I have 50-year plan for NIQS – Mohammed Abba Tor, FNIQS

New President of Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (NIQS) Mohammed Abba Tor has rolled out plans for the 50-year-old institute saying in his two-year tenure, he will set new stage for NIQS to respond adequately to changing customer needs, offer quality value proposition to clients and engender optimal national development. The institute, according to him, will be made to work better in costing and cost management of construction projects. The president warned uncertified persons who pose as Quantity Surveyors to stay away as the institute will step up monitoring and report any quacks to the Quantity Surveyors’ Registration Board of Nigeria (QSRBN) for prosecution. He urged professionals to register with the institute to avail themselves of the numerous rights and privileges enjoyed only by members. He said NIQS will benchmark sister international organizations for capacity development. Tor is a Fellow of National Institute of Quantity Surveyors (FNIQS) and Fellow of Institute of Construction Industry Arbitrators (FICIArb) as well as Fellow of National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria (FNIMN). He hails from Kala Balge Local Government Area of Borno State and is Managing Partner of Kalabal Associates – a firm of Quantity Surveyors and Project Managers. He spoke with Viewpoint Housing News at the headquarters of the institute in Abuja on Wednesday.

Read full interview below:

Viewpoint: How many certified Quantity Surveyors are there in Nigeria?

Tor: There are 4403 qualified Quantity Surveyors in Nigeria as at today, made up of 415 Fellows and 3984 Members.

Viewpoint: We have learnt that some Quantity Surveyors have not registered with the Institute.

Tor: Quantity Surveying graduates that did not bother to apply and get qualified are missing a lot.

Quantity Surveying is dynamic and only by continuously obtaining the required CPD points that one can remain relevant and up to date with the profession and meet client’s expectations in service delivery. Furthermore, failing, neglecting or refusing to join the Institute means losing numerous rights and privileges enjoyed only by members.

In the public service for instance, one cannot progress beyond certain level without being qualified and registered with Quantity Surveyors Registration Board of Nigeria (QSRBN) which is our regulatory body. As a private consultant, you are required to present evidence of being qualified with NIQS, registered with QSRBN and possessing valid practice license to be considered for projects.

Organized private sector, contractors, etc usually demand for relevant professional qualification from persons before being considered for some positions. Privileges being enjoyed by members include access to capacity building, information, journals, networking opportunities, appointment into NIQS Committees, supervision of candidates logbook and diaries, serving as referees for membership upgrades, consideration for Falcon Heart scholarship support e.t.c. Membership of the Institute also confers right to vote and be voted for during elections, entitlement to use MNIQS or FNIQS after your name as appropriate, Group Life Insurance cover, maintenance of your name on the register and so on.

Viewpoint: Is there any synergy between the Institute and Nigerian Quantity Surveyors working offshore?

Tor: There is a strong and blossoming synergy between NIQS and Nigerian Quantity Surveyors working abroad.

Members in some countries organize themselves and form groups and clusters and seek affiliation with us in some instances. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between NIQS and Canadian Institute of Quantity Surveyors and ongoing discussions with Nigerian Quantity Surveyors in Qatar provide formidable template for strengthening the synergy.  

Nigerian Quantity Surveyors working in UAE and Qatar played crucial role in facilitating technical tour of sizeable number of our members in 2016 and 2018 respectively. It is noteworthy that Nigerian Quantity Surveyors are being held in very high esteem abroad and involved in all types of infrastructural projects without any inhibitions.

Viewpoint: The National Executive Council of NIQS was working towards improving the curriculum of Quantity Survey in Schools. How far has this gone?

Tor: The Institute is collaborating with QSRBN in this regards. A workshop titled “Stakeholders Critique and Validation on Draft Revised Quantity Surveying Curricular for Degree and Higher Diploma Programmes in Nigeria Universities and Polytechnics/Monotechnics” was held on 3rd March, 2016. Discussions are currently ongoing between the Board and other Government Agencies such as National Universities Commission (NUC) and National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) on the subject.

You may also wish to note that the Institute has a strong and vibrant body called QS Lecturers and Educators drawn from Universities and Polytechnics offering Quantity Surveying across the country. The body is presently chaired by Prof. Ahmed Doko Ibrahim of ABU Zaria. They offer valuable advice towards curricular reviews in tandem with technological development and changing customers’ needs and requirements.

In addition, the Institute benefits so much from outcomes of Research Conferences organized by the body which comes up every two years.

There exist a cordial, supportive and collaborative relationship between the NIQS and QSRBN and both bodies are guarding it jealously. You may recall that during the NIQS NEC and Chapter Chairmen Leadership Retreat held from 16th-17th January, 2020 here in Abuja, the President of the Board QS Murtala M. Aliyu was fully in attendance and presented papers on both days.

Viewpoint: Are you aware of the presence of many quacks working as Quantity Surveyors in Nigeria?

Tor: The institute is aware of quacks parading themselves as Quantity Surveyors. Section 7 of the Quantity Surveyors (Registration, ETC) Act No. 31 of 1986 (Now CAPQ1, LFN 2004) stipulates what it takes for one to get registered and practice as a Quantity Surveyor. While Section 15 of the same Act stipulates the offences and punishments for a person who wrongly parades him or herself as a Quantity Surveyor.

There is a joint effort between the Institute and QSRBN through the Chapters of the Institute to monitor and report any quack to the Board for prosecution. Quacks should note that ignorance is not an excuse in law. Any person desirous of being a Quantity Surveyor should study the Acts and get properly registered.

Members of the public are also enjoined to always demand and sight practice licenses from any person claiming to be a Quantity Surveyor before entrusting him/her with duties and responsibilities reserved for Quantity Surveyors. The danger involved in engaging a quack could be catastrophic.

Viewpoint: What will your administration do to get more quantity surveyors involved in public projects as a way of helping government and other clients get value for their money?

Tor: Quantity Surveyors have “value for money” as their watch word. We are trained to offer comprehensive costing and cost management services on all infrastructural projects throughout the project lifecycle in both public and private sectors of the economy.

Our forefathers and past leaders worked tirelessly and bequeathed an enviable Institute to us.

However, studies have shown that our services are not yet appreciated in some quarters and therefore, so much still needs to be done to reverse the narratives. Structured steps are being embarked upon to raise the viability and have the profession resonate in minds of the public.

The Institute marked 50years of existence late last year and as the second 50years begins, we shall review the Brand Architecture to respond to changing customer needs. We shall rebrand with a view to offering quality value proposition to clients and by extension contributing optimally to national development.

Viewpoint: Can you name few Quantity Surveyors who have distinguished themselves in service and have become role models to young and upcoming professionals?

Tor: Yes! Our profession has produced many role models in different walks of life. These are people who have become torchbearers for me, my other colleagues, the Institute and indeed the entire profession. From Chief Executives, to the military, the academics, we have men and women Quantity Surveyors who have made their marks in national service.

On the Chief Executive side, we had the likes of H.E. QS Mal. Nasiru El-rufai, FNIQS Executive Governor of Kaduna State; H.E. QS Alhaji Mohammed Munir Yakubu, FNIQS, Deputy Governor, Katsina State; and QS Alhaji Ahmad Bashir, FNIQS; Secretary to Adamawa State Government.

We also have H.E. Alhaji Bukar Abba Ibrahim, FNIQS, Former Governor, Yobe State and three-term Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; H.E. Alhaji Ahmad Adamu Muazu, FNIQS, Former Governor of Bauchi State and former chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); and Alhaji Rabiu Sulaiman Yusuf Bichi, FNIQS, Former Secretary to Kano State Govt.

In the current dispensation, our members in the National Assembly are doing us proud. Such members include Senator Michael Nnachi, FNIQS; Senator Mohammed Bima, FNIQS; and Members House of Representatives like Hon Fred Obua FNIQS; Hon Abubakar Kusada Yahaya, MNIQS; Hon Muhammed Abdulmumin Ari; Hon Sani Umar Dangaladima among others.

In the military circles, we have senior serving and retired officers like Major General Garba Ali Muhammad; Lt Gen Azubuike Ihejirika, FNIQS; Brig Gen I. F. D. Briggs, FNIQS; Brig. Gen Albara Enoch Muazu, (Rtd) MNIQS; Navy Commodore Shittu Kazeem Dolapo, MNIQS; and Group Captain Taiwo Sunday Adenle (Rtd), MNIQS.

Many traditional rulers across Nigeria are also products of our profession. Let me mention few like HRH Mohammed Ahmed Usman, FNIQS the Emir of Deba, Gombe State;   HRH Oba Dr Samuel Olatunji, MNIQS the Olumojo of Imojo Ekiti, Ekiti State; Chief Peter Nicholas Buba, FNIQS; and the Sarkin Fadan Jaba of Kwoi Kingdom, Kaduna.

In academics, we have Prof Deji Ogunsemi, FNIQS, DVC Academics, Federal University of Technology Akure; Prof Yakubu Ibrahim, FNIQS, Dean Faculty of Environmental Technology, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi; and Dr. Amuda-Yusuf Ganiyu, FNIQS, Dean Faculty of Environmental Studies, University of Ilorin.

It is equally important to stress that Nigerian women have cut their mark in this noble profession. Prof Olubola Babalola, FNIQS is Dean Faculty of Environmental Studies and Chairman of Committee of Deans, Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife. She is the first female professor of Quantity Surveying in Africa. Of course NIQS 23rdpresident Mrs. Mercy Iyortyer is the first female to occupy that position.

Viewpoint: What is the main focus of your administration?

Tor: The main focuses of our administration include the following:

Membership Drive:

We touched this issue earlier in this interview. Due to the importance attached to membership, the constitution of the Institute places it under a Committee chaired by the Deputy President. We shall drive the effort further by leveraging on the rebranding programme of the Institute. I hosted the leadership of our Young Quantity Surveyors Forum about an hour ago. They are formidable and complementing the effort of the Institute in membership harnessing. The various chapters of the Institute – 33 as at today are equally helping by visitation to schools and colleges with a view to catching them young. Not forgetting graduates that are not yet bothered to apply. We shall reach out and encourage them as well.

Capacity Building:

We are continuously retraining our members to guarantee total customer satisfaction in service delivery. For we are conscious of the fact that what we know and the value we add are really the significant factors that drive the demand for our services. Earlier on, I mentioned that technology is evolving and customers’ needs are equally changing. Both are making continuous capacity building inevitable.

Reciprocity with Sister International professional Bodies:

We have a lot to benchmark from the capacities and experiences of sister International organizations, just as much as they equally learn from us. We will collaborate with international sister organizations in areas of capacity building, knowledge sharing, technological transfer and other areas of synergy; with the sole aim of forging our profession forward. NIQS is an international brand and must guard that status.

We attach so much importance to international collaborations. You may note that one of our past presidents QS Joseph O. Ajanlekoko is currently the president of UK-based Commonwealth Association of Surveying and Land Economy. Another past president QS Murtala A. Oladapo is a former chairman of International Cost Engineering Council.

Digitization of the Institute Operation:

We shall immediately put in motion the machinery to upgrade all our operations, encompassing membership management, examinations, finances and capacity building. This wholesome approach will enable us redefine our service delivery to members in particular and the general public.

Collaboration with other bodies:

We shall engage other professional bodies in the built environment in mutual discussions with the aim of developing the construction industry for sustainable National growth. We shall leverage upon the various common platforms to accomplish this worthy goal. The Industry is critical to national development and collaboration is the way to go.

Rebranding Project:

Having faired averagely well in the last 50 years as a corporate entity and in order to reposition the Institute for sustainable growth and development, it is necessary to revisit the entire brand architecture of the Institute. The whole gamut of the Institute’s brand will be reviewed and made a brand of choice when it comes to costing and cost management of construction projects. The rebranding and change management project will enable the National Executive Council to deliver on its mandate and elevate the profession in Nigeria. Rebranding is at the heart of the Institute’s activities for the next two years and is aimed at bequeathing a re-invigorated value proposition capable of earning an enviable place within the construction industry. The rebranding roadmap will hopefully be launched in April, 2020 in Kaduna.