The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Kings Court Realtors, Emeka Okoronkwo, has highlighted what Nigeria should do to solve its housing crisis.
In an interview with Daily Sun, Okoronkwo, called on government to ensure that every property obtains title document, which he said is fundamental to the nation’s economic growth.
How to solve United Nations verdict on Nigeria’s housing crisis
Mrs. Leilani Farha, the United Nations special rapporteur on adequate housing brought our consciousness to our face, it was a good thing that she visited, and it should challenge all of us to know that this is what we live with and our politicians are seeing what she saw that shocked her.
There is no doubt that a huge crisis exists.
The central thing is to begin to investigate and find out how we got to this stage and what is sustaining this kind of condition over the years and what are going to be the fundamental remedies that will be able to lift us up.
Her lending her voice to this matter has already internationalised our local challenge, which is good and I would through your medium encourage her not to walk away from this, but to be in partner with us who are practitioners in the industry to be able to solve this very huge problem, not only it is an economic problem, but also a humanitarian problem.
We are in a desperate situation and solutions need to be applied and applied very quickly. Her views, comments and contributions will be vital and fundamental in solving it.
Why Housing for All by 2000, became unattainable 19 years after,
I will still stay with Farha so that we can mine away benefits from the consciousness that she raised and then addressed the question.
Nigeria was a signatory to Article 17 of the United Nations Charter that guarantees the right to every individual to own property. Ownership of property is a fundamental human right and the denial of this right is the reason that we have crisis in Nigeria’s housing sector.
That is where we need to address and address it frontally.
Being in this industry for so long, and looking at the different economies I have been to work, and bringing everything to bear, you find out that the only link that we have in addressing or fundamental problems is that so many people are not in the formal property ownership system.
So, lots of our real estate are dead capitals; they are not transferable, they are not fungible, and you cannot create any capital with them.
So that leaves so many people out of the formal system and when you leave them out of the formal system, you destroy their abilities to growth.
Every property in this nation should be able to have recognition; you should have title to your land, which is a fundamental human right.
Farha should be able to help us in this advocacy because the government of Nigeria under President Muhammadu Buhari then as military head of state in 1984 was a signatory to this fundamental right. To day for an average Nigeria to have title to his own land (whether in the village) to be able to create wealth is such a long tortuous journey and extremely expensive, and a lot of people cannot do it. Because of that, so many can inherit hectares of land and die in poverty because you cannot raise one capital with it since it is not in the formal system.
This is the reason we wake up everyday to continue with our commitment to keep practising in this country, because just like the doctors are vital to human health in the society, we are the doctors of the economic creation of any modern economy in the world – real estate surveyors and valuers. However, for us to be exact the huge potentials of the assets in the nation, we need to be able to realise the need to create capital from the base, which is why I would encourage the media to handhold this woman since she has been here and seen the problem, let her join hand with us to remind the nation that we have an obligation to ensure that people’s fundamental human right of owning their property legally is established in Nigeria.
In the same vein, I will challenge the minister of Housing, if it is the only thing he would have done in this nation, his name would be in the anal of history. If Raji Fashola will ensure a speedy process for any property in this nation to be legally registered, then the kind of capital unleashment we will have in this nation will amaze people. We have the templates; these are what we have done in other economies and they worked. I don’t know why we are not seeing the need.
The formal economy is living in the silo, divided from the informal economy, and the funny thing is that the informal economy is trillions of dollars much more in worth than the formal economy. The formal economy is just small money compared with the wastage that is going on in the informal economy.
To be able to connect this whole thing is a mystery that only my profession has the skill to unleash. Economist can only adjudicate an economy that is working, but for an economy to work you need to create capital and we midwife the creation of capital because the creation of capital is anchored in real estate, whichever way you look at it.
How mortgage institutions, banking can help
The mortgage institutions or banks operate in the property sector if you have already formalised the system. If you have done this, people will understand their obligations and are able to answer to their obligations.
Why Nigeria’s mortgage systems fail to address the mass market
Even for the bank, I don’t know why they are blind to the huge opportunity that should exist; they should join this advocacy group because the more we are able to unleash and expand the market the better, and at the need of the day they are the biggest beneficiaries in any economy that works.
Without a doubt, there is a huge literature available for what has happened in over three hundred years of documented history against the ideologies of governance. Till today in the world, capitalism is the only rational way of managing a modern economy. You cannot run a capital system without creating wealth capital, and you cannot have a huge population of your hard working people without giving them tools to create capital from their efforts and their assets. That is where the disconnect comes in.
Dangote is rich today because he is in the formal sector, if he is not in the formal sector, he cannot raise one naira in the capital market. He is what he is today because he benefited from the formal system.
The problem today is that Nigerian government unconsciously or consciously is eliminating people from migrating to the formal system. Formal system is what works in the West and that is why capitalism has not worked in developing countries of Africa and communist nations because they don’t understand the mystery of migrating more of their people to the formal system.
Tackling title challenges
Property serves three purposes. Firstly, you can use it the way it is. If it is land, you can farm on it, play football on it. If it is a house you can live in it, collect rent from it, but the most critical part, is its ability to create capital. Can you leverage on it to be able to raise funds to do other things. You can then see the opportunity cost for that man not being able to get the title in an economy like Nigeria, while in America or England, there is no square metre of land that you cannot leverage over. That is why those economies are stronger and growing. That should be the trust of Nigerians government, and not all these confusing economic theories that they keep throwing around.
You need to begin to broaden your base, you did this and people are able to anchor on their assets, their next generation will be able to migrate into the middle class because they can create capital and continue to grow. That is the practical way to grow. Isolating that to me is like turning a blind eye to a wound on your leg and going to enter a competition to be a sprinter. There is no way you are going to win the race.
If you must solve Nigeria problems then we must be able to empower our people to create capital from their sweats and their assets.
How Fashola can deliver on his 1m housing target per annum in the face of dwindling economy
First of all, we need to address problems with clarity of what the objective is. There is no doubt that we are in housing deficit, but to blindly say that supplying houses into the market is solution to it may not be right.
Again, to deliver one million housing is a noble task, but what type of housing and for whom? Because what you find out in Nigeria is that a lot of times when they do all these programmes, they only focussed on the formal poor, even though they claim that it is for the poor. The formal poor is about nine per cent of Nigerian poor. The other 91 per cent of the Nigerian poor are not catered for.
How low income earners, artisans can benefit from your initiative
We are the people that interact with them everyday, we understand the data and we know what the people want and how it can be addressed.
When they go ahead to sell these houses to the formal poor, the formal poor from my investigation cannot afford it because some of them have been in service for about 23 years with only seven years more to retire, they will get the certificate and sell it to their superiors.
At the end of the day, what is meant to enable people create capital and earn money make then hostage. I challenge you to go and look at all the estates that government has built, and tell me what percentage of people are owner occupiers. Ninety per cent are tenants, yet it was supposed to be owner occupied to solve the problem.
We will welcome the minister to speak to our profession, as passionate as I am about this thing; I’m willing to offer service pro bono.
The fundamental thing is not to build a house that people cannot maintain, they cannot afford or to make them hostage rent payer.
If you address the fundamental issue of housing structure, you will eliminate insecurity because people don’t steal or destroy where they own property.