With the public hearing on the Bill seeking to establish the Chartered Institute of Facility Management of Nigeria winds down, chances are that the Bill could be passed, any time soon.
When passed, the Bill proposes a Council that would moderate activities in the FM (Facility Management) industry, and according to its sponsors, the Bill would promote facility management career in Nigeria.
The Council would be saddled with the responsibility of managing the institute, register persons and organizations seeking to practice facility management, set the standard of the education needed, as well as inspect and certify facilities.
But a sharp division whether the Bill should be passed or not has continued to rage. While the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV) strongly opposes the bill, others said the Bill was long overdue and therefore, members of the National Assembly should go ahead to pass it into law.
Among those against it, is the Nigeria Institute of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV), who in a memorandum to the Senate Committee on Establishment and Public Service, signed by its president, Patunola Ajayi and the chairman of its regulatory body, Estate Surveyors and Valuers Regulatory Board of Nigeria (ESVARBON), late Olayinka Sonaike, stated that their roles also capture the regulation of the practice of facilities management in the country.
A copy of the memorandum reads thus: “For the avoidance of doubt, Section 31(b) of the Estate Surveying and Valuation Regulations of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Official Gazette No. 90 of 2014 as a supplementary to the above law clearly and specifically indicate the practice of Facilities Management as one of the profession’s area of core competence.
“Thus, there would be no need for the Council for Facilities Management or any other Council/Board under any guise, which seeks to regulate Facility Management without recourse to the Estate Surveyors and Valuers Registration Board of Nigeria.”
Others opposed to the Bill explained that the sector is still very young. They argue that Facility Management, being a multi-disciplinary profession, should remain an association, as is the practice in other countries of the world. Establishing a Bill and setting up a Council, they insist, would tie a noose on the young profession and scar potential players.
According to them, professional bodies should regulate each of the players. These include the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) for the lawyer who drafts the contract, Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) for the various engineering practitioners in the field, Quantity Surveyors Registration Board of Nigeria (QSRBN) for the Quantity Surveyors who put the cost estimates together, ESVARBON, Architects Registration Council of Nigeria (ARCON) and several others.
One of the practitioners opposed to the Bill, who spoke anonymously remarked that, the Council, if established, could be made to play advisory roles that can share best practices. “IFMA originated from the US some 30 years ago. Up till date, it remains an association. That is why it is called International Facility Management Association (IFMA). It is not a regulatory field; you cannot regulate it.
“And the other professionals are not happy with the issue of the Bill. The president of the Nigerian Society of Engineers has called me, the surveyors are not happy; the lawyers are not happy, so many professional groups that have heard about this are not happy.
“Are you going to tell the engineers how the electrical fittings standards should be maintained? Or is it the guy who is setting the pressure bar level of water for domestic or industrial use, that are pretty well trained in engineering which is applied in FM. So, what is FM going to regulate, it doesn’t have any meaning to me.”
Emma Wike, Second Vice President, Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers opposed the passage of the bill. “Fortunately, I was among the delegate that went for Council for Facility Management in Nigeria. Our position is that, facility management is a multidisciplinary profession and we are not claiming that we possess the sole right to it.
According to him, there is an existing law, which empowers ESVARBON to regulate that sector, initiating another law on same subject amounts to wasted efforts.
“What we are saying is that there is a law in existence that created the Estate Surveying and Registration Board of Nigeria and that law empowers estate surveyors and valuers to coordinate the facility management job even if experts in other fields intend to undertake such role.
“In essence, there should not be another regulatory body for that purpose, as ESVARBON, which is backed by law, is still in place. Therefore, creating another regulatory body is tantamount to duplicating the role of Estate Surveyors and Valuers Registration Board.”
Also Olufemi Akinsola, senior lecturer in the Department of Building Technology, Yaba College of Technology, who holds a PhD in Facility Management pointed out that nearly all the professionals in the built environment have one or two things to do with facility management and because they have been practicing an aspect of facility management before the upcoming of the profession, they would be fighting to relinquish what they have been doing.
Likening facility management to project management, the senior lecturer noted that in Nigeria today, you can’t find anybody with a HND or BSc in FM; it is just like project management, he said, which is not the precinct of any professional body as anybody can be a project manager.
“I am not in support of any professional body coming on board to say, facility management is exclusively its own. If the National Assembly promulgates an Act to establish facility management as a professional body in Nigeria, then whatever was provided in the previous Act of NIESV that gives them the role would have been one way or the other removed.”
He advocated that what was done with the Procurement Act, where the engineers claim right, quantity surveyors claim right and members of purchasing and supply also claiming right should be applied to facility management.
Akinsola remarked that by the end of the day, the piece of cake was shared among the three bodies with all of the parties presently belonging to the Board.
Muhammed Kassim Olatunde Balogun (MKO Balogun), Managing Director of Global Property and Facility International Limited, a strong supporter of the Bill stated that there is no comment anybody can make now to change the mind of the nation’s Senators.
He countered the claims that FM is not being regulated in the UK, USA or Middle East; adding that 70 per cent of every government’s expenditure is on infrastructure; 50 per cent of every transaction is on services. So, why do you want to leave that without creating a process, he asked.
While responding to the issue of the practice being made up of different professional bodies, Balogun narrated that ‘everybody is nobody’; that being an estate surveyor or engineer or architect, does not qualify one as a facility manager.
“Even though you still use an engineer, QS, or builder, but somebody needs to coordinate those fields. A facility manager is like a CEO, the building is its component. You cannot say finance department, HR department, marketing department; everybody should be operating on its own without the head. Is it possible?
“80 per cent of the time, we don’t even need an estate surveyor in a building because the building is completed and occupied. If its owner occupied, it means, he is not going to lease any space. When you are talking about facility management, you are talking about coordinating the key aspects or components of the infrastructure or building.”
Also supporting the Bill, Collins Osayamwen, the Managing Partner of SheltercareFM Consult, stated that whoever is fighting the Bill is just wasting his or her time right now. There is no way they can stop it, as the only problem with them, he remarked, is ignorance.
Osayamwen, a professional facility manager, who is also an estate surveyor explained that the opponents of the Bill do not understand what facility management is all about, hence, their stance.
“IFMA is 38 years right now and the truth is that if you understand the role of facility management in a country, you should be praying that it is long overdue. Are we not tired of having infrastructures that do not perform their functions shortly after commissioning?
“For crying out loud, facility management is not even about maintenance, it cuts across the entire sector of the built environment. I am also an estate surveyor. Its complete ignorance, and they are doing this country injustice and their selfish interest does not want them to make anything work.”
IFMA Nigeria, on their part has expressed support for the Bill. In their submission to the Senate Committee, endorsed by its president, Pius Iwundu, an engineer and General Secretary, Lekan Akinwunmi, an estate surveyor, they indicated that facility management being a multi-disciplinary profession should put into consideration in the course of registration, IFMA members in Nigeria who have undergone various levels of training, qualification and certifications.
In addition, they submitted that representatives of other relevant professional bodies should constitute the Governing Council for Facility Management of Nigeria.