Nigeria has, over the years, depended on imported materials and products for virtually everything needed in homes, offices, shops etc, a situation described as an aberration by Bode Adediji, an estate surveyor and valuer and property developer.
Adediji, a former president of Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV), explained that this situation was uncalled in a country with a large land mass measuring 973 square kilometers and a population estimated at 170 million.
“Some of the imported items, which include tooth-pick, cast a pall on the future of the economy”, he noted, adding, “with these potentials, why do we depend on other people to feed us; why should we look to others to feed us when we are not deaf and dumb or incapacitated in any way?”
Of the factors of production, land is the most important because every human activity takes place on land—housing which is an important need of man, agriculture, industrialization, education, etc—and if properly harnessed can create enormous wealth. Nigeria’s population is an asset and has created huge market that attracts investors from various parts of the world to the country.
“I am therefore, urging President Muhammadu Buhari to sit up because, no matter what the pressure groups may want to do, unless we reinvent ourselves as a nation that can feed itself, clothe itself and produce what we need, we are not going to go anywhere”.
He lamented that Nigeria has, all these years, depended on two main areas—petroleum and trade– which are not sustainable, noting that the country imported virtually everything, and has therefore lost the capacity to produce and feed itself.
He pointed out that the real estate sector was highly neglected whereas it would have served as a platform which, from one regime to another, would have been used to create employment for young people including engineers, architects, plumbers, estate surveyors, builders, town planner, etc.
Nigeria’s real estate has been discovered to be a fast growing sector and, in the opinion of Adediji, it presents a fine opportunity for economic growth especially at a time when oil price is tumbling at the international oil market and also when market fundamentals including rising urbanization, large population, growing purchasing power, etc favour huge investment in this sector.
He tasked real estate professionals on keying into the change mantra of the present administration, saying that the area he wanted them to change was in what he called “rent economy”. “They should not depend on this kind of economy to survive. They have to produce. So, they should go into property development, facility management, project management or venture capital”, he advised.
“If all of us are interested in looking for tenants for the property built by Mr A, I tell you that kind of attitude or practice is not sustainable in the present dispensation and platform of change”, he argued. He charged President Buhari to avoid the mistakes of the past regimes in appointing the minister for housing, noting that certain ministries were critical to this country and the moment round pegs were put in square holes in such ministries, the result was instant failure.
“For sectors like Agriculture and Housing, put people who know the sectors well and are committed to them. For housing, I urge the president to put professionals from the built environment.”, he advised.