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‘Govt should jettison lip-service to housing delivery’

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Ben Akhigbe

Akhigbe

The NIS President, Mr. Bern Omo Akhigbe revealed that it is a misnomer for the Federal government to set up a Land Use Act Allocation Committee without a land surveyor who can provide the extent/size, behaviour/relief, location, identity, model, and current use of the land in question. In this interview with The Guardian’s Tunde Alao, he also urged the incoming government to place more emphasis on mapping and surveying through the creation of a Survey and Mapping Commission.

WHO is a Surveyor?

A surveyor is a professional that is registered by Surveyors Council of Nigeria (SURCON) to practice Surveying in any part of the country and any other person that has been assigned by the office of the Surveyor General of the Federation or the Surveyor Generals of the State to carry out survey works.

What is the main objective of the Nigerian Institution of Surveyors (NIS)? 

The NIS is the umbrella body of all surveyors in Nigeria. Its objectives are to ensure that the profession of surveying attains and maintains its pride of place among the community of professions in Nigeria. It also seeks to ensure the proper welfare of all its members, while promoting awareness among the society in general, essentially, NIS is the month piece of surveyors in the country.

Looking at the challenges in urban or regional planning in Nigeria today, what do you think should be the contribution of surveyors in addressing city planning? 

The contribution of surveyor in addressing the problems in cities’ planning is production of current and fit-for-use different types of maps and requisite geospatial data, which are basic tools for planning.

Effective planning can only be achieved via the use of timely and current information. It is internationally recognized and agreed that the most mapped countries are the most developed. If we are to defeat the challenges we currently face in terms of urban planning and development we need to place more emphasis on mapping and surveying. This will afford our planners better information to work on and in turn they will proffer better and even cheaper solutions. Planners will then have the necessary tool to plan since they will have a three dimentional model to do proper planning. There is urgent need to have current.

Similarly, the construction industry is beset with numerous problems, especially the non-recognition of surveyors in construction activities. Can you throw more light on these challenges?

A major challenge we face within the construction industry is the lumping of survey content with engineering works. It is the practice now to award engineering projects with the survey content lumped together, especially in road construction and in the oil and gas sector.

This has made it impossible for the surveyor to take full responsibility for their work. He is unable to take final critical decisions. And this has affected final results of projects that at must time fall below international but practices.

The survey content of all engineering works plays a major role in determining the quantities and qualities of materials used and the state of the project on completion. We therefore advocate that Survey content of projects be available directly to the Survey firms. Engineering designs are supposed to be based on fact and figure, from the fields. Data provided by the Surveyors.  How do will cost the projects when felt data are not provided by the Surveyors?  In all that, we call on government to address this problem.

In the existing law that guides land administration in Nigeria, land surveyors were not recognized in the composition of the Land Use Act Allocation Committee (LUAAC). Has this affected land administration, especially housing development in the country?

Yes, definitely it has affected land administration, in the sense that how would such committee articulate a workable policy guidelines for the government on land administration not just for housing but for all physical developments without somebody on the team who can provide the extent/size, behaviour/relief, location, identity, model, current use of the Land in question. The attention of government has been drawn to this severally. A surveyor must, of recent be in the team to advise on all these issue.

We learnt that surveyors in Nigeria are less than 2,000 in a country of more than 150 million populations. Don’t you think that this will jeopardize ethics of your profession?

Not exactly, the number of surveyors currently in Nigeria is about 3,000. However, the number is not enough to service the population in the country as you rightly mentioned and to carry out the required survey activities to produce the current and accurate model of the Nigerian land space of about 900,000Km Square. Efforts are being made to produce more Surveyors and improving the number. This has in no way jeopardized the ethics of the profession.

What are you doing to curb quackery in the profession?

The Surveyors Council of Nigeria (SCN), is  in charge of regulation of the profession and they are doing their best to sanitize the profession.

The world is embracing digital cadastral, how is your institution ensuring that members with Federal Survey Department (FSD) are converting the nation’s maps from analogue to digital?

Permit me to informing you that Federal Survey department has been transformed into an extra-ministerial department, now known as Office of the Surveyor General of the Federation. With regards to keeping abreast with digital technology and new advancements, it is not just in digital cadastral, but also in all aspect of surveying and mapping. The institution has an annual mandatory continuous professional development (MCPD) programme, where members are updated with new advancement in Surveying and mapping technology. It is mandatory for all members.

There is a marginal drop of undergraduates in the Department of Surveying in all the tertiary institutions nationwide, what have NIS done to woo young people into the profession?

The Institution has been engaging young people through carrier counseling for over time, to raise their level of awareness about the prospects in the profession. However, it in necessary to fund the institution well with necessary awareness programme to attracts admission. Take note that surveying is quite technical and practical oriented.

What steps should be able taken to address  challenges of housing delivery in Nigeria?

One of the concrete move by government to address housing delivery is to have the political will to address it and not just lip service. All the institutions that are responsible for housing delivery, like Mortgage Banks, and Primary Mortgage Institutions (PMI) should be strengthened and appropriate legislations that will let the private sector handle housing be put in place.

A new government is stepping in May 29, What is your advice or agenda for the Buhari administration to ensure the survey practice is giving its appropriate place in scheme of things?

First and foremost, my agenda for new administration is for it to set new standard for development. One of my major agenda for the incoming administration is the prioritization of mapping of the entire country. This is the reason we call for a Survey and Mapping Commission. Such commission can set a robust agenda for development of Survey to solve problems emanating from issues such as ecology, security, population and environmental degradation and infrastructure development through member’s annual subscriptions. Nigeria seems to be trailing behind other countries in terms of survey and mapping.


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