The Chairman, Federal Capital Territory(FCT),Chapter of the Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria (REDAN), Osilama Emmanuel Osilama, who is also the CEO of Nuel Osilama Global Investment Limited, in this interview with Mashe Umaru Gwamna spoke on the need for government to subsidize construction materials. He also spoke on how experts in real estate can succeed despite COVID-19 challenges. Excerpts:
Sir,How has the real estate sector been affected by the novel COVID-19 pandemic?
The Coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the usual as business, market plans and profits. Everyone has to create their own innovative ways of doing business, the pandemic has really slowed down business results because right now patronage is very low.
A lot of people today are just saving for survival; we have a low number of people going into home ownership now except those who have adjusted completely.
But,for a very few developers, it is the year to make money because they are innovative and have taken advantage of what others are crying over, may be, they already have a ready market and everything is going well for them.
But for most of the developers in place like Abuja where the government`s policies determine market forces. It will be very good for experts in the sector to think so well,plan and strategised before they can really doing any thing .
As an expert, what’s the way forward for developers to remain in business?
What I expect developers like me to do now, is to look at how they can apply direct labour to their construction work in order cut their cost of production, with that, their finishing cost can be low thereby reducing their final market price to a reasonably cost .We know that everything boils down to availability and affordability, if people can’t afford the houses at the end of the day, the finished products will just be there.
So, experts have to look for measures to truly cut their cost of their production.
Which government approach would you prescribe for the housing sector?
Indeed, it will be very good ,if the federal government subsidize, building and construction materials, and access to land,this would go a long way to ease doing business in the construction sector.
More so, I think they can have a way of providing special intervention funds through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and several mortgage institutions to assist the housing sector at this critical time of economic recession.
The CBN proposed special fund to assist housing sector, how far as it gone?
The CBN have not released the special fund, if they have, as the chairman of Real Estate Developers in Abuja, I would have known or any thing regarding the fund .
Not just the CBN special fund,REDAN also is in collaboration with government in achieving affordability housing . We are now looking at the cost of production to get affordability houses. We want houses to be within the reach of the people who really need them not people who don’t need it but can afford it.
You see, by and large federal, state and the local governments need to create an enabling environment to subsidies building materials,access to land and reduce the cost of production generally.
Making the money available is not enough, they is a need to come up with policies that will allow this money to get into the hands of the real developers, not a strong bureaucracy that will make it impossible for developers to access the money when it is released.
As REDAN chairman FCT chapter any plans to change the status quo in the housing sector?
I and my team where inaugurated 2 months ago, We have a lot of plans on ground for the sector within the FCT, that we want to achieve among these are to sanitise the sector of some of the problems that have been bedevilling it in the FCT for a while now.
This problems includes access to land, land document genuineness and the delay in getting development approval.
For instance, if you have a property you have to develop and you apply for approval, it can take as long as six months.
When you looked at the airport axis of FCT , those locations has a lot of land allocation crisis too, we intend to also find a way to sanitise that area too in collaboration with relevant government agencies. We want to bring sanity to the sector so that the developers can be respected and regarded as genuine business men on the street.
Because if you follow what is really happening, the developer is in- between the buyer and the government; government policies are not consistent, but yet it is the developer that takes the blame.
REDAN just lost its pioneer president Pa Lateef Jakande, how would you describe him?
He was a builder personified, he will definitely be remembered for his low cost housing initiative as the then Lagos state governor. In 4 years, Alhaji Jakande built the current Lagos State Secretariat which houses all the state ministries as well as the popular round house hitherto occupied by all subsequent governors of the state.