The Special Guest of Honour,
Our Guest Speaker,
Guest of Honours,
Elders of our great profession,
President of the AUA,
Members of the Executive Council,
Distinguished members of the College of Fellows,
Fellow Architects and Accompanying Spouses,
Representatives of other professional bodies,
Members of the Press,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen.
With gratitude to the will of the Almighty Allah, He who sees and foresees, He who gives and forgives, I stand before you today, to answer yet another call to duty as the President of our great Institute, the Nigerian Institute of Architects. It was not my will to seek the tedium of building the Institute at a time when I thought I had achieved all I had to achieve in my profession and retire to my golf, my part-time lecturing, my grand children and the bliss of the golden years, when providence dictated otherwise and here I am in total commitment to serve the Architectural profession in this capacity.
I will plead with my dear wife, to spare me two more years of architectural ‘craziness’, to be able to pass on the baton properly for the sustenance of our profession and development of our country Nigeria.
The journey to NIA Presidency is a long one, running through vice Presidency for six years before one matures to be the President. One must has go through tutelage with three presidents and at least three past presidents in council. I must say, that I am particularly lucky to have done my tutelage under very seasoned, active and articulate presidents with diverse experiences in practice, academia and the civil service. In addition, the NIA Council over the past six years has witnessed greater participation of Past Presidents in council and in all NIA activities resulting in the enrichment of council’s policy decisions, and tremendous boost in the charisma of the institute. Their immense contributions to the Institute can only be fully rewarded in the heaven. Through a deliberate policy of continuity in programs, I will encourage this council to explore these gains as asset, while taking caution not to repeat the humanly errors that resulted.
The vision of the Nigerian Institute of Architects is: “to attain excellence in creative management of the physical environment”. With a mission: “to mobilize informed membership for quality service”.
The chosen theme of this BGM therefore is “Shaping the future of Architecture in Nigeria” so as to prepare the architect for achievement of this vision in the future. This is perhaps most apt, after celebrating Architects and Architecture over the last two years to commemorate our 50 years of existence as an institute. This moment therefore is the right one to commence shaping the future towards another 50 years if we really want the next generation to have cause to celebrate.
To successfully achieve this, I will urge the Council to place emphasis on Education, Practice and Public Relations in addition to the laudable programs initiated by previous regimes. These are the areas where we should have our greatest strengths but currently exhibit our weaknesses.
1. THE SECRETARIAT We shall therefore vigorously pursue the strengthening of information dissemination by overhauling the NIA secretariat, as a strategy for better education amongst members. To set the machinery of transformation rolling, we must operate from a strong base. My top priority shall be the immediate reorganization of the Secretariat. The building shall be brought to practical completion and the interior completed to the highest standard. This conducive operating environment will become the base of a new machinery of administration, having state of the art IT equipment and well motivated dedicated staff who shall be charged to imbibe a new attitude of total commitment, dedication and prompt responsiveness to Institute affairs. In this regards, there shall be a recruitment of new hands and capacity building of the existing staff. The new NIA Secretariat management shall set performance standards against which staff shall be evaluated for rewards or removal.
Even though decline in the quality of education is not limited to architectural education, the NIA shall compliment the gigantic effort of the present government in revamping the quality by assiduously upholding our professional responsibility through greater interactions with the schools, and a more focused tutelage program for students and fresh graduates. The sustenance of our profession and continued relevance in the nation shall depend on the quality of service we can offer to our clients. We have to help in finding answers to :
- the acute shortage of lecturers in the schools of architecture against the need to produce more quality architects.
- Even with the shortage, what percentage of scheduled lectures is actually delivered?
- How can the intake be strictly controlled to facilities availability? Etc.
The institute, with the support of ARCON, will work closely with the NUC on how to alleviate these and in the areas of curriculum planning and delivery, admission guidelines and the possibility for joint accreditation.
While we look at the training of new architects, we shall also seek to build the capacity of practicing architects to keep us abreast with global best practice standards. CPDP shall be held on regular basis on subjects that will provide the tools for quality service and greater relevance in the Transformation Agenda of the Federal Government.
3.PRACTICE The future of good practice in architecture lies in competitiveness, which is achievable through competition. The use of competitions in job procurement shall be encouraged so as to identify new talent and create break through opportunities. On Iconic National projects, international competitions shall also be encouraged to get our architects to compete against the best in the world and also infuse international ideas into our architecture. Such competition shall prepare us to be able to participate in competitions beyond our shores, which may put our country on the global architectural road map. Already we have learnt a lot from the only international design competition held, the competition for the design of the new Abuja City Gate, organized by the Federal Capital Development Authority. Only two Nigerian firms made submissions, and no foreign firm submitted. Non- submission by foreign firms is probably attributed to anxiety about the quality of judgment, with the bad name we have on corruption index, and being the first time such a competition is being called. However, the experience gained will lead us towards perfection. Already, based on such experience, the NIA has now drafted its guidelines for architectural competition, which will soon be formally launched.
The success of architectural form and style lies in its achievement of rational balance between arts and engineering. While engineering is universal, it is the elements of arts and culture that distinctively define the style of architecture for each nation. Nigerian arts and culture are well recognized and respected all over the world, but hardly can we showcase our architecture as distinct from that of our colonial past. This perhaps is due to too much leaning towards engineering to the detriment of arts. There is therefore the need to tilt our design forms more towards Nigerian art and culture as a step to the evolution of a truly Nigerian Architecture. Our schools of architecture and even our CPDP programs should re-focus design studios towards traditional forms, and traditionally oriented use of space.
4. COLLABORATION Our success as professionals can best be measured in the manner in which we deal with our colleagues and the public. The NIA therefore will collaborate with other professionals in the built environment in all areas of environmental endeavors as partners in progress. Specifically now, we are in concert with other professionals articulating efforts to launch Nigeria into Green Building Council by the first quarter of 2012.
We also intend to strengthen our participation in APBN and relate effectively with other 28 members in the body and also in regional and international bodies so as to expand our goodwill among the core professions in the country and the world.
Knowing that no association can thrive in isolation, the NIA shall be proactive in opening doors of friendship with all stakeholders in the nation’s development agenda so as to diffuse the sibling misconception about the pomposity of the architect. We need all the support, understanding and sympathy from all and sundries in the discharge of our professional obligations.
5. PROFESSIONAL INTEGRITY Nigerian Architecture has never had it so good with so many architects in the upper echelons of power at the same time. The government and people of Nigeria have put so much trust in architects on their individual merits. It is time for architecture as a profession to rise to the challenge and propel architects to the front seat in all facets of society.
A legal luminary, (Albert Kominer) in defining a professional asserts, “Diligent self policing of incompetence as well as intentional misconduct and abuse is a hallmark of professionalism”. To earn the respect we expect as professionals, we must have the guts to tell ourselves the truth, purge ourselves of misconduct and abuse. With the large-scale corruption in the country, we cannot pretend that our sector is clean, or negligible. We cannot continue to sit and just watch, otherwise, the devastating effect of it will consume us all, and there will be no future of architectural practice to shape. Our leadership position in the construction industry has saddled us with the responsibility to lead in the war against corruption in the industry. Our revised Code of Conduct has been framed towards zero tolerance to corrupt practices. We however need to step up our fight against this monster far beyond mere dissention. Our Continuous Professional Development Program (CPDP) will be tailored towards training our members on how to deal with pervasive uncertainties that arise in practice for which technical skill alone is inadequate.
6. GRATITUDE AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
Let me conclude this by extending my profound gratitude to our
- Special Guest of Honour,
- Distinguished Guest Speaker,
- Guests of Honours,
- Elders of our profession,
- President of African Union of Architects,
- Members of the College of Fellows,
- Presidents and representatives of other professional bodies,
- Fellow architects and architects-in-the-making,
- Distinguished invited guests,
- Honourable members of the press.
for making this occasion most colourful.
I have enjoyed the support of my good friend and brother, the golden President, the immediate Past President, Arc. Tunji Bolu, FNIA, who should never be referred to as out-going because he is going nowhere. We shall still tap from his experience.
My profound gratitude goes to the three Vice Presidents and all other members of the BGM organizing committee for working tirelessly to the success of this occasion. To other members of the strategic committee, the BRS Committee, members of council and indeed all architects and those in the making, I sincerely appreciate your tremendous contributions, encouragement and confidence.
Fellow colleagues in the construction industry, like Messrs. A.G. Ferrero Ltd, Messrs. Sageto Ltd and many others to numerous to mention individually have contributed greatly to the success of this program. Thank you very much.
Finally, I accept this challenge, with the sincere intention of imbibing the concept of leadership as delivered in one of the sermons of Uthman bin Fodio when he said “the crown of a leader is his integrity, his strong-hold is his impartiality and his wealth is the prosperity of his people”. I take this crown as a trust and as Daily Trust Newspaper puts it, “a trust is a burden”. I am ready to take this burden and cannot afford to fail.
Thank you. Arc. Ibrahim Abdullahi Haruna, FNIA, mni President, The Nigerian Institute of Architects. 19th November, 2011.