Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has warned that those responsible for incessant building collapse across the country, which he described as professional negligence will face the full wrath of the law.
Buhari gave the warning when he had an audience with the leadership of the Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (NIQS), led by its President, Mr. Obafemi Onashile, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He told members of the institute that the recent tragic incidents in Lagos, and many others across the country, were reminders of the need to strictly adhere to quality standards on construction projects.
“Young, innocent lives must never be lost due to incompetence and greed. Simply put, no corners must be cut. I want to assure you that those responsible for such incidents of professional negligence will feel the full wrath of the law,” he said.
The president welcomed recommendations and suggestions from the Institute on how to enhance the construction industry, directing that they make a formal submission to the Minister of Power, Works and Housing as soon as possible.
Buhari also told his guests that the dark days of impunity were gone for good, assuring Nigerians that his administration would remain focused and committed to creating an inclusive and diversified economy.
The president thanked Nigerians for clearly expressing their desire to move the nation forward.
“Nigerians have clearly spoken of their desire for the country to move forward. On our part, we remain committed to the change agenda. By the grace of God, and with your continued prayers and support, the dark days of impunity are gone for good,” he added.
President Buhari used the occasion to highlight his administration’s achievements in stimulating the economy in the past three years, noting that growing the nation’s economy meant “national growth must impact the silent majority.
“This is why in the past three years, we focused on key job-creating sectors such as agriculture and infrastructure development.
“You will all recall that our agriculture and infrastructure programmes contributed to our exit from recession. This is a clear example of how, if we push ‘inclusive’ job-creating policies, growth will follow.
“We will remain committed to these and other programmes to ensure that the success of our nation is felt by the majority of Nigerians,” he said.
In his presentation, Onashile appealed to the Federal government to create a Directorate of Quantity Surveying and Projects Costs Management to address the issue of unclear delineation of professional functions amongst construction professions within the government.
Onashile also made a case for quantity surveyors to be mandated and allowed to undertake cost management of projects of all forms on behalf of the government, among others.
He warned the government of a local arrangement called “BEME” (Bills of Engineering Measurement and Evaluation) in the Nigerian construction industry.
According to Onashile, “this is unknown in the whole-wide-world. The World Bank and other international procurement reviewing organisations do not know this “Nigerian arrangement.” It is not in their books. The government should denounce this and ensure that our national procurements for infrastructures are at par with global standards and should insist on “bills of quantities.”
He said: “If the above shackles are effectively dealt with, the performance of the construction industry shall surely grow tremendously.”
The institute while congratulating the president on his well-deserved re-election, expressed its support and “total confidence in his administration and leadership direction which have brought hope, progress and stability to Nigeria.”
The highpoint of the visit was the conferment of the Fellowship Grade of the NIQS – the highest cadre of membership – on President Buhari. The president was also honoured with the “Life Champion of Anti-Corruption Crusade in Nigeria,” award.