Court awards $10 million damages against Shoprite for contract breach

After seven years of legal battle, a Lagos High Court, Igbosere has awarded the sum of $10 million against South African retail giant, Shoprite Checkers (PTY) Limited and its business partner, Retail Supermarkets Nigeria Limited for a breach of contract entered with a Nigerian firm, AIC Limited in 1998.
In a landmark judgment delivered by Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo on November 30, 2017, but exclusively obtained by The Guardian yesterday, the court held that the defendants were in breach of the agreement when they (Shoprite and Supermarkets) went secretly behind AIC Limited promoted by Chief Harry Akande to establish Shoprite outlet in one of the locations earlier shown to them by the claimant.

The court also held that the claimant was duly entitled for compensation for such a breach and awarded the sum of N1million against Shoprite as cost of the action as well as an interest at the rate of 10 per cent per annum effective from the date of judgment until final liquidation of the entire sum.
According to the court, claimant has, as a follow up of South Africa meeting of April 16, 1998, incurred expenses, which included preparing and registering Shoprite-AIC Limited. Preparing feasibility reports, applying and procuring visas for the defendant’s representatives that visited Nigeria on May 27, 1998 as well as organizing another meeting at its own expense slated for its office in Victoria Island on May 27, 1998.

In the suit marked LD/488/2010, filed by AIC counsel, Prof Taiwo Osipitan (SAN), the company through its promoter, Chief Harry Akande has sought for a declaration that by virtue of its agreement with the first defendant (Shoprite Checkers Limited), for a joint venture to be formed by the claimant and the defendants is entitled to exclusively operate and manage the first defendant ‘s Shoprite brand in Nigeria and elsewhere in the coast of West Africa except Ghana.

The claimant among several claims, asked for an order of court for payment by the first defendant the sum of $2.23 million another N13.6 million as special damages and 50 per cent of $92.3 million as loss of profit it suffered as a result of the incorporation of Retail Supermarkets Nigeria Limited (second defendant) by the first defendant for the flagrant breach of the agreement for the period 2005 to 2009.

The claimant said that the agreement was breached when the first defendant sidelined it and incorporated the second defendant in flagrant breach of the contract.But the first defendant through their counsel, Funke Adekoya SAN, contended that there was no joint venture agreement between the claimant and the first defendant.

The defendant contended that the claimant has failed to discharge the burden of proof, but attempting to support its week case and argument by piecing disjointed material together.The defence, which called five witnesses, urged the court to dismiss the claims for the claimant’s failure to adduce concrete evidence of non-execution of a joint venture agreement.

In the suit, the defence in their addresses dated April 4, 2016 and adopted by counsel, formulated two issues for resolution, namely; has the claimant established the existence of a joint venture agreement or any other agreement between it and the first defendant.The court was also asked by the parties to resolve whether the claimant has established any claim against any of the defendants.

In the resolving two issues set before him, the trial judge in a 57 paged judgment held that there were business discussions between parties leading to meetings held both in South Africa on April 16, 1998 and at the claimant office in Victoria Island on May 27, 1998, which amounted to an agreement.

It was also the affirmation of the court that the first defendant sent representatives, who flew into Lagos in furtherance of the on-going business discussion and were conducted to some specific locations, like Lekki Roundabout, Lekki Peninsula, near Victoria Island, Trade fair Complex, Lagos National Theatre, Iganmu and others.

The court also looked at extracts from the meetings in South Africa and Lagos before reaching a conclusion that the two meetings took place in 1998 prior to the establishment of Shoprite out let in Nigeria in 2005.

The compliant has averred that sometime in 1997, it conceived of a business idea of developing and establishing mega stores/ retail supermarkets in Nigeria similar to Shoprite Chain Store Supermarket in South Africa and Sainsbury Supermarket of the United Kingdom for profit and further enhance its good will and reputation in the Nigerian Business community.

This led to several meetings between parties and entering into a joint venture agreement, which was to exclusively operate Shoprite Checkers’ brand in Nigeria and elsewhere in west coast of Africa except Ghana.

Why alternative investments thrived above global real estate market in 2017

Global real estate markets witnessed diminishing returns in 2017, which gave room for investment diversification, a development which led to the expansion of the frontiers of the real sector, a newly released report by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has revealed.

The report, conducted by the Investment Risk Forum (IRF) of the RICS – comprising of more than 40 of the world’s most influential real estate investors, came a decade after the crisis in real estate hit the world.

The forum was established in 2015 to foster industry leadership and to share best practice, with the aim of enhancing the industry’s approach to risk management.

In the new report, which draws on responses to an extensive survey with follow-up interviews, the group explores whether lessons from previous cycles have been learnt to mitigate future risk.

eProperty News quoted TC Chetty, RICS Country Manager in South Africa: “The report aims to highlight some of the trends and perspectives which influence risk management in real estate investment, and is designed to stimulate further discussion and act as a foundation for ongoing leadership in this field.
“A number of issues were raised, among which included concerns surrounding the availability and consistency of cross-border property data, a challenge which is becoming acuter as the industry grows internationally and especially as investment volumes grow in emerging markets.

“Besides, advances in risk management have come at a time when real estate investment has reached new all-time highs, with yields noticed to have been compressed and competition for returns is fierce.

“Against this backdrop, investors are observing a growing risk appetite, with moves into alternative, non-traditional assets becoming increasingly widespread,” said Chetty.

A 2017 McKinsey report also reflected this momentum of alternative investments toward non-traditional asset classes such as student housing, data centres, healthcare offices, medical facilities and assisted-living communities.

This move to alternatives is changing the risk profile of investments as hotels, student accommodation, healthcare and the private rented sector behave very differently from traditionally core assets such as offices, hotel accommodation and housing sector.

Alternative investments operate under different business models with different types of investors. However, when understood correctly, these assets create new opportunities for investors, as observed by the report, which also highlights a trend towards greater flexibility in the way properties are designed, managed and leased by occupiers.

Co-working, flexible space is becoming more prevalent in the office sector, building on models. As a result, leases are becoming shorter and more flexible, with covenant strength being tested in new ways. For investors, the opportunity to acquire assets with long-term tenants in place is becoming less prevalent.

Another challenge that was considered is that driverless cars will be a reality in the not too distant future, so investors with multi-storey car parks in their portfolios are now thinking about the risk and opportunities.

The IRF notes that in 2017, the sector appears much better placed to manage and mitigate risk. Experiences of the last downturn have prompted material changes in the way investors are set up to weather complex and volatile markets. However, there are several areas, which the industry needs to tackle to improve risk management.

Firstly, the industry needs to ensure that comparable real estate market data is available across borders as there is a lack of quality benchmarking data in many markets.

“The industry also needs to improve institutional knowledge sharing to ensure new generations learn from the experience of previous cycles and share innovative thinking, market insight and best practice.

“As a priority, we need to share lessons with new generations of employees, in particular on liquidity management, integration of research in the risk management process, and practical approaches to risk management.”

Dataset such as total returns are available in some developed markets but there is a need to capture this information more systematically around the world. As a result, the IRF suggests there should be greater accessibility to indices that can enhance benchmarking and the ability to manage risk prudently.

In addition, common standards that underpin real estate information would ensure property data is more transparent, comparable and meaningful across markets, to allow better and informed decisions on investment risk.

Adds Chetty: “The Forum concludes that there is a need for greater leadership and best practice in risk management systems and processes, drawing on lessons from other investment sectors.

FCTA demolishes Patience Jonathan’s property in Abuja

A property allegedly belonging to the former first lady, Patience Jonathan, was on Tuesday demolished by the FCT Development Control Department.

The building, which is inside A. Aruera – Reachout Foundation/Women For Change and Development Initiative, is situated on Shehu Yar’Adua Way along Mabushi–Kado–Life Camp Expressway, Abuja.

Emmanuel Anene, a lawyer with E.A. Ezugwu and Associates, told Housing News that the issue of the building is still pending before the Federal High Courts in Lagos and Abuja.

“Sometime before, people from Development Control came to the site, alleging that there was no approval for the building.

“We met them at their office and showed them the approval, which they accepted. We thought that the matter was over.

“They had earlier gone to court with application for forfeiture of the property to the government which they failed to achieve at the Lagos High Court.

“So we were surprised that a team came in this afternoon without notifying us to remove the structure.

“Also, we were not served with any notice for demolition, they just came in now and started the demolition of the structure,’’ he said.

Responding, Muktar Usman, Director of Development Control, Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), told Housing News that the building had no approval and that notice was served for the demolition of the property.

He said the building was not the only one affected by the demolition in the area as there were others that were also demolished.

Mr. Muktar alleged that members of staff of the Development Control Department were also assaulted at the premises.

Abuja master plan: FCTA to host stakeholders’ conference

In order to address critical issues arising from the implementation and abuse of the FCT master plan, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Administration will host a stakeholders’ conference.
According to a statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the FCT minister, Cosmos Uzodinma, the theme of the conference is “Repositioning Abuja for the Development of a Sustainable City,” and will hold within the first half of 2018.

“In her memo to the Exco, the Director of Urban and Regional Planning Department, Mrs Zalihatu Ahmed, identified the challenges in the implementation of the Abuja master plan by past administrations which resulted in a myriad of problems.
Some of the problems she noted include: unprecedented population explosion, land use conversion and distortion, non-adherence to the provisions of planning laws and regulations, funding challenges and resettlement issues among others, the statement added.
It also said the Abuja Metropolitan Management Council (AMMC) and other concerned organs of the administration have been urged to implement the report of the committee set up to look into the problem of uncompleted and abandoned buildings in the FCT.

Bitcoin fever hits US real estate market

As of the end of last year, the digital currency was listed as a way to pay for some 75 properties for sale, especially in south Florida and California, according to the real estate firm Redfin.

“Bitcoin accepted” is a message now seen in the description of homes for sale in the Miami area.

One seller is going even farther, saying he will take only bitcoin (33 of them to be exact) for his half-million-dollar downtown condo in the Florida metropolis.

Bitcoin has been on a roller coaster ride of late, shooting up to nearly $20,000 a piece in mid-December and then dropping sharply around Christmas. It started the year at around $14,000.

Its use in real estate transactions is novel, and agents are wary because of its high volatility.

“I’d be blown away if a year from now we see hundreds of real estate transactions in bitcoins,” said Jay Parker, Florida CEO for the Douglas Elliman brokerage agency.

Still, such transactions can be useful for foreigners who want to invest in the United States and cannot otherwise do so, said economist and bitcoin expert Charles Evans of Barry University.

“This seems to be driven by international investors who are circumventing inefficient banking and currency controls at home, and by US cryptocurrency enthusiasts,” Evans told AFP.

“The governments in those countries restrict the amount of money that their residents are allowed to transfer abroad through the banking system. Bitcoin enables individuals there to bypass such restrictions,” he added.

This could be a draw for investors, who even before the bitcoin rage were already hot on the real estate market in south Florida.

Nearly half of all foreign buyers of property in south Florida are from Latin America.

According to the National Association of Realtors, over the past five years, investors from Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina—in that order—have led purchases in this part of the state.

Money laundering?

Bitcoin offers another advantage for some foreign investors: it lets them dodge US economic sanctions.

Evans cited the example of Venezuela, which imposes strict currency controls and is enduring runaway inflation that surpassed 2,600 percent in 2017.

What is more, many senior officials in the government of Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro have been hit by sanctions imposed by Washington, which considers his administration a dictatorship.

Evans said there is also a lot of interest in bitcoin among Iranians, whom he described as “doubly hit” with restrictions in Iran and international sanctions.

It is an open secret that money laundering fuels the real estate market in south Florida. But instead of hiding the practice, bitcoin could have the opposite effect.

The crypto currency “is a terrible medium for large-scale money laundering, because all bitcoin transactions are recorded in the publicly available transaction record known at the Blockchain,” said Evans.

Although bitcoin has been associated with the drug trade and cyber attacks, Blockchain “leaves a lot of fingerprints,” former Florida representative Jose Felix Diaz told Politico.

“So if you’re using it for illegitimate reasons, the state and the federal government should have every tool at their disposal to go after you,” Diaz said.

Last year, Diaz sponsored a bill-turned-law that includes bitcoin in Florida’s laws for fighting money laundering.

Real estate agent Parker also said money laundering via bitcoin is far from posing a risk because “the beneficial owners of the real estate are always going to be able to be traced.”

Parker said the fad of doing real estate deals in bitcoin could be as volatile as the currency itself.

“I think it’s a gimmick. There’s not much risk. The only risk is if the currency crashes before you can liquidate it,” said Parker.

“I think the people that are using bitcoins to try to market their properties are doing it with the very purpose of getting you to write about it, getting their properties exposure,” said Parker.

Edo gives ultimatum to land occupiers

Edo State government has given illegal occupiers of its land ten days ultimatum to quit or forfeit their property. The Chief of Staff to Governor Godwin Obaseki, Taiwo Akerele who read the riot act stated this at the premises of Benin Technical College, Benin City, where several portions of the state’s land have been taken over by businessmen and private developers.
He expressed shock that individuals and groups could convert the land mass allocated to the school and perfected 50 years ago to private uses.“There is a survey plan that was approved in 1966 and signed by the Surveyor General in 1967 that is 50 years ago specifically to accommodate the Benin Technical College. The land starts from opposite Dewosco straight to Ikpoba River and over the years, the school has operated from here. After sometimes, Iyobha College was also established and located within the perimeter of the land, then Eweka Grammar School as well as a primary school.

“ But some people have taken laws into their hands by encroaching into the Benin Technical College land. There is a cattle ranch, a sawmill and temporary shelters but we have seen permanent structures and private houses built inside the land.

This is unacceptable to government. He added: “We are fencing the school 100 percent and we have come to sensitise the people in this place to move out otherwise the property automatically becomes that of government because there is no evidence to show that government actually approved this land to any of them. We don’t want any of them to lose anything particularly those who are doing sawmill and those raring cattle”.

Reacting, some of the occupants claimed they have been there for over two decades and have been paying revenue to Egor local government, stressing that a private developer said the land was sold to him.

Bishop Oyedepo to build Africa’s biggest housing estate for Church members.

Living Faith Church bought 24 Villages to house the ongoing Canaan city Project which would serve as residence for Church members in 15,000 buildings. The Church would also construct a Four way express from Lafenwa to Ayobo to ease the traffic for people going to and from Canaan city.

Funding model: The Church buys the land, lays the pipes, Construct the Roads and parks, build the Health Center, Secondary School etc The Houses would be Constructed by the Construction Consortium with their own Money. Interested members pays the Church, Church holds the money and give to the Construction agencies as they deliver on the construction.

The new 8,000 hectares of land acquired by him to build his proposed Africa’s biggest housing estate in Ado-Odo/Ota local government area of Ogun State were from villagers.

The hectares of land were acquired from villages in Iyesi, Ijeba, Osuke, Faru, Olukowonjo, Idimu, Okomi, Ibeju, Lemomu, Atan, Igbesa, Lusada, Ewutagbe, Imuta, Batera, Tatowu, Ikogbo, Imoshe, Igbo-Ota and stretches to Lafenwa and Olugbodo.

Furthermore, our source also squealed that part of the reasons Oyedepo acquired some of the land from villages that link Lafenwa to Ayobo is to construct a highway that will be a four-lane express.

This, we learnt, will ease the heavy traffic they always encounter when coming to Canaanland to worship.

On Sunday, February 6, 2011, one of the representatives of Idimu village, Mr. Segun Oke, confirmed the land acquisition. “Yes, it is true that Bishop David Oyedepo acquired hectares of land from about 24 villages to build Canaan City. The lands are actually more than 8,000 hectares, because in some of the villages, he got more than a thousand hectares. Our own clan is Idimu and I can tell you categorically that he got the land at the rate of — — per acre. The family heads were Ikibawo and Ileshe. We were all paid with Intercontinental Bank cheques. I can tell you that he is also constructing a four-lane expressway that will link Canaanland to Ayobo, Lagos. As regards where the land owners have relocated, Ado-Ode/Ota has an expanse of land and the villagers still have spare lands around the village.”

Bishop David Oyedepo is currently building Africa’s biggest housing estate in Ota, Ogun State known as Canaan City.

The architect turned preacher of the Word acquired about 8,000 hectares of land for the project. The land has already been fenced. That alone cost tge church 1 billion naira, as its perimeter length is about 400km.

The houses are of six types and range from 3-bedroom flats of N4.9 million, duplex of N37.13m, semi-detached duplex of N24.2m, terrace house of N15.41m, high cost apartment of N24.62m, medium cost apartment of N8.22m to executive villas of N45.5 million. Other facilities inside the Canaan City would include a police station, banks, shopping centres, parks, swimming pools for each block and flats and villas, plus Covenant University Teaching Hospital. The record breaking 15,000 housing units will be handled by a Consortium of 10 Indigenous and Foreign Construction agencies.

The first set of units are already being completed.


The Organizer of Abuja International Housing Show – Largest Housing Event in Africa and Owners of Housing Television on AIT has congratulated the newly appointed Managing Director of Sterling Bank PLC Mr. Abubakar Suleiman.
In a Statement made available to the press in Abuja on Friday, the organizer of Abuja International  Housing Show described Mr. Sulaimon as a Housing friendly personality who made it possible for Sterling Bank to win the Housing Friendly Bank of the Year at the 2017 Abuja International Housing Show/ Nigeria Housing Awards
The Abuja International Housing  Show through its managing director, Bar. Festus Adebayo said the non interest banking for Housing Finance should be sustained by the Bank for the interest of affordable Housing delivery in Nigeria.

About Abubakar Suleiman
• Abubakar Suleiman obtained a degree in Economics at the University of Abuja. He also has a Masters degree in Major Program Management from the University of Oxford. In addition he has attended various executive education programs at INSEAD, Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, and Said Business Schools.
• He began his career as a Staff Assistant at Arthur Andersen (now KPMG Nigeria) from August 1996 to December 1997. He then moved to MBC International Bank (now First Bank) where he worked as a Management Associate between February 1998 to Agust 1999. He later worked in Citibank Nigeria in roles spanning Treasury and Asset & Liability Management Between January 2000 and October 2003.
• Abubakar joined Sterling Bank (then known as Trust Bank Africa) in 2003 with responsibility for Treasury and Finance. Following the merger in 2006, he was appointed Group Treasurer; a position he held until 2011 when he assumed the role of Integration Director – tasked with managing and integrating Equitorial Trust Bank (ETB) into Sterling.
• He was named Chief Financial Officer (CFO) in 2012, and appointed an Executive Director in April 2014 with responsibility for the financial performance of the Company; and directly overseeing the Finance and Performance Management, Strategy and Innovation, Brand Management and Communication, and Human Resource Management Department.
• Prior to this, he was also appointed Sponsor, Islamic Projects in November 2003 where he was charged with developing Islamic finance products.

Ambode pledges to compensate owners of demolished buildings in four weeks

The Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, yesterday pledged to pay compensations to owners of buildings demolished to facilitate construction.The governor, who spoke at the 10th Quarterly Town Hall meeting, said he would begin the payment in the next four weeks.He added that henceforth, such displaced persons would be relocated before construction begins.He disclosed that his government would not embark on any development without carrying the people along.

While promising to prioritise education and healthcare, he added that he would stimulate the economy and create employment.He said: “Despite the harsh economy, our state’s budget performed at 82 per cent. The total revenue generated was N503.7billion, representing a performance of 78 per cent.

“The total recurrent expenditure was N281.33billion, which is a performance of 92 per cent. Also, the total capital expenditure stood at N387.60billion or 76 per cent performance.
“With this, we initiated and delivered many high impact projects and critical infrastructure aimed at making life easier for the people. We disbursed funds to small businesses and individuals to stimulate the economy.”Ambode commended the people whose support enabled him to perform well last year.

On security, he said the government has taken strategic steps to secure the residents, adding that killer herdsmen would not have a space in the state.The governor revealed that the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund disbursed N4.5billion to 5,500 beneficiaries in 2017, who also received training on financial literacy and business management. He said in fulfilling the promise to students in tertiary institutions across the state, N635.5million was disbursed to 8,419 students across the state.

“Our government acquired healthcare equipment worth N2.5 billion. The equipment would strengthen the capacity of our health facilities to render improved health services and also facilitate the smooth take off of the Lagos State Health Scheme. “In order to meet the needs of the youth in the area of technical and vocational development, we have approved the establishment of three new technical colleges, bringing the numbers to eight,” he said.

Meanwhile, the governor yesterday sacked three of his commissioners, and appointed five new ones.In a statement by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Tunji Bello, the three affected cabinet members are Mrs. Adebimpe Akinsola, Mr. Femi Odubiyi and Mr. Anifowoshe Abiola.The newly appointed commissioners are Mr. Hakeem Fahm (Ministry of Science and Technology), Mr. Ladi Lawanson (Ministry of Transportation), Mr. Segun Banjo (Ministry of Economic Planning and Budget), Mrs. Olayinka Oladunjoye (Ministry of Commerce and Industry), and Mr. Hakeem Sulaiman (Communities and Communications).

Among those redeployed were Mr. Rotimi Ogunleye, from Commerce and Industry to Physical Planning and Urban Development, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, from the Ministry of Information and Strategy to Tourism, Arts and Culture and Mr. Kehinde Bamigbetan, from Communities and Communication to Information and Strategy.

Others were Mr. Babatunde Durosinmi Etti, from the Ministry of Wealth Creation to the Environment, Mrs. Uzamat Akinbile-Yusuf from Youth and Social Development to Wealth Creation and Mr. Agboola Dabiri, from Central Business District to Youth and Social Development.
Also redeployed were Dr. Samuel Adejare from the Ministry of the Environment to Waterfront Infrastructure Development, Engr. Ade Akinsanya, from Waterfront Infrastructure Development to Works and Infrastructure.

The statement added that Mr. Benjamin Olabinjo was moved as Special Adviser, Commerce and Industry to Civic Engagement, while Mr. Kehinde Joseph was redeployed from Special Adviser, Civic Engagement to Housing.

Mr. Deji Tinubu, Special Adviser Sports has been redeployed as Special Adviser to the Governor on Commerce and Industry, while Mr. Anofiu Elegushi was moved as Special Adviser, Transport to become Special Adviser, Central Business District.

Government Should Separate Ministry Of Power, Works And Housing – Wike

Mr. Emma Okas Wike is currently the second vice president of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers, the founding as well as the principal partner of the firm of Emma Wike & Partners. In this interview with EMMANUEL BADEJO, he bares his mind on sundry issues that affect real estate in Nigeria. EXCERPT:

How can real estate sector in Nigeria receive a boost in 2018?

The government should provide the enabling environment for the real estate sector to do well. I don’t support the view that government should go into direct construction of houses but it should encourage the private sector to take on that while it creates enabling environment. The government should always meet and consult with the professionals for advice. The government at all levels should embark on valuing their assets with the purpose of payment of tax. The government should diversify from oil and gas to other sectors of the economy. I am convinced that if we diversify, it will boost the economy enormously.

Don’t you think call for a Valuer-General in Nigeria will further worsen government’s bottlenecks in real estate matter?

The issue of a Valuer-General in Nigeria has long been overdue. The coordination of all valuation tasks in Nigeria is still porous, and the appointment of a competent Valuer-General will reduce this gap. Take for instance; we have an office known as Surveyor-General in Nigeria. This office takes care of all land matters in Nigeria. The same way, if there is a Valuer-General, the office will help the country with the issue of land and real estate issues. This is much more needed, as the world has become a global village. With this office in place, the challenges with information on all real estate matters would have been significantly addressed.
Also, the usual acrimony that trails compensation would be better handled. This will help investment and invariably, the nation’s economy. This office will also take on data generation and management. The Valuer-General will again play key roles in government’s policies on housing and real estate.

Do you support unbundling the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing?

Government should separate the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing. We have since been calling for this and I think President Muhammadu Buhari should consider this as a matter of urgency. Lumping them together is not good for the nation. This may have also been responsible for snail pace at which this government is moving. There is no way we can get good results if this ministry remains as one.

Two bills that affect your profession are before the National Assembly. One, is on facility management and other is on valuation. What is your stand on these bills?

Fortunately, I was among the delegate that went for Council for Facility Management in Nigeria. Our position is that, facility management is a multidisciplinary profession and we are not claiming that we possess the sole right to it. What we are saying is that there is a law in existence that created the Estate Surveying and Registration Board of Nigeria and that law empowers estate surveyors and valuers to coordinate the facility management job even if experts in other fields intend to undertake such role.

In essence, there should not be another regulatory body for that purpose, as ESVARBON, which is backed by law, is still in place. Therefore, creating another regulatory body is tantamount to duplicating the role of Estate Surveyors and Valuers Registration Board. Secondly, bringing in another regulatory body is a way of relieving estate surveyors and valuers of their statutory and constitutional duties. Facility management is part of our roles, though we know and agree that some engineers, architects and other professionals may come in, but a qualified and registered estate surveyors and valuers should coordinate that sector. We have already made our position known and we are happy that the committee listened to us. All over the world, there is no body that regulates facility management other than estate surveyors and valuers.

On the issue of the bill on valuation, being pursued by COREN, we have been on this matter for a very long time. Luckily, for us one of our members had taken the matter to court and we won. The court then said that it is only the estate surveyors and valuers that have the legal and professional competence to place value on anything to be valued. For them to reopen this agitation is simply a step not in right direction. If they were not satisfied with the verdict of the court, they should have appealed, though I am not a lawyer, I think, the time within which to appeal has elapsed. Bringing same issue through the back is not acceptable. We are countering this request and we shall continue to do that until we see that right thing is done on this matter.

The engineers cannot come now and be seeking to become valuers through the back door, prying into other people’s profession. That is unconstitutional, unethical and unacceptable. I know that very, very soon, we shall be sending our counter motion against this.

What is happening to the Greater Port Harcourt City project?

It is moving on very well, though the state of the economy has in way affected the project. Notwithstanding, our Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has resolved to ensure that the project goes on. I can tell you that recently we signed Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) with two investors and I know that within the first quarter 2018, they will move to site.

Presently, we have commenced the spare parts and mechanic market project. This is an ultra modern market that the Governor has graciously approved to develop and sell. The investors have already taken over the site and started clearing it. One of the benefits of the project is that it will create employment opportunities. In fact, as we speak, the host communities are already benefiting. It will also generate revenue to both the government and the investors. The government has provided the land, which is our own equity contribution to the project, while the investors will bring financial and developmental expertise. I know that in the next two or three months, physical construction would commence. I am aware that some of the materials to be used for the initial construction will be imported, while they intend to establish a factory here where the other materials would be done. What we are suffering from now has to do with raw materials. Once this is sorted out, they will build the factory here in Nigeria.

In addition, we are aware that there is another company that has shown interest to build about 2,000 housing units in Rivers State within the next one year. The Governor has been able to give the company a waver with a view of stimulating and encouraging this initiative. Some individuals have also bought land and they are to build within the Greater Port-Harcourt City project.
Certainly, the lifespan of this project will outlive the administration of Governor Wike. What has the government put in place to ensure this project does not suffer the fate of project abandonment?

In Rivers state, the Governor has introduced a new dimension by not abandoning the projects he inherited from his predecessor. While he was campaigning, he made a promise that any project that affects and benefits the lives of the people would be completed. I want to believe that since he has started this, whoever will succeed him will tow the same line. The Governor believes that government is a continuum and that, he has demonstrated in many ways.

Two, there is a law that has been vetoed by the Governor to protect this investment. Also, there is an agreement between the government and the investors. With what we have on ground, it will be difficult for anybody to discontinue such project. So, far there is a legal framework on ground; there is a contract on ground. All the arms of government are aware of the project, so, there is nothing to be afraid of.

In what ways have you contributed to boosting estate surveying and valuation in Nigeria?

Right from the time I was the assistant publicity secretary of the institute, I have been encouraging the young surveyors. I discovered that some of the candidates usually have challenges with their election as estate surveyors and valuers, not because they are not brilliant but due to stage fright and fear. So, before the election, I engage in a lot of counseling to boost their confidence level before the panel.

This has been helping out. So, I have taken it upon myself to encourage the younger professionals. As the chairman of Rivers State of NIESV, I had a policy that discouraged any of the younger professionals to remain on probation for three years. I have also been teaching our colleagues on professional conduct and ethics because I believe in correction instead of punitive measures.

Finally, I have also tried as much as possible to engage in advocacy. This I did as the chairman, Rivers State chapter of the Nigeria Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers. It paid us off, to the extent that our relationship has greatly been impacted so much that the government takes us into confidence when it comes to housing and real estate issues. If God gives me the opportunity, I shall do more in the nearest future.

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