by TOPREC but expressed disappointment in the number of Polytechnics offering Town planning as a Programme.  He emphasised the need for more middle manpower programmes to handle skills and trainings required in the day to day activities needed to propel sustainable growth and development.

The scribe promised to look into the three requests particularly the area of engaging credible registered Town Planners in the quality assurance exercises of the Commission.  He also agreed to involved TOPREC professors when drafting and or reviewing BMAS in the area where their competencies and expertise become pertinent.

Prof. Rasheed was prompt in explaining that NUC was more concerned with academic content and quality of Nigerian graduates who would be prepared to take higher degrees anywhere and compete globally with their peers, pressing that NUC adheres mostly with academic planning not professional planning which should be the primary concern of Town Planners Registration Council of Nigeria.

The Executive Secretary welcomed the idea of collaborating with Town Planners Registration Council of Nigeria to encourage faculty members to become registered professionals so that students could be exposed to rigors of academic pursuit as well as the rudiment of professionalism.

Professor Rasheed concluded his response by encouraging Town Planners Registration Council of Nigeria to sustain the existing cordial relationship in order to reinvigorate and reposition tertiary Institutions to the envisaged position.

The other members on the Town Planners Registration Council of Nigeria delegation included TPL A. S. Baffale, Representing Jigawa State Registrar of Town Planners Registration Council of Nigeria; TPL I. M. Yunusa, Registrar, Town Planners Registration Council of Nigeria; TPL B. Madiziga, E.S. MITP; TPL S. Aboyomi, Deputy Registrar, Town Planners Registration Council of  Nigeria.