Apparently worried by high rate of non-performing collaterised risk assets at the disposal of banks, professional bodies under the auspices of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) in collaboration with the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV), are seeking the way forward. DAYO AYEYEMI reports
From five per cent of their total risk assets in 2015, the figure has risen to 15 per cent as at last October, three times above the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) stipulated rate. Not comfortable with this, banks are worried over towering non-performing collaterised assets in their portfolio, blaming some on inconsistent valuation reports.
The fear of huge risk and impact of valuation reports and way out of the woods topped agenda when both professional bankers and valuers engaged each other in Lagos last weekend. Chaired by the President, Mortgage Bankers Association of Nigeria (MBAN), Mr Adeniyi Akinlusi, experts at the forum sought the need to close ranks in order to nip in the bud incessant cases of non-performing risk assets.
Themed “Panacea to Collaterised Non-Performing Assets: Bankers and Valuers Perspectives,” the bankers were urged to realise that collateral was not a reason for lending, but a fallback.
President, CIBN, Professor Segun Ajibola, expressed concerns over rising risk assets of banks above the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) stipulation, reiterating that banks relied on real estate profession to shield their portfolio against losses, aid profitability and efficient discharge of their duties.
During decision making processes, he said that estate surveyors and valuers should assist banks in valuing and reviewing real estate while also providing advisory services of suitability of collateral.
He stated that institutions and initiatives have been developed to strengthen the nation’s banking industry against nonperforming loans, stating that institutions such as the Assets Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON), in the aim of resolving non-performing loans assets, had recovered over N681billion worth of property, cash and shares in the past six years.
Guest Speaker at the forum, who is the Principal Partner, Akin Olawore and Company, Mr. Akin Olawore, an estate surveyor and valuer, defined valuation as a risk management tool. He explained that it was a tool to help banks in risk taking. According to him, valuation provides banks with useful guide for fallback position on loan in case of default.
He pointed out that valuation of surveyors was required as guide against banks’ non-performing collateral risk assets.
He stated that valuations had different concepts and for many purposes, noting that this had made it expedient for bankers to disclose purposes they required valuation reports for. “Don’t just go to a valuer and say give me just valuation. Banks should respect the view of the valuers in achieving common objective. Valuers are to protect bankers against risk collateral assets,” he advised.
The Lagos-based valuer listed over or under valuation, inability of banks to realise premium of some sales, wide disparity of figures by valuers, collusion and fraudulent practices, swap of valued properties, insufficient legal/due diligent and inaccurate data as areas of discordant tune between bankers and valuers.
To overcome these challenges, Olawore called for closer dialogue between valuers and bankers to really understand each other. Besides, he canvassed for data gathering and transparency in the process of valuation.
Another speaker, Managing Director, Datis Nigeria Limited, Mr Jide Ijimakinwa, noted that issues of non-performing collaterals were prevalent in most African countries, enjoining bankers to ensure that their customers met loan requirements to guard against cases of non-performing loans.
Another Lagos-based valuer, Mr Lanre Bolu, noted that valuations were time specific, stating that exercise carried out in 2015 would not be appropriate for 2018, hence the need for revaluation. Acting Managing Director, Heritage Bank, Mr Jude Monye, listed improper documentation, over invoicing, inconsistent valuation and deferrer letter as some fo the challenges of col- laterised risk assets challenges.
He stressed the need for insurance of loan and restructuring of loan among others. Head of Enterprise Risk Management, Trust Bond Mortgage Bank, Mr Tokunbo Aberuagba, said there was need to up the game of professionalism in order to reduce the risk emanating from collaterised assets.
On panacea to loan recovery, Olawore urged the use of alternative dispute resolution especially mediation to achieve a mutually acceptable settlement option. He also suggested sale and lease back, modified public auction and sealed bid auction as panacea. Ijimakinwa urged banks to get the customers to pay through loan restructuring without having issue of strained relationship.
Besides, he called for the use of auctioneering in discharging assets before final sale to AMCON. The Datis boss urged bankers not to give offer letter out without valuation. Besides, he renewed call for effective legislation to strengthen the case of foreclosure. Bolu called for stronger foreclosure law in the country, while urging the need to simplify and reduce time for legal mortgages.
He bemoaned high interest rate on loans, saying this encouraged default. He therefore, called for the government’s intervention in lowering mortgage’s interest rates. The CIBN president canvassed the need to rejig professionalism among members of the two associations., adding that “there is need to engage young professionals coming behind; there is need to benchmark best practices.”
President of NIESV, Mr Joshual Patunola-Ajayi, said that collaboration between the two professions was for the whole nation, urging members to embrace professionalism in discharging their services. Last line The Federal Government must intervene to reduce high interest rate and cost of borrowing to mitigate the risk of nonperforming loans.
Fear of building collapse as downpour increases
As heavy downpour persists, fear of possible building collapse becomes palpable, as residents report suspected poorly built houses in their neighbourhoods to relevant government agencies. Dayo Ayeyemi reports
Months after built environment professionals, under the auspices of Building Collapse Prevention Guild (BCPG), predicted that over 36,000 houses were likely to collapse in the country, there has been growing fear among citizens, especially in Lagos where the incident is known to be rampant.
Their fear is further aggravated by incessant downpour, which has resulted to regular flooding, destroying hundreds of houses across 22 states of the federation.
BCPG’s prediction came following the collapse of a four-storey building in Ita-Faji, Lagos Island, where 12 school children lost their lives, while many others sustained high degrees of injuries.
Since the warning, more than eight cases of building collapse had been reported across the country; four in Lagos, one each in Abuja, Abakaliki, Jos and Port Harcourt.
In what was described as embarrassing by all stakeholders including builders, architects, engineers, town planners and developers, government is not living any stone unturned to halt the ugly incident.
Government’s efforts were further reinforced by the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, last week, when he called for the prosecution of builders found culpable in building collapse incidents in any part of the country.
According to him, it is the only way to send strong message to builders to comply with national building standards.
In Lagos State, for example, it seems government’s whistle blowing policy is yielding results as residents are now willing to report any case of poor building construction in their neighbourhood.
This must have prompted Chief Olubunmi Alabi to report the case of alleged poor construction of a three-storey house belonging to his family to government in Lagos.
Already, this has put Chief Olubunmi against his family’s members who are beneficiaries of the building under construction in Shomolu.
The property, located on 17, Odulami Street, Shomolu, Lagos, belonging to the late Alabi Oroge (father of Olubunmi and five other beneficiaries), was contracted to a private developer for a residential apartment of three-storey building.
New Telegraph gathered that the developer, Mr. Hammed Bajo, was expected to source the fund, build the house and use it for 18 years to recoup his investment before reverting to the family.
However, Chief Olubunmi, who claimed not to be part of the agreement, has raised the alarm over the ongoing construction, alleging use of sub-standard materials, poor design and workmanship.
In a save our soul letter to Lagos State Building Control Authority (LABCA), a copy of which was made available to New Telegraph, Olubunmi wants the authority to stop the on – going construction in order to avert another incident of building collapse in the future.
Besides, he alleged that the developer failed to comply with the laid down rules and did not secure building approval.
He added that nobody saw the building plans before its construction commenced.
“As you can see, the windows are very small, no ventilation, the quality of materials and workmanship are poor. I am afraid that the building may collapse,” Olubunmi said
In the letter to (LABCA) Olubunmi alleged threat to life and non-compliance with standards.
The letter reads: ”It is our brief that the property located at 17 Odulami Street, Shomolu, Lagos State of which our client is a beneficiary was ordered by the family that part of it should be demolished due to the foreseeable havoc it might cause to human life
“We were further briefed that one Alhaji Hammed Bajo of No 221, Herbert Macualey Street, Sabo, Yaba, is now unlawfully erecting a three storey building in the same place. To the bewilderment of our client, Alhaji Hammed Bajo is even erecting the building without notifying Lagos State Building Control Agency, because it is crystal clear that such place is not suitable and not habitable for such structure that will put life of many in danger.”
He alleged that his client further briefed the developer to stop the building, making reference to a building that recently collapsed in the area where the “illegal structure” was located.
When contacted on his mobile phone, the house developer, Mr Hammed Bajo, debunked Olubunmi’s claims, saying that all necessary documents were signed with the family and building approvals secured before commencing the construction.
He stated that the building’s construction was in conformity with the approved building plan and government’s laid down standards
Bajo explained that the property in question belonged to late Alabi Oroge, adding that his children, which the complainant is one, gave the property to him for redevelopment.
He explained that the beneficiaries, six in number, were party to the signing of the contract for the building’s construction, except the Chief Olubunmi, who pulled out of the agreement.
New Telegraph also visited the site to assess the building and also called an officer working with LABCA to know if the agency was aware of the development.
One of LABCA’s officers, who did not want his name in print, said he was not authorised to speak with journalist, but that all enquiries should be sent to the office.
However, he said the agency received the letter written by the complainant and that it was been addressed.
Another member of the family, one of the beneficiaries, Biodun Alabi, said the entire family gave the property to the developer to develop after payment of signing fee to the family.
He alleged that Chief Olubunmi was just trying to frustrate the efforts of the developer because the latter refusal to yield to his demand.
He said: “We are children of the same father and we are six (Idi igi mefa). Other members of the family signed the agreement with the developer but he refused to sign.”
Biodun, who claimed to be the grand sons of the family, showed government’s receipt on payments for processing fee for building plan, certification fees/ stage certification and other payment to the Lagos State Planning Permit Authority, LABCA and the Lagos State Internal Revenue Service to the reporter
He also disclosed that structural stability had already been conducted on the buillding, which showed that “all the structural elements in the building are satisfactoriry and no sign of structural defect.
Another family member, Mr Gbenga Alabi, said the main issue was that the developer failed to carry all members along.
However, Olubunmi Alabi maintained that the main issue was that the developer allegedly failed to carry out rebuilding of the property in accordance to specifications required by the Lagos State Government which had reeled out rules and specifications under which a building must follow to avoid further loss of lives in the name of incessant collapse of building.
He said: “It is our request that the Lagos State government should visit the property at 17, Odulami Street, Shomolu, to search and review the property under contention if it can stand the test of time with a view to averting another calamity waiting to happen.
“It is not within our purview to stop the building if it is being constructed by the developer according to specifications and approval by the government but our obligation is to alert the government in view of what we have seen if our claims that the property in contention was being built in accordance to specifications.”
This is the appropriate time for the state authority to visit the building site, carry out the necessary tests and make its findings known to members of the public to clear every dust raised concerning the construction.
Low-income housing challenge takes centre stage
Who says low income earning Nigerians can’t have access to one and two bedroom apartments at the cost of between N1.9 million and N2.5 million? How this can be possible has been given practical demonstration by professionals. Dayo Ayeyemi reports
High cost of housing units in the country is triggering tension among accommodation seeking Nigerians, especially the poor and low income earners, who are already outside the affordable housing equation due to low purchasing power.
Reasons not limited to high cost of building materials, land, labour, processing of documents and low income have always been listed as inhibiting factors making over 64.2 per cent of urban dwellers live in slum.
Despite this, many real estate developers concentrate on building top-notch houses in rich neighborhoods across the country, while there is acute scarcity of low-income housing in down towns.
This scenario has really escalated the nation’s housing crisis.
While many developers and government housing agencies are finding it tough to deliver one and two bedroom apartments to low- income group at a price less than N5million and N10 million per unit, some real estate developers are taking up the affodable housing challenge to build the same units at lesser cost.
Determined not to pay lip service to the issue, one of the developers and Managing Director of Assured Group, Mr. Adewunmi Okupe, said he had taken up the challenge to deliver one and two bedroom flats at N1.9million and N2.5million respectively.
“I already have models developed in this direction,” he said.
Justifying the affordable home challenge, Okupe said the inspiration came to him having failed to secure financial support from mortgage banks to build homes for people.
Due to this, he said he had to design a private mortgage process to bring hope to the people “because increasing percentage of them have home ownership out of their reach.”
He added that he took up the challenge to enable him contribute his quota to ensure that all income earners could have access to decent homes they could reasonably afford to pay for.
“To offer practical advice to other developers to be able to build affordable homes. I need to talk based on practical experience and not theory,” he said.
Okupe disclosed that he was going to introduce alternative building materials to reduce the construction costs for the benefit of all.
“Yes, one bedroom is possible at N1.9 million and two bedroom at N2.5 million,” he said.
On the fundamentals, the real estate developer said he explored the use of good alternative building materials such as stabilized bricks, precast intels, minimised plastering and effecient architectural design to achieve the targets.
According to him, “the model I have in mind is to allow homeowners pay one quarter (1/4 to 1/3) of the cost over three to four years with monthly payments not exceeding 1/3 of monthly salary.
“Building is provided by developer immediately this mark is reached. Home owner moves in and pays balance over 10 to 25 years.”
For other developers, who might want to follow the way to reduce homelessness among Nigerians, he advised them to provide houses tailored to the income group they want to serve, which is the low income earners.
Besides, he said the target could be achieved by encouraging and giving private mortgage with low interest and repayment period that is long-termed.
“Deposits could be allowed over time, say three to four years,” he said.
However, he added that the calculations did not take into cognisance land, which cost depends on location.
He said: “But an average of N1million could be allowed for land and infrastructure.”
Okupe posited that cost of approval and title would not pose any threat to the scheme, but was concerned about delay in processing by the relevant authorities.
“But problem with title is the delay in processing by relevant authorities. Some take up to years to release title,” he said.
For private developers to build this kind of accommodation without having their profit margins encroached, Okupe advised that they might need to delay gratification in order to make it easy for home owners.
For affordable housing programme model to work effectively, the managing director of Assured Group urged goverment to provide the enabling environment by providing infrastructure for cheap land and granting of title on time.
He wants government to set up satellite towns with job opportunities in the area.
On his part, President of Association of Housing Corporations of Nigeria, Alhaji Adamu Baba Mohammed, said the his members were also looking at local building materials as alternative to produce cheap houses in all the states of the federation.
He called on state governments to provide enough funds for the housing agencies to deliver on their mandate.
To bridge housing deficit, Nigeria is expected to produce one million houses per year for the next 20 years. But estimates by experts show that both government and private developers can only produce 30,000 housing units leaving a shortfall of 70,000 units.
The decline is also evident in Federal Government’s budget for housing in the last three years as documents showed that from N141billion in 2017 and 35.4 billion in 2018, the amount declined to N30billion in 2019.
Some of the housing experts are of the opinion that a few available low-cost housing units in major cities are not low, thereby making accessibility difficult.
Managing Director, Millard Fuller Foundation, Mr. Sam Odia, urged affordable housing developers to also collaborate to influence government policies and programmes regarding housing at the National Assembly level.
In his presentation on, ‘Housing Co-operatives & Housing Microfinance,’ recently, he lamented that vast majority of Nigerians were excluded from current housing financing arrangements.
According to him, for affordable housing programmes to be truly successful, innovative and inclusive solutions were needed, warning that typical mortgage arrangements could not work for low-income earners who did not have regular sources of income.
Odia urged developers and housing finance bodies to ensure that bottlenecks to accessing loans from mortgage banks were removed by providing alternative routes to accessing the National Housing Fund.
On funds mobilisation for affordable housing, he is of the opinion that a demand-driven approach should be taken to bridge the housing gap by leveraging on the large number of members that cooperatives provide.
“Those aspiring to own homes should be made to participate in cooperative arrangements through equity savings – a set contribution designated for members for home ownership,” he said.
Lagos Chairman of the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP), Mr . Bisi Adedire, blamed poor renumeration, high interest rate, collateral bottleneck, unfavourable conditions of loan repayment and short-term nature of funds among reasons low-income earners are not benefiting from mortgage.
Adedire stated that apart from low income of many Nigerians, stringent conditions attached to mortgage loans and collateral requirement were hard to meet by low-come people.
“People cannot meet up with collateral requirement to guarantee their payment. Also the condition of payment is not favorable, couple with interest rate,”
Adedire explained further that high cost of houses was another obstacle, adding that workers in the informal sector were not captured by most mortgage institutions.
Prepared to tackle housing deficit head-on, the Managing Director of Family Homes Fund (FHF) Limited, Mr. Femi Adewole, said the fund had initiated working relationship with 14 state government, more than 20 developers, four commercial banks and three mortgage banks to enhance home ownership among Nigerians.
The fund targets 500,000 new homes for Nigerians in five years.
Adewole disclosed that the fund had concluded arrangement to launch a financing system that would assist low-income group to access finance/mortgages with ease and in a shorter time for home ownership.
On how to ensure that real low-income earners have access to housing units, he said: “We are very conscious of the difficulty faced by the low-income group in accessing finance for home purchasing. For this reason, we will launch a financing system that will assist them to access mortgages with ease and in a shorter time.”
In ensuring that buyers get access to financing, the FHF boss said banks would need to give competitive interest rates to ensure that low-income group is not side-lined.
The Family Homes Fund Limited is a partnership between the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority as founding shareholders with aim to address the country’s housing deficit.
Every available alternative must be explored to ensure that low-income Nigerians are housed.
How to stop building collapse, by stakeholders
Worried by the number of dilapidated structures in Nigerian cities, professionals are mulling early integration of maintenance culture in homes to prevent building collapse. Dayo Ayeyemi reports.
It is no longer news that the Lagos State Government has detected over 150 distressed buildings in the metropolis while a few of the structures have either collapsed naturally with casualties or pulled down byteam of taskforce from the authority.
What is news is that more buildings are deteriorating due to neglect of maintenance by owners to the extent that their walls are developing cracks, while the roofs are leaking.
To some buildings, they are overwhelmed by leaking plumbing pipes, damping foundation, leaking sewage pipes, leaking toilets, and corrosion of doors hinges, among others.
Worried by this development, experts in the built environment have also attributed lack of maintenance culture to building collapse incidents .
Some of the major causes of building collapse include faulty foundation , non engagement of professionals, shoddy jobs, use of sub-standard materials,curruption,, building against approved plans and poor workmanship among others.
According to Chairman of the Nigerian Institution of Mechanical Engineers (NIME), Lagos Chapter, Mr. Segun Fadeyi, absence of maintenance on any building could result in its decay and degradation.
He noted that most building collapse cases in Nigeria are man-made, pointing out that poor maintenance culture was a major factor that could lead to building collapse.
The truth is that even the best constructed buildings need constant attention and if this is delayed, it could turn to disaster.
Fadeyi urged building owners to adopt the ‘ predict and prevent approach’ rather than ‘ fail and fix’ approach.
He emphasised that lack of maintenance could reduced performance and affect health of building, while threatening the safety of users, occupants and others in the vicinity.
Speaking on “Builing maintenance: A Proactive Model Approach to Preventing Building Collapse; Fadeyi defined building maintenance as a process of ensuring that buildings and other assets retain a good appearance and operate at optimum efficiency.
No matter how attractive and competitive a building is, the chairman pointed out that as its facilities aged, the systems would deteriorate and affect it’s structural integrity.
The chairman of NIME stated that building maintenance was aimed at preventing the process of decay and degradation; maintain structural stability and safety; prevent unnecessary damage from weather,; optimise performance; help inform plans for renovation, retrofitting; and determine causes of defects in the building to prevent re-occurrence.
He said it was to ensure continued compliance with statutory requirements, prevent building collapse and its resultant effects.
Coordinator of Ikotun/Igando cell of BCPG, Mrs Oluranti Okusaga, called on government to be responsible and act in order to curtail menace of building collapse, noting that many people have developed the habit of engaging quacks during construction.
“Before you build, consult professionals. Your safety is important and not cost, “she said, adding that more building are still going to collapse in the metropolis.
Another professional, Olaniyan olajide, from Badagry cell, said that buildings would not collapse on paper, noting that influx of urban slums has contributed to the menace.
He urged government, professionals and people in the private sector to join hands in the crusade against structural failures.
He also made case for law that would compel adoption of building manual as part of document required for facilities management of structures.
Chairman, Building Collapse Prevention Guild (BCPG), Lagos State chapter, Mr. Solomon Ogunseye, decried the spate of building collapse in Nigerian cities, especially Lagos, calling on government to ensure that professionals are involved inbuilding project.
According to him, time has come to allow professionals to monitor building construction sites to ensure that contractors adhere to building drawings/designs as approved.
This, he said would help to reduce collapse of buildings drastically.
On building manual, he noted that most of the government’s projects have the document that specified how to repair or replace any facility in the building in case it broke down or malfunctioned.
If all homeowners could adopt the document,Ogunseye said it would give room for proper maintenance of buildings and prevent collapse.
His Vice, Colonel Jide Olayinka, stated that lack of implementation of policies by government was a major factor responsible for building collapse.
He noted that professional bodies were handicapped without government’s backing.
According to him, reports of recommendation abound on how to eradicate building collapse, but government has refused to act.
On building manual, Olayinka said that all professionals should come together to share experience on the document and look for a way to adopt this as part of requirements for building.
He wants government to enforce law promogated to control building collapse.
Action for rapair should be taken up without allowing increase possible defect causing further damage to buildings.
Air pollution raises fresh fear in Lagos, Ogun
Lagos and Ogun residents have raised the alarm over air pollution in their communities following activities of iron manufacturing factories, offensive odour from iron scrap dumpsites and thick smoke of articulated vehicles. Dayo Ayeyemi reports
For residents of communities bordering Ikorodu-Shagamu Road in Ogun State, the high level of air pollution in their neighbourhood is giving them sleepless nights.
In Lagos, especially in Ojota area, emission of dangerous smoke with offensive odour from Olusosun dumpsite is the cross they have to carry, while residents in Apapa communities are battling with environmental pollution as a result of gridlock caused by articulated vehicles.
Worried by the activities of steel companies in their locality, residents of Ogijo, a rustic community between Shagamu and Ikorodu towns in Shagamu Local Government of Ogun State, said they were finding it difficult to cope with high rate of air pollution as a result of emission of poisonous smoke into the environment by these firms.
There are more than 13 steel companies within the vicinity.
They alleged that their health was in jeopardy, adding that many of them have started manifesting different kinds of air-related diseases ranging from severe chest pains to cough.
Communities affected by the steel companies’ activities include Ogijo, Petoro, Ewu Oloye, Kamalo, Gbaga, Ruku and Ita-sani.
For Ojota residents within the neighbourhood of Olusosun waste dump in Lagos, they can no longer open their windows for fresh air due to offensive odour from the dump.
The residents of Ipetero and Ewu-Oruku communities have also cried out for help over what they described as “the installment killing” of their folks by “the deadly activities” of an Indian owned metal recycling company in the area
The residents, comprising men and women, staged a peaceful protest to the company, carrying placards with different inscriptions, reiterating the devastating effects of its activities on their wellness and the environment.
They used the occasion of the yearly World Environment Day to appeal to government, especially federal and Ogun State Government to come to their aid and control the activities of the steel factories.
They pleaded with government to stop the company from releasing deadly gases into the atmosphere.
Some of their placards read: “We can no longer breathe fresh air,” “Stop killing Ewu-Eruku, Ipetero Residents,” and “Save innocent children.”
Spokesman for Ipetewo and Ewu Oruku communities, Mr. Rufus Noel, explained that though the company started operation in the area exactly 10 years ago, but heavy pollution of the air, environment and contamination of essential amenities like water wells started taking dangerous dimension five years ago.
He said that residents had drawn the attention of both Ogun State and Federal Government agencies in charge of environmental protection and regulation into the matter but to no avail.
He said: “In 2015, we went to southwest regional office of the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) in Ibadan, Oyo State, to lodge complaints. The agency invited the company and also came for inspection. They asked us to list what we wanted. On top of it was stoppage of pollution of our environment, plus schools, health centres, water and construction of good road networks by the company. Afterwards, the agency promised to ensure that the company is pressured to compliance. But from that time till now, the case has not been revisited again.”
Another landlord, Mr. Adesina Adebayo, said most of the residents and students had become regular visitors to hospitals due to effect of pollution in the communities.
The General Manager for the recycling company, Mr. Vikas K, admitted that his company needed to reach out to the two communities as part of its corporate social responsibilities, but disagreed that his company activities constituted health threat to the inhabitants of the area.
Executive Director, Sustainable Research and Action for Environmental Development (SRADev Nigeria), Lesile Adogami, challenged the company to release its Annual Environmental Management Auditing Report if truly it was diligent in keeping its responsibility to nature.
He argued that the “company’s activities did not only pollute the environment and endanger the lives of the residents, it was criminal because it has neglected the statutory regulatory measures it supposed to follow.
He said: “So far, we have found out that over 50 per cent of the industrial companies sited along this (Ikorodu-Ishagamu) axis are major polluters. And we have been following up on these companies, especially those that are into recycling like Monarch Steel Company Limited.”
Worried by these happenings, concerned environmentalists agreed that almost every Nigerian was exposed to pollution and especially air pollution levels exceeding World Health Organisation (WHO)’s guidelines, which has inflicted significant damage on them.
Speaking at the Project Heart to Earth’s World Environmental Day celebration, Chairman of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigerian (AMCON), Dr. Muniz Banire, who doubled as the chairman of the event, quoted WHO as saying that an estimated seven million people died from diseases related to indoor and outdoor air pollution in 2012 in Lagos.
Lamenting the level of pollution in Nigeria, he said that air pollution was 73.33 per cent high in Lagos; drinking water pollution and inaccessibility – 63.95 per cent high; dissatisfaction with garbage disposal -71.15 high; dirty and untidy, l – 75.00 high; noise and light pollution – 70.12 high; and water pollution – 78.05 per cent high.
Also quoting a 2019 updated data from number.com, Banire, who was represented by Mr Ayoade Adeyemi, a council member, National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria, said that air quality in Lagos was – 26.67 per cent low; drinking water quality and accessibility – 36.05 low; garbage disposal satisfaction – 28.85 low, clean and tidy -25.00 low and water quality – 21.95 per cent low.
He said pollution existed in many forms and affects different aspects of the environment, adding that its point source came from specific, localised, and identifiable sources such as sewage, pipeline or industrial smoke stacks; while “non-point source pollution comes from dispersed or uncontained sources, such as contaminated water, run off from urban areas or automobile emissions.”
Suggesting ways out of the woods, Banire pointed out that reduction in human consumption and recycling of garbage would reduce costs and environmental burden of waste.
Coordinator, Project to Heart, Titilope Nkozi Akoza, said the group had identified urgent need to preserve and protect the environment for future generation.
She noted that efforts invested into putting in place systems, standards and best environmental practices had suffered a major setback in recent times.
“Today, it has been identified that Lagos suffers from myriad of environmental issues ranging from pollution of its air and water resources among others. These challenges threaten the lives and livelihoods of people living in Lagos on a daily basis,” she said.
She said that rising vehicular emissions, fumes emanating from use of generators, bush burning, indoor pollution from cooking with inefficient fuel, gas flaring in Badagry, situation of unsanitary landfills close to residential areas and recently sudden explosion of Olusosun dumpsite posed health risks to citizens and combined to make Lagos a hellish place for the people to live.
According to her, the compounding effect of the failed attempt by the state to privatise the delivery of social and environmental services and lack of participation engagement of civil society and citizens in environmental policy making in the state were issues that required urgent attention.
She bemoaned the shutting of civil society organisations and other relevant citizen’s platforms of engagement in the enactment and the recent amendment of the Environmental Management and Protection Law. Nigerian Bottling Company Limited (NBC) also reaffirmed its commitment towards a safe, clean and pollution free environment nationwide, saying that current environmental challenges demand urgent attention of government and private sector operators.
Officials of the company in conjunction with the representatives from Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) gathered in a beach clean-up activity to observe this year’s World Environment Day (WED) in Lagos.
Speaking,the Public Affairs and Communications Director of Nigerian Bottling Company Limited, Ekuma Eze, described the action as part of the company’s contribution to achieve its 2025 commitments geared towards making the environment safe.
Climate change and global warming are evident in human environment presently. There is need for synergy and concerted efforts by all stakeholders to go green and enforce lay down guidelines to reduce emission of dangerous gases into the atmosphere.
Stakeholders seek stand-alone housing ministry
Housing stakeholders are mounting pressure on President Muhammadu Buhari to split Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, as he begins second term tenure in office and make housing a full fledged ministry with a minister for sustainable growth. Dayo Ayeyemi reports
Apparently worried by low progress experienced in their sector in the last four years, there has been strong agitation for the unbundling of the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing with the appointment of separate ministers to oversee each ministry.
Mounting pressure on the need for a separate ministry for housing with a substantive minister are concerned stakeholders, comprising developers, estate surveyors and valuers, and affordable housing advocates, decrying low attention to the sector in the last four years.
Justifying the calls, they stated that what had happened in the last four years were just ad hoc interventions, pointing out that issue of housing was beyond shortcut arrangement.
It would be recalled that the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development (formerly the Ministry of Housing, Urban Development and Environment) was created in 2002 with housing accorded for the first time a separate status free from the bureaucracy and financial stranglehold of the Ministry of Works.
The Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development’s roles included policy formation, setting standards for the sector, establishing building standards and codes for housing delivery, and safety in collaboration with relevant professional bodies.
With just 13 years of existence before the FMLHUD was merged with Power and Works ministries, major achievements were recorded in the sector, some of which led to the creation of Real Estate Developers of Nigeria, Building Materials and Producers Associations of Nigeria (BUMPAN), Public-Private Partnerships in housing and creation of special finance window known as Estate Developers for developers by the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria, among others.
However, no sooner the Buhari administration came into power in 2015 than the ministries of power, works and housing were merged with Mr. Babatunde Fashola emerging as minister.
Events in the last four years have shown that the housing sector deserved more attention of government to overcome the nation’s 17 million accommodation deficit than what is currently getting.
Canvassing for an independent Ministry For Housing & Urban Development as a priority for President Buhari in the next four years, an Affordable Housing Advocate , Mr. Kunle Faleti, said this had become imperative in order to achieve measurable success as well as reducing the housing deficit plaguing the country.
Faleti said: “President Muhammadu Buhari, in his second term, must ensure that the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development is a stand alone ministry with a full minister in charge.
“In addition, it is highly recommended to appoint an independent planning regulator.
“The independent ministry will include functions currently spread between the ministry of power, works and housing; Ministry of Finance; Office of the Head of Civil Service and Ministry of Environment. The ministry will be funded from existing operational budgets of the units that shift to the new ministry,” he suggested.
Besides, Faleti said there was also a need for the immediate establishment of the office of the planning regulator, in light of the perennial collapse of residential and commercial buildings nationwide.
“Independence is essential to ensure “planning mistakes of the past” are not repeated in the rush to build housing. But rather, industry stakeholders must continue to focus on the right development, in the right place, with the right infrastructure, to ensure quality and long-term viability,” he said.
He urged government to create the enabling environment that would see to the emergence of communities where people would want to live and work.
Faleti enjoined state and local government to play a much bigger role in providing housing, through acquiring vacant land that was privately held and zoned for housing but not being used.
Managing Director of Fesadeb Communication, Mr. Festus Adebayo, said there was a clear indication that the merging of Power, Works and Housing ministries affected the attention that should have been given to housing, hence, not much was achieved significantly.
Adebayo noted that though, the public buildings like the federal secretariats in Zamfara, Bayelsa, Nasarawa and Ekiti and the Zik Mausoleum in Onitsha have been built, and pilot National Housing Programme (NHP) kicked off leading to housing construction in the 34 states where government had received land, there was still a lot more to be done in order to reduce Nigeria’s deficit.
He said: “Achieving this will be impossible unless the Ministry of Housing is untangled and led by its own minister who will give it the full attention it requires. This has now been set as an agenda for President Buhari as he begins a second term.”
If this is done, he said the incoming Minister of Housing would have to learn from the problems faced by the previous minister and address them immediately in order to deliver affordable mass housing for Nigerians.
Corroborating other speakers, the President, Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV), Roland Abonta, pointed out that the efforts by President Buhari’s administration in its first four years did not meet the targets in housing, attributing the low performance in the industry to the merging of Power, Works and Housing as one ministry.
According to him, what has happened in the last four years were ad hoc interventions, adding that issue of housing should be beyond ad hoc arrangement.
“It requires well planned programme that could run from year to year and from time to time. And of course, until we get it right to have a planned housing development and delivery system in place, we will continue to scratch the surface of housing challenges in Nigeria,” he said.
Abonta pointed out that most of the efforts like FISH housing for workers were concentrated in Abuja, adding that they were not targeted at those who seriously need housing.
As an operator industry, Abonta said the was aware that demand for housing was not being met due to ad hoc nature of the interventions in the sector.
Talking seriously, Abonta urged President Buhari to unbundle the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, saying that it was impossible to merge the second most important need of man with other sectors.
“In that marriage, you will realise that housing is given the least priority. Works is a major issue, and so is power. Lumping them with housing, which is also a very critical sector is counterproductive, “he said, adding that such merging could only produce failure.
“Housing must stand on its own in order to meet that important need of shelter for man,’’ he added.
While calling for a robust housing agenda for Nigeria, he said it must be an agenda that would cater for all categories of Nigerians.
He said: “Most initiatives in the sector are only ad hoc ones not based on permanent motives. The new minister should first take stock of what is needed in order to be guided accurately.”
Having a separate view, Chairman, H.O.B. Housing Estates, Olusegun Bamgbade, said that if Fashola remained the minister in charge of the Ministry of Power, Works, and Housing, there was no need to split the ministry.
“You need to physically visit the Ministry of Power, Works, and Housing and fact-check the activities of the ministry as presently constituted before you can appreciate the enormous works of the former minister,” he said.
According to him abandoned projects were being completed by the ministry irrespective of who initiated or who initially awarded the projects, adding that policy formulation to enhance uninterrupted electricity in the country was ongoing.
With the high rate of homelessness among Nigerians and the need to bridge 17 millions housing deficit and eradicate slums in urban centres, Mr. President should heed experts’ demand for the benefits of citizenry.
Critical housing issues for Buhari’s attention
Not impressed by low activities in their sector in the last four years, stakeholders are calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to seize the opportunity of his second term to address some of the critical challenges confronting the housing sector. Dayo Ayeyemi reports
Nigeria is blessed with abundance of natural and human resources; but these have not really been transformed to economic prosperity to majority of citizens as many of lived on less than one dollar per day.
Besides, homeownership among low and no -income citizens was nothing but a mirage as many lived in the open, squalour and environmentally unhealthy settlements.
According to report, Nigeria remains one of the worst performing countries in the world in terms of ratio of citizens who are without housing.
United Nations (UN) estimated that Nigeria has over 17 millions housing deficit and would require to construct one million units every year in the next 20 years to bridge the deficit.
Despite many proposed reforms and policies papers presented by all stakeholders to turn the tide, lip-service and lack of political will to activate those policies and do the needful by successive governments have widened accommodation gap among Nigerians.
Also, while there have been shortage supply of low income houses, vacant properties specifically targeted at the rich adorned the cities of Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt.
Almost 59 years of nationhood, identified factors such as lack of access to cheap and buildable land, high cost of securing and registering land title; inadequate access to finance, slow administrative procedures, high cost of building materials and undeveloped mortgage market are still common challenges to affordable housing provisions.
Worried by these challenges denying Nigerians opportunities to have easy access to cheap and quality accommodation, affordable housing stakeholders have taken it upon themselves to call the attention of President Muhammadu Buhari to some of key issues to be addressed in the sector and economy.
Presenting these issues as agenda for President Buhari, Lead Promoters of Abuja Housing Show and Managing Director of Fesadeb Communications. Mr. Festus Adebayo, said that the issues bordered on land, National Housing Fund (NHF), housing affordability, regulations economic and political stability, mortgage and unbundling of the Ministry of Power Work and Housing among others.
Land Use Act
Urging the President to consider proper reforms of land administration, Adebayo stated that issue of land remained a major hindrance to housing in Nigeria.
He noted that the problems of Land Use Act has affected access to land, contributing to increased in land scams and land grabbing by few but strong personalities.
He said that many housing stakeholders have continued to complain about several problems with the Act and how it affected access to land for private individuals and developers.
Calling on the Federal Government to urgently look into the problems of Land Use Act, he said: “Some of the defects in the Act were the lack of uniformity for the laws which could help to govern the ownership of the lands; the uncontrolled speculation over urban lands; the issue of accessing lands for all Nigerians equally.
President, African Regions, International Real Estate Federation(FIABCI), Mr. Chudi Ubosi,said that abrogation of Land Use Act was not negotiable, pointing out that the land law has failed the objectives it was set out achieve.
According to him, the law has made land ownership and title’s transfer tougher, adding that the land law was fettered with institutional failure, dearth of political will and inherent defects.
Chairman, Presidential Technical Committee on Land Reform (PTCLR), Professor Peter Adeniyi, in an interview with New Telegraph recently, said the Land Use Act has pauperized Nigerians, calling for its removal from the constitution for possible review and amendments.
Adebayo urged the president to see the reviewing of the National Housing Fund as one of his top agenda,pointing out that opinion of many was that the NHF be opened, accessible to all, transparent and accountable “because the housing sector is not only an access to housing but to job and investment markets.”
Other stakeholders called for immediate passage of 11 housing and mortgage related bills in the National Assembly.
Their demand came following the inability of the 8th National Assembly to successfully amend and pass into laws some of the critical bills bordering on housing, land and construction.
They want incoming National Assembly to give those bills speedy passage in order to enhance home ownership through affordable housing production and mortgage among Nigerians.
Some of the bills include the Mortgage Banks Act 1989; Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) Act 1993; the Trustees Investment Act 1962; and the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) Act 1993.
Others are the Insurance Act 2002; Investment and Securities Act 1999; Federal Housing Authority (FHA) Act 1990; Securitization Bill; Foreclosure Law Bills – Residential Mortgage Act and Residential Mortgages (Incentives) Act, among other.
According to the former Managing Director, Lagos State Property Development Corporation, Mr. John Bede Anthonio, an architect, non-passage of these bills had impeded the development of mortgage and housing for the average Nigerian.
He pointed out that, it would be difficult to attract investments into housing and mortgage sectors without proper regulations.
“If you don’t have laws to govern, how can investors invest in the housing market, which is huge,” he said.
He pointed out that without foreclosure law, developers would continue to be at risk of selling via mortgage or on instalment payment, hence the need for urgent passage.
Stakeholders also demanded that the President should pursue policies that would enable affordability of housing in Nigeria, pointing out that economic interventions that could reduce the cost of building materials and also encourage local production are very critical to the at this time.
Adebayo commended the introduction of schemes like the Family Homes Funds,which intended to deliver about 500, 000 homes in 2023, urging the President to offer the initiative more support so that the objectives of the fund could be achieved.
He suggested to the president to enable processes that would make it easier for cooperatives to pull their resources together and contribute to National Housing Funds.
The housing sector, Adebayo said was often fraught with challenges like substandard development, incompetency, building collapse, fraud and responsibility conflicts.
Due to these, he said a case was being made for the establishment of a supra regulatory entity that would oversee the activities of practitioners, developers, professional bodies and agencies in the sector.
Adebayo said: “When it comes to regulation, the housing development and finance sector in Nigeria is having an oversight dilemma. For example, the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) is by function and design a bank, however, the regulatory control of the institution is being contested by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Ministry of Works and Housing. This is because it is intervening in two folds. It is intervening in housing development and housing finance at the same time. This is a misnomer.”
The need for a supra regulator, the affordable housing promoter said has become important in order to check the individuals and organizations that frequently venture into the sector without meeting any form of standard or requirement.
While stakeholders agreed there was need to have a lot of investments and investors in the sector, Adebayo said it was also necessary that they operate in an environment with control and regulation.
While calling on President Buhari to see to the establishment of supra-regulatory agency that could bring order and development in the housing sector, he stated that currently, there was no entity saddled with the task of handling problems associated with developers and housing finance fraud in the industry.
To develop the housing sector in Nigeria, stakeholders believed that the kind of special interventions that the Federal Government initiated through the Central Bank in agriculture and the other areas like the stock market should be introduced too for housing.
He noted that agricultural policies like the Anchors Borrowers have greatly impacted agricultural production in Nigeria, stating that if an equivalent policy is introduced in housing, there would be a great change in the sector.
Adebayo also called for stakeholders engagement to fashion out a unitary agenda for tackling the problem of housing in Nigeria.
Stakeholders also tasked the Federal Government on economic and political stability, pointing out that housing development won’t be possible in an environment smeared by violence, vandalism and terrorism.
Proffering lasting solutions to building collapse
Except government and stakeholders collaborate to nip corruption in the construction sector in the bud, consulting town planners said it would be difficult to eradicate building collapse menace in Nigeria. Dayo Ayeyemi reports
Worried by the menace of building collapse with attendant loss of life and property, reputation and integrity, among others, built environment experts under the auspices of Association of Town Planning Consultants of Nigeria (ATOPCON), Lagos chapter, are bent on promoting sustainable physical development by dealing with the issue of building failure.
After a brainstorming session, they identified corruption, lack of implementation of various physical planning laws and non-adherence to regulations as critical factors.
They cited the five-storey building that recently caved in at Ita-faji on Lagos Island, saying that the owner originally got approval for two floors, but illegally changed it to five floors without any recourse to government.
Dissecting various factors militating against sustainable physical development and suggesting solutions, a lecturer in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Lagos (UNILAG), Professor Leke Oduwaye, expossed the need to fight corruption head-on among public officials and citizens.
To achieve sustainable development, he said the United Nations Earth Summit had programmes for the promotion of adequate shelter for all; improvement of human settlement management, sound land use planning and management, suggesting that Nigerian government must incorporate all these in decision making.
Sustainable development, he said, encompassed integrated provision of infrastructure, planning and management of disaster-prone areas, sustainable construction industry activities, and appropriate capacity building and human capital.
“A perusal of Agenda 21 shows that it is a robust document of prevention of building collapse syndrome,” the don said.
Part of the solutions to building collapse, Oduwaye, who at a time was the Dean of Faculty of Environmental Sciences at UNILAG, said, included the use of registered professionals, improvements on surveillance, whistle blowing policy with toll free phone lines, public education on building anatomy/production process and community education on importance of building maintenance.
He also suggested the use of more social media, mass media education on building, while calling for building Integrity audit/constant inspection.
Oduwaye mulled the need for special intervention fund for the sector to be managed by the private sector.
“There must be war against quackery, reorganisation/registration of artisan group; creation of building artisan villages; and formal training platforms for artisans,” the university lecturer said.
Oduwaye also called for the review of mortgage fund system; legislation on building maintenance and constant inspections of building materials shops and manufacturers factories by the Standards Organisation of Nigeria, among others.
He is of the opinion that government should use consultants in building approval process and maintenance inspection.
Chairman of ATOPCON in Lagos State, Kamil Sanni, stated that incidence of building collapse had become a hydra-headed problem in the metropolis, stressing that causes and effects of collapse were general and societal, putting the blame on every stakeholder.
A former Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development in Lagos State, Mr Frasisco Abosede, recalled that most of the buildings that collapsed recently were old buildings, saying there was a corollary between land use and collapse.
According to him, when a person changes the land use and built something different from the approved plan, there is bound to be problem.
He blamed lack of implementation of the Urban and Regional Planning Law of 2010, saying that Section 48 that talked about compulsory building insurance was not being implemented by insurance companies.
Past President of the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP), Bunmi Ajayi, pointed out that none of the building collapse incidents investigated were actually designed by professionals.
He cited example of Synagogue Church and Lekki Gardens, saying professionals were not involved.
He urged professionals to be wary of putting their stamps and seals on any building plans they were not the designers.
Another Past President , Alhaji Waheed Kadri, added that lack of maintenance was also responsible for building collapse.
Representative of Lagos State Building Control Agency, who identified himself as “Engineer Ayuba,” said the agency had braced to the occasion in ensuring prompt certification and inspection of buildings.
Another planner, Wale Adeboye, said that solutions to building collapse should be all encompassing.
Member of Town Planners Registration Council (TOPREC), Moses Ogunleye, blamed unseriousness of government for building collapse.
“Building will continue to collapse as long as people concerned are not professionals,” he said.
Former Chairman of NITP in the state, Mr. Ayo Adeniran, said that what LABCA was doing was illegal, adding that the agency was not properly constituted.
“The way government is going about issue of building collapse won’t get us anywhere. Government is just moving round the cycle, “he said.
President of ATOPCON, Dr. Idris Salako, urged government to improve the efficiency of LABCA in accordance with its statutory responsibility.
Besides, he wants government to constitute the Urban and Regional Planning Tribunal as specified in the relevant provisions of the state physical planning law.
Government must do everything possible by collating and acting on all suggestions put forward by built environment professionals.
Boosting capacity of real estate artisans
Effort to upturn loss of jobs for Nigeria’s nationals and loss of revenue to foreigners is receiving attention as both Lagos State and the Federal Government are up-scaling the capacity of construction sector artisans. Dayo Ayeyemi reports
Over the years, Nigerian artisans have demonstrated high level of professional incompetence over the years compared to their counterparts from some West African and Asian countries, including Ghana, Benin Republic ,Togo, China and India.
Lack of capacity in terms of quality of jobs they churn out has become the weak point that has not only put their jobs on the line but led led to foreign artisans virtually taking over jobs, hitherto, done by Nigerians.
This has in turn worsened the unemployment situation in the country.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the country’s unemployment rate worsened in the third quarter of 2018, rising from 18.8 per cent in Q3 2017 to 23.1 per cent in the third quarter of 2018.
It has also been estimated that far more than N10 billion is being lost annually to immigrant artisans, who have displaced Nigerians in construction sector.
To halt this trend, the Nigerian government has taken it upon itself to boost the capacity of local artisans in order to make them relevant and competitive for jobs in the construction industry.
Blazing the trail is the Lagos State Government in collaboration with stakeholders in the industry to build the capacity of artisans for the construction sector under the Master Craftsman Project.
Having graduated 170 artisans in the first batch, the state government has rolled out another set of 350 trained personnel.
The Master Craftsman Project is aimed at addressing skill gap in housing sector in Lagos State.
Explaining the rationale behind the project, the Commissioner for Housing, Prince Gbolahan Lawal, said the scheme was aimed at scaling up professionalism of artisans in the state in order to meet up with current global trends.
Lawal said that the platform created an opportunity for artisans and workers in the construction industry to receive certificates after being trained to acquire 21st Century skills.
According to him, issues of quackery, quality of service, inappropriate charges, and unethical conduct leading to building collapse were considered and built into the curriculum to produce world class artisans.
Permanent Secretary in the Deputy Governor’s office, Mrs Yetunde Odejayi, who represented Dr. Oluranti Adebule, said that government had the vision of training 4,000 artisans.
She disclosed that the state government was involved in PPP on affordable housing development, where 20,000 units are ongoing already.
Through the project, she said that 60,000 bricklayers, 40,000 masons, 20,000 carpenters, 20,000 plumbers, 60,000 tilers, 40,000 painters would be required.
Artisans to be engaged in the project, she assured, would come from the trained craftmen and women.
According to the deputy governor, the Master Craftsman Project is an initiative of the state government to bridge the skills gap, in order to prevent foreigners from taking over jobs of technicians in the built industry.
Adebule stated that government was “determined to reverse the trend’’ of influx of foreign artisans, to ensure local artisans take back their pride of place in the built industry.
Speaking with New Telegraph, one of the trainees, Mrs Folasayo Anjorin, a welder, said her skills on welding had been sharpened through the training programme.
Another trainee, Olubunmi Erinle, promised to make use of everything she learnt during the course of the training, appealing to government to give them jobs now that the training has ended.
Another participant, Mr. Orire james, a carpenter, said he had learnt more about the dictates of his job through the training.
He said: “They trained us very well and updated our knowledge about the latest innovations in the industry for about three to four weeks. We really gained a lot and this will really impact positively on our jobs.”
One of the tutors and retired lecturer at Yaba College of Education, Suraj Kolawole, said the artisans were taught many things that have to do with their jobs.
“We taught them most of the things they lost in the course of the job such as estimation, procedures, dealing with clients, team work, reality of the job they want to do and the risks involved,” the tutor said.
At the end of the programme, Kolawole said the trainees were asked to execute a project with the training centre.
He said: “ We believed that these people would be able to achieve delivery of quality buildings.”
Through the training, he said the nation would be able to reduce the number of foreign artisans and also boost morale of workers, adding that it would also prevent failure in building.
At the federal level, Director General, C-STEmp Construction Skills Training and Empowerment Project Limited, Anthony Okwa, told New Telegraph that about 6,000 artisans had been trained directly, while more than 24,000 have been facilitated.
He stated that the training programmes for the artisans in the construction industry have been going on very well especially with the recent support from the Presidency through the Npower Build Program involving the Council of Registered Builders of Nigeria (CORBON), which has encouraged more school leavers and girls to participate.
Okwa stated that the Npower job creation programme of the Buhari administration was being delivered in about 400 centers across the country under the auspices of Council of Registered Builders of Nigeria (CORBON) with his agency’s active support.
He disclosed that the agency through the training was trying to change the attitude and disposition of beneficiaries, and current low regard for artisans.
To this end, he said the agency had instituted artisans awards “which aims at according them due recognition and rewarding excellence.”
On the prospects of artisans after the training, Okwa said: “In all spheres of human endeavor, Nigerians have been known to excel, and with the training gaining international attention, we are beginning to receive enquiries for supply of Artisans to employers from outside the country.”
President, Nigerian Institute of Building, Kenneth Nduka, said since technology has ever been dynamic, it would amount begging the question “if one accepts the current quality of artisans as being satisfactory.”
He warned that the present situation where foreign artisans dominated Nigeria’s construction sector spelt doom for the economy.
According to him, the implications meant loss of jobs for Nigeria’s nationals and loss of revenue through capital flights.
Besides, he said other implications included security challenges, near absence of indigenous capacity to deliver on projects, and dependence on foreign dictates for the implementation of infrastructural development initiatives.
On what must be done to change the narrative, the NIOB president stated that it would require responsive investments on all diverse human capacity and skills development initiatives.
Aside, he said it would involve the creation of motivating opportunities and convenient inclusive environment that will serve the desired stimulus for constructive engagements and deployment.
Nduka stated that funds in terms of transferred earnings that should have otherwise been invested in Nigeria, as well as the multiplier economic opportunities that would attract values to the GDP of the country, were being lost as capital flight to foreign countries.
He disclosed that NIOB had collaborated with Nigerian Board of Technical Education (NBTE) and CORBON to establish the National Occupation Standards for relevant skills for the building industry.
He said: “NIOB having been granted an awarding body status by the Federal Ministry of Education,through the NBTE, is currently on a country wide quality assessment exercise to evaluate all the N-Power build artisans.
“Registration of training centers for Building construction skills are on going. Above all the institute is mobilizing and encouragng her members nationwide to key into the training for Quality Assurance Assessors currency being driven the National Board for Technical Education so that the objectives for quality skills standardisation in the building construction Industry could rightly realised.”
Quality craftsmen in any nation, Nduka said, guaranteed safe built environment, populated with cost effective, quality radiating, image enhancing, productivity promoting, elements protecting, secure, aesthetic and needs satisfying building infrastructures.
“Above all, the political, economic and social potentials of the country would enjoy a positive boost since the skill we have could massage our infrastructure development strides and accordingly excited diverse opportunities for developments and growth maximisation,” he said.
Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Rotimi Ogunleye, urged the grandaunts to uphold construction ethics to stem incidence of building collapse.
Through training and retraining programmes, Nigerian artisans in the construction sector stand the chance of competing very well, if not better, with their counterparts all over the world.
Tackling vacant property crisis
Fresh concerns on how to resolve the huge number of vacant houses in Nigerian cities are dominating the polity. Dayo Ayeyemi reports
A lot of luxury properties, built between four and six years ago, are still vacant in the property market, after one and half years Nigeria came out of economic recession.
The empty houses are dominant in high-brow neighborhoods of Ikoyi and Lekki, Lagos; Government Reserve Area (GRA) 1,2,3 in Port Harcourt; and Asokoro, Maitama, Abuja.
Some of these luxury properties came with high price tags, which have kept buyers away from them, in addition to economic challenges in the country.
While some industry experts have blamed corruption, greed and other factors for their vacancies, some professionals and government are looking for ways to resolve the issue.
This must have been bothering the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, who challenged members of the Estate Surveyors and Valuers Registration Board of Nigeria (ESVARBON) on the need to create a baseline data for all empty houses with information for sale or rental value about two months ago.
The minister, who was convinced that those empty houses could be livable, said they were not being factored into the computation of Nigeria’s housing deficit of million units.
“There are so many vacant houses across major city of Nigeria, but we have not been putting all this factors into the computation of housing shortage in the country; we just give figures, like 17million housing deficit without considering all the vacant houses,” the minister said.
He tasked the board to embark on data collation across the country so as to ascertain the actual figure of housing deficit in the country to aid planning.
Speaking on ways to resolve the crisis, President, Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB), Mr. Kenneth Nduka, said the crisis could not be wished away, but required specific and desirable actions.
“Specific and desirable actions, whenever not taken, would always precipitate calamitous outcomes,” he noted.
He explained that the issue of vacant properties could be prevented if planned procedures and processes are situated within the coordinated and supervised paradigms of safe, functional designs, good quality workmanship, responsive cost effectiveness and operational timeliness.
Chatting on the Affordable Housing Development Group platform, Managing Director, Rock of Ages Investments, Mr. Francis Onwuemele, pointed out that empty houses concept was a reflection of the poverty to riches ratio, adding that the equation was heavily skewed in favour of the rich.
According to him, the rich have acquired so much without really creating any wealth, noting that one smart way to hide most of the illicit wealth was to buy houses and build mansions.
“Not because they needed the mansions to live in, never, but to either show off, and as a store of wealth. They never built or acquired for habitation, but to hide stolen funds, a store of value, and hopefully, it could be sold to others who found wealth either via legitimate means or illegal means,” Onwuemele said.
He, however, pointed out that not all mansions were from stolen funds, and that these classes of the rich also would need to buy and store their wealth.
On the way out, the real estate professional canvassed for a situation where each luxury house would be converted to affordable housing for the generality of Nigerians.
He said: “Now, note the irony, each of the houses, when translated to affordable house, for each mansion you could easily make 200 to 350 affordable homes. So imagine 50 of such mansions, that could have given us 350x 50=17,500 affordable homes. Now the paradox is getting clearer.
“Remember, the aim and aspirations of the mansions. There are no commensurate investments in affordable. So, occupancy of the mansions keeps dropping while affordability keeps looking impossible.”
He noted that those who could have occupied or buy the houses no longer had access to cheap funds, hence the emptiness continues.
He suggested that each house recovered should be sold to build affordable ones.
“Remember the ratio 50:17,500. Finally, I believe if FHF is driven with same passion as am seeing now, we may crack the nuts,” he said.
On his part, President, Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria (REDAN) , Mr. Ugochukwu Chime, said there were many other factors responsible for vacant houses crisis.
He listed paucity of socio-economic data, lack of strategic skillset, pauperisation of the middle class, and inefficient policies/regulations among others, as part of the challenges.
He pointed out that a proper research would give varying weights to each of the causative factors, and enable practitioners align solutions appropriately.
Rather than adducing unproven cause for high vacancy rates in Nigerian cities of Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt, Director, Centre for Housing and Sustainable Development, University of Lagos, Professor Olugbenga Nubi, said that lack of pre-investment market research to determine class of properties with effective demand had been discovered to be the major factor.
According to him, it is dangerous and counter-productive to draw a conclusion on reasons for vacant properties without scientific research.
He pointed out that most property investors were just building four bedroom duplexes where the need was for studio and two bedroom apartments.
“People who need just a room ended up renting houses that they do not really need,” he said, adding that in developed economies, the advent of Airbnb has helped resolve this problem.
Besides, the professor stated that it had been established that in most part of Lagos and Abuja, properties have been used as a means of preserving ill-gotten wealth.
He said: “Since both local and foreign banks are no longer a good option for money laundering, properties were bought with the intention of future sales.
“Our recommendation to government should be balanced with strong research support.”
He pointed out that all over the world, tenants were vulnerable and were often protected.
According to him, government must change policy that makes land to be as expensive as N100 million and high cost of construction.
He said: “If we reduce cost of procurement to less than N75 million for a building of six flats – which is possible in Abuja with it’s stable and high load bearing capacity soil, rent will drop and default will disappear.”
Nubi urged institutions to sponsor researches, pointing out that the future was for nations driven by knowledge (information), technology and competition.
According to him, if developers were encouraged to do pre-investment studies, they would become more relevant and respected.
“We will have few failed projects,” he said.
Corroborating Nubi, another professional, Dr. Joshua Egbagbe, said government and stakeholders should start taking decisions and formulating policies using well researched information that are timely, adequate and concise.
Government must collaborate with the built environment stakeholders by putting policies in place to revamp the economy and discourage vacant houses syndrome.
‘How developers can access Family Homes Funds’
Many real estate developers who are bent on embracing the Federal Government initiative of providing affordable housing to low-income earners are seeking best ways to access the Family Homes Funds. To make this fulfilled, the Managing Director of Family Homes Funds, Mr Femi Adewole, has shed light on how developers could access financing under the scheme. Speaking in Lagos, he said FHF only provided finance for developers, who are building homes within the firm’s target cost indicators, adding that preference are given to developers building one-bedroom houses. He said: “We are currently providing capital for developers, whether private or public, but the key requirements are these; we only finance developers, who are building homes that fall within our target cost indicators, and they are challenging, that means that more slots exist for the one bedroom houses.”
In terms of transfer cost, he said that transfer cost being the price to the occupier must not be more than N2.5million to N3million. ”The two-bedroom is from N4million to N4.5million, and three-bedroom is N5.5million to N6million,’’ he said. He explained that FHF would basically finance 100 per cent of the construction cost, adding that it would give 15 per cent advance payment to get started. Speaking with members of the Association of Housing Corporation of Nigeria, Adewole said: “We are basically financing 100 per cent of the construction cost, and 15 per cent advance payment to get you started. In some cases, we are also giving you an off-take guarantee to de-risk the project for you. So it’s an extremely attractive package, because the intent is to bring supply at the level of the market for mortgage origination.” Documents required for the fund include information on the developer, experience and track record; technical information; financial appraisal and assessment and statement on marketing strategy.
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