A report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) says that 65 percent of all real estate activities in Nigeria happen in the three big cities of the country namely, Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt. 37 percent of these activities take place in Lagos alone.
Abuja and Port Harcourt account for 22 percent and 6 percent respectively. The high percentage of activities in Lagos is understandable because this is the country’s real estate hub where land value is so high that it constitutes a large chunk of the state government’s internationally generated revenue (IGR).
The state has a burgeoning real estate market. But this market is presently under serious threat by the action and inaction of the state government which seems unbothered by the negative impact of the state’s difficult and challenging environment on people sand business.
Recently, the World Economic Forum (WEF) said Lagos, which is Nigeria’s commercial capital, is the third worst city in the world to live in, explaining that out of 140 cities of the world surveyed for livability, Lagos was ranked 137th.
Unconfirmed reports have it that the parameters considered included ease of doing business, security, infrastructure, health, education, transportation, etc. and after considering all these, WEF concluded that Lagos was like a city under war.
This has far-reaching implications for the state’s property market. Both domestic and foreign investors will be looking at Lagos with a third eye in their investment considerations and decisions. “If it is not easy to do business here, what would you like anybody to come and do?
“Except the return on investment is so high that it is irresistible, then high risk takers will come in and what they will do is just to hit it and go back, meaning that whatever is their attraction is not sustainable and ”, said Gbenga Onabanjo, an environmental activist and consultant.
Living and doing business in Lagos is extremely difficult and casual visitors wonder aloud how the residents survive the stress and strain imposed on them by terrible and, most times, life-threatening traffic gridlock, suffocating congestion, domestic and industrial waste littering roads and streets, etc.
Another major challenge to business in the state is the state of roads infrastructure which has kept the city, which prides itself as a mega city, permanently on slow motion as against a truly mega city that is fast-paced with both people and commerce on fast lane.
As a commercial city and particularly a real estate destination, Lagos needs an environment that is enabling for investors to come in and invest. It needs good infrastructure and adequate security. But all these are lacking, meaning that not many new investors will consider the state for investment.
Not too long ago, Lagos was selected as one of the 100 resilient cities in the world by the Rockefeller Foundation. 100RC President, Michael Berkowitz, explained that Lagos was selected because of its leaders’ commitment to resilience-building and the innovative and proactive way they have been thinking about the challenges the city faces.
“For us, a resilient city has good emergency response and meets its citizens’ needs,” Berkowitz continued, adding, “it has diverse economies and takes care of both its built and natural infrastructure. It has effective leadership, empowered stakeholders, and an integrated planning system. All of those things are essential for a resilient city.”
Lagos governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, hailed this selection, assuring that the state’s entrance into the 100RC Network will help it fight the resilience challenges of urban planning, transport gridlock, environment, public health and modern infrastructure.
But it remains to be seen what the state is doing in this direction. Everything seems to have ended with the euphoria that greeted the selection and the announcement. “Though I am not conversant with the parameters for selecting Lagos a resilient city, I think that for Lagos to be a resilient city, given the way the state is constituted, a lot still needs to be done because everything seems to be disorganized”, said an analyst who did not want to be named.
“The city is over-crowded and there is need for decentralization and decongestion of the city centre. The rural-urban migration to Lagos is so high that government needs to stem the tide and the way to do it is by the state government to start to help the neighbouring states set up cottage industries so that people can as well stay there and find job opportunities”, he analyst advised.