By Gabriel Ewepu
In this interview, the Association of Facilities Management Practitioners of Nigeria, AFMPN, Collins Osayamwen, expressed his Association’s deep concern about deplorable state and deficit in public infrastructure and what can be done to tackle this protracted problem in Nigeria as he spoke on other salient issues his new National Executive Council, NEC, is working on.
What came to your mind that day you were announced by the electoral committee as President-elect of Association of Facilities Management Practitioners of Nigeria?
The day I was announced President-Elect of AFMPN, I felt a great sense of responsibility and was humbled by the unprecedented, overwhelming support and confidence members of the association had reposed in me. I said in my mind, ‘I must not fail these people’ and saw it as an opportunity to further the advancement and visibility of the FM profession in Nigeria.
I knew immediately that the expectations of the FM Community not only in Nigeria but around the world, was extremely very high and in my mind, I was saying ‘God help me together with the exceptional members of the National Executive Council to exceed the expectations of members of AFMPN and the FM global community’.
As an experienced practitioner in this profession, sir what are the areas you will strongly pursue to fast-track activities amongst members?
I am so fortunate to have been blessed with very intelligent and highly motivated executive members. From the day of our swearing-in to office, we have all resolved that our service is about the members of this noble association. We are a member centric association. Our goal is to support our members with all the resources they need to meet the expectations of the organizations they serve.
Our priority is to meet the needs of members. We will provide members with the latest and most relevant educational resource in the FM profession at affordable cost, conduct research on FM case studies, publish best practices, encourage members to sign up for our mentorship program and provide networking opportunities amongst members and the FM community in Nigeria. We also intend to create opportunities for job placements of members seeking employment in both Demand Organizations and FM organizations.
As you are aware, the expectations from members are high based on your pedigree and track-record. What are you going to do differently from your predecessors that would boost confidence and trust in your leadership?
You are right! Expectations not only from members but the entire global FM community are high. We have long realized this fact. We thank God for the great work of members of the Board of Trustees of AFMPN; they succeeded in birthing the association and brought the FM community in Nigeria under one umbrella. We are just going to build on the success recorded so far. Our intention is to develop a 5-year strategic plan which will serve as a roadmap for the association. We are also encouraging stakeholder participation. Our intention is to position FM to be recognized for its strategic contribution to our national economy. We also intend to make FM a career of choice in Nigeria. We have started establishing FM clubs in secondary schools with the first club launched at the Baptist Academy, Lagos.
We are working tirelessly to influence the practice of the FM profession as a task to be performed on a day to day basis which I describe as Bolts and Nuts of FM practice to a Strategic business / organizational function. We hope to encourage every organization in Nigeria to create an FM department as a business unit in their establishment.
Can you tell Nigerians the role, impact and achievements of Facilities Management practitioners in Nigeria?
The purpose of the Association will be to provide a national platform for the promotion and continuous development of Facilities Management in Nigeria as well as a platform to drive the contribution of facility management to national development through leveraging international partnerships, standards and best practices in the development of relevant local standards. The Association will work with various stakeholders, affiliate organisations, similar bodies, associated professional bodies and international FM organisations to achieve the stated purpose.
Our vision is to make Facility Management a major driver of the Nigerian economy.
Objectives of the AFMPN are as follows: Market FM as a profession of choice and a strategic business enabler; Represent the interest of all professional facility managers and companies practicing in Nigeria; Be the voice of the Nigerian FM industry through advocacy; Influence government policies related to infrastructure design, development & management; Work with the Nigerian FM Industry regulatory body (when created) to ensure practitioners, companies, developers adhere to standards; Support professional development of members of all cadres.
Work with Universities in Nigeria to promote the development, learning and research on Facility Management; Conduct surveys and research projects for reliable industry data and become the source and validator for all industry data and information; Organize conferences and seminars to promote best practices, knowledge and development in the industry; and Reward excellence in the industry through awards and recognition.
In the last four months since we took office we have recorded some remarkable achievements some of which include amongst the following; Establishment of FM Clubs in secondary schools; Development of a five-year strategic plan for the association; Issuance of membership certificates to members; Secured Global FM membership for the association; Celebrated this year’s World FM Day in grand style; Please stay tuned for more in the next couple of weeks.
What prompted your Association to come up with bill for establishment of a professional body by National Assembly and assent of President Muhammadu Buhari?
The FM community in Nigeria unanimously agreed to sponsor a bill for recognition of FM as a profession. In Nigeria, most professional bodies are set up by an act of parliament. Only professional bodies established by an act of parliament are recognized by government. In order for the profession to be recognised for its strategic contributions to national, state and local government economies, there is need for the profession to be empowered by an act of parliament.
We cannot influence government policies and programmes that relates with sustainability, operations and maintenance, emergencies preparedness and business continuity, procurement practices, etc, if we are not recognized by an act of parliament.
An act of parliament will fast track our quest of securing a position among the professional of the building team.
What has been the issue affecting enactment of the Facilities Management’s bill at the National Assembly, and do you think your leadership can have a breakthrough in this regard?
The FM Community in 2017 led by AFMPN presented a Facilities Management Bill to the 8th assembly. The bill was passed by the Senate of the 8th Assembly but unfortunately it was towards the end of their tenure so the House of Representatives could not list it to vote on it for assent before transmitting to the president for signing into law. I can say that that was a blessing in disguise because the FM community in Nigeria was fragmented and operating in silos. Currently, we are all working together towards a common goal. Our intention is to rewrite the Facilities Management bill that will truly serve the needs of FM practitioners, the FM profession and the FM industry. Work is presently on-going and once the bill is ready, we will approach the National Assembly once again with the new bill and hopefully it will be passed, assented to by the 9th National Assembly and signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR.
Do you have the assurance and confidence that this 9th National Assembly will pass the Bill into law before 2023 general elections?
It is our desire for the FM profession to be recognized for its strategic contributions to the society, business, the built environment and the economy in general. We are hopeful for the passage of the FM bill and eventually signed into law by this administration.
However, we are exploring other avenues to facilitate the recognition of the FM Profession. For instance, Standards Organizations of Nigeria (SON) is supporting the growth of FM in Nigeria by adopting and domesticating FM Standards as published by the ISO. ISO 41001 was adopted and domesticated as a national standard for Facilities Management in Nigeria in 2020.
In your assessment, can you say Nigeria in the public and private sector is doing well in infrastructural management?
It is evidently clear that our public infrastructure is in a state of emergency and the government needs to declare a state of emergency in order to rescue our public infrastructure from total collapse. The reason for the poor state of maintenance of our infrastructure is not far-fetched. It is because in Nigeria the profession that is saddled with the responsibility of looking after the built environment does not exist in the list of professionals that constitute the building team.
We have the Architect responsible for conceptualisation, design, and supervision of the project; the Structural, Mechanical & Electrical Engineers and even the IT Engineers are responsible for design and construction of the Building Systems; the Building Engineer carries out the physical construction of the building.
Now, let’s examine the role of these professionals. They all perform a certain function and they leave the site once their function is completed. Not even one of the professions listed above is trained to look after the building. Once the building is commissioned they all leave the site for a new project.
Unfortunately, all the activities carried out in the building up till the stage of completion is less than 20 per cent of the life cycle cost. The remaining on-going activities and cost of over 80 per cent is Operations and Maintenance cost and activities. This critical stage in a building life cycle is often neglected. Hence the poor state of our infrastructural facilities. I cannot overemphasize the role of the Facilities Management practitioner in managing our built environment.
What is your Association under your leadership intending to come up with to assist the Buhari-administration in terms of managing public infrastructure which some are completed while others are ongoing in order to change the narrative of ‘poor maintenance culture’ past administrations are known for?
We are seriously concerned about the deplorable state and deficit of public infrastructure in Nigeria. In 2012, The Infrastructure Council of Regulatory Commission (ICRC) alluded that $12 to $15 billion is required annually for the next five to six years to bridge the infrastructure deficit gaps in Nigeria. It is worthy of note that if these figures are anything to go by, the situation should have become worse by now nine years later.
The available infrastructure is not properly maintained but I wish to disagree with a very popular narrative that “Nigeria has poor maintenance culture”. It is not true that Nigeria lacks maintenance culture. According to the Hon Minister of Works and Housing – Hon BabatundeFashola, in the forward of the National Public Building Policy document on Maintenance, published in 2020, he stated that maintenance should not be reduced to cultural issues. The main reason we are unable to maintain our infrastructure in Nigeria is because the profession responsible for maintenance is not yet recognized for its strategic role in Nigeria as a profession and FM profession is not recognized as a member of the built environment practitioners. Maintenance starts from the design stage of a facility. It requires painstaking planning, scheduling, budgeting, sustainable program management and implementation of maintenance technologies etc. You will agree with me that it takes more than culture to effectively and efficiently maintain a facility. It requires time, money and experience to maintain an infrastructure.
Thanks to this administration, measures are being put in place to ensure public buildings are properly maintained. We now have a department in the Federal Ministry of Works & Housing responsible for maintaining all public buildings in the country. This is a step in the right direction. AFMPN stands ready to provide support and guidance for the newly established department of maintenance in the Ministry of Works and Housing to help ensure the department fulfils its mandate and objectives and assists in developing a framework for the implementation of the National Public Building Policy on Maintenance. The Association of Facilities Management Practitioners Nigeria is uniquely positioned to provide information and perspectives to government on policies and issues affecting Operations & Maintenance and sustainability in relation to the totality of the built environment.
After your tenure as President of AFMPN, what legacy do you intend to leave behind?
At the end of our tenure, we would have succeeded in establishing a very solid foundation for the association and the FM profession in Nigeria. We would have established a 5-year strategic plan which will enhance continuity and sustained growth of the association.
Practitioners would have been better equipped to support the organizations they serve. Moving from Bolts and Nuts FM to Strategic FM practice.
There would have been increased collaboration amongst the various FM organizations in Nigeria, working together towards advancing the visibility of the FM profession in Nigeria.
We would have grown the association numerically, established a strong fiduciary structure in the association, made FM a career of choice in Nigeria, secured membership of Global FM and positioned AFMPN as a major player towards the advancement of FM in Africa.