Surveyors weigh in on new trends, emerging practice
IN efforts to enhance the quality of its practice and ensure effective national development, construction economists have urged governments and practitioners to encourage researchers through funding, commissioning research projects and utilization of findings.
Members of the Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (NIQS) who met at a three-day research conference organised by the institute, held at the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA) on the theme, ‘confluence of research, theory and practice in quantity surveying profession for a sustainable built environment’, agreed on the need to blend theory and practice to improve the knowledge of its members.
According to the president of the institute, Murtala Aliyu, “the bulk of researches in Nigeria seem to be domiciled in the academic institutions with little application in practice to solve human problems, probably because governments and practitioners are not aware of or appear like mere academic rituals. This development is rather unfortunate as many research findings needed to resolve societal problems are confined to academic shelves.
“Generally, the society demands from professionals the use of their intellect and expertise to bail her out of the present predicaments of poor development and unresolved socio-economic challenges. The professionals owe a duty of care to the society. They need to prove their worth and even pay back to the society, which trained and fed them. These can be achieved though commitment to and concerted research efforts.”
Aliyu further noted that technological enhancements, globalization and international benchmarking create the need for modernization of knowledge, continuous improvement and up-grading of information and knowledge base necessary to cut across barriers and boundaries. These challenges necessitate researches and further researches in order to strengthen existing theories and propound new ones.
“There is a dire need to re-focus research. It needs to go beyond academic gains to solve enormous problems of the society. Researchers therefore need to be encouraged by governments and practitioners alike through funding, commissioning research projects and utilization of research findings.
“From our practices, we are finding new frontiers, new challenges, new competences in the academics. They are also teaching students what is already documented, so what we do is to share these experiences, the reality on ground with what they are teaching today and how they can modify the approach and how in turn, it can affect the society totally. And that is why we say, this is a confluence of research theory and practice, and at the end of the day, the beneficiary would be the public and the world at large.”
While commenting on corruption in the construction industry, the NIQS boss noted that they are not involved in budgeting, but then they are supposed to guide the contractors through setting up the structure and cost of materials and that is why sometimes, they are accused of conniving to escalate costs. “As an institute, we have practice monitoring unit, and just like every other profession, there are either quacks or those with corrupt minds and so we ensures that all our members are monitored.
“Those who err are sanctioned or de-licensed and for quacks, who are not our members, we take them to our registration board who will handle the sanctioning which includes jailing and fine. It has been tough for those who are found wanting, since I took over as president, three members have been sanctioned so far, we have asked the client to decommission them on their projects, we stopped their licenses, and we asked them to appear before a disciplinary committee and if anything happens to the structure, they will go to jail.”
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the conference, Gray Eshophonen, the representative of the Executive Governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, said that the importance of research is very evident as there will be no improvement in any sector of the economy if research is not made use of. “In those days when our fathers built their houses with palm fronts and mud, the situation has changed to building with blocks and steel, this is as a result of research and this is a welcome development.”
The Vice Chancellor, FUTA Prof. Adebiyi Daramola in his remark noted that the research conference will aid promote national development as there has always been a disconnect between research and practice in Nigeria.
The Deputy President of the institute, Mrs. Mercy Iyortyer said: “All the developed countries today went through research and so at any point in time, research is key whether is an organization or professional body, from there you know how to move forward. Research tells you where you were before, where you are now and the way forward. And so we at NIQS have seen the need to marry research from academicians and practitioners to enhance the profession.”
In a key note address, the Chairman, Association of Consulting Quantity Surveyors in Nigeria (ACQS) Lance Momodu said the conference is adding value to existing knowledge of practice, the profession and the industry at large, especially with the declining standard of education among higher institutions.
“Today, people have certificates they cannot defend and without further efforts at personal growth through research and reading, there will be progressive illiteracy. In a country with already abysmally low standard of education, one remains less than fully equipped to face today’s world. Without comparative knowledge and competitive skills we are faced with a frightening situation where more than 75 percent of Nigerian graduates cannot compete in the 21 century workplace.
While the Secretary, Professional Development and Library, Dr. Ejike Bedford Anunike, noted that the institute places great premium on the issue of research and recognizes its great potentials in contributing to existing knowledge and resolving man’s enormous challenges in an ever-changing world.