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Interview Questions for the newly elected Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA)

President, Arc Ibrahim Haruna, Fnia, mni



Could you please make out time to respond to the attached questions for inclusion in

our March 2012 edition of ABD Digest? Please feel free to adjust the questions to

meet the objectives.


Question 1:                    Arc Haruna, congratulations on your election as the

President, Nigerian Institute of Architects. If I may ask, where did you study your

architecture and when?


Answer: Thank you, I studied Architecture at Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, from 1971 to 1976.



Question 2:          Youhave been around the profession of architecture for a while,

how long would that be?


Answer: I have been in practice even before graduation, because I am one of the four Kano State Government gave in-service right from the time we got our B.Sc. Meaning every small break, we report at the ministry as staff, handling projects under the supervision of senior colleagues. That was 1974. That exposed me to practice for 37 years now.



Question 3:          You have been very active with the Nigerian Institute of

Architects for a very long time, and now, you are the newly elected president. What

attracted you to the institute and what are your plans for the Institute and the

profession of architecture during your term as the president?


Answer: My attraction to the institute is simply professionalism. If you critically analyze the meaning of professionalism in any field, you cannot discount the role of the institute governing that profession. Just meeting and rubbing minds with fellow architects, will add value to ones sphere of knowledge, and where you think you know much, you may see that someone else has surpassed. That will make you set up a higher goal, making you a more thorough professional.

My plan for the institute is to enhance its membership strength though aggressive membership drive. This will be pursued by adding greater value to members in terms of gains from the programs of the institute. Gains in knowledge through articulate Continuous Professional Development Programs. To be able to achieve that, we need first of all a very efficient secretariat, conducive efficient operations and dissemination of information amongst members.

For the profession, I intend to re-focus our thinking towards identifiable Nigerian Architecture. Like Nigerian Arts and Culture are conspicuous and appreciated anywhere in the world, our architecture should lean towards our arts and culture so as to establish an identity that is distinctly Nigerian.  



Question 4:         Yes, giving your work load with the Nigerian Institute of

Architects, how do you create time for your own private practice?


Answer: Fortunately, my practice is a system on its own, independent of any single individual. It has three directors and a pool of complimenting staff. In 1991, I left the practice completely to attend full year course at NIPSS Kuru, and the practice continued because it is a system. So the system will absorb it.



Question 5:          For architects who are not active with the activities of the

Nigerian Institute of Architects, what is your advice to them? 


Answer: For those not active, my advice to them is for them to refocus their mind and come along to be part of the re-building team in the interest of the next generation. If they think there is nothing for them to learn from NIA, NIA has a lot to learn from them and giving knowledge to others is one of the deeds greatly cherished by our Creator. Let them come along and let us work together and make our profession greater.


Question 6:          You are the best person to respond to this question because,

you may have responded to a lot of them in the past. A lot of buildings are

collapsing in Nigeria and especially, within Lagos, what do you believe are the

major reasons for the collapses?


Answer: Yes we should start this by answering some investigative questions first. 1. Why is the collapse more rampant now than event 5 years back? 2. What has changed between then and now? 3. Who are the majority owners of the collapsed buildings?

Years back, buildings constructed are much stronger even though there were less professionals and craftsmen in the market. But now with the larger number of professionals and craftsmen, we are witnessing more collapses. What then could be the missing link?

Most of the collapsed buildings are privately owned.

In my opinion, what has changed is the cost of materials that astronomically rose, especially cement, which incidentally is the major bonding materials in our mode of construction. The private developers, who mostly do not engage the right professional to monitor the execution, condone cutting corners in using much less cement in the mix in an attempt to “economize”. 

Due probably to lack of electricity, poor transportations and many other factors, cement in Nigeria is probably more expensive that it is anywhere else.  Secondly, many developers take professional expertise for granted. When he successfully completed one project under the watchful eyes of the building professionals, he will just assume mastery thereon, and will not engage the professional for the next development, thinking the same builders that executed the first one can do it without supervision. In fairness, this kind of attitude cuts across all professions, like self medication in medicine, messing up case before engaging the lawyer. In 2009, one of the victims of a building collapse, knowing fully well that I am an architect, offered to give me an advice on how to go about the construction of my plot adjoining his. He said to me “I know you are an architect, but this building I have just completed, I have learnt so much practical experience on how to construct that I can help you when you want to start yours.” Unknown to me he engaged the same workers that constructed the first one to construct another building plot within the same layout but this time without the professional supervisors. Midway into the second floor, the whole building collapsed.

Thirdly, escalation in corruption in recent time, will ridicule the Building Code even if passed into law, like it ridiculed the development control guidelines. We are not serious in the enforcement of the written laws. Despite the losses of life, no one is yet prosecuted. Much has been said on this, this is my little contribution.    


Question 7:          A lot of people are practicing architecture in Nigeria without

proper credentials, how do you weed out and stop none architects from the practice

of architecture in Nigeria?


 Answer: It still boils down to enforcement. Architects Registration Council of Nigeria is properly equipped with the enabling law to check this, but no matching funds to be able to cover the responsibility given it. As a Government parastatal, it should be properly funded to enable it set up monitoring offices in all states of the Federation. One interesting thing I noticed in Saudi Arabia where I had opportunity to be involved in practice is that a Certificate of Occupancy for a parcel of land in Riyadh has a clause which says “Planning Authority’s Approval not with standing, it is the land owner’s responsibility to ensure full compliance of all building regulations”. By simple inclusion of this clause, the building owner would not like any “favour’ in waving any of the approval requirements, or any compromise in mixing of concrete or quality of blocks for fear of being detected by regulating authority who will waste no time in demolishing his building. Here, many of such buildings by non professionals are either never approved or someone compromised his integrity in the approving authority. Indeed many state approving authorities encourage such by accepting what they call “formalization” for buildings commenced without approval instead of out right demolishing. Such planning authorities are more interested in the revenue to the detriment of safety and planning decorum.


Question 8:          How does one qualify as an architect?


Answer: Six years of post secondary education in an accredited school of architecture, minimum of two years documented tutelage under a registered architect, then sitting for professional practice examinations organized by the Nigerian Institute of Architect. He/she will then be recommended to the Architects Registration Council for issuance of Practice licence. He/she can then use the title ‘Architect’ against his/her name.


Question 9:          Is there any relationship between the Nigerian Institute of

Architects and the Nigerian Society of Engineers? If yes, what is the relationship?


Answer: Yes. They are both professionals in the built-environment. They are both members of the Association of Professional Bodies of Nigeria. Most importantly, they work together on construction project, with each of them contributing his expertise with the cordiality expected of each professional.


Question 10:                  Also, is there any relationship between the Nigerian

Institute of Architects and the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners? At what point

do they meet and do things together?


Answer: Yes there is a good relationship. In the planning of any environment, the planners come in first to plan the layout before architects take on the design of the individual allotted parcels of land. Their activity has a long gestation period and is more prone to political influence and probable distortion. 


Question 11:                 Every two years, we assemble for the Nigerian Institute

of Architects General Meeting. At the meeting, we listen to experts, professors and

the best in the field. However, it seemed like each time, we go through the same

process without implementations.  The question is, is it not necessary to find ways

of implementing opinions and ideas coming from those meetings and making the

meetings more appealing? 


Answer: I probably differ from your opinion here. May be your expectations have not been met, but there is a degree of implementation no matter how poor. Perhaps some of the unrealizable ideas were really too lofty, or there could be a disconnect between one BGM and the next where each leader comes up with his new set of agenda, dumping the uncompleted agenda of his predecessor. But the transition between the Golden President (Tunji Bolu) and my taking over if you carefully study the proceedings, we planned it to be a seamless one, with continuity. I am therefore building on what we did with him the last two years, consolidating our gains, and checkmating our shortcomings.


Thank you.