January 16, 2021
INTERVIEW

Laisse-faire attitude to Housing in Nigeria NIESV President calls for the creation of office of the Valuer-General of the Federation

ESV.(Sir.) Rowland Enyinna Abonta is the President,The Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers.In this interview with DAILY DISPATCH, he enumerated the problems facing the Institution and how to solve the issues of housing in the country.

Who is an Estate Surveyor and Valuer?

An Estate surveyor and valuer could be regarded in other climes as a land economist. He is also the professional equipped and trained to carry out valuation of all forms of assets;anything you call assets, and of course definition of assets is whatever that has economic value. If you talk of assets it is only a professional Estate Surveyor and Valuer that has a right to carry out any form of valuation on any asset. He is also by training having acquired pre-requisite skills to practice Facility management and or course over 80per cent of assets in Nigeria are managed by professional estate sutveyors and valuers.

By our training we are equipped to do project management, so most of the high-rise buildings you see in Lagos today, it is the professional estate surveyor and valuer that did project management of such building. We ate also involved in investment studying and appraisals, you want to do investment and wants to determine the viability of such investment and even the feasibility of it, the right person to contact is an Estate surveyor and valuer. The one that is publicly attached to estate surveyorsand valuers even though all manners of people are now into it is estate agency. Again by our training as land economists, people who operate in the sector are of our economy. We have pre-requisite qualifications, experience and training to serve as estate agents.

Let me just say that by training we are endowed to do a lot particularly within the real estate sector.

What do you think the housing market is lacking at the moment?

The major policy   policies the housing markets is lacking right now is the issue of availability of titled plots for development. It is still an herculean task for developer to easily have access to a plot of land that is backed with titles. In other words our land titling process leaves a lot to be done. Also on the area of finance, the mortgage sector is yet to meet the desired objectives of mortgage financing as seen elsewhere in the world. Our mortgage system needs a total re-engineering that will make it possible for intending mortgagers to meet the right people and all those who are interested in giving out loans by giving it at accessible conditions. What we have today is where mortgage financing is serving very little sector of our economy in the society, and so there’s a wide gap between those who benefit from the system and those who actually desire to benefit from it. So there’s room for re-engineering in terms of policy, in terms of implementation of the mortgage market in Nigeria to become a vibrant system that will support property development and as a matter of fact housing development.

Then you talk about technology, there is a gap between technological know how in the country and what is expected of us to achieve mass housing development. The process of housing have been reduced to the barest minimum in the developed nation of the world. But in Nigeria we are still battling with our usual mortar and break system of long process it takes for you to produce one house, while our population keeps increasing. The gap between demand and supply has always been there, so we need improved technology that can guarantee mass production of houses.

Another one is building materials, we are still dependent on foreign-made materials for our building constructions and so we need to improve our traditional building material that we have in the country. And government should demonstrate them in their own housing estates, then encourage Nigerian developers to also do same, so that the huge foreign exchange attached to housing development would be brought to the barest minimum. This is a sector that is super employment generation, by the time we improve on our housing policies the issues of unemployment will be reduced.

How will these policies if improved help your Institution?

Just like what every other sector in Nigeria are facing, estate surveyors and valuers face same. We need housing, we need office accommodation. If government is able to improve our mortgage financing and make it available to the Nigerian populace, estate surveyors and valuers will benefit. If our construction technology improves and there’s production of mass housing in Nigeria the estate surveyors and caluers will have good work to do.

What is your Institution  doing to nip in the bud fake estate developers all over the place who went about collecting money from people and showing them only prototype houses?

There is a cause for what we are experiencing in the real estate sector, particularly developers, which is lack of regulatory institutions, regulatory framework and the all comers approach to the housing development. It got to a point when building material sellers venture into housing development particularly here in Abuja, they did this from the perception of trading not from the perception of providing services and so they could get into a big forest clear the roads and put the building with barely nothing. What they have done is that they created slums all over the place. The Last administration came up with the policy of mass housing without any framework or regulatory policies that could have control and sanction to what private developers could do. Government should re-appraise mass housing programmes and set up framework including institutional organisations that would regulate the issue of housing in Nigeria. It is in this view we are calling on Nigerian government to create the office of the Valuer-General of the Federation who becomes policy formulator

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