Welcome Speech by the ATOPCON President at the 2019 ATOPCON Professional Development Workshop

Welcome Speech by the ATOPCON President at the 2019 ATOPCON Professional Development Workshop


I am greatly delighted to have you here to participate in the 2019 edition of our annual workshop.  As key stakeholders in the planning profession, attending this professional development workshop annually, which brings together a great number of practicing planners across the Country to share ideas, discuss issues and challenges we are facing in our profession. This workshop helps us to interact, share experiences and explore the avenues to improve our professional practices.


I wish to formally express my gratitude to our facilitators, and the discussants, we know by their antecedent, this workshop sessions would be extensively though not exhaustively touch on various issues capable of improving our practice.  Also, let me specially appreciate the presidents of NITP AND TOPREC, we are delighted to have you in our midst.


The theme of this year’s workshop ‘PROFESSIONAL SERVICE AND PRACTICE: THE ETHICAL DILEMA” will open a new vista of opportunities for practice and will help planning practice in the Country. I have no doubt that discourse at this workshop will be thought provoking and could not have come at a better time. The Planning Consultant job is highly technical requiring skill and sincerity in practice as well as public dealing. The Consultant Town Planner, therefore, has to be a person with integrity, capacity, ability, dynamism and imagination. In addition to his professional obligation.


As noted by Saini (2010), today’s planners suffer from a lingering unclear and conflicting public image that cultivates confusion and perhaps mistrust. Consequently, morale within the profession is low. And with this in mind, this year’s workshop would no doubt provide a platform for an appraisal of existing practice issues in the country; our ethical and professional relationships, our ethical obligations as practitioners both to ourselves and the planning profession, which equally allows us beam our searchlight on the public perception of our practice.


In one of Atopcon’s workshop, a guest speaker, Tpl Odunlami, fnitp said and I quote “It seems to me that there is no love lost between you and your professional colleagues who are the decision takers in government. There even appears to be competition between you. The following are some of the complaints and reported experiences of your members”:

  • Deliberate road blocks to frustrate applications – these include nit-picking
  • Contacting clients ‘behind the back’ of the consultant
  • Casting doubts in the minds of the client as to the competence of the consultant
  • Hijacking submissions
  • Plagiarism


The National President of NITP, Tpl Ezutah, fnitp at one of Atopcon’s retreat, asked the following questions, which I hope this gathering will provide the necessary answers to:

  1. How do we practice town planning under political authority without compromising professional ethics?
  2. Is it the political class or our members that constitute the problem?
  3. How do we ensure a high degree of uniformity in professional conduct, practice and expectations within the profession – a kind of common language and bond?


Just like Tpl Odunlami, Tpl Ezutah also itemized common ethical infringements by town planning practitioners in the Country:

  • Carrying out unlawful Instructions
  • Under cutting-Many of our professional colleagues obey this rule more in the breach in an attempt to corner more jobs. They rely on turnover to the detriment of quality.
  • Sub-standard jobs-We knows that some of our colleagues’ stamp and sign projects undertaken by non-professional planners or quacks.
  • We have subverted the use of the Toprec stamp and resorted to buying from neighbouring states, even very senior practitioners do this
  • Civil and Public Servants engaging in private practice
  • Withholding Information or documents
  • Supplanting and discrediting colleagues
  • Non-Participation in NITP/TOPREC Activities
  • Abuse of Office and Conflict of Interest- Processing of building plans for approval by development control officers


Finally, I will like to end my speech at this workshop by further quoting Tpl Odunlami again. He said, “Your organisation, ATOPCON, is the single most powerful grouping in the practice of the town planning profession in Nigeria. Among you are past and serving presidents of NITP, president and council members of TOPREC, other high-ranking officers of NITP, past and present, fellows of the Institute and retired top ranking public servants. However, you have not leveraged on this to influence planning policy, decisions and programmes across the states of the federation. You have been reticent and docile in exposing unethical practices experienced in your interactions with government agencies. Many of you have accepted that unethical practices are normal and have resigned yourself to suffering or condoning them and played along with the ‘difficult’ officials just to get your projects approved. I have always wondered why this is so.


Past presidents of Atopcon here present, Head of member firms and fellows of the institute, what further indictment do we need to wake up from our slumber.


Once again, thank you all for being part of this year’s workshop. We are honoured to have you here with us.


Tpl (Dr) Idris Okanla’ Salako, fnitp

President, Atopcon

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