At the mention of the name, Sir Engr Adelana Oluwaseun Odutola, KJW, my benefactor, and a father indeed, three things comes to mind. First, the name Engr Odutola echoes what a highways engineer do, from designing local road schemes and maintaining the road network, including structures such as bridges; Working with other professionals to build and maintain roads; Finding new solutions to transport problems; and planning for highway maintenance and improvement projects. Engr Odutola at 70 calls for a national rethink on Highways and transportation planning ‘as a process of making decisions which concerns the future of a given transport system. The decisions relate to the determination of future demand; the relationships and interactions which exist between the different modes of transport; the effect of the proposed system on both existing land uses and those proposed for the future; the economic, environmental, social and political impacts of the proposed system and the institutional structures in place to implement the proposal put forward. Transport planning is generally regarded as a rational process, i.e. a rational and orderly system for choosing between competing proposals at the planning stage of a project.’ Engr Odutola at 70 echoes the role of a highway engineer ‘to oversee the costing, estimating, planning and implementation of a project. This makes highway engineering a diverse and rewarding career, with day-to-day duties ranging from undertaking site surveys to preparing design specifications, organising deliverable packages and much more.’
Born into a Methodist family on Tuesday 30th January, 1951 to Pa Oladega Odutola and Princess Caroline M Odutola (nee Awotesu) both from Sagamu, Remo in Ogun State, Engr Odutola had his early primary school education at the Ereko Methodist Primary School, Lagos Island – (1957-1963). He had both his School certificate and Higher School certificate at Igbobi College between 1964- 1970, and served as a School Prefect during his Upper Six Science year in 1970.
Engr Odutola graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons.) Degree in Civil Engineering from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in June, 1974. He specialized with a Post-graduate Course in Highways and Traffic Engineering, obtaining Master of Science from the University of Birmingham, England, United Kingdom in 1977. A career as a Highway Engineer for Engr Odutola is very rewarding in a number of ways. On his return to Nigeria after his studies in United Kingdom, Engr Odutola has been involved in many different projects from minor proposals right the way through to complex high profile major developments which may be of national, state, local, or regional importance. One particularly rewarding aspect of Engr Odutola’s career is seeing the development he has worked on being built and operating successfully for years and years to come.
Engr Odutola had his full professional practice with the Lagos State Government after his National Youth Service at Yola , in the then North-Eastern State, between 1974 to 1975. In the same year after his National service, Engr Odutola started his civil service career in the Lagos State Government from August, 1975. He served in different capacities at the then Ministry of Works and Planning, the Ministry of Transport, the New Towns Development Authority, the Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning, Lagos State Public Works and Infrastructure, General Manager, New Towns Development Authority (1985-1992). He was promoted to the substantive post of Director in October, 1987 and in July, 1999, he was appointed a Permanent Secretary. He served in the Lagos State Ministry of Work from July, 1999 till April, 2003, and later served as the Permanent Secretary of the Office of Works between May, 2003 to February 2007 when he voluntarily retired from the Lagos State Civil Service. The then Lagos State Governor, His Excellency, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu appointed Engr Odutola Special Adviser on Works and Infrastructures from February 2007 to May 2007 as a member of the Lagos State Executive Council with oversight both over the Office of Infrastructure and Office of Works. Throughout his professional career and different appointments, Engr Odutola met a variety of different people from clients who may be professional developers, specialist service providers and members of the public. He was often a part of government multi disciplinary team and met with architects, planners, air quality and noise consultants, structural engineers and quantity surveyors to name but a few. Engr Odutola engages with Local Planning and Highway Authorities and third parties such as elected officials and local residents during the planning process.
The legacy of Engr Odutola reminds us the importance of highways to a country’s economic development. The construction of a high quality road network directly increases a nation’s economic output by reducing journey times and costs, making a region more attractive economically. The actual construction process will always have the added effect of stimulating the construction market.
Among Engr Odutola’s legacies based on his international exposure and trainings reminds us that the administration of highway projects differs from one country to another, depending upon social, political and economic factors. For example, ‘the design, construction and maintenance of major national primary routes such as motorways or dual carriageways are generally the responsibility of a designated government department or an agency of it, with funding, in the main, coming from central government. Those of secondary importance, feeding into the national routes, together with local roads, tend to be the responsibility of local authorities. Central government or an agency of it will usually take responsibility for the development of national standards.’ Engr Odutola has helped Lagos State in promoting and formulating State transportation policy and for funding major projects that are subsequently constructed, operated and maintained at state level. Nigeria is in dire need of highways planning strategies especially within large urban areas and other transport options such as rail and cycling alongside car-based ones. With his understanding of the demand management approach and the public transport-centred approach, Engr Odutola, a member of the Institution of Highway Engineer, Great Britain, since 1977 remains a model of the creativity and innovation of engineering career.
Engr Odutola, a member of the Nigerian Society of Engineers since 1981 and a member Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) since 1983, reminds us of the role of engineering in relation to projects like Spaghetti Junction, the feat of engineering that is one of England’s best known landmarks. Constructed 52 years ago, Spaghetti Junction – the amazing UK Midlands road structure, is ‘used daily by tens of thousands of people travelling in and out of Birmingham, and through the region to go up and down the country.’ Engr Odutola at 70 as a firm and a meticulous organiser challenges our nation on the need to overcome road and traffic grillocks especially in our cities just as it is possible to get in and out of Birmingham as quickly as with Spaghetti Junction. We need strategic road network in Nigeria that connects businesses, families and friends just as we need more people that build them in Nigeria by Nigerians. Engr Odutola at 70 appeals to young people to consider engineering as a rewarding career bearing in mind the amazing things they could achieve as engineers. The Lagos Third Mainland Bridge and Spaghetti Junction in UK are great examples ‘of how engineering transforms the way we live, work and travel. Advances in technology, energy, healthcare and infrastructure mean engineers will continue to play a vital role in all our lives, so it’s more important than ever that we inspire young people and their parents to take a closer look at the opportunities that this creative, innovative profession could offer them.’ We need a number of interchange in Nigeria just as Spaghetti Junction in numbers is the interchange of the M6, A38, A38 (M) connecting Birmingham and the M6.’ The Spaghetti Junction that started in 1968 ‘took four years to build and is subject to regular maintenance programmes many of which take place underneath the road.’ Engr Odutola at 70, a Fellow of the Nigeria Society of Engineers since June 2000 calls for necessary towering concrete columns everlasting the structure of our road bridges in Nigeria though not necessarily reaching 80 feet high like the Spaghetti Junction.
The second thing that comes to mind at the mention of the name Sir Engr Lana Odutola is the Methodist Church. I first met Engr Odutola at City Mission Methodist Church in 1995 at the invitation of Very Rev Agosu to minister during a Seminar on the Spirituality in Methodism Hymns organised by the Men’s Christian League. Engr Odutola in his youthful days, worshipped with his family at the William Memorial Methodist Cathedral, Ago-Ijaiye, Ebute-Metta and later at the Wesley Cathedral, Olowogbowo, Lagos. At the inception of City Mission Methodist Church, Surulere, almost 40 years ago, Engr Odutola became an active member. Engr Sir Odutola, a very committed and praying Christian provided the necessary support for the construction of the Church’s manse and the church’s multi-purpose hall that was dedicated for use recently. In recognition of his contributions to the development of Methodist church at the local, diocese and Conference levels, Methodist Church Nigeria honoured him with the church highest award, Knight of John Wesley (KJW). As a two term Lay President, Diocese of Remo, Engr Odutola is passionate about the growth of the diocese and welfare of the ministers. At City Mission Methodist Church, Engr Odutola is Patron, Ladies League, Patron Unity Sisters, Patron, Boys’ and Girls’ Brigade and Chairman, Building Committee since 2007.
The third thing that comes to mind at the mention of the name Engr Odutola is his marriage of over 37 years to Lady Oluranti Ayoka Odutola (nee Seriki). According to Lady Odutola, ‘coming from a polygamous Muslim background and marrying into a Christian family greatly influenced my moving closer to God.’ Sir Lana and Lady Ranti Odutola, a couple with individual strong personalities, discreet with analytical and objective thinking provides a model for a joyful Christian home. Lady Odutola, a Bachelor of Arts (B.A Hons) graduate in English (1979), and Master of Public Administration (MPA), 1998, degrees from the University of Ilorin and the Lagos State University, (LASU), Lagos respectively, started her civil service career with the Lagos State Government on 1st September, 1980 and met her husband Engr Odutola in December, 1980. According to Lady Odutola, who is also a retired Permanent Secretary, ‘one thing led to another and he finally proposed in an unusual way. Unusual because rather than using the traditional “will you marry me?” phrase, my suitor asked: “will you make me happy?” And God has always been helping me since we got married on Saturday, 22nd October, 1983, because I have enjoyed a peaceful, blissful and fruitful marriage. I could not have asked for a better husband. My husband is such a responsible, reliable, faithful, responsive, and caring husband and father.’ To the glory of God, the Odutolas blessed with four lovely children and six grandchildren are facilitating a Mentoring, Family Oriented, and Marriage ministry, Joyful Homes, to help both the singles and married couples. The Odutolas also manage a family private company, Laranod Ventures Limited established in June, 2007. The company principally undertakes Building, Civil and General Engineering contacting.
To God be the glory for a very selfless leader, philanthropist, a loving husband, and a caring father, Sir Engr Adelana Odutola at 70. Long life and good health in Jesus’ name.