FROM THE PRESIDENT’S DESK

The 2015 Council Meeting recently took place in Lagos, Nigeria. Although Nigeria is the largest (by QS population) member country of the AAQS, this was only the second time that a meeting was held there – the previous one being a General Assembly in Abuja, in 20015.

The meeting was held in tandem with a very successful 26th Biennial Conference of the Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (NIQS). This is a week-long event, with excellent attendance and participation, and well-organised (although normally / traditionally late starts !) events each evening. The organisers of the event, under the leadership of outgoing president Murtala Aliyu are to be congratulated on hosting an excellent event with the theme “Politics, Policies and National Development – the role of professionals”. Particularly impressive was the attendance of numerous dignitaries, most commonly representing high echelons of state and national government – it is clear that the NIQS has perfected the art of leveraging these sources of importance to their advantage.   

I had planned to ‘drop in’ to visit quantity surveyors in Ghana en route to this meeting, These plans unfortunately had to be changed, due to logistical difficulties in the pre-planning of the event – I hope that it will not be long until I can visit colleagues in that country.  

In Lagos itself, the first impression was a strange one! Why is it that in Africa’s largest oil-producing country, one cannot get fuel for your car? The person collecting us at the airport had queued all weekend, without success at the official petrol providers, and we were forced to do the “sniff and shove your finger in the can and lick” test from someone alongside the road selling petrol from a jar at black-market rates! Nevertheless, the economy seems to be quite buoyant, with great enthusiasm, and confidence being placed on the recently-elected President Buhari to reverse the rampant corruption and social and economic problems.

Of course, as elsewhere in Africa, infrastructure is a problem, with the 45km ride from the airport taking approximately 4 hours to complete at 06h00. The hotel facilities were excellent, although pretty expensive by normal standards. Our hosts at the NIQS were very gracious and were wonderfully accommodating in every respect. Mr Kolapo Adeyemo particularly going the ‘extra mile’ in looking after the guests.  

On the educational front, I was interested to note the large number of highly educated quantity surveyors in the country – surely Nigeria has the highest per capita number of Doctors and Professors on the continent.  

On the social front, I was fortunate to be invited to attend two events which I think are quite unique. I believe both activities are worthy of consideration of adoption by other countries. The first event was a programme where 181 new members of the NIQS were inducted into the organization. This was done in a suitably solemn (yet at the same time celebratory) atmosphere typical to Nigeria. Each new member was required to make a serious pledge (both written and oral) to uphold the dignity and ethics of the profession to which they were being granted access. The next evening, a similar function was held where 56 senior practicing quantity surveyors were invested as “fellows” of the organization. In the event programme, each awardee’s achievements are recognized by insertion of a detailed citation.  

On the last evening in Lagos, a number of AAQS delegates attended the gala function where the incoming president of the NIQS and the newly elected National Executive Council (NEC) Members were announced at an inauguration dinner. This was a particularly historic event as the incoming president, Mrs. Mercy Iyortyer is the first female incumbent of this positions. It was particularly pleasing to note in the footnotes provided that she had served as the NIQS representative on the AAQS Council in past years. The investiture event was preceded by a very interesting election process for the office bearers of the NEC. These positions are highly sought-after and the process is a robust, vibrant process which involves those seeking office to actively canvass legitimate voters in the weeks leading up to the election, which bears all the hallmarks of a political rally. Consequently, during the weeklong conference, one is always aware of the electioneering, whether through the display of large coloured personal banners describing the personal attributes of candidates, and what they promise to do for the QS fraternity, T-shirt clad supporters with ‘marketing’ material very visible, or the multitude of high-quality handouts, once again, proclaiming the personal attributes of their favourite candidates – fascinating!

This was the first AAQS meeting where representatives of QS statutory bodies were invited to attend in an observer capacity. I was particularly delighted that the Registrar (Mr. George Omondi) and Executive Officer (Mr. Mwongera Rukaria) from the Board of Registration of Architects and Quantity Surveyors (BORAQS) Kenya, made the special effort to attend. We were also graced by representatives from the statutory equivalent bodies in Ghana and Nigeria. We will continue to invite representatives from all statutory bodies across the continent to all future meetings. Some of the primary objectives of the AAQS are:

  1. to promote the recognition of the quantity surveyor’s role in society and to maintain public confidence in the integrity and the competence of quantity surveyors
  2. promote and encourage development and education in quantity surveying, and
  3. promote and facilitate free movement of quantity surveyors amongst institute member countries.

 

It is impossible to fully achieve these goals without the participation and assistance of the various statutory bodies. The AAQS meetings form a natural forum for the various bodies to co-mingle and to consider policy and applications of the activities. Several African countries are in the process of establishing Boards of Registration – we intend ensuring that all stakeholders are given an opportunity to participate in their deliberations through involvement in the AAQS.

The next Exco meeting is scheduled to take place in Botswana on 17 / 18 March, 2016. If you are a practice member, or interested in becoming one, don’t hesitate to contact me via the AAQS secretariat () and I will make every effort to provide access to the meeting .             

 

ROB PEARL

Durban, August, 2015.