THE atmosphere was quite revealing as practitioners from across the country gathered to witness the opening ceremony of the annual conference of one of the oldest organised private sector institions – The Nigerian Institution of Surveyor (NIS), established in 1934. A revealing and tensed atmosphere, msot of the delegates while exchanging pleasantries were also dropping the word of lack of due recognition of the profession by governments despite having members occupy strategic positon, either as Surveyor-General in all the state of the federation as well as having a dedicated office of the surveyor general of the federation.

One after the other delegates complaining of marginalization of the survey profession. More painful is the fact the Nigerian Institution of Surveyors (NIS) was not represented at the ongoing National Conference.

One of the men said, “we are treated with levity. Our inputs are not sought, yet we hold a strategic position in the country.”

Another said, “the danger is now more acute than it was before, and largely, it is because we are not proactive as members of other professions do.”

The Benin NIS conference saw the instaltation of its new executives and, a lot of issues were raised, especially at they relate to the position and the importance of the surveying profession to national development, and paramount of which is the poor treatment as well as proper education of those, who actually, should be the fulcrum of national development because of the strategic position they hold in the country

With the theme, Connect and Collaborate, the event was held in Benin City, Edo State with Professor Oserheimen Osunbor, former Edo State Capital as the keynote speaker. The conference proper took place at Emporium Hotel, while the installation of the new president took place at Uyi Grand Hotels and Suites, where Surv. Barr. Bernard Omo Akhigbe, a fellow of the institution, was elected as the 19th president of NIS —a body dedicated to advancing the profession of surveying and mapping and geomatics.

The organisation was founded in 1934 as the Association of Licensed Surveyors to enhance their practice and to give recognition to their profession in public. The association consisted only of licensed surveyors. The four founding fathers were Herbert Macaulay, a civil engineer, who was licensed October 8 1898; Bergen Benjamin, licensed on October 27, 1910; George Debayo Agbebi, civil engineer, licensed 1911; and Emmanuel Oke Aiyede, licensed in 1922.

Little was heard about the associations until 1954, when constitutional changes brought regional self government. However, by 1960, the regional associations came together to form the Land Surveyors Association of Nigeria under the leadership of CT Olumide. The association was incorporated in 1964. The present name was incorporated in at the Enugu conference in 1966.

The organisation, since formation, has catered for the professional development of members, maintained the integrity of the profession and enhanced its status. It has also provided and supported the medium for the training of surveyors and improvement of surveying techniques, initiate and advise government on legislative and policy matters on surveying and mapping of the country.

Since the first phase of mapping in the country took place between 1788-1861 as a result of the exploration and mapping of the Niger River, there have been concerted efforts at defining what constitute the geographical area of the country.

The organisation, since formation, has catered for the professional development of members, maintained the integrity of the profession and enhanced its status. It has also provided and supported the medium for the training of surveyors and improvement of surveying techniques, initiate and advise government on legislative and policy matters on surveying and mapping of the country.

The first British explorer was sent out in 1788 to explore the Niger. Thereafter, several explorers were sent to study rivers such as the Niger, the Benue, River Benin and Cross River. These explorers compiled maps showing the courses of these rivers together with the settlements around them and gave descriptions of the country, its products, the government and the ways of life of the people.

After 1861, a number of organisations such as the colonial administration in Nigeria and England, the Intelligence Division of the War Office (IDWO) and British businessmen showed interest in knowing more about Nigeria. Colonial administrators required maps for colonial expansion and political consolidation and to show political units. Thus the first 50 years of British rule saw several military expeditions, which generated a lot of cartographic data. Within this period, the Geographical Section, General Staff (GSGS) of the War Office of Great Britain was preoccupied with the compilation of general maps of Nigeria showing locations of settlements and the domains of native rulers.

Among the popular maps produced at that time was the ‘Map of Countries bordering on the Lower Niger and Benue Rivers’ published by the IDWO in 1889 at a scale of 1:2, 787,840. The map showed no boundaries apart from the Nigeria-Dahomey boundary to latitude of 0 N which had been defined in the treaty of 1889. The northernmost limit of the map is the current position of Sokoto. Other maps included Niger Territories Sheets at a scale of 1:500,0000 in 1899-19000, a one-sheet map of Nigeria at a scale of 1:1,900,800 in 1901 and a map of Nigeria in 61 sheets based on theodolite traverses by the West African Frontier Force (WAFF) in 1904-5 and published by the Topographic Section, General Staff (TSGS) of the War Office at a scale of 1:250,000.

A second wave of mapping took off in the early 20th century when the British shifted to the demarcation of possessions in the last decade of the 19th century. Boundary Commissions were set up to delimit and demarcate the boundaries of Nigeria with Dahomey (now Republic of Benin), Chad, Niger and Cameroun. The treaties often specified detailed mapping of the areas around the boundaries. Thus, for a long time, the most accurate maps produced in Nigeria were ma maps that accompanied boundary treaties.

The introduction of telegraph made it possible, in the first decade of the 20th century, to determine accurately the positions of different towns. For example, the position of Lagos Observatory was fixed in 1903 by telegraphic exchange of time signals with the Cape Town Observations.

From Lagos, the positions of several other towns were fixed by different expeditions. Using these data and those obtained from other sources including German and French maps, the gags of the War Office of Great Britain was able to compile early general maps of Nigeria.

Other maps produced in the decade, which drew a lot of cartographic information from the boundary delimitation exercises, were for administrative purposes.

Since the amalgamation of the colonies and the protectorate, the role of surveyors have become more and more important because of their ability in helping with wealth creation.

In fact, the period 1910-1926 could be described as the second period witnessing various types of surveying and mapping of the country. After the First World War (WW1), Geographical Survey Department for Nigeria was established and intensive mineral prospecting and exploitation followed. For almost two decades, the Director of Geological Survey dictated, which areas were to be mapped, and at what scales, and the general course of the development of the mapping.

The mapping during this period was for revenue generation. Between 1910 and 1914, some areas around Lagos were mapped to provide a base for revenue work in Lagos and its environs where the value of land was very high. Also, around 1912, Kano area was being surveyed for the mapping of farmlands for taxation purposes.

In the early days, the colonial government was very conscious of the importance of surveying, and surveyors then were from the Royal Navy and Royal Engineering Corps of the United Kingdom. They came to Lagos, inter alia, to undertake route survey for the Lagos (now Nigeria), Railways.

With the commencement of the construction of the railways, various means of training African surveyors were devised. Some were sent to Britain, where surveying was mainly part of military engineering, while others were trained locally. Those trained in Britain qualified basically as civil engineers; they included late Herbert Macaulay, the renowned father of Nigerian politics.

According to Professor Peter Chigozie Nwilo, who is the Surveyor General of Nigeria, “we are not where we should be. We have done well, but there’s still room for improvement. Again, I will want to see people, who have higher degrees to become fellows. The professional problems that we have in this country arise because people are limited. When you are limited in terms of poor education, higher degrees and continuous human development, you may not be able to talk.”

While likening the surveying profession to military work, because you have to do a lot of travelling to work around, as well as work in the bush and the mountain, said, the encounter and impression, which initial practitioners had did not help the profession.

According to him, people who had just diploma and much of hard work, as their professional examination were the early professionals on the job. “And so many other people, who had degree in civil engineering and decided to show interest in surveying. They had an opportunity of being professionals. Some of them didn’t think that there’s need to go and start doing master and Ph.D; so, that had affected the growth as well. That’s why we are still having problem of lecturers in this field. We are lucky that some of us decided to go into academics and rose to become professors. Well, that’s not the case now, as things are changing.”

He continued, “when I was in the university, I was mentoring a lot of my students. I tried to encourage a lot of young men to come back to academics. I tell them, even if they don’t want to be lecturers, they should come back for the masters d programme. I must confess that a lot of them listened to me. I saw it as a campaign. I took pains to talk to the young ones to come back, some even came back for their Ph.D.”

The erudite scholar added, “I think that for some of us, we need to continue to develop ourselves. The major challenge is that things are changing, and the solution lies in personal and professional development. And professionals are always conservative to change, may be because some of the equipment are very expensive, so, when they buy equipment, to get another one becomes an issue.”

For him, “surveyors must continue to develop. They must be current and alive to national issues. I’m a professor, but I’m still a student. Everyday of my life, I see new things. Surveyors must continue to seek and search for knowledge. They must acquire knowledge beyond the profession.”

On his expectation from the new executives, he is hopeful of a lift in performance as well as the image of surveyors. “I hope that the new executives perform better. I believe that the new president will do well considering his background. He is a surveyor as well as a lawyer. I think the combination of both will make him do better,” Prof. Nwilo said.

For the surveyor general, the relationship in the industry is tripodal — NIS, Surveyors Council of Nigeria (SURCON, the body, which replaced Surveyors Licensing Board, is vested with power to determine, who is a surveyor and to control the professional practice. The membership of the council, which is broad-based, accommodates all interest in the surveying community) and the Surveyor General’s office. There’s need for everybody to work together to lift the profession.

Ganiyu Agunbiade, president of SURCON, said, “it is the tripod that has made the profession to stand as one indivisible body. SURCON and the Surveyor General’s office are governmental agencies, while the NIS is the non governmental.”

Another professor, who is a past president of the institution, Francis Fajemirokun, said, “the profession has been historically marginalized. It has been so because of its nature. Professionals in surveying are always the first to arrive at a spot where development is to take place and it happens that as soon as they finish in their assignment, they go away and nobody remembers them anymore.”

The professor, who is the resident priest of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, University of Lagos chapel, noted, “no development can take place unless a surveyor has been on that ground before, but by the time the development comes up, there is no remembrance that once upon a time, there was a surveyor. So, academically, we had to do things to attract young people to come into this profession, which is both rigorous and academically demanding. We managed to attract a lot of young people to the profession and within.”

Also confirming the conservative nature of the profession, Fajemirokun said: “Surveyors, somehow, are shy people. They don’t put themselves forward and you know that unless you blow your own trumpet, no one wants will do it for you. So, we have tried our best to popularise the profession to make it known, both at home and outside.”

The priest noted, “what we have been doing is to make our training up-to-date so that the surveyor will not feel inferior to anyone — Not only that, we are also making sure that our products are politically minded because, lack of politics has worked against us in the past. We don’t care provided we are able to get along, breathe good air, and eat good food and so on. But life is more than that these days. The people who are in the corridors of power are those that take decisions that affect our lives and if we get also to that corridor of power, then we are able to affect the lives of people for good.”

On the ongoing national conference, where surveyors are not represented, he noted: “I started by saying marginalisation and the tendency to forget have been the bane of our profession. It has been happening over the years and we have been doing our best to correct the situation. When the Land Use Decree came up without the input of the body of surveyors, we knew what would happen. Some of the deficiencies in the decree today are due to the fact that surveyors were not consulted at the beginning. The same thing with the politics of housing. When we try to let them know that we should have been consulted, the answer is always, ‘oh, yes, oh yes, but let’s go along.”

He said, “many Nigerians look at surveyors, as if they are tradesmen, so to say. So, when this issue came up, NIS protested strongly, and during that protest, it was pointed out to them that that there’s Institute of Estate Surveyors. There’s a difference between them. In fact, it’s just that we cannot ask them to change their name.”

For Fajemirokun, the new executive should be more politically conscious and alert. An opinion also canvassed by Surveyor Ganiyu Agunbiade, president of Surveyors Council of Nigeria. He is of the opinion that the NIS should encourage more members to join political parties and also to contest elections.

However, for the national body to be able to take up the responsibilities imposed on it, the membership must have a collective clout that can help pave the way for legislation, which in turn will help to support the profession of surveying geometrics and mapping.

In the words of Benard Akhigbe, the new president of NIS, “if the institution is to properly play it roles as the voice of the profession, it must change this trend and get back to the drawing boards and seek ways to capture the essence of the institution by coming up with programmes that offers its members of opportunity to open doors to information to enable them contribute to the economic development of the country.”

The NIS should be in a position to address issues of legislation and standards. The NIS must be able to critically look at the laws and come up with suggestion for robust discussion and amendment.

Akhigbe said, “when we do this, we can comfortably move on to effect changes in our legislation that dwarfs the operation of surveying and mapping by our government. When we do hits, we can say that NIS is the defacto and dejure voice of the survey profession.”

TO meet the exigency of surveying and mapping of the country, it became extremely necessary to commence the formal training of surveyors locally. The best post secondary institution to be established in Nigeria was therefore the survey school.

The survey school was established in Lagos in 1908. It was a ‘local university’ for the cream of the country’s youth who for one reason or the other could not proceed overseas for further training.

The school was temporarily closed down during the war and reopened in 1925. The school was transferred to Ibadan in 1929 because of the need for larger space for practical work, and later to Oyo in 1935.

In 1934, the Yaba Higher College was established to train Nigerians in the fields of pharmacy, medicine, agriculture, veterinary medicine, surveying, engineering, etc. consequently, the programme of the Survey School was integrated into the new College’s programme. Successful candidates obtained the Yaba Higher College Diploma and were appointed as Government Surveyors.

Following the 1949 Elliot Commission Report on Higher Education for Colonies, the University College (now University of Ibadan) was established in 1948 with Yaba Higher College students forming its nucleus. The Survey School, Oyo was closed down and a new school of surveying was created as an integral part of the University College Ibadan.

This laudable training programme for surveyors was short-lived. As a result of policy reversal and part of the game plan of the then Directorate of Colonial Surveys to take over the survey activities in Nigeria, the School of Surveying of the University College of Ibadan was scrapped in 1950 and replaced with an “on-the-job training” scheme.

Surveying education in Nigeria is now offered at three levels, namely technical, technological and professional. Formal training at these three levels are handled in polytechnics and colleges of technology, and the universities. The trainings lead to qualifications such as the National Diploma (ND), Higher National Diploma (HND), and first and higher degrees. Some lower level manpower is also produced through informal, apprenticeship training.

In 1956 the Nigeria College of Arts, Science and Technology started a four year programme in surveying. The programme prepared students for the first and intermediate examinations of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. Successful students had to go to Britain to complete their professional training.

In 1962, the College of Technology, Enugu was integrated into the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, which was established in 1980. A department of surveying was created, thus restoring the glory of local training of surveyors in Nigeria at the university level. The first set of five graduates trained in surveying graduated in 1966.

Since then, the facilities for the training of surveyors have developed tremendously. The department of Surveying and Geoinformatics of the University of Lagos started as a sub-department of the Civil Engineering Department in 1970. The initial programme of the sub-department at the time was a two-year postgraduate course of studies and research leading to an Msc (Surveying) degree. Graduates in fields cognate to surveying were admitted into the programme.

Prior to these, the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Lagos in 1967 arranged for a few surveying undergraduates of the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus who were displaced by the prevailing Civil War to complete their degree programmes in the Faculty and to earn a degree of the University. In 1974/75 session, the department started the B.Sc degree programme.

The Department of Surveying, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria was set up at about the same time that the University of Lagos started offering at postgraduate level, and has since been turning out graduates in surveying.

For many years, these three departments were the Nigerian university departments training surveyors at the professional level. However, over the past two or three decades, many other universities have established departments for the training of surveyors at the professional level.

At present, at least 11 universities are offering professional training in the field of surveying. Some of these universities have well developed programmes of studies leading to postgraduate degrees, including the Ph.D.

Up to late 1960 the School of Surveying, Oyo was the only tertiary institution training surveyors at the technician and technologist levels. Currently, a total of 18 institutions, including the Federal School of Surveying, Oyo, train technicians and technologists, in surveying and geoinformatics in the country.

In Nigeria, the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE)-approved curricular are used by all polytechnics and similar institutions to train survey technicians and technologists.

Thus, college of technology and polytechnics are responsible for the training of technicians (National Diploma Certificate holders) and technologists (Higher National Diploma Certificate holders) on production work and technical management for direct employment in industry and public service in Nigeria.

The Federal School of Surveying, Oyo, apart from running courses leading to ND and HND qualifications in Surveying, also runs other courses, including the full diploma course which is recognised by the Surveyors’ Council as a qualification acceptable for registration at the professional level.

Other courses introduced as far back as 1998 include the Pre-Professional Diploma in Surveying and geoinformatics and the Postgraduate Diploma (PGD) in Geographic Information System.

The structure of the National Diploma (ND) programme consists of four semesters of classroom, laboratory and workshop activities in the institutions, and a semester of three to four months’ duration of supervised industrial training. The structure of the Higher National Diploma (HND) programme is similar to that of the ND except that the supervised industrial training is not compulsory.

The programmes in Surveying and Geoinformatics are professional programmes with academic content. Consequently, three statutory bodies have the right to pay accreditation visits to departments offering programmes at undergraduate, national diploma and higher national diploma levels.

These statutory bodies are the National Universities Commission (NUC), which accredits undergraduate programmes in the universities, and the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) for ND and HND courses. The Surveyors’ Council of Nigeria (SURCON) accredits courses both in the universities and the polytechnics.

For CED magazine, the need for the new executives to strategically position to association and the profession by walking the talk – connect and collaborate, is imperative now than ever.

By Our Correspondent with addition report culled from the Guardian

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