Members of the Nigerian Institute of Building have called on the Federal Government to create an enabling environment for the building and construction industry to thrive in the country and for the economy to become prosperous.
At the 45th Builders’ Conference and Annual General Meeting of the institute, which ended in Ibadan last Friday, the NIOB President, Mr. Tunde Lasabi, said there was a need for builders and other professionals in the built environment to embrace entrepreneurship.
According to him, a lot of business opportunities are available for builders as well as Nigeria and Africa’s construction professionals to tap into.
“As builders, our foremost concern is that the government provides an enabling environment for business to thrive in Nigeria for us to harness the opportunity to make this nation a better one,” he said.
Lasabi stated that builders must be taught skills of starting up their businesses and becoming employers of labour.
“The construction of buildings should not be left in the hands of quacks; builders in Nigeria will continue to play their roles effectively as the critical link in the building production management,” he stated.
Business opportunities that are available in the construction sector and how to harness them and develop the appropriate skills to meet the demand for professional services formed the basis for discussion at the conference, which had as its theme: ‘Skills development and entrepreneurship in the construction industry’.
The conference, tagged ‘Oluyole 2015’, also witnessed the conferment of distinguished professional lifetime achievement award on the first President of the institute, Otunba Fatai Osikoya, and honourary fellowship award on the Oyo State Governor, Abiola Ajimobi, and his Osun State counterpart, Rauf Aregbesola.
A former Head of Service of the Federation and chairman of the occasion, Prof. Afolabi Oladapo, said the theme of the conference was one area where the country had found itself wanting and had been overtaken by neighbouring countries like Benin, Ghana and Togo.
He said it was not enough for professionals to have the needed skills but that they should also be able to use such for business purposes and job creation.
“The challenge in contemporary time is such that the professional body is becoming conservative. But they are looking for you everywhere; in Equatorial Guinea, Mozambique etc., where you can colonise them because you have the skills,” Oladapo added.
The Chairman of the Organising Committee for the conference, Mr. Kunle Awobodu, said the increasing desire of prospective homeowners to get functional structures that meet their needs had placed an enormous expectation on the performance of builders.
He added, “Today, in Nigeria’s built environment, the relevance of builders in the building production process is no longer in doubt.
“But the worrisome dimension is the increasingly dwindling opportunities for the cascading of construction skills, competence and knowledge by the fast aging and depleting experienced builders down to the young and emerging builders for effective site management and successful building project delivery.”
Ajimobi noted that the conference was not only appropriate but timely, adding that there was a need for the NIOB and other professionals in the built environment to develop relevant knowledge and skills.
He added that this would help check unwholesome practices in the building construction sector and help reduce the magnitude of building collapse in different parts of the country.
The governor said, “Developing the skills of artisans will also put a check on the incidences of collapse buildings that are now a common feature in the construction industry.
“It is imperative for your institute and other professional bodies in the construction industry to come together to create a common platform and partner with the government at all levels as well as tertiary institutions to develop a more robust master plan for skills acquisition and development.”
According to him, cases of collapsed buildings in the country have become embarrassing and unimaginable for a nation blessed with great potential in its construction industry.
Ajimobi also urged the institute not to focus on infrastructure development alone, but to expand into social housing development, adding that his government would continue to provide the enabling environment for the construction sector to thrive.
Aregbesola, on his part, urged the institute to ensure that artisans’ skills were developed locally so as to boost the country’s economy.
The governor also called for strict compliance with building rules and regulation to ensure a safe environment for the citizens and for construction business to thrive.
While commending the NIOB for the honour bestowed on him, Aregbesola said the regeneration of the country would come from well regenerated urban centres.
The Vice-Chancellor, University of Ibadan, Prof. Isaac Adewole, who also received the national merit award of the institute, said the NIOB needed to create more awareness about its activities in the construction sector.
Lasabi said builders were more apt in imbibing professional technicalities to forge professional competences and interface with other building industry practitioners in joint efforts to harness resources for the future of the construction sector as well as the nation’s economy.
“In line with Section 13:12.4 of the National Building Code, 2006, which states that the management of the execution of building works, including the supervision of artisans and tradesmen, shall be carried out by a registered builder, the professional builder must master the science, management and technology of building practice to sufficiently create innovations and adoption of world best practices as a means of relevance and developmental progress,” he said.