The need to diversify the Nigerian economy has over the years been in the front burner of government owing to the over-dependence on a single revenue source – crude oil – a situation many have described as operating a mono-economy.
This call becomes necessary against the backdrop of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw an upsurge in global food prices, shortage in food supply chain and acute plummeting of federal allocation to states.
According to a report by Market and Research, as published by Cision PR Newswire on the global value of real estate after a comprehensive analysis from 49 countries, including Nigeria, the global real estate market is expected to grow from $3,386.11 billion in 2021 to $3,741.06 billion in 2022 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.5 percent. Furthermore, the market is projected to reach $5,388.87 billion in 2026 at a CAGR of 9.6 percent.
Flowing from the above, one cannot easily jettison the enormous opportunities in the real estate sector as it remains an unexplored gold mine in the 21st Century and going forward.
Ironically, while some developed countries with limited land mass have leveraged the real estate sector to boost their economic fortunes, most Nigerian states in particular have not fully explored the gains of her large expanse of lands, save for a state like Edo, which has rolled out a series of reforms.
It will be recalled that on assumption of office, Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State emphasised the need to look beyond crude oil and Federal Allocations to drive the economy of the state.
A testament to this is his drive in creating and promoting a conducive business environment where investors can carry on their businesses without any fears over return on investment.
Therefore, the ease of doing business in the State has largely improved owing to the establishment and innovations by the Edo State Investment Promotion Office (ESIPO) and the Edo State Geographic Information Service (EdoGIS).
These establishments have contributed immensely to why Edo has become a preferred destination for investors. One among the numerous sectors that have leveraged the business-friendly atmosphere is the real estate business which has undoubtedly increased significantly in Edo.
Prior to Governor Obaseki’s administration, the issue of land grabbing, hooliganism and land racketeering characterised the land acquisition and allocation system in the state.
This in turn led to frequent communal crises, killings and even destruction of properties in most of the affected communities where the proscribed Community Development Associations (CDAs) arrogated to themselves the authority of land acquisition and allocation, which they often carried illegally.
Some of them became terror to their communities as they continued to harass and scare away genuine investors in the State. Their role became detrimental to the peace and socio-economic fortunes of their communities and by extension, the state.
In a bid to stem the tide of the menace, Governor Obaseki proscribed the CDAs in the state with a gazette to that effect, as a way of sanitising and putting an end to the age-long illegal land grabbing and racketeering in the State.
In the same vein, the digitisation of EdoGIS has redefined the issuance and certification of landed properties as Certificate of Occupancy (C-of-O), which before now was a herculean task has been made easily accessible and effective through a transparent and technology-driven mechanism. Land owners, developers and their agents can now acquire C-of-O seamlessly.
Today, investors in the real estate sector have made massive capital investment in different communities across the State, thus opening up distant communities to socio-economic development and appreciation of landed property.
Basic amenities such as roads, schools, hospitals, police posts, and markets have also attracted government attention in view of the activities of these real estate developers.
Some of the notable investors in the real estate business in Edo State who have sprung up by virtue of the land reforms by the Obaseki-led government include D Prince Builders, Landsmith, Ise Real Estate, Get Rich Properties, Tweak Real Estate, Auto Bleez Real Estate.
Another notable milestone in the land reforms is the massive campaign on the project tagged Operation Plan Edo aimed at sourcing information on government presence in respect of infrastructural needs across the 18 local government areas of the State.
This project is laudable because of its immense benefits geared towards the recertification of landed properties in the State so as to enable the State Government to clamp down on illegal and unapproved sites which have in recent times been developed by some individuals and corporate entities.
It is pertinent to state therefore that the security architecture put in place by the Obaseki-led Government has helped to rekindle real estate developers’ confidence.
Recently, the State was rated high as one of the safest States in the Country in view of the State government’s investment in its security system.
With the continued and sustained investment drives by Governor Obaseki in infrastructural development and land reforms with particular interest in the use of technology to drive land acquisition and allocation, it is safe to say that the ongoing boom in the real estate sector in the state is just a tip of the iceberg and a bold step towards towards Making Edo Great Again (MEGA).
Goodluck, a social commentator, writes from Benin City