Barrister Akintoye Adeoye is the current first Deputy President of the Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria (REDAN). He is the Chief Executive of New Creations Properties Limited, a company that deals on real estate business and has been in existence for 17years. Speaking to Viewpoint Housing Media in an interview, he emphasized on the importance of easy and affordable mortgage system as a key to bridging the gap in Nigeria’s housing deficit.
Viewpoint: What impact has New Creations Limited created in the real estate sector. As regards the provision of affordable housing?
Adeoye: The conception of New Creations Limited came about because there were grants and these grants are still there. If you look at the housing shortages that we currently have in Nigeria, you will see that it is not reducing but increasing. We came to be part of the solution to the problem and with our years of existence, we have been able to solve affordable housing challenges, including provision of developable lands to communities.
Viewpoint: Concerning the upcoming 2nd Lateef Jakande annual lectures on housing, what activities do you think will take place during the lecture?
Adeoye: Alhaji Jakande is a symbol of housing in Nigeria, it’s quite inspirational to identify with him when it comes to housing. We should be looking at how Jakande was able to achieve much in terms of housing within four years as Governor of Lagos State. His name alone motivates and energizes the sector. This lecture will poke into housing delivery and solutions in Nigeria. Because he has done it, other people too can do it. So, this lecture is a symbol of housing to us in Nigeria.
Viewpoint: Sir, can we say that’s one of the reasons REDAN honors him so much? Because, most things about REDAN revolve around Alhaji Jakande?
Adeoye: Well, Alhaji Jakande was the first President of REDAN and he was a foundational member. He was part of the people that put things together. We all know that every organization or association is always bigger and greater than the founders because, that is even their own wish. He was committed and dedicated and even at old age, Jakande is still very passionate about the organization. So anything that we can do to honor him especially now that he’s around to see that his labor is not in vain and the sacrifices that he has made for the organization is not in vain. At least he understands that people notice his impacts and it is well appreciated. This can be a spur to others that are coming in to realize and understand that when you do good works, it can actually be rewarded.
Viewpoint: There are so many abandoned buildings in most states across the country that are fully built but empty. What do you think the government can do about this?
Adeoye: When you see buildings that are not occupied, it doesn’t mean that we don’t have people that are capable of occupying them. It is because there is no framework that is, mortgage system for people to access these buildings. All over the world, people occupy completed buildings not because they have the money to pay 100 per cent but, because there is a mortgage transaction that is affordable that they can key into. For example, I want to buy a property of 10 million Naira and you are asking me to pay N10 million Naira. I may not be able to afford it but if you give me 10-20-years to pay, even that property of N10 million Naira will become 20—25 million. This is because I have enough time to pay which is on mortgage at an affordable interest rate, particularly when it is single digit, I will be paying to buy the property. So, as long as we don’t have the mortgage, those properties will be left vacant and won’t have people to occupy them.
Viewpoint: Most of the #EndSARS protesters are out of jobs, don’t you think the government needs to make mortgage more flexible for the masses to get decent houses. Most of them still live with their parents, what do you think the government needs to do in other to ease the mortgage system?
Adeoye: This is very simple, it is not just about the youth, even adults. Somebody came to me three days ago to negotiate for some properties in my company’s estate and to my surprise, a professor in the university with just 3-years left to his retirement does not have a house of his own that he’s going to retire into. If somebody is going to be retiring from the University, that person should be probably 65-70-year old. So it is not just the youth, even the adults. You will be shocked that only 20-25 per cent of Nigerians live in their own houses, the rest of us 75 per cent are tenants. And why do we have large sizes of tenants in Nigeria both youth and adults? It’s because of mortgage, no affordable mortgage system.
Secondly, the institutional framework regulating that transaction is very cumbersome. Even to acquire and develop a land is cumbersome. To get the finance and even building approval is cumbersome. Also, the price of building materials are expensive because, about 40-60 per cent materials used for building are imported and the exchange rate is not favorable. So when you add these prices together, they make the pricing to be high. Even the youth don’t want to work because the work is no longer rewarding. We have so many Civil Engineers, Architects that don’t have work to do. People acquire skills and they don’t have work to do. So those that have seen others acquire skills and don’t have work to do are looking for what else to do that can be giving them money very fast. The challenge we have in Nigeria has to be addressed holistically not just the government empowering and giving people N5,000, registering businesses for free, it’s more than that.
It should be done from the bottom to the top. We have to look at the challenges and address everything, it is not going to be fire brigade approach. We are not going to say because we had youth’s that demonstrated on what happened recently, we are going to fix it by bringing one intervention approach. It’s not just about intervention approach, it is about addressing everything from the roots and it may take us 10-20years but, we must get it right. It has to do with our curriculum in school. You see that a graduate cannot even be able defend his certificate. The curriculum should be upgraded, it should fall in line with the present situation we have around the world. It’s not the same curriculum or syllables that I used when I was in school 27-years ago, it shouldn’t be that same curriculum that a graduate, my own son, should be using because things have changed.
Viewpoint: You talked about building materials being too expensive, that’s why houses are not affordable. What will you say to Nigerian developers concerning Made in Nigeria products?
Adeoye: It is not the problem of developers, it is that of Nigerians. When my dad built his house, it is still standing for over 50 years now. That house was built with mud. If I use mud to build a house today and market that property for you to buy, you will not because in Nigeria, we develop taste for sophisticated things, we are not proud of our own products. We have wood, we have so many housing components that it is possible to build a house without adding any imported thing because, we were building homes before we started bringing things from abroad. The first story building that was built in Badagiri, was not built with foreign building materials and that building is still standing till today.
Most of the colonial buildings in Lokoja, Lagos Island, all over the country are still standing. So, it is about Nigerians changing their taste and let’s be proud of our own products. Let us focus on developing indigenous building materials, modernizing them and making them to stand shoulder to shoulder with imported building materials.
Viewpoint: Sir, as a member of REDAN, what advice do you have for your REDAN colleagues and the President?
Adeoye: Well, for the President, he came into office with laudable ideas and programmes, he should remain focused on them. Because, we need to read and understand what covers the economy and finances so that we can know the right investments to put our money into. We don’t do overtrading and we don’t put our money where we are not going to get the right yield.