Nigeria risks another recession if attention is not given to construction industry, experts warn
by CHUKA UROKO
October 24, 2017 | 12:50 am| | | Start Conversation
Following a 0.55 percent GDP growth in the second quarter of 2017, Nigeria exited a 13-month economic recession, but experts in the construction industry have warned that the country may slip into another round of recession if attention and government policies are not in favour of the industry.
Alongside agriculture and manufacturing, the construction industry made a significant contribution that pulled the country out of the economic recession which, according to the experts who spoke at this year’s edition of Property and Environment Writers Association of Nigeria (PEWAN) annual lecture, literally brought the economy on its knees.
The experts are of the view that construction is a determinant and a major driver of economic growth, a view that aligns with that of Babatunde Fashola, minister of power, works and housing who, at an event in Lagos recently, noted that “infrastructure spend drives the real economy, stimulates production and industrial activity which employs people and includes them”.
The minister recalled that during the implementation of the 2016 budget, 103 construction companies executing 192 projects were paid and they employed 17,749 people directly and 52,000 people indirectly in construction, adding that the provision of funding under the 2017 budget to the tune of N90 billion made it possible for 62 contractors working on 149 projects to be paid N47.169 billion to continue work on roads and bridges and keep people at work.
But Kunle Awobudun, President, Building Collapse Prevention Guild (BCPG) and also the First Vice President of the Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB), warned that these gains could only be sustained if government policies, going forward, were tilted in favour of construction industry which, he said, was a determinant of development.
“Many nations’ development is tied to the construction sector; this sector is the determinant of growth and development; government should take investment in construction industry serious because recession can re-occur if this is not done”, said Awobudun who was the keynote speakers at the event.
He warned also of government’s patronage of foreign firms in preference to local operators, arguing that “if construction work is given to the multinationals from China, Germany and other countries at the expense of Nigerians who are not only producing less quality work, but also, sometimes, helping the corrupt government officials to siphon Nigerian money abroad, then the industry is doomed”.
The President of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Otis Anyaeji, represented by the Ikeja Branch Chairman of the society, Akintayo Akintola, lamented that most projects in the nation have become ‘processes’ because of lack of adherence to completion dates.
Meckson Okoro, an estate surveyor and valuer, who was the chairman of the conference with the theme, ‘Economic Recovery: The Role of Construction Sector in Post Recession Nigeria’, had in his opening remarks, noted that foreign construction firms, who were usually the beneficiaries of most contracts awarded in Nigeria, usually repatriated all the funds to their countries, adding that capital flight was injurious to the nation’s economy.
Okoro who is Founding Partner/Consultant, M.I.Okoro and Associates, commended PEWAN for setting agenda on issues of economic growth and development and tasked the federal government on showing more commitment to the construction sector.
He was however disappointed that Fashola, who was to be the guest speaker at the event, was neither present nor represented, just like the governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode, who also was neither present nor represented. “I think it’s not good enough that the guest speaker and the chief host are not here, knowing full well that the organisers of this event are the message carriers of their activities. I think it’s quite unfair that they are not part of this event”, he lamented.
In his goodwill message, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, Ojaja 11, the Ooni of Ife, expressed hope that Nigeria would get it right so long as the citizens co-operated with government in its policies. Ooni, who was represented at the event by His Royal Highness, Oba Adebanjo Adedinni Asoya of Isoya, Ile Ife and his counterpart, Oba Adetokunbo Anosunge, Elejesi of Ife Kingdom, assured of his commitment to the cause of construction industry, especially in the areas of infrastructure provision and housing delivery.
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