On different fora, experts have suggested that Nigeria will only get it right in the area of sustainable economic growth when the critical infrastructure are in place for people and businesses. Over the years, various infrastructure funding deficits have been stated by the concerned stakeholders. Recently, the Bureau of Public Enterprises noted that Nigeria needs to invest $100 billion per annum for the next six years for her to close existing infrastructure gaps.
Indeed, Nigeria needs to make up critical infrastructure deficits in transport, power, education, agriculture and telecommunication sectors. But to professionals and players in the Facilities Management industry and others within the built environment, attracting funds and highlighting sectors that need urgent attention have not been Nigeria’s problem since independence. According to them, the issue has been the failure to engage private sector adequately in funding and maintaining public infrastructure.
In advanced democracies and emerging ones, a wide spectrum of Public-Private Partnership has evolved for the provision of infrastructure services for public use. Despite the PPP Department at the Federal Ministry of Works and the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, an agency established in 2008 with the mandate of developing and implementing a PPP framework for the provision of infrastructure services, industry players and experts remain resolute on the need to remove barriers preventing effective implementation of frameworks developed by the Department and agency.
Siamese Issues and Efficiency Enhancers
It is obvious that Nigeria has infrastructure problem. It is also important to understand that existing facilities are rotting because of poor maintenance culture. There is no doubt sustainable maintenance is an issue in the public sector.
From the World Economic Forum’s perspective, Nigeria is sheathing in the areas of quality of railroad, transport and port infrastructure. Local supplier quantity and quality were also the Forum’s concern between 2015 and 2018. Nigeria is not only having quality of infrastructure issues. The country is also failing by not sufficiently recognising and appreciating FM roles. When government is ready to engage FM providers, paying premium prices becomes an issue. These were the positions of professionals who expressed their views on the place of FM in businesses.
On the FM provider-side, effective PPP Model would be difficult to realise if the sector continues having issues such as poor relationship with the clients, lacking insightful issues on the facilities before offering specific solutions and presenting unrealistic maintenance cost structure. During the discussion, it emerged that on-site FM managers do not have adequate knowledge about the presentation of specific budget to the clients. Presenting maintenance execution plan and managing supplies remain herculean tasks. These have re-established the existing fact that low skills and knowledge are impacting the sector. These among other issues are impeding the successful execution of varied FM contracts.
Beyond the contract execution related issues, the current marketing approach of key players in the industry would have little or no contribution to the proper understanding of FM solutions. Analysis indicates that existing solutions are being promoted on the companies’ website using conceptual approach. This indicates that the companies prefer simple description of the solutions to the classical structure, which allows categorisation of solutions based on their similar features or benefits.
Like other countries, Nigeria has unequal power distribution, strong relationship, decisive and assertive, unknown future, achieving quick results and optimistic about the future, though they like enjoying life when the need arises with financial strength, as her national values. When these were analysed along with the emerging issues and the position of the World Economic Forum, the results show that FM PPP Model’s effectiveness will depend on the extent to which stakeholders; especially companies address the issues using the right approaches and processes.
The ranking of the country’s quality of air transport infrastructure resonated with the values by 68.8%. Quality of roads and local supplier quantity also connected with the values positively. However, it would be difficult for the companies and government to maintain existing infrastructure and future ones without addressing the emerging issues along with some negative national values. For instance, the unequal power distribution value which emphasises the need for the subordinates to respect their seniors and that ideal leader or boss is a benevolent autocrat would impact the negotiation and eventual implementation of any PPP contract.
Navigating the Negotiation Terrain
Analysis further reveals that FM companies must dissect and understand existing principles in the PPP framework developed by the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission. ICRC expects companies to adhere and exhibit value for money, public interest, risk allocation, competition, capacity to deliver, transparency and engaging with the market principles during negotiation and implementation of any contract with the government.
Analysis of these principles along with the emerging issues from the FM provider-side shows that companies must ensure that their proposals to the government are laden with solutions that offer value for money and showing significant transparency level. Companies must also show their readiness to offer solutions based on public interest and establish their competencies and capabilities to deliver various FM solutions.
As the analysis further reveals FM companies have many challenges to contend with while establishing their readiness to offer solutions that commensurate with the cost in the public interest. Personnel in charge of bidding or contract negotiation must be equipped with the best approaches to contain unequal power distribution, which has been found to be one of the country’s values contributing to systemic corruption and delay in finalising contract agreements.
In this regard, FM companies should foster strong relationship and provide documents capable of establishing their competencies and availability of the right resources to deliver the promised value. When the emerging issues from the FM provider-side are not addressed before initiating PPP, analysis suggests that government is likely to doubt the transparency status and capacity to deliver the promised value.
Despite this, there is likelihood that government officials would be optimistic while expecting quick results from any PPP contract. From the insights, it is clear that FM companies need to improve their processes and people before marketing FM solutions to the government through PPP Model. The future of the FM PPP Model looks good as FM continues growing as a business and discipline.