Can we have an Insight into your background?
I am from Ibadan in Oyo-State; I had my primary, secondary school and A levels in Ibadan. I have a master’s degree in Environmental Design in Architecture from University of Lagos, and I had a stint in carpentry, custom and commercial interiors for 2 years upon graduation. Between while in the university, I was editor of a soft sell magazine called “GOODTIMES”. It was a quarterly, we did 2 editions which sold out but couldn’t continue because the 2 principal partners fell out. I guess you can say that I have a passion for all sectors of the creative industries.
What motivated you to become an architect?
To me architecture is the ability to distill and call forth order out of disorder. To envision possibilities which marry form and function, aesthetics and the requirements to fulfill and perform human endeavors within the realm of the built environment.
I was a rounded student while in school, both science and the Arts held the same to me, but my knack for logic and a restless desire to understand and make sense of seemingly and chaotic and complex scenarios held a greater sway. Urban Planning and Architecture provided me with the outlet for this and I have never stopped having fun working.
What are the challenges that professionals in the architectural and construction industry face and what should be done to address these?
Generally, the lack of respect and appreciation is for all professionals in the country. One obvious result of this is the seeming increase in the incidence of collapsed buildings. Another is the celebration of white elephant and mediocre projects by government at all levels due to poor procurement systems of public buildings and infrastructures.
This is evident across every sector of the economy and it provides an opportunity for the professional class to come together to set up a planning and development agenda for Government. Within the realm of the built environment, there are industrial best practice templates which once knitted to our socio cultural fabric will guarantee transformation.
What values have sustained Building and Technical Information Consultants?
We have been in business for about 20 years, and we have done our best to exceed client’s expectations in every project we undertake. We adhere to personal and professional standards that exceed those required by professional codes.
Innovation and Creativity have been the bed rock of the firm. We believe as Steve Jobs of Apple computers said that creativity is more about connecting dots and seeing and making connections in what seems random and haphazard to others. We adopt an holistic approach to proffering design solutions, every project represents an opportunity to stretch ourselves and do things a little differently
What are the challenges you encounter in the execution of your duties as the CEO and how have you been able to tackle them?
The business operating environment here may be one of the most challenging in the world. In addition we have to grapple with a work force that is less motivated by the passion for the profession and more by desire for instant gratification. In my time I spent 2 years after graduating working at one of the leading firms in the country almost without being paid. The gratification of seeing my earliest design being built was more fulfilling.
B+TIC has been a pioneer in the introduction of Computer Aided Design (CAD) in our profession in the country. This has meant today having done our own designs “in house”, we are able to engage with the best CAD technicians located in any part of the world. This allows us to work 24 hours a day and meet our client’s critical deadlines.
What is your assessment of the Nigerian professional? Can you do a comparison between him and the foreign professional?
In my view, Nigerian professionals rank among the best in the world as it is witnessed by the way in which Nigerian professionals of all disciplines excel within the institution they work with outside the country. Perhaps it is a hangover from colonial times that there is a perception that foreign professionals are better qualified than we are.
Coming to the field of architecture and design generally qualifications and colour of one’s skin has no bearing with the ability to distill design solutions from regional precedents, nature and our traditional motifs and patterns. The capacity to translate this into architectural language is as much a “gift” and talent as it is the result of formal educational qualification. The skylines of Lagos and Abuja are living testaments to this fact.
Despite the availability of qualified professionals in the building and construction sector in Nigeria, some companies still prefer to give their contracts to expatriates and foreign firms. What do you think is responsible?
A combination of factors is responsible for this and it is not a reflection of lack of ability on the part of the local professionals. A lot of the foreign contractors are supported and built up by their governments and naturally employ professionals from their own countries anywhere they have work in the world. It can therefore be difficult for local consultants to compete. We should remember that the bulk of the work is carried out by local work force anyway.
What we should be concerned with is to secure the increase involvement of good professionals in the design development and project procurement to ensure greater value for money. With private sector, clients need to have greater regard for the exposure and capacity of good professionals.
Our firm has participated in both local and international competition where our entries were selected over foreign firms. Despite this, we have had a scenario where our work on completion was passed off as having been done by a “white man”.
What is your vision for Building and Technical Information Consultants?
We are getting increasingly concerned about the inability of urbanization that is spreading across major cities in the country and over Sub-Saharan Africa to translate into a cohesive development and regenerative force. From housing to access to infrastructure and lifestyle urbanization has become an aberration in Sub-Saharan Africa. I think as architects, we have defined our roles too narrowly. The vision for B+TIC is to design and develop holistic, sustainable mini cities, where all the dots are connected. This will positively impact on virtually every aspect of human endeavor and aspiration. For instance, we are the master planners for a consortium that are the preferred bidders for the concessioning of the National Arts Theatre Lagos and its surrounding land mass. Our planning is anchored on the culture and creative industries as the prime economic base for the sustainability of the project.
What do you suggest should be done to fast track Nigeria’s growth and development?
Government, (the political class) should give Nigerian professionals greater say in planning and development and procurement of public utilities and infrastructures. Government should also be champions of good design in procurement of public buildings and Infrastructures. The professional class should be more proactive in seeking to make contributions to the development of Nigeria.
What is your advice to other professionals?
Our development issues are interconnected, therefore as professionals we need to come together to collaborate in the development of sustainable solutions to some of our most pressing challenges.