Considering the poor state of infrastructure in Nigeria, it was expected that professionals in the sector will dominate President Muhammadu Buhari’s ministerial list. Alas, it will be a “cabinet invaded by lawyers”.
For this reason, the cabinet may not excite some professionals in the infrastructure sector. Architects, quantity surveyors and valuers decried their non inclusion. They express worry that government might find it hard to fulfill its promise of delivering one million housing units per annum.
On the list is a civil engineer Suleiman Hussieni Adamu, a Fellow of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE). There are two town planners, Ibrahim Usman Jibril and Abubakar Bawa Bwari.
Chairman, Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Branch Mr. Emmanuel Alao responded to this saying, “It [the list] doesn’t cut across. Our members are left out. We need architects and estate surveyors.”
A quantity surveyor expressed, “Since portfolios weren’t attached, we’ll wait and see who takes the housing ministry. Unfortunately, I couldn’t watch all but I don’t think there was any architect. I believe there was an engineer. We expected more technocrats though.”
In the previous government, two architects, Musa Mohammed Sada and Mike Onolememen were in the cabinet as Minister of Mines and Steel Development and Minister of Works respectively.
Beyond Buhari’s cabinet, those bothered with the matter cite the urban reforms embarked upon by the Kaduna State Governor Nasir el-Rufai as a pointer that professionals in the construction sector can do extra ordinary work. The Governor of Taraba State, Darius Ishaku is an architect. Erstwhile governor of Kano State Mohammed Rabi’u Musa Kwankwas has received acclamation for positively impacting on Kano infrastructure. He is an engineer.
But Festus Adebayo, organizer of Abuja Housing Show said it is not all about area of calling but personality of the person and their ability to use the human resource for effective management.
He pointed at the diverse departments and units in the ministry of housing for instance: survey, architecture, and engineering as areas with all the needed professionals – “all the minister needs do is to harness their expertise.” Adebayo opted for a minister who does not belong to any of the above , saying this will check bias to a particular area.
President Nigerian Institute of Builders (NIOB) Tijani B. Shu’aib said, “For now, I can only say there is no builder yet in the cabinet but we’re still hopeful. I believe even if there is no builder, all the ministerial nominees chosen by the president are capable. So whoever that will come to the built environment, we will partner with him to ensure quality delivery. I believe in the president’s choice and we are here to give appropriate professional advice.”
Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina has since described the presence of many lawyers on the ministerial list as a coincidence.