ADEDIJIMr Bode Adediji is a past President of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers, NIESV. He is also the Group Executive Chairman of Bode Adediji Partnership and Kontinetal Developers (Nig) Ltd. bared his mind on a number of topical issues affecting the built environment, posits that land reform is central to any effort President Muhammadu Buhari is making to revamp Nigeria’s ailing economy. Excerpts

 HOW to reduce the over 17 million housing deficit

I have been an advocate of necessity for a country like Nigeria to take a holistic approach to providing solutions to the unfortunate housing problems that the country is faced with. You are correct that Nigeria has almost 17 million housing deficit and growing.But from time to time, what I have seen from one regime to the other is the practice of tokenism and politicization of efforts to combat rather than the same government reaching out to people who have knowledge and the capacity to roll out series of solutions that can at least ameliorate these problems at the shortest possible time

Knowledge and training

An example is simply this: No Government has ever put the right calibre of Minister in Housing. These are gentlemen and women who have their onions but in terms of practical experience, knowledge and training, they don’t possess what it takes. Even when the former Minister of Finance was talking about 15 million dollar mortgage solution to be rolled out by the World Bank, I laughed because you are clapping for an effort which represents a drop in the ocean.First of all, it is important for Nigeria to understand that unless we tackle housing problems, all other problems we are experiencing -corruption, lack of capacity, the crippling of the economy like manufacturing will continue because what it takes to actually solve these problems is beyond money.For instance, the amendment of the Land Use Act has been buried with members of the National Assembly for years now without any pressure group persuading or coercing them to do the needful. Imagine  the National Assembly at the twilight of their last adjournment to pass over 40 bills into law and the one that is crucial to this nation -the Land Use Act, they forgot. So, who is fooling who? What I can say from that is that anything that can change the lives of the general society but which they don’t see any direct benefit, will not occupy the front burner of their programmes and actions. Otherwise, I expect any regime that is very patriotic and endowed to sort out this issue of the Land Use Act within six months of its tenure.I can go on and on to let you know that it is the fundamental of lack of awareness of the crucial role of the housing sector, property sector and production sector all combined, that  has contributed to the kind of abyss which we have now and look deep down and bring out structured solutions that can solve them politically, government will continue to talk about providing houses and the housing gap will continue to escalate.  

Visit to Obasanjo as NIESV President and how he convinced estate surveyors to support the Act

Nobody has ever convinced anybody that the Land Use Decree leading to the Land Use Act as you have it now, is not problematic. What I see right now is that the amendment that needs to be introduced have all been packaged. To get it effected, has been the albatross.

Areas of the Act that need amendment

The Land Use Act by the way it is written and is being implemented is an epitome of bureaucracy. Let me tell you, frankly speaking, you and I want to exchange contract to sell our property anywhere in the civilized world, it is done in a matter of seconds. Why would it take a Governor ten years to issue Certificate of Occupancy, C of O? Why? Why would I want to borrow money and finance my industry and the Governor’s consent is required in an assignment that strictly between two individuals.Why would you have to subject all your documentation to paper work? In England today, you as a journalist, the history of your mortgage house, right from when it was built dating back to the 17th century is already captured electronically. So, if you want to sell tomorrow, people know what you bought it ten years ago, who sold it to you, what instrument was used to do that and so the issue of fraud and manipulation are completely eliminated.Those are the key issue and they are not easy for a primary school guy to understand what majority of members of the National Assembly fail to appreciate.

Land reforms  and housing sector

Land reform is not only key to housing sector now, the way I would like to even surprise you is that land reform is key to the success of any other programme that the Buhari administration may have to revamp the economy.

 Infiltration into estate agency, project management and valuation by quacks and other professionals

Worldwide, the profession of Estate Surveying and Valuation has its highly respected and well defined areas of core competence which I will summarise as follows: Valuation and Appraisal, Project Management, Facilities and Property Management, Building Development and Investment and general advisory services. If you look back in Nigeria about 20 -30 years ago, these core competences were areas of domain for the crop of estate surveyors and valuers at that period.

Highrise developments

But within the last couple of years, the practice of Estate Agency which involves letting of properties, sale and so on, has been hijacked by quacks, lawyers and members of other non-related professional bodies. If you look at Project Management, a large number of  the highrise developments in Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja before, estate surveyors and valuers were involved from the angle of project management. They have now lost tract of that core competences to engineers, architects and quantity surveyor.That is not even a bad reflection because in all fairness, members of these allied professions -architects, quantity surveyors and engineers have what it takes by training and experience to actually play important roles in project management. But the reason why estate surveyors and valuers have been involved from day one is because, in the construction process, you don’t really allow or encourage a single professional to take on much responsibility in a given project without experiencing conflicts.

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