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Construction practitioners warn against relapse of nation’s economy

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Construction practitioners warn against relapse of nation’s economy

As Nigeria has broken the cycle of negative Gross Domestic Products (GDP) and recorded a 0.55 per cent growth that has taken it out of recession that lasted two years, professionals in the built environment are calling on both the federal and state governments to invest heavily in the construction sector to prevent a repeat of economic slump.

The professionals pointed out that construction industry of any country played an important role in the economy, adding that activities of the industry were vital to the attainment of national socio-economic development goals of providing housing, infrastructure and employment.

They said whatever happened to the construction industry affected other aspects of the nation’s economy, noting that the sector was yet to receive enough attention from the list of major growth drivers of the economy until the nation went into recession.

The experts, who gathered during a lecture on: “Economic Recovery: The Role of the Construction Sector in Post-Recession Nigeria,” organised by the Property and Environment Writers Association of Nigeria (PEWAN) in Lagos, urged the Federal Government to show adequate commitment to the sector in order to promote growth and development of the country.

Expressing concerns, first Vice-President of the Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB), Mr. Kunle Awobodu, identified lack of government commitment as one of the factors militating against growth of the building/construction industry in the country.

He warned that if government policies were not tilted to favour construction, which is a determinant of development, the nation would slip back into recession.

He said: “Development of many nations is tied to the construction sector. This sector is the determinant of development in any nation. Government should take investments into construction industry serious; recession could reoccur due to our human errors.”

Awobodu berated government for giving more support to foreign construction operators than local ones, noting that the former had a way of transferring their profit to their home countries instead of retaining it in Nigeria to generate economic activities.

The NIOB boss mentioned that infrastructure was a major determinant of economic development, pointing out that until citizens and government learnt to make use of local construction operators, the sector may not record significant growth.

President, Nigeria Institute of Quantity Surveyors (NIQS), Mrs Mercy Iyotre, said the attitude of the political class was the cause of economic recession and other challenges faced by the country.

Iyotre, who was represented by the Marketing and Publicity Secretary of the institute, Mr. Jide Oke, noted that construction of infrastructure was very critical to the economy, adding that as the nation comes out of recession, government must deal with the issue of power.

According to her, infrastructure deficit in the nation is huge and the private sector must be allowed to drive the sector to speed up development.

“Construction is very important, it is the barometer to measure the growth of any nation,” she said.

On his part, the Founding Partner/Consultant, M.I.Okoro and Associates, Dr. Meckson Okoro, maintained that foreign construction firms which were given most contracts in the nation, usually repatriated all the funds to their countries, adding that the capital flight was injurious to the nation’s economy.

Okoro, who chaired the occasion, commended the association for setting agenda on issues of growth in the construction industry of the nation, urging journalists to exert themselves to ensure things were done right in the sector.

The President of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Mr Otis Anyaeji, lamented that most projects in the nation had become ‘processes’ because of lack of adherence to completion dates.

He said that conditions for award of contacts were usually deliberately made difficult to eliminate local engineers, which makes nonsense of the Local Content Law to adequately engage indigenous engineers.

Anyaeji, who was represented by the Ikeja Branch’s Chairman of the society, Mr. Akintayo Akintola, advised students of Lagos Technical College, who were in attendance, to distinguish themselves in various crafts they were learning to fill the middle cadre manpower gap being taken over by foreign artisans.

The Ooni of Ife, Royal Majesty, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, Ojaja 11, agreed that all things being equal, Nigeria was on the threshold of economic boom, as the country is wriggling out of recession.

He expressed optimism that the country would definitely get it right as long as the citizens join hands with government in its policies.

Ooni  was represented  by  His Royal Highness, Oba Adebanjo Adedinni Asoya of Isoya, Ife and his counterpart, Oba Adetokunbo Anosunge, Elejesi of Ife Kingdom.

Other speakers at the event include a former President of Association of Town Planners Consultants of Nigeria, Mr. Moses Ogunleye;  Lagos’ Chairman of  the Nigerian Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Mrs. Funmi Akingbagbohun; Chairman of NIOB, Lagos branch, Mrs 

Adenike Said; and Vice Chairman, Nigerian Institute of Town Planners, Lagos chapter, Mr. Ayo Adejumo.

Some of the stakeholders advised construction experts to understudy and replicate some of the things foreigners were doing right to become more relevant in the nation.

They said the occasion of the lecture was an opportunity to have a rethink and create solutions.

Professionals in the built environment were also enjoined to form themselves into consortiums in order to attract government attention and patronage.

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