Housing: Government of this country prefers short cut instead of planning ahead — Adediji

Mr. Bode Adediji, Chairman, Bode Adediji Partnership, a firm of estate surveyors and valuers, and former President, Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers NIESV, is one of the front-line estate surveyors and property consultants in Nigeria. Besides his professional calling, he has dedicated himself to mentoring and delivering lectures to inspire the younger ones to greatness. In this interview with Ebun Sessou, he spoke on issues on why the
Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria FMBN, is not working as well as other factors that constrain housing provision in Nigeria. Excerpts: Sir, people say the major constrain in housing provision is lack of effective finance system in the country. In the light of this, will you say the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria FMBN, is meeting its responsibilities to Nigerians?
Mr. Bode Adediji Well, For government, it is working but the people’s opinion is different. If you ask your neighbours, class mate, colleagues, church or mosque members, they would tell you their experience about mortgage loan assisted facilities in the last three years, I am sure, the response would be negative. This means to some people, the mortgage system is not working while to some other people, the system is working But the sector is growing, yet there are challenges of inadequate housing among young people, why is the country still crawling in terms of housing provision? All the factors of production that Nigeria ought to have paid adequate attention to, including policy framework, availability of finance, long term finance, easy accessibility of land at reasonable price as well as technical capacity to produce among others factors are absent.
The country is yet to get someone who would focus on indigenous capacity and material sufficiency to produce mass housing. But, if we have adequate local resources to manufacture building materials, then the dependence on importation that covers cement, iron rods, aluminum frames, roofing shits, can be used to produce an affordable housing scheme to ordinary Nigerians. Unfortunately, housing scheme for the middle class has been obsolete because there is no money either to rent or to lease. What is the prospect of housing in Nigeria? The prospect is huge. And my prayer is that, the country would be blessed with a government that would address all the issues surrounding housing as well as find a way to harmonise the public and private sectors together for efficient housing scheme in Nigeria. There is no amount of energy that the private sector can deploy on its own to raise new building or estate when the government is either lukewarm or reluctant to provide adequate infrastructure.
The global housing problem we have in Nigeria is not absolute if there is adequate investment by government. Insecurity and lack of good infrastructure are the reasons for housing crisis in Nigeria. It goes beyond producing housing units alone. It is whether or not the government is ready and able to provide infrastructure. Health, environment and housing go hand in hand. T
he kind of budget that the nation spends on health delivery system would have been reduced drastically if we have addressed the issue of housing 30 years ago. You were the president of your professional body. Why did you not use your office to influence government’s policy on housing? With 40 years of experience, it is not out of place to examine all these issues we have talked about at corporate, institutional and governmental levels, but one major frustration in this country today is that you can talk to anybody in power but the discretion and ability to implement whatever advise lies on government. Nigerian government prefers short cut instead of planning ahead on housing.
They are not prepared, enlightened and equipped as people who would receive advice and act on it regardless of the hardship of the people. As long as they are the drivers of all the major sectors, there is little or nothing a private sector can do to influence what they decide to do regardless of long time consequences. What are the projects you have in the pipeline? All the projects are in the incubating stage especially the ones in Lagos and Abuja. As a real estate expert, it is not ideal to embark on any project during recession.
The country just came out of recession and now, the political atmosphere is tensed. We can only draw a template for some of the projects. But, we are hopeful that by the first quarter of the year 2019, we should have rolled out some of the projects in Lagos and Abuja. Does that suggest some financial imbalance in the real estate sector? Of course. There is no willingness on the part of the banks to invest in real estate and the banks cannot be blamed for the actions.
There is economy downturn and it has affected the sector drastically. Besides, if you struggle to complete a particular housing project, there are no clients to either rent or buy houses due to economic recession that is just easing out. In line with your explanation, where is the country heading? Good destination I suppose. Although, it is assumed that the country has just come out of recession. But, contrary to that, I believe, Nigeria is still passing through recession. And even if we are crawling out of recession, certainly real estate is always the first to enter recession and the last sector to come out of it.

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