Leadership (Abuja)

24 February 2013

Nigeria: Inconsistent Government Policies, Bane of Mass Housing

interview

Adeniji Adele, the Chief Executive Officer of Adeniji Adele Associates is a Chartered Estate Surveyor and Valuer and a Fellow of the Nigeria Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV), and member of various professional bodies. The alumnus of Harvard Business School spoke with GEORGE OKOJIE on sundry issues in the housing, construction sub-sector of the Nigerian economy.

You are a household name in the Nigeria real estate sector, could you speak briefly about yourself?

I am Adele Adeniji, a Chartered Estate Surveyor and Valuer and a Fellow of Nigeria Institutite of Estate Surveyors and Valuers. I attended the University of Ibadan, Harvard Business School and Lagos Business School. I hold an MBA, and currently a member of various professional bodies like International Real Estate Federation (FIABCI), Institute Of Directors (IOD) and the Africa Real Estate Society (AFRES).

I have attended various international seminars and courses abroad where I acquired vast knowledge in international real estate and appraisal. I am married and blessed with children. I like working for God in a humble manner. I'm a very disciplined man with passion for integrity and therefore don't take 'no' for an answer as I believe that all things are possible with God so long as you are very focused and objective.

It seems you rose to stardom through diligence, honesty and hard work, what has been your driving force towards attaining success?

Well, success is relative in the sense that in whatever you have achieved or have, you must give God the glory. You cannot ascribe success or greatness to yourself. In everything in life, just acknowledge God and give him praise because God is faithful and when God is faithful to you, you must be grateful to him.

Well, in real estate, you must pay your dues, apart from that, you must be very upright, very proactive and assertive and have a foundation. In those days, we were not looking for money, we wanted to learn from our elders. I was not looking for money. I just wanted to acquire the necessary skill so that I can set up my practice and believe that one day I will surely make it. With God's support and my abilities and God being my helper I became successful.

It is not the number of people you know that makes you, no you must have the abilities, the strength, what are the inborn abilities in you, something must have motivated you and you must have passion to deliver to your clients. Service delivery must be your watch word. If you are not able to deliver, there are thousands of surveyors out there the clients will patronize and they will get the services rendered and you are left to gather cobwebs in your offices and over the time you pack it up.

Why is it that the issue of dearth of housing is still a major issue in Nigeria after the setting up of many committees, presentation of papers by experts to tackle the problem?

Let me make it known here that development of housing programmes is more difficult than is normally envisaged in view of the following factors: Site Acquisition; Location, Land tenure system and financing; High cost of Infrastructural development (E.g. Water, Road, Electricity, Sewage facility, proper landscaping among others) without these variables, the entire project may have little or no value in attracting buyers/occupiers as infrastructure makes housing project effective and functional.

Again getting approval for development in some states is very tedious and cumbersome. With a view to improve on infrastructural development and encourage housing provision all stakeholders should come together to play their roles. In the light of the above, it will be the best for Government of every nation including Nigeria to sponsor infrastructure development programmes with a view to encouraging housing development as the private sector have little or no capacity to do so due to huge amount that are usually involved.

The government should seriously come to term with the Central Bank, Security and Exchange commission as well as other commercial banks in the country on the issue of unclaimed dividends stashed away several years in the country's financial institutions which are in excess of billion or trillion of naira. It could be judiciously utilized in infrastructural development with a view to encouraging private investors and others that may be interested in housing development.

Above all, lack of consistency in government policies, and insincerity on the part of the Government to deliver promised housing to the target end users is a major problem as they fail to address the major constrains which are finance and access to land. In a nutshell, housing problems will be reduced if proper planning are put in place and the earlier mentioned factors strictly adhered to.

The evaluation and monitoring units should be more effective and proactive in the dispensation of their duties with zero tolerance to corruption. Also, reduction in lending rate by the financial institutions will go a long way to encourage housing development.

What is your assessment of the new National Housing Policy?

The national housing policy is a good thing. This is not the first time we are having such policy. But this is the first time it is properly harnessed and better recommendations were made to the presidency, states and local governments. The three arms of government are fully involved to ensure that come year 2020 all Nigerians will have a place they can sleep in and not only that, term of funding have been addressed.

The primary mortgage elements have been taken care of. Most Nigeria banks, especially the home owner association if we have it in Nigeria, will help a lot. The Real Estate Development Association of Nigeria (REDAN) has tried a lot, they have been trying to present papers and Estate Surveyors have presented papers. The bottom line is that land must be made available, infrastructure must be provided, accessibility to the land should be given consideration. Those stiffer, strident conditions shouldn't be attached given the scenario that an average Nigerian is poor.

How best do you think the problem of quackery, threatening to bring the profession to ruination can be handled?

Quackery is in all professions. You can only curtail and reduced it. The way to reduce it is to provide more surveyors, not just surveyors, quality and intelligent surveyors who are not only conscious of how to make money but how to uplift the institution. The money will come but the way you pursue money goes a long way. Most of these quacks outside are not practitioners; they are either drop outs trying to get means of surviving.

They are trying to survive. Even in London and many other advanced countries of the world you have quacks. They are reduced to the barest minimum and I know the institution is trying to form a National Association of Estate Agency where all of them will come together under one umbrella, then there will be coordination and they will be controlled so that the question of duping clients will not be there.

The Estate Surveyors And Valuers Registration Board (ESVARBON) are doing very well in this regard. My advice to people is that they should not patronise quacks. Anything can happen to you if you patronise quacks. Always look for that logo of our noble profession. If you look at the motto of the institution it is honesty and integrity. So our watch word is to uphold honesty and integrity in everything we are doing. I think it is a question of time. The more Estate Surveyors and Valuers we have the less quackery we have.

If you look at a population of over 150 million people in this country and you have less than 3,000 Estate Surveyors what can they do? They cannot do much. The best thing is not to over produce but to produce quality. This is because most of these surveyors if they are not properly groomed and trained there will be problems, as they are not better than quacks. That is the fact we cannot run away from. We have to be very careful.

How do you unwind?

Of course I take time off. My families are very important, very paramount to my heart. We could go on holidays. We relax and we do a couple of things together.

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