Mr. Adaralegbe Akintayo, is the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the T-Pumpy Concept, an estate development organisation based in the Federal Capital Territory Abuja. In this interview with BODE OLAGOKE, he explain why government’s housing policies are not working and what President Buhari must do to address Nigeria’s housing deficits.
As a housing developer, what’s your assessment of current situation in the housing sector?
First of all, housing is a basic human need. As a first important level of need similar to food and drink; people must have food to eat, water to drink and a place to call home before they can think about anything else; therefore, it is at the centre of well-being. It is clear that the mortgage finance industry in Nigeria is still in its infancy, targeting primarily high income earners and largely excluding middle and low income earners. Now, for the majority of Nigerians, mortgage finance is not an option due to the lack of a robust land tenure and financial system, and because loan repayment remains prohibitively high. It is therefore safe to say that the housing sector in Nigeria is still at the bottom of the ladder, although it trying, but it is not yet there.
Would you say several federal government policies aimed at promoting housing development are in the right direction?
President Muhammadu Buhari stated that his government would supply two million new middle-class homes in the first year of his tenure (2015), and one million new middle-class homes for every following year. This would be in addition to four million lower-income houses and homeowners by the end of his first four-year term. This was to be rolled out with a longer mortgage payment structure. However, given the myriad of economic challenges the country faced over the last two years, housing has not been high on government’s agenda. There was also to be a National Infrastructure Development Bank capable of providing loans with single digit interest rates, but this has also not been implemented yet. Now, these unresolved tenure arrangements coupled with the cost of building materials, access to infrastructure, deficiency of housing finance arrangements, stringent loan conditions for mortgage banks, time to process legal documents and inadequate government housing policies are also major issues affecting housing delivery. Therefore, one can boldly say that these policies are far from being helpful as they are yet to be fully implemented.
Despite efforts by the government and private sector to provide housing for Abuja’s teeming population, accommodation still remains a major challenge. As a key player in the housing development, what suggestion will you proffer to solve this challenge?
I want you to know that the problem of accommodation can never be eradicated; it can only be reduced to its barest minimum. The federal government should strengthen its partnership with local government councils, who in turn should enter into corruption-free arrangements with the private sector and non-profit organisations. Land acquisition and building approval processes should be streamlined and home ownership made easier for the low and middle-income segment, low licensing fees and low-interest credit. Overall, state governors should stop building houses for civil servants alone; they are elected to serve all, not a few.
It appears there is need for a change of approach if the current housing shortage is to be addressed. What innovation is your company bringing to the table?
It is expected that every estate developer/owner must continuously come up with strategic innovations as a way of remaining relevant in the business, and most importantly, see how the society can benefit from such ideas. Overtime, our company has made land purchase very affordable, we even went as far as running a promo for almost half the price of our plots, for close to two months. This was done to target the low and middle-income earners. The turnout was massive, and that will in a way, increase land ownership rate.
Your company is giving out 100 bags of cement to clients that make half payment of land cost, what do you hope to achieve?
It is a way of encouraging massive construction and a way of reducing housing deficits. Like I explained earlier that as a developer/business- oriented person, one should always come up with strategic plans or ideas, now, these ideas may not necessarily be about making profit but about giving back to the society, affecting lives positively and thereby staying relevant in one’s field. Our company is giving out 100 bags of cement and 1000 building blocks or 40 bags of cement and 500 building blocks to clients that make full or half deposit of the cost land respectively. This is still another strategic way of encouraging intending subscribers. Gifts of building materials after purchase of plots go a long way in helping them kick-start their projects faster than it would have taken without the incentives. If we give hundred clients building materials, it would get them started on their projects on time, thereby developing the area rapidly, not to mention the economy value it would add to that area. That’s what we hope to achieve amongst other things.
Many people have money to buy property but the fear of falling into wrong hands is restraining them. What’s your advice to them?
The decision to buy a property is one of those decisions we come across in our lives only a few times. Hence, one has to make the best out of the opportunity. Buying genuine property may sound quite simple but it is not. One has to consider many factors before making a firm commitment. First of all, you have to know what you want, be decisive. Engage an estate agent and make sure you do a proper background check on the agent you are engaging to scout for a property. Then engage a property lawyer and an estate surveyor, because it is mandatory that you collect registered copies of deed assignment, agreement/power of attorney etc (Registered title documents of the property, preferably Certificate of Occupancy or Governor’s consent etc) from the seller or his representative and hand them over to the lawyer and surveyor.
How is your organisation coping with issues of land grabbers and land speculators?
The issues of land grabbing have been an age-long problem. As a landowner, you need to be sure you have the most superior title because it is difficult to own a land in Abuja without a genuine title. This, to an extent, can put the land grabbers off your land. You can also use a method of ‘stick and carrot’ in relating with them.