Former Vice President, Alex Ekwueme who spoke on the theme “Architecture management and participation of architects in Nigeria’s political process” opened his lecture on a solemn note when he said architects of his generation are nearly gone with the passing on of Frank Nwobuora Mbanefo a few days ago.He charged NIA to fully document persons with architectural training who have participated in Nigeria’s political process.The former vice president went memory lane saying Herbert Macaulay regarded as the father of Nigerian politics was a civil engineer and architect so architects can rightly claim to be at the forefront of the struggle for Nigeria from colonial time.He mentioned names of architects in politics like the late Admiral Augustus Aikhomu, Vice President Namadi Sambo, Tom Ikimi, Mike Onolememen, Ibrahim Bunu, Halima Alao, Gabriel Aduku, Diezani Alison-Madueke, Kabiru Gaya and others. He said architects have equally taken traditional ruler seats.He pointed out that two out of the four elected vice presidents of Nigeria are architects, expressing hope that time will come when an architect will be president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.“It’s up to you the young men and women; then will Nigeria be truly restructured so that its form will follow the function of government and we then have that Eldorado to which we look forward for Nigeria, the world’s largest black country. So help us God,” Ekwueme concluded.Minister of Mines and Steel Development Musa Mohammed Sada reminded architects of their training which prepares them to participate in the political process because they can make required success. “We’re the best agents of change. We have good example in those who have participated in the political process,” he stressed. In his opening remarks, NIA President Waheed Niyi Brimmo said the lecture is instituted “to create requisite rapport with policy makers and patrons of architecture, celebrate our collective history as an institute and encourage necessary bond across generations and classes of members.” According to Brimmo, the lecture is part of NIA’s “commitment to raise debates on key issues affecting the nation’s built environment”. Former governor of Akwa Ibom State Mr Victor Attah who was NIA president from 1997-1999 charged architects to put forward their voice so government will always recognize them. He drew huge applause when he said architects are the ones to draw straight and curved lines unlike politicians who draw crooked lines. Attah reminded the gathering that the governor-elect in Taraba State, Mr Darius Ishaku is an architect and more architects are needed in such positions.The event was sponsored by cement manufacturer Lafarge Africa Plc. The CEO of the company, Mr Guillaume Roux said the company is partnering with architects to deliver end-user solutions, saying the company has moved from being cement manufacturer to building solution provider.He explained, “We had to help build better cities in Nigeria. In the past three years, we worked very hard to develop solutions. We developed very large concretes that are almost as solid as steel. “To implement those solutions, whether it’s for housing, bridges, we need architects and it’s very important for us to develop relations so we can showcase to them the various solutions - especially concrete solutions that could be beautiful.”Daily Trust asked him why cement price has remained high. His response: “What’s more important is the cost of construction. We want to improve the cost of construction so finished building costs are less. We aim at finding more solutions so that the cost of construction is improved and in that contest what is important for us is to have stability in prices so customers know what’s the cost of construction.”Roux who said Lafarge has close to 20,000 employees, said Lafarge works with mortgage finance institutions and gives technical assistance, all in effort to reduce housing deficit in Nigeria adding that his company is the only one with total geographic footprint in Nigeria.The annual lecture to be delivered by past presidents of the institute is meant to kick-start activities of each year. This year’s lecture would have taken place in February but for political activities in the build up to the general elections. In the highpoint, NIA president presented a plaque to Ekwueme as the first speaker of the NIA distinguished lecture series.One thing that reverberated in discussions was need for review of architecture curriculum. There were concerns that modern architectural trainees tilt to science to the neglect of art. They maintained that architecture is medley of science and art so the two must go together.
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