Editorial

As the Senate debates Abuja Monthly Rent Payment Bill

A bill on monthly rent payment in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) known as: “Advanced Rent Residential Apartments, Office Spaces, etc. Regulation Bill” is making progress on the floor of the Upper Legislative Chamber, the Senate.

 

The Private Member’s Bill, sponsored by the Senator representing Kogi West Senatorial Zone, Senator Smart Adeyemi, seeks the payment of a maximum of three months advance rent payment in the first instance and subsequent monthly payment for the rest of any tenancy lease in Abuja. Under the bill, it is an offence for any landlord in the FCT to demand payment of advance rent from tenants.

 

New Telegraph is happy that Senator Adeyemi, a former President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), did not have to wait for an Executive Bill, like some of his less committed colleagues, but instead resorted to the option of a Private Member’s Bill to help save residents of Abuja from the exploitation of landlords and estate developers.

 

 

We thank him for his thoughtfulness and urge him to remain on this glorious path in the remaining 18 months before the National Assembly, like the President, concludes its tenure.

 

The bill by Senator Adeyemi is preceded by the Lagos Tenancy Law which in its Section Four on Advance Rent outlaws the payment of rent in excess of six months and one year.

The bill is also in harmony with the rent-payment mode in different parts of the globe. When passed into law, such a bill will help deal with the nightmare which the payment of annual rents has become to tenants in Abuja. Such effort will help make corruption pale into insignificance, as the desperation to cut corners to pay the yearly rents will expectedly be on the downward slope.

 

Acknowledged, the landlords may not actualise their dreams of smiling to the banks, which will likely be a major concern that could adversely affect investment in estate development. This may throw a spanner in the works regarding the efforts being made to construct more houses for human habitation. But of what use is it for a country to make corruption attractive to its citizens?

 

The payment of yearly rents in any part of Nigeria is a continued invitation to corruption which contributes in unleashing socio-economic dislocation on the populace.

 

New Telegraph, is, however, dismayed that landlords and estate developers are not being reasonably assisted to comply with the bill, when eventually passed into law.We recall that Nigeria blazed the trail in cement production in West Africa with the establishment of the Nigerian Cement (NIGERCEM) Company Limited, Malaga in the then Eastern Region in 1958, which commenced production the following year. NIGERCEM, which was a sprawling community within a vast community, had a housing estate, educational institution and a hospital.

 

Its hospital was as standard as what was obtained in some countries of the First and Second World. In subsequent years, additional cement production plants were set-up in different parts of the country such as Calabar, Sokoto,  Ewekoro, Ashaka and Gboko.

 

A major dividend from the existence of a spread of cement factories across the nation was the offering of alternate sources of supply of cement to Nigerians.

 

This realisation made competing cement companies to creatively devise strategies including pocket-friendly prices to ensure the continued retention of their army of loyal customers.

 

At the height of its glory, the pioneer cement factory in thepresent- day Ebonyi State was producing between 90,000 and 92,000 bags of cement per day. NIGERCEM and the other cement factories had since gone under following years of unregulated maladministration.

 

Sadly, Nigerians have been turned over to a few cement factors now. Given this skewed and provocative economic relationship, some landlords and estate developers have no other option than to subject themselves to the perceived victimisation of the monopolist by going ahead to spend a fortune on cement and other construction materials to build their houses.

 

Such bruised victims will naturally be inclined towards recouping their investments once an opportunity comes beckoning.

 

Some of them may be prompted to ask the inevitable question: “Where were the National and State Assemblies and the Executive Branches of Government at the federal as well as state levels at the time that we had to pay for cement with our blood?”

 

This is why the bill, when enacted into law, may not be complied with by some landlords and estate developers. And of what relevance would it be to Nigerians to have an Act of Parliament which would be dead on arrival?

 

We enjoin Senator Adeyemi to include in his bills some clauses mandating the Executive Arm of Government at the federal level to dismantle the existing monopolistic business climate in some sectors like that of cement through taxholidays for a minimum period of six months to prospective cement manufacturing companies.

 

This should be accompanied by adequate security, uninterrupted power supply, motorable road network and rail link-up as well as the functionality of piped water.

 

The referred incentives will, while opening the monopolised and shut door of cement production to competing cement manufacturers, encourage them to keep their prices low as some of the chief drivers of market forces have been profoundly handled in a rather proactive manner.

 

The same should be replicated in the states starting with some lawmakers sponsoring bills aimed at actualising monthly rent payment and the emergence of additional cement factories. It is unexplainable and contradicts all sound logic that NIGERCEM and other cement production plants are no longer in operation.

 

New Telegraph enjoins the stakeholders including the federal and state governments to help ensure the revitalisation of all the referred cement factories for their relevance of cathedral proportions stretching from facilitation of reduction in the price of cement to economies of scale resulting in the emergence of allied and other industries, thereby helping deepen economic growth and recovery beyond mere political sloganeering.

 

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