Araba: Excelling in a Male-dominated Profession


Francis Ezem

In a male-dominated profession such as the building industry, one female has distinguished herself both in academics and practice of building profession and has therefore held her shoulders high even in the midst of male domination.

It was in recognition of this fact and in appreciation of her immense contributions to the growth and development of the profession over the years that the College of Fellows of the Nigerian Institute of Builders NIOB on February 24, 2017, elected Mrs. Adebolanle Olubunmi Araba as the third chairman of the college and thus becoming the first female to be elected into this coveted office.

A first class Bachelors Degree (1978) holder in Building and Master of Science Degree in Construction Management (January 1982), both from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Araba is the first female graduate of the profession in Nigeria and has since then been a lecturer at the Yaba College of Technology, Lagos, where she has held various positions.

She is currently a Chief Lecturer at the college, having been the first Head of Building Technology Department, in addition to serving as Dean of Student Affairs.

In addition to her robust experience in the profession spanning over three decades in the academic segment of the profession, she has also been deeply involved in the private sector, rendering building consultancy services, which is the practical aspect of the profession, an ingredient of development that has made her advance in the profession.

Little wonder the Federal Government of Nigeria appointed her to the inaugural board of the Council of Registered Builders of Nigeria (CORBON), the Federal Government’s apex regulatory agency for the profession; where she helped develop the policy guidelines to regulate the practice of building in Nigeria. She is also a fellow of the Nigeria Institute of Building, where she provides professional guidance and mentorship to the members in the industry.

As a building production and contract administration specialist and consultant, Araba developed and administered construction programmes, cash flow forecast and integrated into internal framework of contract administration for achievement of quality, timely and cost effective contract delivery. She has also developed and activated site integration programmes on health and safety plan in construction.

This is in addition to providing and strengthening all technical support at Design, Pre-Construction, Construction and Post-Construction stages of the building process. Services rendered include, aligning resource leveling to all building projects in the achievement of Pre-determined targets, convening and presiding on site meetings with technical focus on contractual issues and coordinating as a focal professional, all professional delivery for other members of the building team.

As a consultant builder, she has worked with several major consulting firms, where she has contributed great ideas in bringing about enormous changes to the building industry, including working with Quantec Consultants, Anathon Partnership, where she consults as contract administrator and Rotimi Edu & Associates, where she consults as project manager among several others.

A Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Building FNIOB since 1994, having been fully registered with the council of builders since 1992, she has attended many conferences, workshops and seminars both at home and abroad including the workshop by Women in Technology of the British Council, held in Nairobi Kenya, seminar on Building Contract in National Development organised by the NIOB, conferences on Construction Industry Development Collaboration, innovation and Capacity Building also by the NIOB and a congress by the Nigeria Building Industry and the National Economy Synergies of Opportunities organised by Nigeria Institute of Building / Council of Registered Builders of Nigeria, among several others.

Araba has made several presentations, among which is ‘Construction process and Builder’s role Nigerian Institute of Building’, having also received several recognitions including the first Female University Graduate Builder in Nigeria 1978, first Head of Building Technology Department, Yaba College of Technology, Lagos 1987, and the first female builder to be so professionally recognised by Newswatch Magazine first Edition in 1990, among others.

Following her election as chairman of the college, she came up with a work plan or agenda, and has devoted her two-year tenure to building a college that would be the conscience of building practice and profession in Nigeria.
As part of efforts to achieve these, the college within few months of her election has scheduled sensitisation visits to the six geo-political zones of the country to meet the various stakeholders in the industry both in the private and public sectors.

The leadership in the course of these visits intends to do both inter and intra meetings with relevant agencies covering the three tiers of government in Nigeria comprising the Federal, State and Local Governments for high level networking, sensitisation and negotiations towards sustainable nation building.

Already, the leadership has concluded its visits to the South-West zone even as plans are underway to commence the North Central zone covering states like Kwara, Kogi, Benue and Kaduna, among others.

The Araba-led leadership of the college plans to leave an indelible legacy of giving its best to the institute, where professionalism would be so much treasured, where character devoid of ethnicity and animosity would be cherished with a view to taking the NIOB to greater heights.

In striving to achieve these, the college is faced with the challenge of paucity of funds. For instance, the college plans to buy a flat at the newly acquired Builders’ House in Abuja but she is optimistic that this and many other challenges would be addressed.

A society role model, happily married and mother of two, Araba is desirous of promoting the building profession through high level networking and professionalism. In line with this, the leadership is planning to address the current low level of activities by creating events and social functions where fellows would appear in their regalia to take their pride of place among professionals.

The two-year tenure definitely seems too short to accomplish all these, but till then, only time will tell and she is set to take on the task at hand headlong.
––Ezem writes from Lagos