By Olusesan Ogunyooye.
Amid a growing clamour for good maintenance culture in Nigeria, facilities managers have harped on the need for public and private sectors to seek means of rising to the challenge. This was the crux of discussions at a one day round table in Lagos to mark the world Facility Management Day.
The event, organized by AlphaMead Facility and Management Services with the theme “Advancing Global Practices in The Real Estate and Facility Management Industry in Nigeria” had in attendance representatives from all sectors of real estate and facility management in Nigeria.
Speaking at the event, Managing Director, AlphaMead Facilities and Management Services, Mr. Femi Akintunde, charged practitioners in the industry to adopt global best practices in their service delivery in order to satisfy clients and grow the fledgling industry.
He also made a call to the government to appreciate the importance of facility management, saying Facility Management service account for 5% of global GDP. ‘We want government to know that Facility Management sits at the centre of what we move this nation forward,’ he said.
Akintunde further noted that the level of sophistication of clients and their demands has made it imperative for practitioners to raise their game in order to meet these expectations.
He said: ‘Though the industry is relatively new in Nigeria, we as facility management practitioners must as a matter of necessity improve the quality of services that we deliver to our clients. There is nothing like Nigerian standard of service anymore. Global best practices should be our watchword in whatever we do.’
‘The expectations of our clients in terms of service delivery are very high and I believe this should challenge us to also improve our processes and procedures. It is only when we match their expectations that the facility management industry can grow in the country.’
The celebration of the World Facility Management Day, the first of its kind in the country, provided a forum for professionals in the industry and other stakeholders to deliberate on the various aspects of the business, including government regulations, legal framework, property development financing, and security, among others.
On government regulations and legal framework, the Director General, Lagos State Public Private Partnership (PPP), Mr Ayo Gbeleyi, noted that the Lagos State government has instituted various regulatory procedures to encourage facility management and investors. Aside government agencies like PPP, Public Works Bureau (PWC) which has the mandate for infrastructure maintenance in the state, Gbeleyi, who was represented by Ms. Sola Sasore, said the government has provided the enabling environment for prospective investors through relevant legislations.
He further disclosed that all the ministries and agencies in the state have been mandated to set up a facility management unit in order to show the seriousness that the government attaches to infrastructure maintenance. While reviewing proposals for private partnership in infrastructural development in the state, the PPP boss noted that any proposal that doesn’t have a provision for facility management is never considered.
In his contribution, Mr. Hakeem Ogunniran, Managing Director, UACN Property Development Company PLC, said that aside from the funding problem, other major challenges that developers encounter include land titling and government’s cumbersome approval processes. Despite various laws, Ogunniran said developers still find it difficult to obtain legal titles that confer ownership. On approval processes, he added that multiple approving authorities by the government have made life difficult for them, thereby slowing down progress of work.
Mr. Charles Akindayomi, CEO, CA Consultants, on his own part, spoke on the new trend of “Green Building”. Though this revolutionary building concept is still very new in Nigeria, he, however, said it remains the future, particularly due to its inherent benefits. These benefits guarantee environmental sustainability. He said the new concept, though expensive, has very low maintenance cost because of the environmental-friendly materials involved. He urged professionals in the industry to move with the new thinking, adding that Nigeria cannot afford to be left behind.
Funding for infrastructural and property development in the country has constituted a great challenge to developers. This problem was addressed by two speakers at the event. Mr. Adeniyi Adeleye, Head, Property Finance (West Africa), Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC, said banks are always willing to finance projects, particularly medium-term ones but added that most developers don’t present water-tight proposals that could sway decision in their favour.
Ms. Ruth Obih, Managing Director, 3Invest Limited, also advised real estate developers to take facility management seriously. She lamented the disposition of developers to facility management services. Obih added that the misinformation about facility management is that it raises the cost of development. ‘Facility Management cost is fashioned into the project budget, making the budget huge; but a development with a good facility management process and plan will appreciate in value and eventually pay up,’ she said.
Pastor Olukayode Pitan, CEO, Caroline Properties, speaking on alternative funding in the industry, urged investors and developers to take full advantage of the Real Estate Investment Trust, a real-estate focused mutual fund. Though still new in Nigeria, Pitan said this could be the best solution to the funding problem being experienced in the sector.