Understanding the Nigerian Builders (Registration, Etc.) Act: An Awareness of Nigeria’s Subpar Building Development

CONTRIBUTED ELIOT OSEIGHE OKOSUN

The increasing number of building collapses in recent years has prompted individuals to contemplate the potential impact of the Nigerian Builders Registration, etc., Act on the quality of building development in the country. Nigeria has encountered various obstacles in the construction sector, with substandard building practices posing risks to the health and safety of the public. Building regulations emphasize the importance of high-quality services to ensure that all construction projects are successfully executed. This is achieved through the implementation of Construction Material Tests (CMT), which assess the quality of building materials and analyze the soil’s capacity to support the building structures, adhering to the highest standards.[1]

This article examines the Builders Registration Act’s role in monitoring active builders and ensuring compliance with building codes. It also examines the current situation and makes recommendations for an improved legislative framework in order to address the potential problems of poor construction practices in Nigeria.

The Builders (Registration, Etc.) Act enacted on the 15th day of December 1989, among other things:

  1. Helped set up the Council of Registered Builders of Nigeria, which was established to outline its structure, function, and composition.
  2. Ensures the proper registration of qualified builders is done.
  3. Approves courses, qualifications, and institutions for builders’ training.
  4. Issue certificates of experience and provisional registration for builders.
  5. Establishes a disciplinary tribunal and an Investigating Panel for registered builders.
  6. Imposes penalties for unprofessional conduct by builders.

Prior to the implementation of this legislation, there existed a necessity for improved regulation concerning the individuals involved in the construction sector. This encompassed the establishment of an organization solely dedicated to overseeing builders nationwide and ensuring adherence to the utmost standards in a country where the demand for appropriate and more efficient building regulations is paramount.

SOME KEY PROVISIONS OF THE NIGERIAN BUILDERS (REGISTRATION, ETC.) ACT

1. The Council of Registered Builders of Nigeria was established through this Act[2], aiming to fulfil several objectives such as;

  1. The regulation and control of Building technology in all its aspects and ramifications.
  2. The accreditation of Tertiary Academic Institutions and training facilities for the building profession (Universities & Polytechnic).
  3. The administration of professional examinations/interviews for individuals aspiring to qualify to practice the profession in Nigeria.
  4. The enforcement of discipline within the profession.
  5. The registration of prospective professionals.
  6. The organization and implementation of Continuing Professional Development Programmes for registered individuals.
  7. The execution of any other functions bestowed upon the Council by the enabling law.

2. Preparation and maintenance of the register

The legislation also mandates the maintenance of a registry to ascertain the identities of individuals who have been officially recognized and verified as builders in accordance with the legislation. This registry is divided into three sections: one for fully registered individuals, another for provisionally registered individuals, and the last for temporarily registered individuals[3]. The purpose of this provision is to ensure an up-to-date record of registered builders, enabling the publication and regular updates of the list to effectively fulfil the obligations and provisions stated in the legislation[4].

3. Registration as builders

In order for an individual to be recognized as a registered builder, there are specific criteria outlined in the Act that must be fulfilled[5]. These requirements include attending an approved training course as determined by the Council under Section 12 of the Act. The course can be conducted at a single institution or a combination of multiple institutions. Additionally, the individual must possess an approved qualification and hold a certificate of experience issued in accordance with Section 140 of the Act. Furthermore, the person must demonstrate good character. The act also addresses the registration process for individuals with qualifications obtained outside of Nigeria, as well as provisions for special registration.

4. Establishment of Disciplinary Tribunal and Investigating Panel

The Act further facilitated the creation of a disciplinary tribunal and an investigative panel to support the inquiry and disciplinary measures against its members in case of any severe violations of the Act’s provisions. This move was seen as a crucial step towards ensuring accountability and maintaining the integrity of the organization[6].

IMPACT OF THE BUILDERS (REGISTRATION, ETC.) ACT

The implementation of the Act aimed at regulating the construction industry in Nigeria has brought about significant changes. One of the most notable transformations is the emergence of a governing body tasked with overseeing and ensuring that builders adhere to essential standards. This governing body plays a crucial role as provided in the Act and in enforcing compliance with safety regulations.

Currently, the prevalence of building collapses in Nigeria has reached such an extent that it is difficult to keep track of the exact number and geographical distribution of this phenomenon. The major cities in the South, namely Lagos, Port Harcourt, Abuja, and Enugu, along with commercial towns like Onitsha and Awka in Anambra state, seem to experience a significant number of these incidents.[7] Building collapses have been reported in every state in Nigeria, including the Federal Capital Territory, over the past decade.[8] The frequency of building collapses in Nigeria is alarmingly high, with at least one or more incidents occurring every six months across the country. This persistent occurrence not only raises concerns but also creates a sense of uncertainty among the citizens regarding construction projects, ultimately impacting the economy.[9] The frequent occurrence of building failures and collapses in Nigeria reflects poorly on the professionalism and integrity of those in the industry. Additionally, it highlights the corrupt practices of some dishonest individuals within the Nigerian building industry.[10]

Several potential causes need to be identified, which encompass the following:

  1. a disconnect between the design and production processes in the construction industry.
  2. the uniqueness of each building, resulting in variations in location, materials, construction methods, and supervision.
  3. the lack of regulation in the actual building production at the site, allowing anyone to participate in the building industry.
  4. the absence of effective building codes or construction regulation agencies to oversee and manage the construction of building structures in Nigeria[11].

To tackle challenges such as inadequate infrastructure, inconsistent regulatory enforcement, prevalent low-quality construction practices, limited capital availability and a shortage of skilled labour, all relevant stakeholders and regulatory bodies have advocated for stricter enforcement of existing laws. Furthermore, they have proposed a thorough review of the current legislation to align it more effectively with present circumstances, emphasizing the government’s need to intensify its monitoring efforts in the sector.[12]

The Nigerian Building Code (As an Additional Regulation)

A building code refers to a set of laws, regulations, decrees, or other statutory requirements established by the legislative authority of a government. Its purpose is to ensure the adequacy of the physical structure and the well-being of the occupants of a building. The primary means of achieving this goal is by adhering to the principles of law and order in all aspects of human activities. This is why the provision of any building, from the initial planning and design stages to pre-construction, construction, and post-construction phases, is carried out with careful consideration and attention to detail.[13]

In 2006, all the stakeholders in the Nigerian building sector came together to create the current National Building Code. The purpose of this code was to establish minimum standards for building pre-design, designs, pre-construction, construction, and post-construction stages. The goal was to ensure quality, safety, and proficiency in the building industry. However, even after twelve years, the industry is still operating in a fragmented manner and following “business as usual” practices. As a result, we continue to witness poorly constructed buildings, structural failures, and even complete building collapses in our environment.

The absence of teamwork and disregard for professional specialization are evident. Despite the efforts put into crafting Section 13 of the Building Code, which focuses on the “Control of Building Works,” its provisions are being ignored by the very professionals who were involved in its creation. It is important to acknowledge that Nigeria has struggled with the regulation and control of building construction practices since gaining independence. Therefore, all stakeholders in the building environment must take proactive measures to prevent negative practices in the industry and bring them to an end[14].

CONCLUSION:

In Conclusion, the Nigerian Builders (Registration, Etc.) Act of 1989 has played a crucial role in overseeing and improving the construction industry in Nigeria. While the creation of the Council of Registered Builders and the implementation of disciplinary measures demonstrate progress, the ongoing issue of building collapses highlights the need for continuous advancement. The Act has established a basis for accountability and quality assurance, but challenges such as ineffective enforcement, inadequate infrastructure, and the absence of a comprehensive building code persist. To address these concerns, it is imperative for all stakeholders, including the government, regulatory bodies, and industry professionals, to collaborate and strengthen the existing legislation, expedite the enactment of the National Building Code, and enforce stricter measures. Only through such collective efforts can Nigeria cultivate a culture of professionalism, adherence to safety standards, and sustainable development in its construction sector, ultimately ensuring the safety and well-being of its citizens.

  1. Momoh Ohiomah Oboirien (2022) UNDERSTANDING THE CONCEPT OF PHYSICAL PLANNING, BUILDINGCONTROL IN HOUSING AND BUILDING PROJECT DEVELOPMENT IN NIGERIA, NIOB, MCPD WORKSHOP; https://www.academia.edu/80074248/UNDERSTANDING_THE_CONCEPT_OF_PHYSICAL_PLANNING_BUILDING_CONTROL_IN_HOUSING_AND_BUILDING_PROJECT_DEVELOPMENT_IN_NIGERIA accessed November 2023.
  2. Section 1(1) of THE NIGERIAN BUILDERS (REGISTRATION, ETC.) ACT
  3. Section 8 of THE NIGERIAN BUILDERS (REGISTRATION, ETC.) ACT
  4. Section 9 of THE NIGERIAN BUILDERS (REGISTRATION, ETC.) ACT
  5. Section 10 of THE NIGERIAN BUILDERS (REGISTRATION, ETC.) ACT
  6. Section 10 of THE NIGERIAN BUILDERS (REGISTRATION, ETC.) ACT
  7. Okolie K.C., Ugochukwu S.C., Ezeokoli F.O.: Addressing the Building Collapse Problem in Nigeria: Exploring the Builder’s Potentials, the Builders’ Liability Insurance Option and the Health and Safety Management Plan. Environmental Review, Vol. 6, No 1, Research Gate. Page 71-82, (2017) https://www.researchgate.net/publication/321679606_Addressing_the_Building_Collapse_Problem_in_Nigeria_Exploring_the_Builder’s_Potentials_the_Builders’_Liability_Insurance_Option_and_the_Health_and_Safety_Management_Plan; accessed November 2023.
  8. Oyedele A.O.: A study of control measures of building collapse in Lagos State, Nigeria. FIG Congress 2018, Embracing our smart world where the continents connect: enhancing the geospatial maturity of societies Istanbul, Turkey, May 6–11, 2018. pp. 1-16. https://fig.net/resources/proceedings/fig_proceedings/fig2018/papers/ts02j/TS02J_oyedele_9284.pdf accessed November 2023.
  9. Essien A., Ajayi S.: The Underlying Causes of Building Collapse in the Nigerian Construction Industry. International Journal of Scientific & Engineering Research Volume 8, Issue 7, Page 1729 – 1740, (2017). https://www.researchgate.net/publication/325960528_The_Underlying_Causes_of_Building_Collapse_in_the_Nigerian_Construction_Industry accessed November 2023.
  10. Nwafor A.U.: Building Failures/Collapses and their Reputational Effect on Building Industry in Nigeria. International Journal of Science and Research (IJSR), Volume 4 Issue 6, pp. 847-853, (2015). https://www.ijsr.net/archive/v4i6/SUB153873.pdf accessed November 2023
  11. Osuizugbo I. C (2018) Builder’s View on The Incessant Building Failures And Collapse In Nigeria: A Call For An Effective National Building Code; American Journal of Engineering Research (AJER) e-ISSN: 2320-0847 p-ISSN : 2320-0936 Volume-7, Issue-10, pp-173-180. https://www.ajer.org/papers/Vol-7-issue-10/V0710173180.pdf accessed November 2023.
  12. Ibid.
  13. Ibid.
  14. Ibid.

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