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Endemic corruption has blinded adherence to professionalism – Shonubi, NIQS president

President of the Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (NIQS), Olayemi Shonubi, at the Quarterly Interactive Forum of the Property And Environment Writers’ Association of Nigeria (PEWAN) held on Tuesday, May 24, 2022, in Lagos lamented the spate of building collapse, describing it as a sad development that calls to question the credibility and integrity of the entire construction process. According to him, endemic corruption at all levels has blinded most from adherence to professionalism and so much so that they don’t care to sacrifice money for human life

Olayemi Shonubi
President of the Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (NIQS), Olayemi Shonubi

Who is a quantity surveyor and what is his role in the construction industry?

A quantity surveyor is the construction professional trained to provide total cost and procurement management of capital – construction/infrastructure – projects from conception to commissioning and maintenance, in all sectors of the economy thereby ensuing value for money.

Therefore, a quantity surveyor has a vital role to play in prudent costing and management of projects, procurement planning and budget implementation, post contract auditing, project management and project cost monitoring in the construction industry. Given their role as impartial arbiter during the construction process, they are also involved in alternative dispute resolution.

It is significant to reiterate that for any project where costs and particularly, value for money, is of the essence, then a quantity surveyor is required.

The incessant building collapse is a cause for concern. How do you think government can curb the menace?

The spate of collapse of buildings under construction in recent time, with the attendant loss of lives, properties, investment, income/livelihood, is a sad development that calls to question the credibility and integrity of the entire construction process from Application for Planning Approvals/Building Permits to the Monitoring of the actual Constructions to  ensure that they conform to the Approvals given up to the Issuance of Certificate of Fit for Habitation.

There is therefore the need for the state government to strengthen her Policies for Obtaining Planning Approvals/Building Permits as well Enforcement of the various policies enacted in the past to ensure adequate monitoring of the actual construction to prevent further occurrences. The governments at all levels need to strengthen the laws that govern the construction process and should include provisions for severe penalties, not only fines, for everyone involved in any collapsed building project from approval level to execution level.

Endemic corruption at all levels has blinded most from adherence to professionalism and so much so that they don’t care to sacrifice money for human life. We have gotten to a stage where professional blacklisting as punitive measure alone is not sufficient no longer address the issue as erring professionals can always get some else doing to make a living. But when an erring professional is made to face life imprisonment or death sentence, l reckon that this will help to bring sanity as well curb this untoward development.

What are the implications of the increase in the cost of construction materials on affordable housing?

The current increase in the cost of Construction materials is attributable to the current invasion of the Ukraine by Russia which has led to rising energy and logistics costs globally as well as further exacerbated the global economy which was just recovering from the disruptions created by the COVID 19 pandemic. It has far-reaching implications for the provision of affordable housing as fewer houses can be provided within the resources available to the government hence there is need to marshal out plans to cushion the effects. These may include amongst others adopting indigenous architecture and materials as well as technology for the construction; providing incentives for the manufacture of requisite materials whose raw materials abound largely all over the country.

It is only government that can engage in social housing. However, there are so many demands on the resources available to the government from infrastructure development to demands from educational institutions and health. I believe that the coming on stream of the Family Homes Funds and National Mortgage Refinancing Company (NMRC) should help to cushion the housing crisis in releasing much needed credit as well as funds for housing development.

Is the Nigerian government and the private sector meeting the best practices in Public Procurement?

On the surface, one is tempted to say yes given the existence of BPP Act which governs procurement in the public sector. But, given the reports from the Project Tracking exercises organised by the ICPC in conjunction with our Institute, the NIQS and some CSOs, our public funded projects are still enmeshed in corruption. In a situation where MDAs undertake projects outside their areas of operation leaves room for a lot of underhand deals aside from further increasing the administrative costs of running such projects.

The private sector situation, where no law binds the award and execution of contracts other than the basic corporate governance code, is more abysmal. However, because the spotlight is usually on the public sector, the tendency is to believe that corruption exist only in the public sector. There is the need for all procurements for constituency projects to be warehoused under a specific MDA for effectively monitoring and supervision.

What is the position of NIQS on the recently signed Executive Order on National Infrastructure and Building Maintenance?

We support the Executive Order 11 as it is called and believe that it is long overdue in coming as it will not only create job opportunities for the unemployed artisans who will be engaged in the maintenance of these assets of government but will also ensure that the value of these assets appreciates over their lifetime unlike what hitherto obtained.

There are many linkages that are likely to result from this initiative e.g., our paint manufacturers are most likely to attract more patronage, so also other building component manufacturers. The maintenance of government assets will further demonstrate the conscious efforts by the government towards meeting some of the sustainable development goals enunciated by the United Nations.

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