Mr Chris Uziewe is the President of Oak Cliff Synergy Ltd. In this interview with Viewpoint Housing News, he suggested that the Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria (REDAN) be recognised by government and empowered by an Act of the National Assembly so it becomes stronger and vibrant. He also spoke on measures that the Federal Government can put in place to boost the real estate sector. Excerpts:
Viewpoint: What are the imprints of Oak Cliff in the real estate sector?
Uziewe: We are real estate developers. We started with building of affordable homes for the masses, and presently, we are in a joint partnership for the upper class and we are about to commence Borax Park Estate which will be building for all categories starting from one-bedroom apartment to five-bedroom duplex so that everyone in the society, especially civil servants who can access mortgage can buy. We intend to carry out a mission that each subscriber will be satisfied in the long run. The materials we intend to use for the project are going to be of high quality that can last for a long period.
I am happy to know that most Nigerians are presently in the production of quality tiles and paints and I encourage other real estate developers to patronize the made in Nigeria products so that job opportunities will be created for the youths. It is pertinent to note that the cost of materials used in building is one of the major issues why houses are not really affordable.
Viewpoint: How has the prevailing business environment in the country impacted on your company in the last three years?
Uziewe:The Nigerian economy is in a state where people are scared to invest in due to the tension, insecurity and slow economy. Few people who are aware of the fact that REDAN has a better plan and wants to move on are also aware of the importance of owning their houses. The real estate benefits the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country once the financial sector sees that developers are genuine, they will be motivated to assist developers and it will be easier for decent houses to be available. In other words, business has been pretty slow.
Viewpoint: Developers appear not to be interested in low income housing in Nigeria, whereas shortage of accommodation for this bracket of population has been a long standing problem. What do you think can be done to get developers interested in low income housing?
Uziewe: If the government wants to achieve the aim of low income housing, they should give developers land and instruct that they build decent and affordable houses that low income earners can afford. If the cost of land and compensation fees are removed, houses will be affordable for the masses.
Viewpoint: The APC government promised that they would deliver a million housing units every year if voted into power. This is the party’s third year in office. As a stakeholder in the business of building houses, can you say this promise has been kept?
I haven’t seen it and all the developers I have had contact with work on personal efforts. It was said some time ago that the minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola, was making arrangements on the low cost housing, but presently, I have no relevant information on that topic.
Uziewe: There appears to be a lull in the real estate market, how are estate companies braving the elements?
Uziewe: It has been a tough one and this is known as people’s business. If the people in particular do not have extra source of income, they wouldn’t be able to work. My opinion on this is that the Federal Government should create the enabling environment whereby banks can assist developers when it comes to loans.
Viewpoint: What do you think can be done to trigger the real estate market and make it active?
Uziewe: The federal government has a big role to play in the real estate market, every individual needs a decent apartment.
Viewpoint: REDAN is supposed to be partnering with the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing. How are you strengthening relationship with the ministry?
Uziewe: I am not in the leadership of REDAN , but I suggest REDAN should be empowered and recognised by an Act from the National Assembly; with that the body will be stronger and vibrant.
And I really want to commend our REDAN President Rev. Ugochukwu Chime for what he has been contributing to the housing sector