Ondo Development Committee: Oba Adesanoye Civic Centre
Standing tall in the heart of Ondo town is a compelling and very imposing edifice called the “Oba Adesanoye Civic Centre”. The Centre, with its beauty and magnificence, is a unique structure that is well suited for social activities of the Ondo. It is also an inviting place for visitors to Ondo Kingdom to observe the murals of the native activities on the concrete fascia, at the stage and timber doors. It may satisfactorily go for a tourist attraction. The building, which is without any doubt, the best of its kind in Ondo State, also takes care of the business life of the people with its offices, rentable committee halls, and tiered conference centre with cultural court. It is designed to be serviced by a bank operation within the Complex.
The idea of the Civic Centre was conceived in 1990. The original site chosen for the Centre was the community land at Okelisa Street now being used as a car park. The site was 205m long with a constant width of 45m. The site was not particularly suitable with regard to the scope of work, accessibility and parking space. However the main reason for rejecting the site was that the geotechnical investigations showed that the site was not suitable as it would require very expensive foundations.
The present site was made available to the ODC through the good offices of the late Mr. D.A. Akinbohun, who was Chairman of the Ondo Local Government at the time. For design of the Civic Centre, the Ondo Development Committee invited seven prominent Ondo Architects to submit design proposals for the project, Arc. (Chief) Ebun Faturoti and Arc. Bademosi submitted the most satisfactory proposals. After detailed consideration of the two proposals, the ODC decided that Arc. (Chief) Ebun Faturoti’s proposals were the more acceptable and, at its meeting on 24th November 1990, decided to commission Arc. (Chief) Faturoti as the Consultant Architect on the project; Engineer Ife Akintunde of PROFEN Consultants was appointed the Consulting Structural Engineer; Engr. (Chief) T.O. Akindele of PIDEC Engineering Services as the Electrical Engineers and Adesoye and Partners (ACON Associates) as the Quantity Surveyors.
The present site dips gently towards the Canon Adeyemi Road, exposing Iateritic outcrop over the entire site. In addition, it commands an imposing view which made it an ideal site for a project of such magnitude and importance. The site, measuring 84m by 126m appeared tailor made for the project. The original design of the Civic Centre provided for four main units namely:
1. Main Assembly Hall
2. Conference Centre
3. Entrance Foyer
4. Gate House
The award of the contract for the whole complex was announced at the ODC meeting of 26th October, 1991 and the Contractor chosen was B & B Co. Ltd, substantially owned by Engr. Bayo Akinterinwa. Though a contract period of two years was proposed for its completion, work took well over thirteen 13 years on it because of cash constraint. The contract sum for the whole project eventually sky rocketed from the initial estimation of N12m to about N55 million.
The Client, (Ondo Development Committee) was represented at the contract signing phase by the Sub-Committee on Works, Development and Environment. The Sub-Committee being responsible for the project liaises between the Consultants, the Contractors and ODC.
The Sub-Committee was initially headed by High Chief O. Akingbule and the first site meeting was held on 9th March, 1992. High Chief Akingbule resigned from the ODC in July 1992. In the intervening period, the late Engr. R.O. Akintoye was appointed by the Consulting Engineers as a fully Resident Engineer on 28th March, 1992 to supervise the project. He also provided liaison with the ODC. It became necessary to appoint a new Quantity Surveyor for the construction phase and the firm of Kobo Quantibuilt, owned by Mr. Kola Fadayomi, was appointed to replace ACON and Associates.
The team work for the Project was done by Ondo indigenes under the project management of Prof. (Engr.) Ifedayo Oladapo, a world-renowned Structural Engineer and pioneer Vice Chancellor of the then Ondo State University, Ado-Ekiti, who later became the Chairman of the Ondo Development Committee. Engr. lfe Akintunde replaced him as the Project Manager towards the end of the project.
It was decided early that the construction of the Centre be done in phases. However, attention was to be concentrated on the Main Assembly Hall with a sitting capacity of 2500 people. By the end of November 1992, the DPC had been constructed and the main columns in the Hall had been erected up to first floor level with block walls generally reaching window level. The builders’ work was virtually completed by 1995. The contract for the construction of the steel roof trusses was awarded about May 1995 to Morgan Steel Construction Co. Unfortunately, the construction of steel trusses dragged on till 1996. The roofing contract was awarded to Tower Aluminium. Then the interior finishes, such as terrazzo flooring, the wood ceiling, electrification, plastering and plumbing was embarked upon.
Other works carried out include the perimeter wall, the Gate House and the glazing of the doors and windows. With the resignation of High Chief Ebun Olawoye as Chairman of ODC in January 2002, Prof. I.O. Oladapo became Chairman of ODC and Engr. Ife Akintunde was appointed Chairman of the Works Sub-Committee.
The greatest problem the project was faced with, as noted earlier, was inadequate funding. The main source of funds was the collection at Ekimogun Days. Quite often, the Committee does not realise what the Chief Launchers publicly announce on such Days. In 1997 for instance, the first Chief Launcher paid in full while the second Chief Launcher raised less than half of what he announced. In 1998 neither of the two Chief Launchers raised up to half of their announced donation. The most notorious example was in 1995 when one of the Chief Launchers Chief R.O. Akinnagbe publicly announced on Ekimogun Day, that he would donate N2.5million to the ODC and in addition N1.25million to improve the market. This man, who rode on a white charger to the venue of the Ekimogun and even kept the Kabiyesi and all other dignitaries waiting, did not contribute one kobo towards redeeming either of his pledges but he left a trail of misunderstanding and bitterness which lasted for years. In spite of explanations by Kabiyesi and the ODC, the market women believed that the ODC collected the two pledges and pocketed them. It took more than two years before the market women could be persuaded to return to participation in Ekimogun Day celebrations. Even then, it has not been with the original interest and enthusiasm.
The amount collected at each Ekimogun Day celebration was usually inadequate to fund the project to the next year. In some particularly bad years, ODC members levied themselves, in some other years, members granted loans to ensure continuity in the project till the next Ekim gun Day. In addition, there was the problem of ever increasing overall cost due to the uncontrollable effects of inflation and the devaluation of the Naira.
The Civic Centre was built without assistance from either the State Government or the Local Government. Proudly enough, the ODC has made a success of it. Little wonder that Ondo town, on account of the magnificent job represented by the Civic Centre, has won the State’s Merit Award for self help in development soon after the completion of the Centre. The achievement is all due to the contribution, patriotism and self sacrifice of the Ondo people.
A further look into the Civic Centre, which was conceived as a simple but functional epic building reflects the following:
• An entrance courtyard for cultural display, drumming, exchange of greetings and paying homage, etc, according to Ondo tradition.
• An entrance foyer as a grand design to accommodate various activities such as enquiries, information, reception, and general circulation of people leading to either the hall, the toilets/staircases and to the Mezzanine floor.
• Conference/Committee Halls are located on one side of the Entrance Courtyard; and an addition of a Banking Hall on the other side.
• The Main Hall measures about 40 metres long by 25 metres wide, opening out by the two long sides to deep verandas serving as sun shades to the Hall. The two long corridors/verandas have tapered decorated 300 mm. diameter reinforced concrete columns spaced at intervals to support the concrete gutter and the fascia board. One of the concrete fascia boards opened to the public view, is decorated with moulded relief showing the traditional styles of the Ondo.
• The huge Hall that sits about 2500 people is designed for efficient natural light through the large aluminium glazed openings with fixed top arches on both sides of the Hall.
• The Hall is about eight metres high with its ceiling finished with well decorated polished timer slats. The exotic use of local timber is shown also in the state walls with assorted colours of acoustic timber slats to depict some traditional motif. The timber decor at the stage creates a warm and inviting focus as the centre show piece of the Hall. The large stage is about nine metres deep with a width of nearly the width of the Hall. The floor of the Hall slopes gradually from the entrance to the stage to enable total vision above the front seats. The floor of the Hall is finished with terrazzo and the stage with ceramic tiles. The upper gallery on the Mezzanine floor is a U- shaped concept recessed enough from the Main Hall with railings of moulded concrete balustrades.
• The Gate House was provided to control ingress and egress of people from the site along the less busy secondary road. The major busy Canon Adeyemi Road fronting the complex is fenced with framed metal wall and a pedestrian gate.
• The landscaping will eventually have trees to line the inner fence walls and shrubs/flowers to demarcate the ceremonial open courtyard and the parking spaces for public vehicles.
• The total site is 126 metres by 84 metres. Illuminated sign boards depicting OBA ADESANOYE CIVIC CENTRE has been mounted at the pedestrian entrance and the main vehicular entrance gate.
Although the Civic Centre is not yet fully completed with respect to the fine details of landscaping and such like, its construction has reached a stage where the beauty and elegance of the building is very noticeable. Mr. Patrick Akinkuotu, former Executive Director, Union Merchant and former Group Managing Director, Afribank Plc, as Chairman of Ekimogun Dance in 2003 donated Ten Million Naira for the construction of a bank building within the premises of the Civic Centre. The building has since been completed, enhancing the utility value of the entire complex. And again, in the Ekimogun Day, 2005, Mr. J. Olu Adeduro, a Port Harcourt-based businessman, donated Seventeen Million Naira for the second phase of the Civic Centre. The Centre today is therefore not just a place for meetings and functions but a landmark dedicated to the service of Ondo people and an expression of faith in the future and glory of the land. The Civic Centre was named after the immediate past Osemawe, Oba Festus Ibidapo Adedisewo Adesanoye, at his demise in year 2006.
Key people involved in the project were the Consultant Architect, Arc. Chief Ebun Faturoti; Consulting Structural Engineer, Engr. lfe Akintunde; and Engr. T.O. Akindele the Electrical Engineer who have all offered their professional services free of charge and most importantly, have had to travel from Lagos or Ibadan to Ondo, at their own expenses, on countless occasions, for site meetings and for supervision of the project; the main contractor, Engr. Akinterinwa, who in spite of the unstable conditions of work and payment not wholly suitable for profitability, demonstrated his patriotism by staying on site, working towards the completion of the project; members of the National Planning Committees, especially the chairmen, who expended a lot of time and energy organizing and collecting money at the Ekimogun Day celebrations; the various Chief Launchers and Chairmen of Ekimogun Days who have led the contributions for the project; and the Clubs which did not only contribute every year but ensured their presence to make Ekimogun Day celebrations what they have now become.
Above all, the late Oba Dr. Festus Ibidapo Adesanoye, the immediate past Osemawe of Ondo Kingdom, must be acknowledged for his very robust interest, active support and encouragements through the thick and thin of the project. As Prince F. l. A. Adesanoye, the man who was to become the Osemawe, was the first Chief Launcher at Ekimogun Day in 1988. Since then, the late Osemawe meticulously followed the progress of work on site and at every Ekimogun, throughout his time as the monarch. The Kabiyesi made his individual contribution and donated generously in support of Chief Launchers, Chairmen and Merit Awardees every year. Apart from showing leadership by example, the late Kabiyesi became the staunchest defender of ODC against ill-informed charges of misappropriation of funds, because he not only followed the progress of the work, but he knew the quality and the integrity of the people serving on a voluntary basis in the Ondo Development Committee.
From the foregoing, it is very evident that the Civic Centre project stretched to the very limit the patriotism of Ondo Sons and daughters for whom today it stands as an accomplishment with an overwhelming sense of pride. It is in deed a project that called to task the resolve and dedication of a people. It bears testimony to the possibilities inherent in unity.