Expatriates In The Nigerian Building Construction Industry: Merits And Demerits

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Abstract: The attempt is to address the challenges being faced by indigenous construction firm in the country especially when competing with their counterparts from other developed countries operating in Nigeria.

The theme stated above was chosen to examine the merits and demerits of the involvement of expatriates in the Nigerian Building Construction Industry. The attempt is to address the challenges being faced by indigenous construction firm in the country especially when competing with their counterparts from other developed countries operating in Nigeria.

Eminent personalities in various relevant fields of studies were present to give in-depth knowledge on this theme as well as its legal implications. Among the salient points raised are stated below:
It was observed that most of our well meaning projects were being designed by the expatriates and equally awarded to them to execute. Examples given was the N10 Billion cement factory production at Ibese, Ogun State, awarded to the expatriates by Dangote Group of Companies. The Ikoyi Link Bridge given to a Germany Company to design and execute by Lagos State Government. The question is where are the Nigerian Designers and other allied professionals?

Another School of Thought examined the so called expatriates. In the process some reasonable questions were raised. The expatriates, are they new in the country? Is it possible to insulate our construction industry from other industries in this global world as far as the involvement of the expatriates? What can be done to reduce the influx of these expatriates? What are the solutions proffered to the government to reduce the influx of the expatriates and a way out of the existing methods of construction? Based on the questions raised, the followings were therefore suggested:

•Professionals should endeavour to work together as a team i.e. establishing a Mega company.
•We should learn to integrate construction professionals and the artisans. This can be achieved by the following:
?Collaboration and not competition between the indigenous professionals in the built environment.
?Getting the right skills for every assigned work.
?Forming consortium among the professionals in the built environment so as to be able to challenge the authority concerned on the design and award of contracts.
?Internal regulation within the institute by integrating, co-operating and working as partners. Also forming internal arbitration to regulate the industry instead of waiting for government to do all.
A School of Thought also agreed that technology cannot be transferred but only be stolen. In ensuring better performance of the indigenous firms, the followings are therefore suggested:

•Government should ensure total compliance of the laws enacted for the practice of the construction work and regulate the influx of the expatriates into the construction industry. Expatriates should only be allowed on specialized programme whereby Nigerians cannot effectively deliver. Also where the work is assigned to the expatriates, Nigeria should be represented by his own expert or technologist.
•Government and private individuals should assist in providing the basic software for both design and other forms of construction.
•Government should assist the indigenous firms to provide plants and equipment at least in all six geopolitical zones either for lease or to acquire at considerable price.
•Consortium within the construction professionals should also be encouraged so as to compete for bigger and more challenging contracts.
•Government and individuals should endeavour to train the middle-men, the artisans.
The construction practices were also examined from legal perspectives and the followings were also suggested:

•Any agreement between two or more parties should be binding and not just a jamboree. There must be an action plan towards the agreement.
•Synergy is found to be very important among the construction professionals to ensure quality.
•Owner contractors syndrome and greed should be avoided especially among the so called. The “client”.
•Every profession in the industry should ensure the competency of their workers. The performance of the workers should be enhanced by introducing training for new innovations/technology in the construction industry.
•Establishing good relationship with tertiary institutions for training of workers and research work on new innovations.
•Partnering with other international bodies to ensure quality work and technology advancement.
•Regulating the practices both by the government and the institutes to eliminate sharp practices that can lead to corruption in the industry
•Professionals in the industry should practice according to the ethics of the profession. Additional information from different quarters as a form of synergy for continuous education of the professionals.
The influx of the expatriates were examined and it was attributed to the following:

•Quality of work done by many indigenous firms are not very encouraging.
•The existence of knowledge gap in Nigeria. More are yet to be learnt in terms of new technology advancement in the global economy.
•Fewer political risks when expatriates are given contracts. The existing labour union in most cases is a factor why the expatriates are considered first.
•Pride of individuals claiming to have their jobs designed and executed by the expatriates.
•The financial incapability of most indigenous firms. This is unlike the expatriates having financial support from their government.
The School of Thought suggested the followings as a remedial measure:

•The government and the construction professional institutes should sustain effective monitoring of the practices.
•Commitment of the professionals in the industry with a consensus that we want to do it right.
•Leveraging of information
•Working with those in government to ensure the right things are done according to the ethics of the practice.
Another School of thought observed that 80% of the constructions are in Africa while 20% are in the developed countries but the consultant work has 80% coming from the developed country while 20% are from the developing countries in Africa. Based on this, the followings are therefore suggested:

•Promulgation of the regulation should not be left to government alone. Professionals should also push for the enactment/implementation of the laws guiding the practice of the profession.
•Introduction of entrepreneurship for the students in the building industry.
•The professionals acquiring their equipment without relying on government as in most cases, government involvement often lead to corruption in the system.
•Government should endeavour to empower the indigenous firms as being practiced by the developed countries.
•Professional institutes attaching conditionality to the practice of the profession by the expatriates as currently suggested by COREN, thereby establishing a well articulated policy for the practice by the expatriates.
•There should be an immediate construction sector forum to deliberate on the way forward. It was equally agreed that the current President of the Nigerian Institute of Building should champion the call for better performance.
Another dimension to the problems indentified are:

•Jobs are being awarded to the quacks practicing the profession.
•Individual inability to manage our greed.
•Corruption in the entire system, both in government and in the profession.
•The mindset of not doing things right
•Global ceremony
•No continuity of the monumental works earlier done by the previous mentors in the industry.
•Not creating conducive atmosphere for the young ones to grow.
•Not having confidence in ourselves as the practice is concerned
Based on the aforementioned problems, the following are therefore suggested:

•Penetration of the individuals practicing the profession into the government to regulate the influx of the expatriates
•Sharp practices leading to avoidable corruption should be totally done away with.
•Dedication and diligence to the practice of the profession. Every individual to awake to their responsibilities.
•Giving back the technology already in-use by the expatriate to the system operating in the developing countries like Nigeria. Students in the profession are to be trained by the expatriates, therefore transferring the technology to them.
•All professionals in the built environment should ensure full implementation of the approved Building Code.
•Collective action by all the professionals in the industry to ensure that the right things are done and corruption becomes a thing of the past.
In conclusion, the president of the Nigerian Institute of Building agreed to have collaboration with other professions in the building industry forming a construction sector forum with a term of reference on advocacy and lobbying for better performance of the indigenous firms. The president agreed to submit the memorandum within six (6) months.

An architect with decades of experience

4 Comments

  1. If implemented the industry will soar like the one in Turkey,but our attitude is the problem.You here it now not again until next presidential debate.

  2. Actually, all you said is right. The problem is seeing all this terms in effect. Cause believe me in Naija we are perfect in coming up with problems, coming up with perfect solutions but to execute is the problem. May Allah see us through.

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