Piqued by the increasing wave of building collapse, Nigerian lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, has reiterated the need to engage only registered builders to manage building construction to end the menace.
Falana led this call during his keynote address at the 2021 conference and annual general meeting of the Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB) recently in Lagos.
He said due to criminal negligence of the regulatory agencies and relevant professionals, the industry has been invaded by quacks that operate with impunity. However, Falana said the thrust is to educate the larger society on the legal positioning and associated issues about the building profession and project delivery.
Falana said unlike the legal profession in Nigeria, which ensures that fake lawyers are arrested and prosecuted from time to time, the building profession has not taken any bold step to rid its rank of quacks, dominating the building industry.
“The building industry is dominated by many foreign professionals who are not qualified to handle building projects in Nigeria since they are not registered under the law. It is hoped that the Council of Registered Builders of Nigeria (CORBON) will take advantage of the provisions of the Builders Registration Act Cap B13 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and the Presidential Executive Order five of 2018 to take control of the building industry,” he said.
The legal expert noted that as far as the law is concerned, the owner of a collapsed building and the quacks involved in the construction are liable to be prosecuted for criminal negligence and allied offences.
He told the NIOB that as the society’s watchdog for delivery and upkeep of sound, safe and sustainable shelter for the people of Nigeria, keeping the Law and the society safe in the construction industry depends on the determination of the members. The professionals, he warned, must not wait for disasters to happen before interventions.
“Government is ill-prepared to remove quacks from the building industry. For instance, the National Building Code 2006 has been reviewed but the Federal Government has not implemented it. In this circumstance, professional builders ought to take up the challenge to end quackery by ensuring that private and public buildings are constructed by registered builders,” Falana said.
He also called on the state branches of the NIOB to set up an adhoc legal committee to follow up on cases of building collapse and quackery in the construction industry.
The former governor of Ogun State, Gbenga Daniel, who was the chairman of the occasion lamented that Nigeria’s firms are not also favoured in construction work. He said there was a need for local content, especially in capacity deployment.
Daniel emphasised that local builders are competent, adding that for Nigeria to progress, the citizens must be those who will build the country.
“We need to close the system in certain ways and it is only those things that we don’t have a capacity for that should be pushed out. We should award contracts to local contractors and Nigerians when they are not favoured, countries getting the jobs take away the revenue”, he said.
MEANWHILE, the Association of Professional Women Builders of Nigeria (APWBN) has advised practitioners to look inward by creating jobs that could sustain them after retirement from the construction sector.
The president of APWBN, Mrs. Adenike Said’ gave the advice during the 8th yearly general meeting/conference of the association titled, “entrepreneurial roles and nation-building; the professional women’s perspective’’ in Lagos. The forum brought together past and present women leaders of APWBN and other women practitioners from architecture, engineering and quantity surveying professions.
Said explained that the built environment is a sector where a lot of entrepreneurial jobs could be created for families but only require critical thinking to come up with the best options that would last longer.
The President, Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB), Mr. Kunle Awobodu observed that there are many risks associated with women participating in the built sector, which requires active presence in construction sites during the rain and sunshine. Part of the risks, Awobodu said, is unnecessary harassment by some artisans who believe that women shouldn’t be found in the sector.
He commended women in the industry for their doggedness and thick skin to withstand issues as well as compete favourably. Awobodu further said beyond going to the construction site, women must plan for survival after retirement.
A past president of Nigerian Institute of Building, Kwara State Chapter Mrs. Atinuke Kolawole who was the facilitator told participants that women are natural entrepreneurs by instincts and creation, adding that entrepreneurship is a potent hub for innovation, job creation and community development should be explored to create employment after gratuities.
She charged them to adopt models such as small businesses, scalable start-ups, large companies and setting up construction firms in partnership with colleagues.