New President of NIOB, Awobodu Pledges to Undertake Professional Competency Drive

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Bennett Oghifo

The new President of the Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB), Bldr. Kunle Awobodu has pledged that self-development and professional competency drive will be salient in the programme of the new NIOB administration.

Bldr. Awobodu stated this in his acceptance speech, ‘Building the Builders to Build a Nation’, presented at the institute’s Conference and 49th annual general meeting at Obi Wali International Conference Center, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, recently.

Giving reasons for his resolve to pursue professionalism, Awobodu said “He who goes to equity must come with clean hands, so warned the legal aphorism. If Builders are complaining about the Nigerian construction sphere replete with quackery, we should proffer the competency that will encourage developers and clients generally to patronise trained Builders.

“The institute is going to embark on international collaborations in order to equip our members with latest construction technology and improved construction methodology.
“Specialisation in different areas of building by members will be introduced so as to promote expertness.”

The new administration, he said would sustain an ongoing nation-wide up-skilling of the old and training of new building artisans by the NIOB and the Council of Registered Builders of Nigeria (CORBON) in line with the National Skills Qualifications Framework (NSQF) of the National Board of Technical Education (NBTE) and with the support of the NSIO N-Power programme of the Federal Government.

He said, “Building the Builders to lessen the hazards of building collapse in Nigeria will be of great benefit to the government and people of Nigeria. Water, water everywhere but none to drink. This Rime of the Ancient Mariner as documented by Taylor Coleridge is applicable to the current experience in Nigeria. With the volume of buildings being constructed in Nigeria, it becomes an irony when trained Builders are complaining of joblessness.

This is an area the government should pay attention to. When buildings are falling frequently due to inadequate professional involvement in building construction, government should institute the enabling law and implementation mechanism that will reverse the current unacceptable construction process. We shall work together with the Government and also hold them accountable.”

Awobodu, who was the former Chairman of Building Collapse Prevention Guild (BCPG), formed towards the end of 2011, to mobilise professionals across the built environment professional bodies in Lagos State to detect and report defective buildings in the state, said his experience from the NYSC and BCPG reveals that Nigeria is endowed with a people that could be committed to a cause.

“The tragedy with the nation is that square pegs are deliberately put in round holes for selfish reasons. Clueless and unpatriotic persons, who do not possess the natural passion to carry out an assignment are the ones usually saddled with a professional responsibility. The government should endeavour to institute a system that will not sacrifice merit for mediocrity. This is another area we wish to effectively collaborate with the Government to ensure that the right people are at the right places, especially in our construction sector.
“Invariably in the dynamics of management, I shall sustain the legacy of my predecessor, Bldr. Kenneth Nduka and introduce new modalities of pursuing the NIOB main objectives. I believe the antecedents of the calibers of professional Builders in this new NIOB executive body will meet the expectations of members in performance and successful delivery.”

Awobodu said his team would deliver on its promise, because as a product of building technology training that was combined with ideological training on good governance, a foundation for advocacy in building professionalism had, inadvertently, been laid for him from school, one of which was Yaba College of Technology, Yaba, Lagos. “Inculcation of knowledge that spanned across building technology, student unionism, press, cadet force, religion and ideology should prepare a young man for future challenges.”

He said the uniqueness of Yaba Tech was that most of the building lecturers studied in the United Kingdom and were ardent NIOB pioneers. “Hence, grooming active building students for service in NIOB was a strategic system of “catch them young” adopted by these fervent building lecturers. Coming from that background, one’s commitment to the building profession cause is unassailable.”

Delivering a keynote address at the Conference, wife of former governor of Rivers State, Dame Judith Amaechi expressed concerns about the use of child labour in some construction sites and the dearth of skilled middle level manpower have been described as worrisome because of the danger they portend for the industry and the nation’s economy.

Dame Amaechi, who was represented by the wife of the managing director of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), said the theme of the conference, ‘Health, Safety, Enforcement, and Professionalism for Sustainable Development in the Construction Industry’ was apt and pertinent, considering the “increasing wave of casualty arising from unprofessional practice as evident in the collapse of building in recent times,” stating that this had become alarming and worrisome.

She said a more worrisome aspect was “the dearth of skilled middle level manpower in the construction industry, as well as child labour engaged in some construction sites.”

Dame Amaechi, a professional in the building and construction sector, said the “journey to achieving an egalitarian society through sustainable development and growth is paramount. The building profession and professionals should take this lead as we drive toward actualising sustainable development in 2030.”

She said it was on account of the concerns in the construction industry that the Empowerment Support Initiative (ESI), a non-governmental organisation she founded in 2008, in collaboration with other well-meaning Nigerians, “provided intervention in critical areas in the construction industry.”

She said ESI, in partnership with the NDDC, and UNICEF, among others, trained and retrained artisans in construction complementary services, including tiling, electrical wiring, screeding, plumbing, decoration, POP, painting, joinery, iron mongering, computer appreciation, home finishing skills in the ESI entrepreneurship development centres, adding that the participants were awarded certificates from internationally acclaimed institute from the United Kingdom.

She said ESI has trained 2000 farmers, 200 youths in automobile, 100 youths in home finishing skills, 125 artisans in various capacity skills,” stating “this is aside its core and primary mandate of providing tuition-free early child education with 4000 children graduated from the scheme.”

She said her organisation had also tackled unemployment among women by engaging 123 women in providing public transportation through the ESI ladies cabbies, as well as promoting advocacy campaign on child abuse violence against the child and rights of the child to free education, saying “this advocacy led to the domestication of the Child Rights Act in the state.”

She stated that ESI had worked assiduously with the Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB) in the past, stating “I am also optimistic that the incoming President, Builder Kunle Awobodu, who I know as a man of honour, will continue to sustain this mutually rewarding relationship with ESI.”