The current Vice President of the prestigious Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors, and incoming President of the same Mrs. Mercy Dubase Iyortyer has made indelible marks in the institute, the profession and the corporate life of the professionals as it were. She has served the Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors in various capacities, and will once more serve, but this time, at the helm of the institute’s affairs as the National President. His immense contributions in the built sector go a long way to usher in her grand entry into this position.
Upon her emergence as the 23rd National President of the Institute and first female president of the same, she acknowledges God and the support of her fellow members and also shares her vision of taking the institute to a height where its members are recognized as experts that can actually deliver value for money for construction projects. “The construction industry plays a very vital role in the economic development of any nation, and Nigeria is not an exception. The sector therefore needs to be managed efficiently; and as construction cost managers, it is our dear responsibility to contribute in a positive direction by applying professionalism. The main policy thrust of this regime is corruption alienation, and we can help to achieve it in so many ways, for example, by giving near accurate cost of projects so as to ensure a near accurate budgeting for planning purposes, and can avoid over-inflation of projects by giving accurate costs. We can also carry out procurement management of projects so as to get the right contractors for these projects, and can also monitor and evaluate these projects for performance tracking purposes. All these and more we can do; but we are not yet recognized as capable of offering these services effectively; though it is a continuous process. My vision is to be able to take us to that height during my dispensation as president”.
As much as the construction industry has had its successes in recent times, there have been some long standing challenges still facing it that the general public has attributed to the construction of the government and relevant professionals, and as construction economists, most of the blame tends to be passed on to the members of the National Institute of Quantity Surveyors, but the newly emerged president opined that for the holders of high authority in the public sector, the challenge lies in that these officials have to work with an already provided budget. According to her, most of the public parastatals working to better the housing sector are always enveloped in a budget that cannot be exceeded.
For the private sector, challenges in the provision of houses is enveloped within the high cost of housing delivery, in which case the roles of the quantity surveyor has not been challenged.
However, the major challenge that we should concern ourselves with is how to deliver affordable housing. Private sector operators will build their commercial houses with x cost and add their profit, which quantity surveyors do not have any power over. Do we then make them reduce the cost? Another challenge QS. Mercy Iyortyer mentioned as deterring factor for the performance of Quantity Surveyors in the housing sector is that they are not made to submit bill of quantities to go alongside other documents for approvals. As much as Architects are made to submit their drawings, quantity surveyors should also be made to submit the bill of quantities. It shows the cost of a housing project; and should be taken seriously. Not leaving behind the biggest component of any construction project which is the infrastructural development, we tend to technically hand over this part of the built sector to the government. Of a truth, the government cannot foot this development without help from the private sector, as the cost is astronomical.
The newly emerged president of the NIQS therefore strongly advised the government to strengthen the public-private partners’ hip arrangement to attract investment to the construction sector.
“There is the need for government to arrange stakeholders’ meeting to analyse the PPP arrangement, if it has been so for successful, what measures can be taken to enhance the success, and then remove all the bottlenecks for a successful operation. The government should also strive to provide an enabling environment for the success of the PPP arrangement, so that investors will not feel frustrated in business efforts. It has to be a collective effort”.
The incoming president has also assured the general public that in the gearing of the institute’s affairs towards development, relevant recognition and institutional integrity, she would ensure that her administration will be at the forefront; especially with the promising premise of the Local Content Act. The challenge faced oftentimes by most professionals is the reduced patronage in terms of project execution, and there seems to exist an iota of optimism in that the head of the new government is someone who worked tirelessly with professionals during his regime as Chairman of the PTF; it is strongly believed that he will bring back the relevance of professionals in the execution of projects once again.
“The construction sector will not survive without constant reforms. Presently, the construction sector in Nigeria can only boast of about 4% of the GDP towards national development whereas in Ghana, it contributes about 9.9% to the GDP. Therefore, there is a dire need for reforms in areas of construction financing i.e. easy access to finances, lowering of interest rates, perhaps to single rates if possible; and invariably reforms in the area of capacity building (contractors for project execution) among so many others. Some countries have construction banks, and I know there was an initiative in that direction in the past, although it was truncated due to share capital, but I believe if it is revisited, it will enhance the development of the sector.
Quantity surveyors render services in the cost management procurement of all capital projects, not only in the housing sector. Our relevance to national economy cannot be over-emphasied. We simply draw the line between correct budgeting and overspending. We play the advisory role to project executioners. Every professionally trained quantity surveyor understands his/her position in this regard, and would as such perform his/her duties within that understanding.
To cap this, the enactment of the procurement act has provided an equal platform for all players of the industry to bid for public projects. It has saved government some huge amount of money. In fact, the Director of the Bureau of Public Procurement, the act saved N658 Billion for the government between 2009 and 2014 from contracts awarded by agencies of the FG. Therefore, as procurement managers, we are pleading for the government to include members of our institution on the council for procurement. It is only expedient”.
Mallam Murtala Aliyu, the outgoing President of the Institute also described its members as “jack of all trades” for the construction industry. In the positive sense, they deal a lot with the economic, legalities, project management, monitoring and evaluation, and this makes them a must have for the construction sector. According to him, an average quantity surveyor is absolutely versatile, they are to be a part of the planning and budgeting team for all capital infrastructure projects.
However, the challenges in the housing sector have made it seem as though this versatility is not an achievable feat. The deficit of 17 million has made us neglect the demand end of the chain. All we think about is the availability of houses, but the available houses, will they be affordable?
Our roles as quantity surveyors is to effectively help clients plan a value inclusive project that will eventually sell at a reasonable profit, but the challenge still lies in the client’s belief in our costing methods, and not in the expatriates’ method.
Over the years, our professionals have faced this challenge, but we are optimistic that in this present dispensation of government, our indigenous companies will be engaged business wise, as a request has been submitted by the institute to the national assembly in this regard.
The newly emergent president of the Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors, QS. Mercy Dubase Iyortyer having expressed her professional views and opinions on the standing of the nation’s construction sector, gave a resounding applause to the current administration of the institute, one which she is a part of, for moving the institute thus far, especially the current president, Mallam Murtala Mohammed Aliyu, whom through his efforts, the institute’s constitution was amended and strengthened.
According to her, he initiated the rotation of national activities round the geo-political zones to foster unity and enable integration among members. This amiable personality also initiated the Quantity Surveyor academy to enhance existing skills and harness new ones. Evidently, a lot of endeavours were embarked upon by the outgoing administration, creating an avenue for more to be done.