Reverend Ugochukwu Chime is the President of the Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria, (REDAN). In this interview with Affa Dickson Acho, spoke on the real estate sector as a tool for gainful employment, the fundraising for the new REDAN building,and other issues in the housing sector.
Can you give us a brief background of yourself?
I’m a Surveyor by training, I’m a management expert by training, I’m a development consultant by training, I started working in the public service from 1980, I’ve had 15 years’ experience working in the public service, retiring in 1995. I’ve served as Chairman of housing corporation, I’ve served as consultant to banks, including Federal Mortgage Bank, so all my years have been in the lands and housing development industry.so currently I’m serving as President of the Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria, and a Director in AG Homes Mortgage Bank.
Who is REDAN and what does REDAN actually do?
REDAN came into existence in 2002/2003, in response to the need for government to have an organised private sector investors who will be mandated to supply affordable housing for our citizens, the government under President Obasanjo constituted what we had the as the FMBN Technical board, under Professor Mabogunje,who now decided that, they should have this supply side organized into a group, whereby they can talk to them as a group and articulate themselves to provide an enabling environment to create the needed growth in supply of affordable housing.
That was what led into the creation of REDAN, I happen to be the third president of the association, the first president was Alhaji Lateef Jakande, who was president from inception to 2009, after him we had Chief Olabode Afolayan, who was president from 2009 to 2015 February when I took over as the president and I’ll be handing over in February 2021.
What will you say have been your major achievements as REDAN President?
We found out that there were a lot of issues on the acceptance of REDAN across stakeholders institutions,some felt that REDAN had come to displace them, some felt they were not ready for REDAN to come into existence, and within ourselves also, we didn’t have an effective structure for succession ,we also didn’t have the necessary tools, we also didn’t have the relationship with critical institutions that will help us play our role, the role of supplying houses, to Nigerians and therefore whittling down the millions of housing deficit we have.
So what we decided then was to tackle all these issues head on, by restructuring REDAN to have a succession in place. Because before I became the president, any developer could come in and become the President of REDAN and that distorted the flow that was in existence. But now we have a succession plan, so that the person who will take over after me is already known, and the person who will take over thereafter, by that means, we have sustainability. Policies ideas and promises that we have made as an administration, we made sure that the constitution was amended and accepted by all. We have also been able to go on advocacy with builders so that they can see the veritable need to have REDAN occupy their place in the scheme of things among stakeholders.
That role could not be played by any other organisation, we have the Nigerian Institute of Estate Surveyors and Valuers, who are the professionals who are playing in the industry, but they cannot replace the business entities that play there. Basically we are investors in the building supply value chain. So we went on advocacy to let the people know the role we are playing, and the role we need to play, that role hitherto was been played decades ago by government housing corporations and individuals.
We’ve also been able to engage in data collection, and management with CBN, World Bank and other organizations, because it will be a walk in the dark if you want to invest in the real estate sector without knowing where the houses are needed, what kind of houses, are they going to be affordable.
So we have been able to engage with them to create what we call Nigerian real estate data collection and management program, in conjunction with the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, CBN, Federal Mortgage Bank, NMRC and many organizations who are users of this sort of data, including Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, National Population Commission.
We’ve also been able to ensure that our members get the requisite skill set, by getting an MoU with the University of Lagos, via which our members will now be educated and informed about the value steps in land acquisition, land preparation to consultancy to deciding the use of the land and feasibility studies, economic survey to determine the type of houses, and how to integrate it to the financial issues and the financial intelligence that is required. We’ve been able to engage other partners to let them know where we can have a meeting point.
There have been issues of affordable housing, what solutions have REDAN proffered to solve this issue?
REDAN has proffered a cocktail of issues that will address affordability, some of them are within the ambit of REDAN, some of them are within the private sector, for instance, the issue of the cost of land and the issue of approval of building drawings, the issue of the transfer or title cost are within the domain of the state governments, now the issue of cost of funds is within the fiscal policy which is under the umbrella of the Federal Government, now the issue of building materials is also under the umbrella of the Private sector but these are manufacturers and trading organizations.
What we have decided to do, is to engage them meaningfully, both government and the private sector operators to know that we can have housing as a tool for huge employment generation, for Internally Generated Revenue (IGR),and for other socio economic improvements that we need. If only each of us can take a shave in terms of the interest, can we the developers reduce the price, can also the building materials producers look into how they can get us building materials at good prices? Can government also be able to manage the land administration policies and ensure that they give access to land as well as reduce the transaction time and cost on issues that pertain to land.
If the Federal government decide to create an enabling environment, for Direct Foreign Investment (DFI)? Because there is a funding mismatch currently, you can use short term funds to create real estate investment, real estate is a long term project that goes on for about 2, 3, 4 years, so these are some of the issues that are beyond the control of REDAN members, but we have come to appreciate that we are the managers of the interest of these stakeholders. So we have decided to meet all the stakeholders to map out a plan that will lead to affordable housing and increased turnover in the number of houses.
What kind of questions should REDAN be asking political party candidates in the run up to the 2019 elections?
What we are trying to do is to interact with the candidates and interact with the electorates, and let them know that the real estate sector is a veritable tool for gainful employment for the populace and a vantage tool for us to create something for ourselves.
I understand you have a fund raising coming up for a new building for REDAN,can you shed more light on this?
On the 11th of December 2018,by 2pm at the International conference centre Abuja, we will be having a REDAN House launching, where we will invite REDAN members, developers and partners for us to sit down together, see how far we have come and see the necessity for us to be able to have a house for ourselves, a house whereby we can have a library, where you can go to for information and data, it will be a shame for us to continue to build houses for people and not have a house that we can call our own, we’ve gotten a land, a very good land in a good location that will give us what we want. Already members of the EXCO, who brought out this vision have contributed the sum of 67 million Naira and that for me is mind boggling and it shows the level of commitment.
We are looking forward to raising over 300 million Naira to have the total package of the house and the infrastructure we need, my tenure will be ending in February 2021, and I intend to have that house completed so that my successor to the office of REDAN president will not have to use a rented apartment as we are doing now and we have also make provision for us to have a memorable plaque in front of the building for donors, and the six highest donors will have halls named after them, so that generations to come will know that these great men at a time when there was a clarion call for those who will rise and do the needful and build a house for REDAN, these ones responded.
SOURCE: Affa Dickson Acho