TEXT OF SPEECH DELIVERED BY H.E, BABATUNDE RAJI FASHOLA, SAN AT THE PRESS BRIEFING ON NATIONAL INFRASTRUCTURE MAINTENANCE FRAMEWORK ON THURSDAY 31ST JANUARY 2019 AT FEDERAL MINISTRY OF POWER, WORKS AND HOUSING HEADQUARTERS MABUSHI, ABUJA
I welcome you warmly to this press briefing to share information about two very important developments that occurred in the month of January 2019.
The first was that on the 9th January 2019, the Federal Executive Council, Nigeria’s highest decision making organ of the Executive arm of government approved a National Maintenance Framework for public buildings.
The second is that on the 24th January 2019, President Muhammad Buhari signed into law a bill to prohibit discrimination against persons living with disabilities which included provisions for specific actions that must be taken within a period of 5 (FIVE) years to provide opportunities for such persons to live as normal a life as possible.
This briefing is meant to discuss what these developments mean for Nigeria and Nigerians, and to highlight the possibilities that they offer for our way of life and our economy.
National Maintenance Framework for Public Buildings
Let me start with the National Maintenance Framework on Public Buildings and first point out that for now, this only applies to public buildings but will ultimately extend to other public assets like roads, bridges, rail, power installations and other infrastructure of a public nature.
What the FEC approval means is that after decades of agonizing about lack of maintenance, the Buhari government has chosen to act.
This is policy decision of enormous profundity because the records do not indicate that any such policy decision has previously been taken at the federal level.
The decision was provoked by a memorandum from the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing that challenged the conventional thinking that “Nigeria does not have a maintenance culture”.
The memorandum argued and FEC agreed, that maintenance of infrastructure whether public or private, is not a cultural issue but an economic one.
The memorandum showed that in the built industry, only about 23% of the workforce is employed by Design (6%) and Construction (15%), Governance (2%) , while the remaining 77% are employed by Maintenance and operation.
Council was persuaded to accept that while skill training and vocational centres exist almost nationwide for training artisans like plumbers, painters, bricklayers, welders, tilers, electricians etc., there is a lack of National policy that makes the practice of these vocations economically worthwhile on a sustainable basis.
The available data showed that many people trained in these vocations often resort to earning a living by resorting to other vocations in which they do not have a training, such as riding motor-cycles and tri-cycles in order to make a living.
Therefore, the federal government’s decision on maintenance is an economic one, to empower Nigerians at the base of the economic pyramid who are artisans, those at the middle of the pyramid who own small businesses, SMEs who are involved in manufacturing of building and allied materials.
What it entails is that:
a) Site assessment of the affected buildings will have to be conducted, measurement are to be taken, valuation conducted and data is collated. This on its own requires the employment of people to carry out this process and therefore jobs will be created from the very first step.
It will also provide for credible data such as lettable space, value of the property and so on which can form the basis of the economic decisions or even actions in emergency periods.
b) Condition assessment is the next step that requires people to be trained and employed to assess the conditions of affected buildings from foundation to roof and for mechanical and electrical sustainability for purpose.
In one of our sample buildings leading up to the memorandum to FEC, we found out that out of 63 air-conditioning units, 11 required replacement or repairs. We also identified windows, doors, tiles, roofing materials, plastering works that required replacement or repair.
c) The maintenance program is then developed from these assessments as to what jobs need to be done to restore the building to fitness, what needs to be replaced and what needs to be repaired.
d) This is the basis for the award of the maintenance contract following the existing procurement law.
e) This provides a window of opportunity for small businesses who are into facility management and for young graduates of building tech, architecture, engineering and even technical schools to register for these contracts.
f) Successful bidders are then in a position to employ artisans to execute the maintenance contract they have won in the bid.
g) Each ministry, department and agency will be responsible for its own procurement for its own building after training of their designated personnel by the staff of the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing who will guide them through the framework approved by FEC.
h) Because data is critical to the programme, each MDA will file data with the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing who will centrally manage data and use it to advise government and brief the public, while the MDA reserves the right to keep its own data.
i) The award of contracts will not only drive employment for artisans, it will drive demand of manufacturing and suppliers of parts like wood, pipes, paint, tiles, electrical fittings, windows and tools, in addition to those of cleaning items like soap, detergent, polish, varnish etc.
This is the economy that we see ahead as we set out to implement this approval starting from buildings, and as I said, and extending to roads, rail, bridges etc. as we progress.
Our pilot programme covered 9 buildings comprising a Federal government college, a Federal Hospital, a Federal Court building, a federal prison, a federal secretariat and our office buildings at our headquarters here in Mabushi.
The pilot survey showed that these 9 (Nine) buildings will cost N40.3 billion to reconstruct, while it will cost N922.8m per annum to maintain them which is about 2.3% of the cost of replacement.
Just these 9 (NINE) buildings will require about 448 people to keep them well maintained a year. For example, the school will require at least 30 people to be employed per school for maintenance; and the federal government owns 104 Unity schools which potentially will require 30 X 104 = 3,120.
So you can see the economy we see when this extends to all our hospitals, all our courts, all our prisons, all our police stations, all our universities and covers all public buildings.
This is an economic choice by this government to drive the small business sector, to drive skill utilization and to move the economy from growth without jobs to growth driven by new jobs that reward services.
But as if this was not enough, President Buhari raised the bar for construction, services and a new way of life for Nigerians when he signed the law to protect people living with disability from discrimination and exclusion.
We have 5 years to comply, and this requires that all our buildings must have lifts and ramps. (By this I mean well designed ramps for people confined to their wheelchairs, not hills they cannot use on their own).
We must modify all our toilets with support for our brothers and sisters who are living with disabilities, as we must build sidewalks for them to use our roads without colliding with vehicles.
Our airports and parking lots in buildings must become compliant with international best practice by providing corridors and facilities for people living with disabilities at arrival and departure points, while a minimum number of slots clearly designated must be provided for vehicles owned by people living with disabilities.
This is another opportunity for jobs to re-design, to re-model, to retrofit all our assets nationwide to comply with the law as signed by Mr President.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is the Nigeria that beckons upon us from today and the immediate future. A Nigeria where public infrastructure works because they are maintained.
A Nigeria where everybody has a secure sense of belonging because they can use their skills and labour to earn a decent income and retain their dignity.
A Nigeria where government cares for the people living with disability by providing the basic minimum facilities that gives them a sense of belonging to demonstrate their ability.
Government has taken the leadership role to provide the policy and the how to make this Nigeria possible.
It is now your responsibility and mine to take ownership of this platform of opportunities and make it work for all of us.
Thank you for listening.
Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN
Honourable Minister of Power, Works and Housing