Dr Stephen Nwabunwanne Oluigbo
Department of Architecture, Ahmadu Bello University, Nigeria
Dr Stephen Oluigbo receiving his Best Paper Prize in July 2011. The title of his paper was “Sustainable tourism architecture: User evaluation of Argungu fishing village”
INTERVIEW WITH DR. STEPHEN NWABUNWANNE OLUIGBO
Q. Please tell us a bit about yourself
A. I am a native of Nkwerre, Imo State, in South-East Nigeria. I attended a number of primary and secondary schools; however, my primary education was concluded at FESTAC Universal Primary Education (UPE) School II, Festac Town, Lagos and my secondary education at Federal Government College Odogbolu, Ogun State, Nigeria.
My academic qualifications comprise of an Ordinary National Diploma (OND), at Yaba College of Technology in 1990, and BSc, MSc and PhD in Architecture in 1995, 1998, and 2011, respectively, from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria, where I am presently employed as a Senior Lecturer. I am also a registered architect with the Architects Registration Council of Nigeria (ARCON).
My research interests are: Passive environmental design strategies, eco-centric sustainable architecture, socio-culturally sustainable architecture, and sustainable tourism architecture. I spend my spare time, when I find any, in do it yourself repairs in my residence, watch a few movies, and also composed and sing choral music though there has been little time for that recently.
Q. How did you get into an academic career?
A. Though I graduated with the best grades in my BSc class, my career in academics was not preconceived. Many of my peers thought I was best suited for academia, while to others; I was very practical and should be in practice. However, my greatest weakness with respect to full professional practice is the fact that I am not at peace with a number of compromises required in my local practice environment in Nigeria. On the other hand, I love imparting knowledge, so I applied for employment based on suggestions by a number of my senior colleagues in the university, and was employed.
Q. What courses do you teach and what does your job entail?
A. Presently I teach architectural research at the PhD level, Research Methodology at the Masters level, Environmental Science and Architectural Design at the undergraduate level. I am also engaged as a visiting lecturer at two other universities in Nigeria.
Being an academic in architecture requires a lot of patience and commitment. This is because the architecture programme requires constant and close interaction with students. It also involves a little bit of almost every type of knowledge and a lot of some. My job comprises of teaching theoretical courses, research, studio work, site visits, supervision, administrative responsibilities, and community service.
Q. What is your typical day in the office like?
A. My typical day in the office begins in the morning with either a lecture or a review of students’ works of thesis/ project reports. At about midday I spend most of the time on interaction with students on their research, while most afternoons are spent in the studio. Lunch break is usually between 12 noon an 2pm but I rarely have time for that, and in most instances, I send for lunch or make do with some junk food such as meat pie and a bottle of coke. This I am working on stopping.
Q. How did you first hear about the WABER Conference and what made you decide to attend?
A. I heard about WABER from Badiru Yunus, my colleague in the Department of Architecture, Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, followed by a few other colleagues. This was an opportunity I was not willing to miss. It is interesting to note that WABER 2011, at which I was given the prize, was my first conference attendance outside Nigeria. Partial funding was provided by my employer, while the remainder came from my pocket.
Q. How has winning the prize influenced your academic development?
A. Participating in the conference was an avenue for me to test my ability against my peers from other institutions, network, and make a few friends. Winning the prize was a source of encouragement and boosted my confidence.
I was not aware there was going to be a prize until the conference commenced. This was good for me because all I did was to present what I came for without any pressure.
Q. What research papers / projects are you working on at the moment?
A. My current research papers include:
Sustainable built environment: Mitigating the urban heat island effect in Nigerian cities;
Innovations in sustainable housing: Case studies from Nigeria;
Sustainable and humane settlements: Examination of place-making in housing neighbourhoods in Abuja, Nigeria.
Q. What are your future aspirations and what do you need to do to get there?
A. My aspiration is to get better in what I am doing and to be the best I can. This requires more focus and attention to continuous education and expansion / improvement of my research skills. Of course, family cannot be sacrificed for any reason.
Q. What advise will you give to early career academics aspiring to develop their academic profile?
A. My advice to early career academics is that they should spend more time on reading and acquisition of diverse research skills. Then focus on their specific areas. Exposure is also very important, beginning with local conferences and then international.
Q. What is your idea of good research and how can our academic institutions in Africa support lecturers like yourself to do and publish good research?
A. A good research should focus on current and relevant issues. It should be original and creative in its approach to a problem, and not just a direct application or replication of the procedures used in other researches. Research requires motivation and funding. Motivation can be enhanced by recognition of academics for their researches. This should be matched by prompt approval of funding for academics who have demonstrated their ability to produce good results. Our institutions need to do better.