By Fadekemi Ajakaiye
Minister of Power, Works and Housing Babatunde Fashola has said that the biggest challenge of the Nigerian economy was the persistent inability to articulate a sustainable national and sub-national policy framework that will ensure the regular and effective maintenance of public assets, buildings, utilities infrastructure and facilities.
Fashola stated this at a seminar held to commemorate the World Facilities Management week in Lagos recently, according to a statement by the organisers.Â As part of the commemoration of the World Facilities Management Week, the Executive Chairman of Klinserv Solutions Limited and Group Managing Director of the International Facilities Services (IFS) Group, Dr. Tunde Ayeye, along with other stakeholders, convened the largest policy dialogue on maintenance of public assets and infrastructure at the Muson Centre, Onikan Lagos. The dialogue, taggedÂ â€˜Effective Maintenance as a tool for National Developmentâ€™,Â was aimed at tackling the challenge of poor maintenance in the country.
Fashola stressed the need to build a maintenance economy, explaining that maintenance was a very lucrative business in countries across the world. He noted that the development of skills acquisition centres by successive governments in the past 20 years was to develop manpower to handle the maintenance of critical infrastructure in the country.
According to the minister, â€œFrom bad roads, to poorly maintained bridges, non-functional health centers and hospitals, dilapidated school buildings, refineries our national power infrastructure etc. Anywhere you look; it is evident that the issue of poor maintenance of our public facilities demands national attention.â€
He urged governments at all levels to always ensure that public utilities and institution are always maintained. â€œMy argument simply is that the problem is not the absence of a maintenance culture, but the absence of a maintenance economy and we need to start doing something about that now. â€œUntil we create a maintenance economy, it would be difficult for a lot of the unemployed graduates to be able to find a job. There is need to encourage skills acquisition,â€ he added.
Fashola said his ministry is planning to build Independent Power Plants in federal universities across the country, as well as repair roads within the tertiary institutions. The Minister stated, â€œWe found out that bridges across the country lacked maintenance over the years. We have done assessment of all the bridges in Nigeria and we have developed a three-year plan for that intervention and it will cost us N277 billion to do that.â€
The Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris stated that facility management was essential in the public health sector in order to deliver quality service. He explained that it was because of the importance of facility management that the Lagos State government pioneered the Office of Facility Management and Maintenance in Nigeria.
The primary objective, Idris said was to ensure that all public buildings, facilities and installations operate at optimal capacity.
The department was also saddled with the task of coordinating and supervising safe and efficient operation, maintenance and long term preservation of the assets of the state government in a cost effective manner.
In what was indeed a robust engagement, the policy dialogue on â€œEffective Maintenance as a tool for National Developmentâ€Â had among others the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, Brent Omdahl of the US Consulate; Muda Yusuf DG LCCI and Mr. Fela Bank Olemoh the Lagos State Special Adviser on Education, Prof Oluwatoyin Ogundipe the Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Prof Chris Bode, CMD LUTH, Dr. Olumide Okunola of the World Bank among others.
The organisers believe that the outcome of the policy dialogue will support, enrich and accelerate the ongoing efforts by the Federal and State governments to rebuild our economy, open further avenues for job creation and economic development.Â Â A communiquÃ© was issued at the end of the event.