By Jude NJOKU
More than a decade after it was conceptualised and its foundation stone laid by the immediate past Governor of Akwa-Ibom State, Obong Victor Attah, the Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA) building at Idowu Taylor Street, Lagos is now slated for completion in June 2011.
The project which has been dogged by controversies following what some architects felt was a wrongful appropriation of the project by some of its highly placed members, has suffered several stoppages due mainly, to paucity of funds. Despite the pledge made by the main contractor to the to the project, Messrs Beton Bau Nig. Ltd. to meet initial schedule date of August 2001, work failed to progress beyond the first floor level in the first two years of construction.
Two years ago, work finally came to a halt when the Lagos State Government came up with the issue of building plan approval for the project.
But addressing the cream of the nation’s Architects at their 50th annual general meeting (AGM) in Lagos last week, the President of the Nigerian Institute of Architects, (NIA), Arc Tunji Bolu said the project would now be completed in June next year. Similarly, the Institute’s Abuja building will be completed later this month.
He thanked Governor Babatunde Fashola and the Commissioner for Physical Planning, Mr Francisco Bolaji Abosede for granting planning approval to the NIA to enable it go ahead with the construction of the building.
Arc Bolu told Vanguard Homes & Property what necessitated the delay in completing the project.
“Along the line, construction was stopped because we had to regularise all our papers which the present regime actually did for us. That was one of the reasons why construction stopped for about two years. But now, construction has started again; we are on the 13th floor and we have started putting all the finishes. We are just trying to be modest by saying that we will finish by June. We can finish before June,” he said.
He denied the suggestion that the delay was due to the disenchantment of some top architects with the way some privileged architects bought into the building at the expense of others.
“Not really; so many people bought into it and that is still the concept. It is not only architects that have shares, we gave opportunity to other Nigerians to be part of the project. There is no misunderstanding, anywhere you put money in, you want to know what is happening to your money. You can’t say that is misunderstanding, it will be sorted out at the earliest possible time. To the best of my knowledge, I don’t think there is any misunderstanding,” he said.
Speaking on other achievements of his council, the NIA boss said they have reviewed the professional scale of fees as well as secured the validation of two Schools of Architecture -University of Lagos and Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria by the Commonwealth Association of Architects. The Institute in collaboration with DFID, has also established a Skills Acquisition Centre.
“As architects in Nigeria, we shoulder a huge responsibility in national development. The government of our country alone cannot accomplish the nation’s goals without the creativity, inspiration and professionalism from Nigerian Architects. We have to continue to play an important role in promoting the physical development of our nation, especially for the achievement of vision 20-20-20,” he said.
The Institute used the AGM to honour the Vice President, Arc Namadi Sambo who is a Fellow of the Institute.