The Principal Partner of Sam Akanbi and Associates, also the CEO of Samak Properties & Development Company Ltd, Mr. Sam Akanbi in this interview with Oluwaseun Sonde, says 2019 election is expected to slow down estate business in Nigeria, stressing that the problem affecting the sector is not formulation of policies but policy inconsistency.
Based on your experience and professional opi-nion, what is your outlook on the housing market for 2019?
Well, we should not be expecting much from housing sector in 2019. Next year is an election year in Nigeria. No investor will jump to site in such year until his or she is able to study the economic policy thrust of the elected government. And don’t forget, this is Africa, where we have lots of policy inconsistency.
So, the stakeholders in housing sector will need to gauge the mood of the elected government. Maybe by 3rd quarter, if the government is not sluggish in forming cabinet, then we can begin to see some activities. As I said earlier, that also depends on the policy of government.
People blame the problems of housing affordability on the greed of landlords, developers and estate surveyors. Do you agree?
I will not lay the blame on the investors (Landlords, Developers), neither will I blame the Estate Surveyors. These developers are not Father Christmas, some borrowed at very huge interest rate to develop these properties. The lowest mortgage interest rate in Nigeria is 19.6 per cent. Whereas in countries like Japan, mortgage interest rate is 1.68 per cent; Switzerland, 1.75 per cent and Germany, 1.90 per cent. So, Nigerian developers must work their figures to the last dot. It’s not a skyrocket science.
So, when you consider cost of finance, cost of acquiring the land, cost of building materials, among others, all these result in high rental and capital value of property.
Should housing business be solely left to private investors?
No! The government should first of all see housing provision also as a social welfare. In other climes, like U.K, there are Council houses. government should also create an enabling environment for the housing development, encourage the use of local building materials, land acquisition and titling should not be difficult and cumbersome.
There is a wide difference between social housing and affordable housing policy. Government should come up with socio-housing policy which will ensure that no one is homeless on account of affordability.
What kind of policies do you think the Nigerian housing sector is lacking and how would these policies help your business?
The problem of Nigeria is not formulation of policies. Our major challenge is policy inconsistency. My noble colleagues call it “Policy somersault” Our challenge has been the political will to implement and ensure that we follow through on certain policy.
For example, everyone in real estate sector knows that Land-use Act needs serious review for our housing sector to grow. That Act gave the governor that power to hold land in trust for the people, limit to size an individual can acquire power of revocation among others.
Now, for a developer to acquire a sizeable land for housing development, you are at the mercy of a governor who may denial such due to political reason but may claim the revocation on overriding public interest.
Except your land title is Certificate of Occupancy, bankers will tell you, they can accept it for collateral. So, as a stakeholder in the housing industry, the best that any government can do now is immediate review of the Land-Use Act.
What does this trend portend for the future of the real estate sector?
If the proper things are done, the future is bright. It’s a huge market. I can tell you that. This housing sector can create more employment for many professionals, artisans and low level workers. It’s just for a serious government to do the needful. Review the land use Act, bring down the mortgage interest rate, encourage the use of locally sourced building materials, computerisation of land registry etc.
Could you tell us about your professional body, NIESV?
NIESV is an acronym for Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers. The body was given government recognition through the enactment of the Estate Surveyors and Valuers (Registration Act)” Decree No. 24 of 1975. Although the body has been in existence since 1969, when it was founded by some Nigerians who were trained in United Kingdom and became chartered surveyors. Its main objective is to train, examine and recommend qualified candidates to the board (ESVARBON) which is a government agency. The Estate Surveyors and Valuers Registration Board of Nigeria (ESVARBON) are empowered to regulate and control the practice of the profession of Estate Surveying and Valuation in the country. NIESV is an association of qualified professionals in real estate.
How has your profes-sional association been helping the government to achieve its objective in the Housing sector.?
NIESV has been of tremendous help to the government in ensuring that the right policies are made to achieve its goal in housing sector. Our President, Sir. Rowland Abonta (fnis) was at National Assembly to make presentations on my bills. Recently, we launched our Valuation Standard book called the GreenBook. It’s a special book to Valuers in Nigeria. Just as what the Bible is to a Christian. This is to ensure standardisation.
How committed are you in your professional Association?
Well, I am a committed Associate member of the NIESV (Unity) Abuja Branch. I have served on many committees of the Association both at Branch and National levels. I am currently a member of its MCPD Committee at the National level.