By Kingsley Adegboye
The president of the Nigerian Institute of Architects, NIA, Festus Adibe Njoku, an architect, has disowned recent publications in Nigeria’s newspapers that the institute took its regulatory body, Architects Registration Council of Nigeria, ARCON, to court.
Making the clarification in Lagos at the weekend, Njoku, who was elected president of the institute in November last year, explained that four individuals, namely: Arc. Tonye Braide who is the immediate past president of NIA, Arc. Abimbola Ajayi, Arc. David Majekodunmi and Arc. Dike Emmanuel, in their individual capacity, went to court, challenging that the regulatory body, having been dissolved, according to them, does not have the power to invite them to a disciplinary hearing, insisting that at no time, between last year and two years ago, did NIA take ARCON to court.
According to him, as citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, they have a right to go to court as individuals, but that at no time did the Council mandate them to go to court and that there was no time they stated that they were representing NIA.
“Even the judgment did not say NIA but only mentioned these four people. The story in itself is correct, but the headline is what is not correct and I would want this corrected. If you are saying four officials of NIA took ARCON to court, then you have a correct heading. NIA never took ARCON to court, neither did it say that ARCON has been dissolved.
“Rather, four members of NIA went to court to say that ARCON has actually been dissolved and they lost the case. So, kindly correct it that NIA at no time took ARCON to court. The judgment you are talking about is with four members of the institute that took ARCON to court and they lost it. Putting it under a general NIA is very wrong,” Njoku clarified.
He narrated that “It all started when the immediate past president, Tonye Braide, set up an education board that introduced people who just did their exams in 2014 to be in examination board in 2015. The regulatory body in turn, faulted the act and requested that the people be removed from the examination board. This, however, was not granted, leading to the regulatory body not recognising the examination.”
He stressed that it affected the September 2016, March 2017 and September 2017 sets. “The regulatory body now said, we want to see all the documents pertaining to the exam; their registration and project. Since, I came in as president on November 25, those documents were sent to the regulatory body by December 22nd for them to go through the process of qualifying them for the exam. The moment they finish, they will register the candidates who are found qualified.”
Responding to whether the action of the regulatory body does not constitute a bottleneck to candidates, he remarked that you don’t say because somebody is suffering too much and go ahead to pass him. ARCON, he maintained, would be the one to register those candidates as well as be the one to give them a number that qualifies them to practice.
He stated further that henceforth, the body will not be conducting two exams, but one, adding that after the clearing of the backlogs that caused the problem, the exam would take place anytime within the year (2018).
ARCON, he said, has not finally come up with registered candidates, pointing out that they cannot go further until they are registered. He said that is the process of reuniting the institute, he noted.
NIA president stated that they would reposition themselves as the pacesetters of the profession within the continent, having suffered credibility setback recently. “Once we have done that, we would regain the respect that the country commands,” he noted.