October 10, 2017

Professionals decry govt’s patronage of foreign contractors

By Kingsley Adegboye

PROFESSIONALS in the construction sub-sector of the nation’s economy, weekend, took a surgical look at the performance of the sector under the recession and what is expected of the sector as the country exits economic recession, pointing out that the continued patronage of foreign construction firms at the expense of their Nigerian counterparts has remained a major draw back to the sector.

Making the observation were members of professional bodies such as the Nigerian Institute of Architects, the Nigerian Society of Engineers, Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors, the Nigerian Institution of Surveyors, the Nigerian Institute of Building, Building Collapse Prevention Guild among others who graced the 2017 Annual Lecture of the Property & Environment Writers’ of Nigeria PEWAN, held at the LCCI Conference Centre, Ikeja CBD, Alausa, Lagos.

Mr. Kunle Awobodu, First Vice President of the Nigerian Institute of Building NIOB, and immediate past president of the Building Collapse Prevention Guild while speaking on “The Role of the Construction Sector in the Post Recession Nigeria” which was the theme of the lecture, identified lack of government commitment as factor militating against growth of the building construction industry in Nigeria.

Awobodu added that Nigerian government gives more support to foreign construction operators than the local ones, pointing out that development of infrastructure remains a major determinant of economic growth of a nation. He, therefore, warned that if government’s policies are not tilted to favour construction which is a determinant of development, the nation is going to slip back into recession.

He said, “Many nations’ development programmes are tied to the construction sector, this sector is the determinant of development in any nation. Government should take investments into construction industry serious, recession can re-occur due to our human errors,” adding that until the citizens and government learn to make use of the local construction operators, the sector may not record significant growth.

Mr. Meckson Innocent Okoro, founding Partner/Consultant, M.I.Okoro and Associates, a firm of estate surveyors and valuers, and chairman of the day, said that foreign construction firms which are given most contracts in the nation usually repatriate all the funds back to their countries, adding that the capital flight is injurious to the nation’s economy.

While commending PEWAN members for setting agenda on issues of growth in the construction industry in the nation, the astute estate surveyor and valuer, however, lamented the absence of the representatives of the Lagos State and Federal Government at the event, urging journalists to exert themselves to ensure things are done right in the construction sector.

“It is disappointing that the guest speaker at the event, Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, is neither present, nor sent his representative. The President of the Nigerian Society of Engineers NSE, Mr. Otis Anyaeji, an engineer, represented by the Ikeja Branch Chairman of the society, Mr. Akintayo Akintola lamented that most projects in the nation have become ‘processes’ because of lack of adherence to completion dates.

Anyaeji said that conditions for award of contacts are usually deliberately made difficult to eliminate local engineers which makes a nonsense of the Local Content Law to have the participation of indigenous engineers.

Infrastructure deficit

Mr. Jide Oke, Executive Secretary Marketing, Nigeria Institute of Quantity Surveyors NIQS, said that the attitude of the political class was the cause of economic recession and other challenges faced by the country.

According to Oke, who represented Mrs. Mercy Iyortyer, NIQS President, infrastructure is very critical to construction and as we come out of recession we must deal with the issue of power.

He said that the infrastructure deficit in the nation is huge, adding that the private sector must drive the sector to speed up development. “Construction is very important, it is the barometer to measure the growth of any nation,” he said.

In his goodwill address earlier, His Royal Majesty, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, Ojaja 11,  the Ooni of Ife, pointed out that the country will definitely get it right as long as the citizens join hands with government in its policies. Ooni, who was represented at the event by His Royal Highness, Oba Adebanjo Adedinni Asoya of Isoya, Ile Ife and his counterpart, Oba Adetokunbo Anosunge, Elejesi of Ife Kingdom, assured the organisers of the event his commitment to the course of construction industry, especially, infrastructure provision and housing delivery.

“I’m happy with what you are doing. Without you the Property and Environment Writers, most of the successes we recorded in Nigeria and the ills that have befallen our society will not be known”, he said, while reassuring the organisers of the event of his commitment to the course of construction industry.