By Yinka Kolawole
Indigenous architects in the country, operating under the aegis of the Association of Consulting Architects Nigeria (ACAN) have decried the illegal incursion of foreign architects into the country.
Speaking at its third Annual General Meeting held in Lagos, ACAN President, Mr. Roti Delano, blamed the Federal Government for the illegal activities of foreign architects in Nigeria by allowing them to operate whereas, by law, they are not permitted to practice in the country without being registered.
Delano noted that most Nigerian clients engage foreign architects for jobs which Nigerian architects can better handle, adding that in the past, especially in the 1970s, Nigerian architects had jobs in the country and had the capacity to engage foreign architects whom they employed to work for them.
“The case is different now, as the government goes outside to bring in foreign architects who now work illegally in the country. Despite efforts being made by the association with regards to the incursion of foreign architects obtaining commissions in Nigeria, by reporting known cases to the Architects Registration Council of Nigeria (ARCON), which is the legal body to address these issues, the situation still continues,” he lamented.
Delano called on Nigerians to employ the services of qualified local architects and desist from patronising illegal foreign architects, noting that there were set guidelines for foreign architects to register and practice lawfully in Nigeria and that the association was not against those who do the right thing.
“Clients engage the services of illegal foreign architects who are neither more competent nor more affordable than their local counterparts. Even the Federal Government has on occasions awarded contracts to some of the unregistered foreign architects in violation of the Architects Registration Council of Nigeria Act, which clearly states who can practice architecture in Nigeria,” he said.
He listed cases where foreign architects were hired for major projects in Lagos, Abuja and Eket by Exxon Mobil, a case which the association reported to ARCON and the Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA), regretting that in all the cases, the registration council had failed to prosecute the illegal foreign architects working in the country.
He explained that the association found this absurd as the Architects (Registration etc) Acts, chapter 19 of the laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 had clearly spelt out the conditions under which any firm could practice in the country. “The ARCON law is quite clear on who can practice architecture in Nigeria. The law does not permit foreigners to practice. What we have done is to send a list of those who cannot practice to ARCON,” he said.
Delano emphasised that indigenous architects could compete with their counterparts in other parts of the world, including Europe and the United States. He listed various buildings such as the Union Bank’s head office building in Marina, Bookshop House, Eko Courts, Zenith Bank Plc’s head office, Sterling Towers, Central Bank of Nigeria’s head office building in Abuja and the former Federal Government Secretariat in Lagos, as some of the milestone jobs fully implemented by Nigerian architects.