By Kingsley Adegboye
Newly registered architects have been challenged to equip themselves with the latest tools, information and technology as well as retraining programmes within and outside the country if they are to compete effectively with their counterparts who are already making waves across the world.
One of the old breeds in the architecture profession, Mr. Isaac Olusola Agbesua threw the challenge to the upcoming architects at the presentation of his works in Lagos. The forum was the Architect-In-Focus, an annual programme put together by the Lagos State Chapter of NIA.
“In the global village, what is the lot of the Nigerian architect? Are we are able to compete? Across the world, a new generation of architects are making waves, experimenting with new materials and technology. You only need to see what is happening in Dubai, Singapore and some other third world countries to appreciate that the train is moving and the world will not wait for us,”Agbesua said.
The renowned architect who was involved in the designs of various major public and private projects of note, also called on the NIA at the national level to discuss with both Federal and State Governments on the possibility of improving on the current scale of fees being charged by architects. He made a case for architects to be involved at the initial designs of bridges, highways and railway stations.
Agbesua who decried the plight of his colleagues said:”We have been victims of political changes and inept political leadership. The self-inflicted economic woes have taken their toll on architects, and for quite a number of us, the battle for survival rages on. Rules are not obeyed anymore. Architects now participate in competitions for free under the guise of making proposals and non-Nigerian registered foreign architects practice in Nigeria with impunity.
In fact, the cream of available patronage goes to them. The excuse most of time is that the projects came as a package and the financiers had to use their own consultants. This is what they refer to as direct foreign investment. If you are a beggar, what can you do?
Continuing, he said: “The down turn of the construction industry in Nigeria is that middle to grade A projects are still dominated by foreigners. In the seventies, the Head of State then, General Yakubu Gowon introduced the idea of giving mobilization to contractors, particularly the local ones to enable them compete with their foreign counterparts.40 years on, the report is still very woeful. The major reason for this is that local contractors up to now have been mainly uneducated businessmen.
“To cope with the challenges of the times, architects must now find out and get involved in construction, facility management and project development. In this era of public private partnership, we have to create jobs for ourselves instead of waiting for patronages. The tools available to us have truly brought us to the age of dot com,” he said.
The chairman of the chapter, Ladipo Lewis said the forum is the chapter’s effort to honour, profile, study, document and learn from senior architects in the profession whose careers will provide inspiration for the younger generation of architects in the country.