Newly elected President of the Federation of Construction Industry (FOCI), Nasiru Dantata, is the Executive Director at Dantata & Sawoe Construction Company Nigeria Ltd. In this interview, he speaks on the construction industry.
What did you meet on ground concerning the construction industry in Nigeria?
I have been part of the system but when we came on board both myself and the executives of FOCI including the DG , she’s a full time staff, we have Vice President Mr. Vincent Bawa from Salini Nig. Ltd., a Deputy President, Barr. Emeka Okorafor, who is from Setraco. We went round to see what is happening, as of last year it was still a transition period, the economy had undergone a recession and the construction industry was not an exception, we were heavily hit, both from the public and private sector there was less spending, but there was a turnaround in the public sector but especially in the private sector, where our member are utilised more than ever than before, we are hoping the trend it will continue, we have a lot of capacity. From the budget of last year there were innovations placed by government such as the SUKUK programme, now in 2018 the construction sector will continue to bounce back and help make the recovery full and effective such that every kobo spent will be going down the ladder, even though public and private sector spending started heavily in 2017 but we will feel more of the effect in 2018
Who are those who constitute as members of FOCI?
It is only private sector, but we have partners in public sector, FOCI represents most of the construction companies in Nigeria, we do screen who is to be a member because there are rules and regulations guiding our understanding of the activities, number one we are to be responsible for safety of our workers, number two concerns issues of quality of work done, and also the treatment of workers, we have a binding agreement between the Senior Staff Associations bodies that represent the construction industries, we have a two year agreement that we review bi-annually, it holds all members liable in terms of welfare of our members, I think we have the best staff and the most well paid staff in the industry. These three things also coupled with our interaction with the communities where we work makes us similar as an association and we are able to relate with each other.
How is the safety and quality you spoke about being enforced?
For us, it is more of a gentleman’s agreement, we do not intend to replicate what they do but it’s more like a family, we can caution each other without taking anyone to court, we don’t have any legal right over members activities, but being in FOCI is like declaring they are ready to go along those routes, those companies that shy away are more or less saying there are one or two core ideas that they do not relate to otherwise they will conform.
How was financing during the recession?
Well, most of the projects are executed on behalf of clients, we rarely own any project so the burden lies with clients who are mainly state and federal governments, we are aware they were hit by lack of funds so it had been difficult, many projects were suspended due to lack of funds, but happily now going back to site and also there are quite a number of bold and promising projects coming to our members last year and this year also. We play critical role in executing the dreams each government for over 40 years, our projects are always showcased to show performance of each government going by effort to showcase key highway and transportation projects such as the Abuja-Abaji, Lagos-Ibadan highways, projects around Enugu and in all the zones. And the SUKUK programme, government has raised over N100 billion ready for companies to perform and be paid, such is what we want to see with the budget, once it is signed it will be made available and the current administration is doing its best to put such mechanism in place for the companies it will be easier to plan and coming out of recession we can bounce back and also invest in capacity because we are being challenged by the kind of projects doled out.
What is the debts situation?
Like I said we’re over 40 years old, we have a lot of debts, especially with states and federal governments, we are well engaged with them on several fronts from the SUKUK they’ve been able to pay already and there is the debt for bonds issue before the Senate which will enable government pay contractors and pensioners, we are waiting to see how it plays out. Our main challenge lies with the state governments, it’s more of old projects yet to be paid, they have challenges of salaries etc. These are the challenges.
How much are we looking at?
I can’t give figures but it runs into millions of naira.
How many members do you have?
We have about one hundred and fifty seven members, our members represent both foreign and Nigerian companies, even those foreign owned, the work is being done by Nigerians and FOCI encourage member companies, there are Nigerians in key positions like managers etc., our members also promote issues of smaller sub contracts etc. some former staff of big companies that have established their own but still relating with the bigger ones that goes to show the kind of encouragement for ourselves and also members are also falling in line of their respective immigration laws guiding us.
Can Nigerian engineers compete with their counterparts outside?
There are thousands of Nigerians abroad in key positions and vice versa, some are coming back home to participate, it depends on the opportunities but of course Nigerians are innovative and smart, there is no project that is too complex, especially with our members there are numerous opportunities, one has to prove himself, Nigerians are key players in the construction industry
How did you get appointed?
The FOCI is an old org established by the organised construction companies. I have been a member of the council for about six years now representing Dantata & Sawoe, so with my experience on the council when the vacancy came about that the former President, his term is expiring then the member companies unanimously appointed me as its President at the 61st AGM in Abuja in July 2017 for a one year term of five years while the council itself will undergo election every year. We have 10 council members and then the President and each member is allowed to sponsor a candidate. The annual election is for the other positions on the council.
Culled from Daily Trust Jan 15 2018