FOCI laments inflation, pledges compliance with standards in construction
The new President and Chairman of the Council of the Federation of Construction Industry (FOCI), Vincent Barrah, has pledged to sustain standards in the construction industry and safeguard the interests of members.
Speaking after his inauguration during the yearly general meeting of the body in Abuja, Barrah stated that FOCI as a major stakeholder in the Nigerian Construction Industry, with over 80 active members, intends to pursue relevant goals that would be beneficial to the country.
He said the recent hyper-inflationary trend on the basic prices of key construction resources has become a great concern to the industry as this has made the current allowance for Variation of Prices (VOP) of five per cent in ongoing projects meaningless.
Barrah also said the free fall of naira against other currencies has made the purchase of construction equipment almost a nightmare, adding that these situations affect construction projects and activities in the country. It has critically disrupted contract execution, cash flows and economics of job creation tied to these ongoing projects.
He observed that the industry needs deliberate actions at tackling the challenges facing it stressing that his administration will leave no stone unturned in arriving at solutions to these problems.
Barrah, stated that FOCI has been involved in many advocacy initiatives, including the reduction in Withholding Tax from five per cent to 2.5 per cent representation at the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs). While working in collaboration with all the stakeholders within the industry, he will build on the achievements of the previous administration.
He recalled that FOCI recently established a Construction Skills Academy to train world-class artisans for use of its members and Nigerians, adding that when his immediate predecessor was assuming office as President of FOCI, 14 scholars were awarded scholarships at the rate of N250, 000 per student per year.
He said: “As I assumed office as President, we are onboarding 16 fresh scholars at an increased rate of N300, 000 per student per year. We hope to keep this pace. FOCI has been privileged to have been managed by seasoned and well-experienced past presidents, Board of Trustees (BOT0 members, Chief executive officers (CEOs) of member companies and council members with a selfless approach to matters pertaining to the body. This has brought us to where we are now as the mouthpiece of the construction industry.”
Earlier, the outgone president, Nasir Dantata, an engineer, said that FOCI will continue to provide the infrastructure that is long-lasting to Nigeria.
He observed that Nigeria has no reason to continue to import basic skilled personnel that can be trained locally; hence, the federation is aggressively training artisans in the industry.
He said: “We have a scholarship scheme that has been running since 1976. It was off for a while but we revamped it. In 2017, we sponsored about 16 students studying from the 200 level to the end of their university careers.
“So, what you are seeing is we’re bidding farewell to those that have graduated. They have enjoyed our scholarships for about four to five years. Many of them have graduated with distinction some already on scholarships locally and abroad. We’re also welcoming a new set of 16 scholars that have been selected based on their performance at the 100 levels in the universities. We are only sponsoring those that are in Nigerian public universities. We want to promote professionals in our field.”