Nigerian needs dedicated facility managers to realise its dreams – Richard Okesola


The importance of facility management cannot be ignored in a developing country like Nigeria that is yelling for dedicated professionals to manager resources and materials for optimal result. In a chat with OKOSUN DENNIS in Lagos, the President, International Facility Management Association (IFMA) with over two decades experience in facility management explained the imperative of World Facility Management Day workshop. Excerpts:

YOU are the President of International Facility Management Association (IFMA) in Nigeria. When was the association established and what is the policy thrust?
The association was brought to Nigeria about 18 years ago. It has been in existence in the United States of America for some years now and because of the need for the profession to spread round the world, IFMA is encouraging members to create chapters in their various countries where professionals in various fields are brought together to discuss things that are of common interest to them; and how they spread the good news of professionals to different people and make positive impact to the development of facility management in many parts of the world.

When you say facility management, what area, particularly are you focussing on?
Facility Management is all about our existence. The profession is defined as the multi-discipline profession put together to ensure the functionality of a built environment, integrating people, processes, place and technology with the intention of creating a beautiful, secured and safe environment where every individual is able to operate at its best. It has a lot to do with apple opportunities; how to ensure that you create a space within your work environment and set it up in such a manner that you will be happy to work and you will be motivated to deliver your best. Every object, the resources that are required to make you function very well has to be brought together and coordinated or arranged in such a manner that you are efficient in the way you deliver in your daily endeavour. Again, it is referred to as a multi-discipline because everyone is involved in this process. It starts with you you want to be at your best, how do you ensure that you are of sound mind to be able to function well? It starts from where you sleep, did you have adequate sleep? What is the environment where you slept like or arranged? When you wake up, do you feel so strong to be able to deliver your utmost? Do you take your bath and in the process of doing so, do you have obstacles that can create discomfort or put you in a very risky position? You will be shocked that you have a bathroom with the wrong kind of tiles that could make you slip, that could be dangerous and could cause a lot of damage to your existence. These are the kinds of things we look at in facility management. We are interested in using the right materials; you have enough space to operate; you have everything you need to make you efficient in the delivery of your service so that you will be happy doing your job and at the end of the day feeling secured and safe to work at optimal level. It has to do with productivity.

Taking a cursory look at what is going on in this country, from your surveys, researches, are you convinced that Nigerians are actually compiling with some of things that would make an ordinary working day pleasant?
The profession itself is an evolving one. Interestingly, all of us do facility management. The degree to which we do it, largely, is what has been the problem. At the moment, our environment is not decent enough. There are lots of things that are not being done properly which has cost us so much. Infrastructures are not enough; our health services are not there; schools are not being properly managed; roads are bad. Virtually, every aspect of our lives today, something is definitely wrong. One of the things that can make us have a turn-around is our result-focussed on what we call facility management. Everyone should be conscious of the need to create an atmosphere that would make you happy and highly motivated to do your job. Nigeria is in dear need of the services of facility managers. What we are doing at IFMA is to take the news out there that would help everyone focus towards this direction.

The intention of the workshop is designed to “Empowering people for a productive world”. To what extent can you go?
IFMA is about productivity because the ultimate target is to get a work place where you carry out activities that would help you come out at your best. If that is the case, the workshop will help us empower people for a productive world. All we are saying is we want to try our best to re-focus the minds of Nigerians irrespective of your business affiliation that there are certain principles that youmust embrace anytime you want to carry out any activity where you find yourself. We shall be discussing on this and we have put together a team of very resourceful personality to give us tit bits.

The youths (students) are captured favourably in your agenda. How do you intend to re-direct their energies for being productive leaders of tomorrow?
It is by providing information. There is a popular saying that: People perish for lack of knowledge. That is why we are particularly focussing on the young ones because when you put in them relevant information at that early stage, it sticks and they are able to carry it along in everything they do. We found that necessary because we know that at the moment, not much quality education is being given to our youths. In our days, we used to have civic study. Those things are no longer there. In civic studies, you would have learnt a lot. When you wake up, you know what you supposed to do because you are being taught at that level. This profession is well determined to bring those things back to our society. This is why we decided to focus on the school children in any of our programme. We take them seriously and we always invite them to be part of us. What IFMA does is to teach, guide us properly and give quality way of life; a life devoid of wastages, resource misuse or abused; a life that makes use of efficient resources that you have at your disposal.

Is membership of this organisation restricted to a professional group?
It is not limited. In my definition, I said it is a multi-discipline because you need other professionals that can provide decent environment like you must ensure that the taps are well laid in order not to leak into the wall, Architect to design building to have space and the Quantity Surveyor to give us the right cost to developers. We have many other professions in the corporate security world like the August Eye Security Services, Cleaners because the least job you think is the simplest requires some levels of skills to do it. You are not just delivering service but quality service that gives value for the money spent.

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By extension, you have building Engineers, Architecture. Are you worried with the rate of building collapse in Lagos state and what is IFMA doing to ensure things are done properly?
We are worried. However, it is a pity that the things we believe in at IFMA is not being factored into some of these things you talked about and that is why we have gone through this unfortunate hazard collapse buildings all over the place. When you look at it closely, as a nation, we have not clearly defined our vision for the people. If we sat down and say this is the kind of quality life we have for every Nigerian irrespective of your location and factor it into policy planning and development and put institutions in place to drive, monitor, execute and enforce it, you will agree with me that we wouldn’t be at this level. You also must ensure that every professional is well trained to be able to deliver to meet what is expected. We need dedicated professionals to be able to collaborate and work together to make our dream, because it seems we really don’t have a vision in this country, if we have and focus our energy towards it, Nigeria will be a better place.

In a brief, what do you intend to achieve at the end of your workshop?
We actually want to sensitise the public, individuals, corporate bodies particularly government officials. We want to let them know that the moment they have the trust to manage our resources, we also make them to know that there are professionals that are well trained to help them deliver their services. It is an open invitation. Despite that, we have few groups that are specifically targeted to be at the workshop. We are not going to stop after the event, it is going to be like a day for creating awareness, sensitising and educating the public that we need to do a lot to create a productive working environment this year. We are also focussing on the things we need to do to create conducive working environment.

Does that include telling people to stop stealing our money?
Yes. In facility management, anybody with such character cannot be a good facility manager. If you have the tendency to steal, manoeuvre and manipulate things, it will affect your productivity because if you are given resources and you siphon it, it will show in your overall result you produce. In facility management, you don’t have excuses, those things that are not well done today, the facility manager can look into it and see how they can make it functional and that is why we say it is a pragmatic profession that ensures the functionality of the built environment by integrating people – professionals how we carry out our assignment and places we carry out such assignment then using technology to efficiently achieve our goals and objectives.

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