Yusuf Maiwada Bashir, of Bauchi state parentage, was born in the 70s and in Gombe. He had primary and secondary school education in Bauchi before heading for the University of Maiduguri to study business management, specializing in finance. After his NYSC callup in Lagos with Ecobank, he went for an MBA in finance at Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi, after which he got appointment as a lecturer; and then to University of Manchester’s Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) for his Ph D in project management and finance. Coming back to Nigeria, he continued his work with Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi, where he rose to rank of professor in 2013. In May 2023, he was appointed the Managing Director and chief executive officer of NIPOST Properties and Development Company.
In this exclusive interview exclusive interview with the BusinessDay team, Prof. Bashir puts in context the establishment of NIPOST Properties and Development Company.
What is the rationale, the reason behind the establishment of this county and also what is the mandate?
We all know what NIPOST has in terms of property all over the country. NIPOST is not doing very well partially because for years government has not been able to give its grants. And, secondly, a lot of modernization has happened in postal services all over the world that hasn’t happened in NIPOST. So, NIPOST has been partially out of business. The Federal Ministry of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, and the board of NIPOST in 2017 unbundled NIPOST into three entities, one of which is NIPOST Property and Development Company, a commercial venture. It is to manage the property assets of NIPOST spread all over the country in 774 local governments commercially.
As pioneer managing director of the company, what vision and plan do you have to execute this mandate?
In all honesty, the project before me is an exciting one, recognizing how vibrant properties property development is in Nigeria. My mission is to transform these underutilized properties into a vibrant and money making venture to contribute our own quarter to the Nigerian economy. The properties as they are now are valued at not less than N4.7 trillion. Imagine what an investment worth N4.7 trillion can do to the economy of Nigeria. The whole property sector is about N26 trillion. That shows you that NIPOST alone owns over 15% of the property business.
Looking at the how big the sector is, what have you been able to put in place to really turn around this institution?
We are coming into a sector that already has its key players. So, from the competitive point of view, we are at a disadvantage, but because of the fact that we are going to achieve whatever we would achieve through public private partnership arrangement makes it easy for us. Already we are working, we have put in place, all what we require to kick start our business operations. We have been able to make contact to all stakeholders. As I’m talking to you now, we are meeting the Postmaster-General of NIPOST to conclude arrangements on how these properties will be handed over to us to begin this business operation.
You say everything has been put in place — like what and what; who are who are you partnering with to execute this?
What I mean by things being put in place is that all the resources that we require have been graciously given. We have a wonderful staff on ground. Already, we have a list of staff that we’re going to start this business with, mostly deployed from NIPOST, our parent company. At the same time, we were provided with vehicles and office equipment. What is remaining now is just the properties to be handed over to us, which we hope will be concluded anytime, after our meeting with the Postmaster-General.
What should Nigerians expect from you in the next two years?
What I want to tell Nigerians is: we as a company. In our strategic operational document, we state that we plan to turn around this dwindling fortunes of the moribund assets of our parent company, NIPOST. We hope to deliver 2,000 single- and multi-family homes. 370 offices complexes; 18 country homes; 36 city centres and 18 shopping malls and plazas. We want to establish a property fine tech system to enable shared equity scheme called “My Choice”. This is a multi-year cooperative home ownership investment scheme. It will use the power of blockchain and artificial intelligence to allow stakeholders, especially civil servants on medium to low incomes, to own their homes in sustainable, incremental step through the purchase of small equities using the collaboration of staff unions and cooperatives.
Where do you have the most of the properties located in the country?
Beyond Lagos, the pre-eminent commercial city of Nigeria, and Abuja, the capital, there are other cities that are viable, such as Port Harcourt, Benin City, Kano and Kaduna. All these places are very strategic. And in all these places, we’re going to do a lot of business. Already, we have proposals from investors even those places that have not mentioned places like Zaria, Yola, Biu, Maiduguri, etc. People want to be part of this business. People want to partner with us. That is to show you that NIPOST has property, juicy properties.
There are some who question the way two companies were registered. How do you respond to it?
Well, I think this is a misguided statement. The fact of the matter is that all process has been duly and legally followed before the establishment of this company (these companies?). It’s the National Council on Privatization (NCP) that is empowered by the Constitution to privatize or commercialize any government entities. The Bureau of Public Enterprises was established solely to drive this process of privatization and commercialization. So, this process began with BPE, which did all the necessary things required by law, which it presented to National Council on Privatization, chaired by the Vice President, who would give to took that reform process to Federal Executive Council for approval. So, the companies are duly and legally registered with Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) as limited liability companies. So, for anybody to come out and say the process has not been followed, it’s either because they didn’t understand the process or were misinformed.
What about the places where names of individuals were used?
As the chief executive officer, I have the responsibility to answer any question that is related to the company. But, in actual sense, CAC registered these companies. The Memorandum of Understanding for each is with us and the karma 2020 is explicit about who and who are going to be registered when registering a public liability company. Using names in registering public liability company, as long as those names are people that are in a position of authority at the time of registering, is not wrong. It’s not against any law. And when something happens to any one of these, such as retirement or tenure expiration, the law clearly states that in 14 days, the person’s name should be replaced. And CAC is in a better position to answer this question and ensure they are aware of these allegations. And already they have informed those that they are supposed to know.
Have you conducted a proper census of all your properties to know the exact numbers of properties that belong to the NIPOST?
This is an issue that has been happening even before we got on board. When we came, they presented us with a report conducted by KPMG, which outlined all properties owned by NIPOST and their status — their location, condition and their values. I can tell you that we have the property asset register. On the issue of litigations or encroachment here and there, because we have not been able to secure most of their properties, people take advantage of that. And this is something that we want to address very quickly. Once these assets and properties are transferred to us, we will look at those ones that have this issue of litigations.
The most important thing is that everybody in Nigeria knows that these properties belong to NIPOST. Even we that we are established to manage these properties cannot sell these properties. We can only manage it and maximize its value. Whoever buys NIPOST property in whatever way is just wasting his money and whatever happens at the end of the day, the court will be there to judge.
The Memorandum of Understanding signed said as a last resort. Yes, as a last resort where there is no any other option left on the property than to say that we can do. We cannot do that until we get the approval of the board of the company; until we get approval of BPE and until National Council on Privatization gives it approval. So, it is going to be very difficult. It’s a long process and, even at that, you have to prove that it is the only and last option for you to be able to sell out properties of NIPOST.
What have been your most significant achievements?
Well, to be honest with you, there are two things. One is that government has approved our take off grant, that take off grant has not been paid. The management board worked round the clock to secure this. This is an achievement that I’m so proud of after six weeks of being appointed.
Secondly, is we able to bring together all of the stakeholders and we are working under the same roof in order to achieve the mandate of this company.
What legacy would you want to leave behind?
Before I tell you about my legacy, it is important to mention the fact that the we are now in the renewed hope agenda of our President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and we want to key in into that. We want the housing to be part of the digital economy ecosystem.
So, this is something that we are working to achieve. At the end, we want to make sure that, in years to come, those properties that are owned by NIPOST, that are staying idle, underutilized, people will see how these they have been turned around. Look at the money that is coming out of these properties. This is a legacy that we want to remembered for.