ACEN, ACAN task govts on foreigners’ incursion, local patronage
TAKING cue from other climes, consultant architects and engineers in Nigeria have decried the influx of foreign professionals into the country, urging governments at all levels to throw their weights behind their regulatory bodies in their bid to sanitise the construction industry.
In a joint interaction with journalists last week at the Engineering House, Victoria island, Lagos, the duo of Association of Consulting Architects of Nigeria (ACANigeria) and Association of Consulting Engineering in Nigeria (ACEN), said no nation had developed without giving leading role for its local professionals to play in the provision of building and infrastructural needs of nation.
Represented by their presidents, Mr. Omotayo Babalakin for the architects, and Dr. Temilola Kehinde, for the engineers, the consultants in the built environment said governments must enforce the policy that empowers local consultants to be at the forefront of infrastructural development in the country, adding that, the current trend that allows foreigners to engage in project execution without due recourse to the laws of the land was unacceptable.
Speaking on “Sustainability In Architectural And Engineering Consultancy Practice Through Local Patronage: The Way To Go”, the two professionals chiefs agreed that the country and the industry were much better some 40 years ago, when the governments accorded its local professionals the place in the nation’s drive for development, but noted that the industry had been badly infiltrated now by unlicensed and unregistered local and foreign person practicing on the shores of Nigeria, thereby causing several problems bedeviling Nigeria’s construction industry.
According to Babalakin, the unfortunate development had led to increase in the number of collapsed buildings, degeneration of the built environment due to poorly designed and executed buildings and infrastructure, violation of building codes affecting the health and safety of inhabitants, low patronage of local consultants thereby reducing job opportunities, unemployment of young graduates, flagrant abuse of the country’s laws and regulations and distortion of the built environment, which is detrimental to safety of lives and property of Nigerians.
ACAN president added: “Rather than having our local consultants in the forefront of infrastructural development in the country, the unfortunate situation is that they have been relegated to play second fiddle to unlicensed foreign professionals to the detriment of the host country and in defiance of ethics and codes of professional conduct. The federal and state governments as well as the high net worth Nigerians encourage this this. The need to stem this act of illegal incursion of foreign consultants as well as the unregistered consultants (quacks) is paramount in order to forestall the indiscriminate development of our towns and cities.”
Babalakin said to turn around the “poor conditions of our environment and nurture the culture of self reliance and manage our human resources to deliver an enduring legacy for future generations, the regulatory bodies such as Architects Registration Council of Nigeria (ARCON) and Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) should be involved in preventing the practice of architecture and engineering by unlicensed professionals.”
He urged the president-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari to rise to the challenge of stemming the illegal incursion into the sector through the enactment of an enabling law that would put a legal stop on foreign illegal incursion in Nigeria.
ACEN President, Kehinde said that, despite a white paper under former president Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration, specifying the involvement level of Nigerian professionals in projects, and the capacity which some Nigerian engineering firms had displayed in implementing some major projects in the country, saying it was regrettable that, even those who suppose to protect the profession had under the guise of inflow of direct foreign investments, brought in “professionals from every imaginable corner of the world.
These include China, India, Brazil, Korea, Canada, Singapore, Australia, the United Kingdom France, South Africa, to mention a few, who are busy doing good business in Nigeria, on our railway expansion programme, new seaports, new airports, mass transits, new cities – Centennial city in Abuja, Eko Atlantic city in Lagos, etc; to the total exclusion of Nigerian professionals.”
To him, “This is not how other countries have developed; and there is no way that Nigeria can or will develop through this current model. Development stems from technology and engineering being ‘applied locally’; and our Governments are urged to recognize this reality.”
He advocated that the nation needed more than a white paper but a law that would uphold that for projects valued at less than N5 billion, only Nigerian professionals should be engaged; for projects valued between N5billion and N15 billion,