Just few hours before the new president of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers, Esv Rowland Abonta, was unveiled, in Ibadan, Oyo State, at the weekend, Housing News correspondent in Ibadan , had an exclusive chat with him soon after a fellowship at the instance of the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International.
How prepared are you for the challenges of associated with your institution’s presidency?
I could say that I am fully prepared in view of the facts that, in the last 12 years, I have been playing active roles in the leadership of our profession. I started as an assistant of NIESV’s national secretary, and I have grown from that point to become the national first vice president of our institution. My experience has spanned over 12 years and throughout this period, I have been able to work closely with our past leaders, learning from both their strength and weaknesses. So, I am coming into the office with balanced view robust ideas on what to do to take our institution to the leadership position it ought to be among comity of professional bodies in Nigeria.
With your experience, what are you going to do differently from what has been in the last decade?
Some areas would be addressed. First, there would be reform in the way we do our business as a professional body and even in the way individual members do their business. There is a rebranding programme, as part of my agenda. This will be brought to bear in the way we do our business and in the way our members engage in their professional practice.
Two, we intend to improve on our advocacy. We are planning to evolve an intensive advocacy programme. This is necessary because it is surprising that more than 50 per cent of the Nigerian population do not understand the work and services of estate surveyors and valuers. When people are sick, they know they have to go to the doctor. When people are in trouble, they know the lawyers are there to represent them. We also want the public to appreciate the immense contributions and added values that estate surveyors and valuers can add to their assets either in assets or facilities’ management. Up till now, so many people still patronize wrong professionals when it comes to these jobs.
We also want to impact positively on government policies and programmes in the area of making of sure that right decisions are put in place when it concerns housing and real estate related issues and taxes.
Again, some people know that, estate surveyors and valuers are the first set of professionals you consult when you want to enter into development because you, the investor or developer will get the best advise on the best location to site your project or investment. You will also get the best advise on the type of property to be located in which location, considering the market demand. This will prevent failed investment either in the time or in place. Once a wrong investment is done, clearly, you won’t get the desired returns. These are some of the programmes we are going to bring to bear on our nation to know the value addition the estate surveyors and valuers can add when consulted as at when due.
I observed this meeting in this hall looks like a Christian fellowship. Is that part of the presidency affair for NIESV?
I can tell you that you may call it part of the presidency issue. This is so because for every man, there is a God factor that helps moulding and shaping a man to become what his Creator has destined him to be. Growing up, I was like any other young man; anything mattered to me. I was steering the ship of life my own way. But coming in contact with Full Gospel, my life has been transformed; my life has changed and since then, I have been working in tandem with God’s programme and purpose for my life. That is exactly what it is it. Every leadership traits and qualities I have, came up all because I came into closer relationship with God through this fellowship. And because I have found this to be good path, I decided to invite my friends and those around me to also taste what I have tasted. That is the gospel I am spreading. In Full Gospel, we could better estate surveyors and valuers and so, I invited some of our leaders, friends and colleagues to enjoy what I have been enjoying being a member of Full Gospel; as matter of fact, a national director of Full Gospel.
What exactly are the leadership qualities you are bringing to bear?
The first leadership quality I am bringing to bear is the fear of God. Every leader must have first, the fear of the Lord. If any leader operates without the fear of the Lord, the tendency to mislead their followers is there, the tendency for those leaders to misrepresent God, who is the ultimate Leader would be there. But once you have the God factor and presence in you, as a leader, you could attain to any height without loosing you head.
Another quality I am bringing is the fact power came from the people. There is therefore, need to carry everybody along. I am going to run an open system where every estate surveyor and valuer will have opportunity, medium and a voice to contribute to the governance of our professional body.
I am also bringing to bear, modernization of our systems, structure and methods. There are quite a lot of things in the pipeline but I am optimistic that NIEVS can never be the same again after my two years tenure.
One challenge in your hand is shortage number of estate surveyors and valuers in Nigeria. What you do different to boost the number in line with ESVARBON?
We work together with ESVARBON, being our regulatory body. We draw policies and actions from their own programme to improve the way numbers are registered. But the high point is the issue of quality and standards. In a bid to increase membership, we would not open the door for every dick and tom to be registered. I can tell you that, the institution does a lot of trainings and preparations for would be young estate surveyors and valuers to equip them to become knowledge and exposed before their final registration. There are quality control tests in place through the membership committee.
As for increasing the number of estate surveyors, we have reach out programme to tertiary institutions, even to secondary schools to catch them. In the last two years, I have been the chairman of the membership committee of our professional body. We have accelerated the rate of mentoring, teaching and trainings of would be members and this has translated to increased number of registered estate surveyors and valuers in the last few years. We will continue in that direction in the next two years of my tenure.
How would you address the issue of ethical erosion within your fold?
It is simple. Every organization or group looks at his or her leader. If a leader demonstrates the tendency to ethics, there is greater feeling that, the followers will not want to deviate from their leader. But if leaders do not establish firmness, then, followers will have excuses to do things that are unethical. My hallmark hinges on discipline and ethics and I am assuring you that, in the next two years, even those who have veered off, will readjust themselves because they will see in me leader who is pursuing ethical standard. I will make sure that things are done properly.
And of course, I am a member of the Royal Institution of Estate Surveyors (RICS), the foremost body in the world for estate surveyors. My ultimate goal is to benchmark their standards and make sure that our members can stand very anywhere in the world.
NIESV as it is now has several faculties. In view of the emerging areas in your field, would you be reducing or increasing these faculties?
I am not planning to either reduce the faculties, or planning to be in a hurry to increaser them. The number we have today have addressed some key areas within our professional practice and I want to consolidate on them and make them function and effective in terms of training and impact they have.