Nigeria National Accreditation Service (NiNAS) joined the global accreditation community on 9 June, in Abuja, to celebrate the tenth World Accreditation Day (WAD). NiNAS, created under the aegis of the EU-funded UNIDO National Quality Infrastructure Project, hosted stakeholders from the construction industry, as well as laboratory professionals, media personnel and representatives from the public and private sector. The theme of this year was Accreditation: Delivering confidence in construction and the built environment. The celebration is the first time NiNAS marked the event.
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola, gave the keynote address, represented by his Special Adviser on Policy and Legal Matters, Lanre Akinsola. The Minister urged for building standards to be “met and kept, to ensure that the integrity of the construction sector is not compromised, to ensure that the quality of our construction materials meet international standards, and to ensure that our professionals are not only competent on paper.”
UNIDO Representative and Director, Regional Office, Nigeria Hub, Jean Bakole, emphasized that “NiNAS will work to the standards set by the International Organisation for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electro-technical Commission, to deliver impartial, objective and technically competent accreditation services to the Nigerian economy.” Mr. Bakole highlighted the importance of accreditation in the construction and building environment to the Nigerian economy by fostering competitiveness, marketability, and job creation, as well as health, and safety.
UNIDO NQIP Project Manager, Raymond Tavares, encouraged Nigeria to embrace NiNAS and the principles of World Accreditation Day, “as an important pillar of the national quality infrastructure.” He said, “World Accreditation Day is … a reminder that a weak national quality infrastructure can be a major reason for human injury, and structural and material failure in construction. A good accreditation system provides part of the solution to these problems.”
The 2017 theme for World Accreditation Day is a timely one, as Nigeria has recently recorded five collapsed buildings, four of which occurred in May, this year, in Lagos. “In less developed economies, existing commercial and domestic properties, as well as infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges and transport networks, tend to be highly vulnerable to climate and disaster risk,” read the joint statement issued by International Accreditation Forum (IAF) and International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) chairs, presented by the NiNAS Board of Trustees chairperson, Dr. Dahiru Adamu. NiNAS CEO, Celestine O. Okanya said that the theme, “reminds us of the danger posed by constructions that were not designed, approved, built and/or inspected by accredited conformity assessment bodies.” He added that “accreditation can provide support in every stage of construction” from personnel to construction industries’ management systems, to laboratories that provide services to building material producers and regulators.
The President of the Architects Registration Council (ARCON), Umaru Aliyu, represented by Mansur Kurfi and the President of the Council for Registration of Engineers in Nigeria (COREN), Kashim Abdul Ali, represented by Dr. Mayas Adoyi, echoed the “need for more work to be done in the construction industry,” concerning the accreditation and certifying process of equipment and materials and expressed readiness to partner with NiNAS.
NQIP International Expert on Accreditation, Stephen Cross, gave a brief lecture on the impact of accreditation, sharing success stories from another UNIDO-implemented National Accreditation Project, the Southern Africa Development Community Accreditation Service (SADCAS), and highlighted the ECOWAS Regional Accreditation System. This was followed by a highly engaging interactive session that raised the question: “What should be the national response strategy in the context of opportunities offered by accreditation?”
The event closed with a vote of thanks from the UNIDO NQIP Chief Technical Advisor, Dr. Shaukat Malik, who implored the construction industry to adopt accreditation within its systems. The advocacy for accreditation in Nigeria can best be summed in the words of NiNAS CEO, “Integration of accreditation system in our construction industry shall reduce the number of building collapse to barest minimum.”