Michael Onolememen: The architect of Nigerian infrastructural development


Dr. Michael O. Onolememen is a Nigerian politician and an architect by profession. He served as the Minister of Works from June 2011 to May 2015 under the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan. Under him as Works Minister, Nigerian roads witnessed great transformations in terms of rehabilitations and construction of new ones as well as conceptualisation and construction of long bridges across the country.

Born on September 4, 1965 to the family of Mr & Mrs Onelememen in Uromi, Edo State, Mike as he is fondly called, is the fifth son of his parents. He started primary education at Saint Anthony’s Primary School in his hometown, Uromi, and went on to Annunciation Catholic College, Irrua, in Edo State for his secondary education after which he was admitted into the then Bendel State University in Ekpoma, at the time Ambrose Alli established it, and was later renamed Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma.

When Mike Onolememen graduated from the university where he obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Architecture in 1985, he went for his Masters at the University of Lagos where he read Construction Management in 1988. Thereafter, he enrolled for a PhD programme in the Walden University, Minneapolis, Minnesota in the United States of America.

Onolememen went to Lagos and started practising his profession, architecture, until year 2000 when he was asked to come to Abuja to join the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) where he served as Executive Director, Projects. He was there until the PTF was rolled up by the presidency of Olusegun Obasanjo.

In 2009, Dr. Michael Onolememen was invited to come to Abuja again, this time for a bigger portfolio. He was appointed the Minister of State for Defence; having responsibilities for the Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Air Force and all the statutory boards of the military at the time.

This new assignment made him relocate fully to Abuja and continued practising until when former President Goodluck Jonathan came in and made him the Minister of Works.

Whatever he did in this country was encapsulated in that office as Minister of Works because it gave him the opportunity to know more about the country as he went round the nooks and crannies of Nigeria in the course of building new roads, rehabilitation of existing ones and building new bridges across the country.

Mike Onolememen was said to be the architect of the new Second Niger Bridge. The then president challenged him to design the bridge in the best way possible, and he did what is today known as the Second Niger Bridge. He also was instrumental in managing the Loko-Oweto Bridge at the boundary between Nasarawa and Benue states. He designed and managed the first bridge in the Rivers State water areas, that is, from Bonny to Bodo.

He, through the order of Goodluck Jonathan, cancelled the original project that was on for more than 10 years without result and re-awarded it for speedy construction. Works are still ongoing to ensure the completion of the bridge so that Rivers State would have, for the first time, a road connecting the riverine area and the upper land.

Onolememen was not just an assest to Nigerian community, he was the chairman of ECOWAS Highway Project on the west coast of Africa, aiming to construct a way to connect the countries across West African region, but the project could not be completed because, by the time he was leaving office, there was nothing he could do anymore except for those who succeeded him to continue with the work, which unfortunately was not done.

Currently, Michael Onolememen has gone back to his private practice as an architect; he designs, constructs and manages properties in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, and he is still a politician.

Recently, Onolememen who was a founding member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), had to move to the ruling All Progressives Congress, (APC).

Onolememen is not just a politician; he is a Knight of the Honoured Order of Saint Mulumba (KSM, Nigeria) in the Holy Roman Catholic Church.

He is a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Architects (FNIA), and has been honoured by several professional bodies in Nigeria as Fellows of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (FNSE), Fellow of the Nigerian Institution of Surveyors (FNIS), Fellow of the Nigerian Mining and Geosciences Society, (FNMGS), Fellow of the Academy of Entrepreneurial Studies, (FAES), and Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (FNIQS).

Michael Onolememen is happily married to Mrs. Bibian Omonigho Onolememen and the marriage is blessed with children.

Having masterminded the conceptualisation and construction of high profile roads and bridges across Nigeria, Dr. Michael O. Onolememen can best be described as the architect of Nigerian infrastructural development just within four years in office as Minister of Works under former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.