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12 Possible Reasons Your Property Is Not Selling

During the course of a calendar year, only about 30% to 35% of the properties that come onto the market actually get sold, according to Steve van Wyk, managing director at Seeff Centurion.

Meanwhile, those properties that do sell, sell at 9% lower than the original asking price, a recent FNB property survey found.

Van Wyk says price remains the most important factor. “There is no reason for a correctly priced property not to sell within 30 to 40 days, given the current market conditions,” he says.

Van Wyk offers 12 reasons for why a property might not be selling:

Price

The number one reason why property does not sell is because it is overpriced relative to similar properties or relative to the current market conditions, he says.

Competition

If there are many competing properties offered for sale, buyers are able to select the best priced property.

Location

The location or position of a property can both influence the value as well as whether or not it will sell quickly.

“Examples of generally understood poor locations are properties on a busy road, property next to a bus or taxi stop, properties near a train station, properties near a bottle store and properties near a busy shopping centre,” says Van Wyk.

Condition

The condition of a property can also play a big role in the final selling price.

If the property is being sold as a fixer-upper and the price has been decreased to allow for the money that needs to be spent to fix it up, then it should not be a problem.

However, when a run-down property competes in the same price range as similar properties that are in good condition, it will not sell.

Over-capitalisation

Over-capitalisation due to building an additional room or two, or merely upgrading the kitchen and bathrooms, will not always lead to the owner being able to recoup the additional expenses that were outlaid when the property is sold.

Economy

An economic downswing means that fewer properties will sell, as banks are not that keen to lend money and buyers have less disposable income to purchase a new property with, says Van Wyk.

Crime

Certain areas suffer much higher crime rates than other areas, and the crime statistics may well be a reason for certain properties either not selling or taking an extremely long time to sell.

There has been a developing trend to move to secure estates or secure sectional title complexes, according to Van Wyk.

Suspensive conditions

Suspensive conditions in an agreement of sale are another reason for a sale not to materialise.

For example, either the buyer did not get the required finance from the bank or the sale of the buyer’s current property fell through.

Levies

High monthly levies or once-off buy-in levies (popular at many estates) as well as high monthly rates and taxes could be an additional reason why certain properties do not sell.

In addition, a number of sectional title properties have many owners in arrears with monthly levies, and this affects the financial status of the complex, explains Van Wyk.

Rules

Stringent body corporate or home owners’ association rules are another reason why certain properties do not sell.

Quite often restrictions placed on pets are a problem for buyers.

Servitudes

Servitudes and any other property restrictions may limit a buyer from utilising the full extent of the property, for example municipal electricity or sewerage servitudes.

Marketing

“Minimal marketing efforts, poor photos, poor descriptions and a slow-moving agent could lead to no interest in the property,” says Van Wyk.

 

Source: fin24

Guides To Effective Land Acquisition In Nigeria

The general title of the Land Use Act itself shows the intention of the drafters as targeted mainly to deprive land owners of their claims to land in any part of Nigeria. Little wonder then that it is “an act to vest all land comprised in the territory of each State solely in the Governor of each State, who would hold such in trust for the people and would henceforth be responsible for allocation of land in all urban areas to individuals resident in the State and to organisations for residential, agriculture, commercial and other purposes …”.

As can be seen from this piece of very inelegant drafting, the short title of the Act has given it away, namely a smart venture by government to ‘steal’ land from the people. The motive behind the Land Use Act itself can be for another day, in so far as the drafters have by now succeeded in smuggling it into the Constitution, as a way of protecting their deals.

Legally speaking, land is a kind of real estate, or the solid surface of the earth that is not permanently covered by water and includes the natural resources therein. Part of the reasons why land ownership has become very fundamental is because of the legal principle of quid quid plantatur solo solo cedit, which means that ‘whatever is affixed to the ground belongs to the ground’.

This maxim was applied under Roman law to determine that trees and crops were sold with, and formed part of the land. In a country like Nigeria where so much dependence is on mines and minerals, including gold, oil and gas, there has been a lot of disputes and court cases on ownership of land.

This is the spirit behind the theory of compulsory acquisition of land, where government has perfected the style of divesting traditional ownership of land from the people and then turn around to re-allocate same to others, under the guise of overriding public purpose, which has now been extended to commercial development of estates. This is what the courts must tackle and resolve on the side of the people, as any purpose that does not bear general utility value, such as land acquired for building schools, roads, hospitals or such other public infrastructure, should not in any way count as ‘overriding public purpose’.

How do you take over land, acquire it compulsorily and then turn around to allocate the same land to a private company, who then develops a layout plan and begins to sell the same land to members of the public, who are not part of the land-owning family? The original land owners and their coming generations are then thrown into the streets and at times rendered completely homeless. It is injustice of the highest order, which must stop. How do you rob Peter to pay Paul?

Suffice it to say that presently, the principles governing the determination of ownership of land are fairly well settled under Nigerian law, at least from the decisions of the Supreme Court in the cases of Idundun v Okumagba, Ogunleye v Oni and Abioye v Yakubu.

Indeed, it has been suggested that part of the method of decongestion of cases in the Supreme Court is to stop land cases from proceeding to the apex court, except where there is a landmark request to depart from the known principles. The summary of my foray into the origin and operation of the Land Use Act is to emphasize the point that the best land in Nigeria today is government land, that is land allocated directly by the government. For in such allocation, there is no dispute as to traditional ownership, government having ‘stolen’ the land from the original land-owners.

So, if you want to buy land and you have the resources, search out for direct government allocation. Following that is land with global title, such as gated estates, properly laid out and allocated strictly based on the lay-out plan. It becomes very rare to run into individual crises in such acquisition. In these cases, the land is expensive but with assurance of good title. Then again, verification of title is easy, as title documents are properly kept and documented with the relevant government agencies and the process of approval becomes fairly predictable and easy.

That then leaves one with land covered by customary title, in which case the vendor is relying on traditional history of the family to market the land. In some States, this has become like a gold mine for land-owners, due mainly to some kind of collusion with some government officials. As far as the government is concerned, virtually all land in the State has been acquired compulsorily, with minor cases of excision of few portions to the hapless land-owners.

On the other hand, the land-owners themselves have perfected the style of denying any compulsory acquisition, with court cases upon court cases. In most judicial divisions in Lagos State, at least about 70% of the cases relate to and disputes, principally by land-owners to challenge government acquisition. To determine title in such circumstance becomes extremely difficult, as most land-owners go far beyond the excised portions or even sell the acquired portions outrightly, with all manner of claims of pending allocation.

So, if you want to acquire land therefore, the first issue you must determine is the title of the vendor, as every other thing depends on that factor. Title is the beginning and ending of land ownership, being the foundation of any claim to land. A quick guide in this regard is to avoid land transactions laced with subtle pressure, as where land-owners claim competing multiple interests by many supposed buyers.

If such were to be the case, the land should have been sold ever before you got there. So, you don’t give in to self-induced urgency of land-owners, but rather take your time to visit the relevant organs of government to confirm title. Where the title is registered, then your next assignment is to visit the appropriate Land Registry, to confirm ownership and the existing transactions on the land, to search out for any possible encumbrance, such as pending mortgages, etc.

You then proceed to the office of the Surveyor-General, to determine the actual location of the land. In some cases, the survey plan attached to the title document is in a totally different location, as many of the so-called ‘surveyors’ engaged by land-owners are not the licensed surveyors and they just cook up land from nowhere. The Lagos State Government has developed a new style of confirming the authenticity of certificates of occupancy upon payment of a token fee, as many certificates have been cloned in the past, leading to huge loses. The other commendable aspect is the online search for land with pending court cases.

When you are satisfied with all these, you then conduct a ‘social search’, by going around the neighbourhood to secretly investigate the land, through security men, market women, shop owners, Community Development Associations, vigilantes, etc, who all have the history of the area and will reveal a lot to you that may not be contained in any land registry.

When you have satisfied yourself with the title and other searches, you then discuss the price of the land and agree on a figure. Thereafter you will engage your own competent and licensed surveyor to take the accurate measurements of the land to produce a survey plan, as you cannot claim to buy land without its clear identity, as to its accurate size and location. The surveyor will also help to determine that the land being offered is within the land owned by the vendor, so that you don’t end up paying for another person’s land, unknowingly. If you are satisfied to proceed to payment, then you must perfect all documentations, as to purchase receipt, contract of sale or deed of assignment, as appropriate. At the point of execution, you may do well to engage photographers and even video recording of the event, at times just for record purposes.

You must proceed to the point of possession immediately, by gathering your workmen to commence immediate development of the land, such as clearing it, erecting a shed or store for building materials, security house, fencing the land, or such other make shift developments that will show clearly that the land has been acquired. In practice, possession of land is classified as constituting 90% title, as once land is developed and occupied, you need a court order to evict the occupier, even though he is a squatter or trespasser.

Part of the problems being faced in the quest for genuine land acquisition is the probative cost of free land, which factor has turned many into victims, leading to huge loss of money in some cases. From all that I have discussed above, it becomes clear that to successfully acquire land, you need the services of experts, like a lawyer, a surveyor or an estate agent, be ready to pay for their fees and then allow time for proper search and due diligence. Whereas the Lagos State Government is commended for all efforts to simplify the process of land acquisition through seamless search procedure, the solution is to release all acquired land to their owners and allow them to freely dispose of or negotiate transactions genuinely.

Land ownership is mostly historical and it constitutes some form of customary heritage for the people, so they should not be robbed of their customary inheritance, only to pass same to others for a fee. Government should help regulate the process of sale and charge some fee thereafter, but the current regime of total and absolute acquisition cannot be of help to anybody, at least judging by the volume of court cases pending against the government by land-owners, who are bent on recovering their heritage.

By Ebun Adegboruwa (SAN)

Housing Microfinance Can Help Poor People Build Better Homes

But it comes with high interest rates

Whenever michael jjoga earns some money from his welding business, he buys a bag of cement. Brick by brick he has built a two-roomed house for his family on land he cleared himself in Wakiso district, in central Uganda. Another house stands half-finished nearby until he collects enough iron sheets to make a roof. Across the glade a chorus of bleats drifts from a crumbling hut, shaped from thatch and earth. He used to live in it; now it shelters his goats.

By 2025 some 1.6bn city dwellers will be living without decent, affordable housing, according to consultants at McKinsey. Many more people lack adequate shelter in the countryside. While governments and private developers fall short, people like Mr Jjoga are building houses themselves. They construct in stages, over years or even decades, preferring to buy a stack of bricks than to put money in a bank. Some move in well before completion. Lenders long overlooked this self-help model, but financed it unwittingly: perhaps a fifth of microloans to businesses are thought to be diverted into housing.

Now some lenders are starting to target this market directly. Conventional mortgages are rare in developing countries: in Uganda, which has 40m people, there are only 5,000. Instead, banks and microlenders offer smaller housing loans, paid back over shorter periods of 1-3 years. A family might borrow for a cement floor, and then for an extra room. Two-thirds of the firms offering housing microfinance entered the sector in the past decade, according to a global survey in 2017 by Habitat for Humanity, a non-profit organisation.

Many borrowers lack land titles to use as collateral. Swarna Pragati, an Indian microlender, gets around the problem by establishing de facto ownership through village meetings. Select Africa, which operates in east and southern Africa, offers unsecured housing loans to salaried workers, deducting repayments from their pay cheques. Centenary Bank in Uganda accepts untitled land as security. Robert Canwat, its microfinance manager, says attachment to home makes the whole family monitor repayment. “Everybody becomes your recovery officer,” he smiles. Most lenders report that housing loans are paid back more reliably than other products in their portfolio.

Houses built incrementally by local artisans are often shoddy. Some lenders try to improve them by providing technical support, such as sample plans or an engineer’s advice. Others help borrowers buy appliances such as solar panels and water filters. One promising innovation is iBuild, an Uber-like app in parts of Africa and Asia. It connects households to builders and suppliers, allowing them to compare quality and price as well as to apply for loans.

Finance also comes directly from suppliers. cemex, a Mexican cement giant, offers credit through its Patrimonio Hoy programme. Customers pay a weekly fee. In return they get technical advice and advance delivery of building materials. The scheme has reached 600,000 households and extended more than $300m of loans since 1998.

Unlike business loans, which can be paid back out of greater profits, lending for housing creates no obvious income stream. But home ownership frees borrowers from paying rent. And some borrowers use loans to build rental units, shops or even schools. “Think of the house as a place from where the household earns money,” says Kecia Rust of the Centre for Affordable Housing Finance in Africa, a think-tank.

 

Habitat for Humanity recently commissioned two evaluations of microfinance products it had developed with lenders in east Africa. In Uganda, the likelihood that a household had a separate kitchen rose by 22% after taking out a loan. In Kenya, borrowers upgraded their roofs and walls. In both cases satisfaction with housing rose, though stress levels and school attendance were unchanged. Repayment rates have been high. “We’ve proved there’s a business case,” says Kevin Chetty of Habitat.

Microcredit is expensive, because lenders must assess risk and monitor repayment on even the tiniest amount. Housing loans are usually larger than business ones, so processing them is proportionally cheaper. But they also have longer maturities, which means lenders must chase scarce long-term funding. Throw in ponderous law courts and weak competition, and annual interest rates typically reach 20-35%. Some homebuilders are certainly eager for credit. But until such structural problems are addressed, others will keep doing things the old way—even if that means waiting longer to put a decent roof over their heads.

Source: amp-economist

Crash of RSU and Urgent Need for Another Rescue Mission

After two students were killed at the Rivers State University (RSU formerly University of Science and Technology, UST) last week, the vice chancellor, Blessing Chimezie Didia, was queried and thereafter sacked. His sack, along with his first deputy, Magnus Oruwari, and the replacement with Opuenebo B. Owei, brought to a climax series of happenings and decline that set in the very day Bariname B. Fakae (former VC) left after eight years of two successful terms.

The killings opened a pandora’s box as students began to reveal their trauma in the university. This showed that security had broken down irretrievably with daily robberies and attacks. Ladies called into radio stations narrating how armed boys easily sauntered into classrooms and robbed them. They said reports to the security unit brought no sense of alarm. “At best, they recover your item and ask you to forget it”, one lady said.

Students have since complained that “sorting” is fully back, something that was driven far away from the then UST. A graduating student said most students would be busy with phones right in class without bothering with what the lecturer was teaching. “They were sure to pass, no matter”, he said.

The biggest crash seemed to be the e-system of the then UST. This was said to have helped the university to become Nigeria’s number one by wed-ranking carried out by a EU-organ. Lecturers were made to turn in results within two weeks after each exam. They were to submit marking schemes after setting exams, such that any other lecturer could mark any paper. By this, students were no longer able to be held at ransom by any single lecturer. This was said to have freed students from lecturers. “All of this crashed”, a student said.

Another sector that seemingly crashed was the ICT centre which was manned by CINFORES, a group of young IT boys and girls that wowed the nation with digital technology innovations. They, at a point, were said to be providing consultancy services to the Federal Ministry of Education, JAMB, NUC, and private institutions. They were relied upon to conduct competitive exams and tests for bodies such as the NDDC, SPDC, etc. Under Fakae, the UST became a model and others copied, radio callers said last week in Port Harcourt. As shooting and killing returned to the UST (now RSU), many students began to recall the days of BB Fakae with huge nostalgia.

Fakae is a UNN-trained veterinary doctor and researcher of international repute while Didia is a Uniport-trained pathologist. Fakae is in the mould of reformer and academic rebuilder who was brought from the UNN to first rebuild the Polytechnic, Bori (now Saro Wiwa Polytechmic) and was later moved under heavy persuasion by then Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi to the UST (now RSU). Didia, on the other hand, is perceived as an easy-going peace-builder with popularity within university unions.

Before Fakae

The UST was seen as a den of evil before rescue came. It was dubbed university of stress and tension. Students were shot right inside exam halls or while defending, with lecturers fleeing. Discipline broke down, and academic work almost ground to a halt. Ethnic rivalry took over from academic contest, according to those who worked there then.

At a point, almost all courses lost accreditation from the National Universities Commission (NUC). Finally, the university stopped graduating students.

It was at this point that then Governor Amaechi used Ogoni-born Magnus Abe (then SSG) to woo Fakae (who was wooed from the UNN to Bori Poly by Peter Odili) to leave the Poly and come rescue the UST in PH. Amaechi, as Visitor, had signed out that the UST was dead and buried. Amaechi had appealed to the professor emeritus, Nimi Briggs (two-time VC of Uniport) to come to the UST on rescue mission, but the professor of Gynaecology was said to have rather recommended Fakae as a young person with sound head and ideas and energy to go for the battle. The problem was that Fakae fought hard not to move over to the UST, until Amaechi allegedly demanded for his resignation letter at the Poly, if he was insisting on rejecting government order. He broke down and accepted, many said.

That night, according to a book, ‘The Priest of Two Temples’, Fakae’s wife and children cried openly over their father’s agreeing to go to the UST. Fakae was said to have called his Nsukka residence to console them, pleading that the same God that saw him through in Bori would do it in dangerous UST. The family revealed later that they did not only fear for their father’s life but for his reputation because he would not compromise.

UST during Fakae

By the time Fakae was leaving after eight years (when no VC in recent history had survived beyond one term), the UST had become the first state-owned university in Nigeria by 2014 ranking and 12th over all; all courses were accredited, lecturers earned the highest salaries in Nigeria, admissions were given with automated system, registration of courses was with automated system, sorting died, cultism was driven away, discipline returned fully, lecturers fought for academic excellence, foreign research grants began to come from hard work, strikes ended, graduation of four sets took place, and academic calendar was restored from September to July every year such that an entrant knew the exact date he would graduate. The UST became an enviable academic centre as many companies began to partner with them. Pride returned.

Impact of Amaechi-Wike political rivalry

The greatest harm to the UST came through the bitter rivalry between the two Ikwerre-born godfathers of the UST. Wike was said to be part of those who appreciated what he did in Bori and thus pressed Fakae to accept to come over to the UST. When Wike became minister in education ministry, he is said to have worked very closely with Fakae to bring goodies home; such that the forum of VCs saw Fakae and Joseph Ojienka (Uniport VC then) as minister’s brothers during meetings.

When Amaechi and Wike fell apart, the entire Rivers State was polarised, such that every public figure was expected to fall behind either Amaechi or Wike. The ASUU of the UST divided into two along this line, leaving the likes of Fakae in the middle, a place too dangerous and suspicious to be.

The ASUU had refused to accept Fakae from day one as VC and Amaechi tried to pacify them with goodies. Many accepted but about 50 refused outright. These ones refused to return to duty after a deadline. They were declared as having resigned. For all the years of Fakae’s second term, they stayed away from classes and new lecturers were engaged. When the Amaechi/Wike fight became open and fierce, the 50 were believed to have joined the Wike side. The moment Wike won, he ordered that they should be reinstated immediately. Paying them for years of no work and no salary took almost N800milion. It also looked like a moral victory to them.

Didia steps in

From the day Wike took over as governor, the sacked lecturers began to hover around the university and many expected Wike to sack Fakae. The day Wike visited the university, Fakae seemed unaware and had to hurry out to receive his guest who inspected abandoned buildings and ordered work to resume immediately at the Law Faculty Building. Many expected to hear Fakae’s sack that day and celebration shoes were on some legs. As Wike made to leave, some shouted sack him, sack him. Fakae was not sacked; he finished his term in August of same year, 2015.

The appointment of Blessing Didia elicited jubilation in ASUU and in some anti-Fakae camps because they saw a pro-ASUU VC coming. Didia swiftly implemented the governor’s directive of recalling the sacked lecturers. He did not stop there. He listened to aggrieved persons and recalled 710 expelled (WAFfed) students, said to be mostly cult-implicated persons and those not serious in academics, according to insiders.

Didia’s achievements in a short period

Didia’s regime made effort to create relationship with the outside community. Thus, the UST created advancement and linkages centre: Bridging the Town/Gown Divide with ‘Actionable’ Solutions to Real Problems of Society. It is not clear if this continued. He also rolled out a N40billion five-year strategic development plan, but nobody knows where the money would come from.

He carried out suspension of the ‘Guideline for Appointment and Promotions of Staff’. The unions said they made no input. Restoration of check-off dues system for all the Labour Unions; ASUU, NASU, NAAT and NASU and subscription for Senior Staff Club; Release of delayed and denied staff promotions, some of which dated back to 2007; Refund of Alumni dues deducted by the University since 2009, not remitted to the association and the establishment of an Alumni Office to track Alumni World-wide; Re-allocation of offices of the former Vice Chancellor, Deputy Vice Chancellor and Registry blocks, to Faculties to ameliorate the inadequate office spaces; Investigation Panel on CINFORES and Computation of Semester Examination results, with a view to returning to the standard University practice of consideration of results through Departments, Faculties to Senate for approval. This brought powers on results to faculties. Many said this was where sorting was incubated.

Others were; Purchase of brand new Toyota bus to replace the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) vehicle allegedly damaged by students during the strike. Also for NASU, Library and Consultancy Unit- a Hilux Van; Reconciliation church service was organised for general forgiveness, rededication and reintegration of staff and students; Return of Prof. Nimi Briggs’ Specialist Hospital formerly contracted to International Trauma and Critical Care Centre back to the University’s Health Services Department; Constitution of a committee to work out a five year strategic development plan for the University; Completion/Commissioning of the portion of Law Faculty in the University; Granted one-year pardon to 710 students formerly deregistered by the University to complete their educational pursuit in the 2015/2016 academic session without payment of fees; Promotion of six additional Deputy Registrars; Re-construction of Institute of Pollution Studies Building, Senior Staff Club and University’s viewing centre; Equipment of Computer Laboratory for Department of Computer science and a Language Laboratory for Mass Communication Department; Commissioning of NDDC prototype hostel; and Equipment of Vice Chancellor’s Conference Room 2.

From the above, it was clear that every single group that had grievance with Fakae was compensated and everything Fakae did was reversed, if possible. The aim was to create peace, but by 2019, the same peace led to killings and shooting.

What Didia may have done wrong

By 2015, insiders predicted that any new VC that continued with Fakae’s legacy would make Fakae a hero, but trying to destroy it would make Fakae a legend. It was to be the burden of any new VC to choose what to make Fakae be. Though Didia always said he was not interested in competing with anybody or out to destroy Fakae, many Fakae supporters said almost everything he did was to undo Fakae.

First, Fakae’s service had been transferred from the UNN to UST, meaning he was to remain as lecturer thereafter. The Didia-led UST stopped this move and stopped his salary and said the transfer was unacceptable. This seemed to be the wish of the anti-Fakae camp. Fakae was said to have told his admirers that he wrote protests to the governor but no word was heard, so he went to court. The case is still in court, but it was enough to rob the UST the experience and strategies found in Fakae that rescued the UST.

Didia may have created the impression that he dreaded any person who worked closely with Fakae and brought closer any person who disliked or fought Fakae. This created the impression that it was Didia versus Fakae in the UST politics. In the process, Didia seemed distracted. It became easy to get a request from him, so long you said it would help prove Fakae bad. Many said the best option would have been to sustain what Fakae did and build on it. There was no need to start a Fakae-Didia battle line or perception, some said.

The recall of 710 sacked students also created the impression that failure was not a bad thing, after all. It created the meme that anybody who failed was due to Fakae and that Didia represented exam success.

Making Fakae to look like Wike’s enemy may have worked for a while but the effect seemed to have peeled off. Many said Wike began to look deeply and began to see more than was said about Fakae and rather began to see rots everywhere in the UST. He began by changing the name. In 2017, Wike exploded when he came for convocation at the UST and lambasted the VC and council.

Return of executive anger

At this point, the days of governors being angry at the UST resumed. By April 1, 2017, on the 29thconvocation event, the Visitor, Governor Wike, took time to lambaste the management of the university. His anger began right at the gates where rowdy traders were hawking their wares to give the UST a bad image. He ordered for immediate action. Before then, the UST offered exquisite imagery and scenery right from the gates with lush garden and well dressed fields. Buildings had good and bright colours and the grasses that once hid bad men were cut while trees were cut down.

Next, the governor who inspected ongoing projects for which he had released N500million said he was not impressed. Wike said he was not satisfied with the quality of job done on building projects at the faculty of Environmental Sciences and Faculty of Management Sciences for the completion of the projects that were long abandoned.

Fuming, the governor ordered the university governing council and the management to ensure the buildings were not commissioned until the proper job was done. The governor equally ordered the contractor handling the buildings to report in the Government House by Tuesday, April 4, 2017, to explain why he was not performing to expectation despite funds released. Insiders said governors used this approach to uncover deals that may be hampering execution of projects.

That must be what he meant by challenging the UST Management (headed by the VC) to shun every temptation faced by it but endeavour to come up with innovative researches that would impact on the development of the state in positive ways.

That was where Governor Wike announced the formal change of name of the then 35-year-old university from Rivers State University of Science & Technology (RSUST) to Rivers State University (RSU) with effect from April 1, 2017, as contained in the amended law setting up the pioneer science and tech institution.

On the state of the environment that was once a tourist delight loved most by the governors that visited, Wike now decried what he described as poor sanitation status and the environment. He said the VC and the management must rise up to their responsibilities by keeping the environment clean at all times. The next day, cutting of bushes began.

Employment racket

Signs that the Governor was still angry were rife. The chairman of council, Iche Ndu, also an Ikwerre man like Didia, was said to be at daggers-drawn with the VC. Situations like this usually inundate the governor’s desk with gossip and petitions. Most chairmen of universities usually demand for large quota of construction jobs (whether they had expertise or not), plus admission and employment quota.

What seemed to break the Carmel’s back may be the governor’s approval to carry out mass employments at the RSU as requested by the VC when Wike won re-election. This was advertised and all manner of applications flooded the place. Wike, himself a down-to-earth grassroots man, chose the moment of the visit of the Governing Council of Captain Elechi Amadi Polytechnic, Port Harcourt at the Government House Port Harcourt, to warn that the UST and others should not dare employ outside merit. He said: “Fresh employments into the Rivers State University (RSU) and the Captain Elechi Amadi Polytechnic, Port Harcourt must be based on merit.”

He added: “We shall closely monitor the process, so that it is not hijacked and made an all-comers’ affair.” It is not clear whether this warning sent enough signals to the VC or not.

Tragic ending

When ‘operation deconstruct Fakae’ seemed to become the preoccupation of the new management, some persons were said to have predicted that where Fakae left in a blaze of glory, it may not be so for his successor.

Thus, when killings began in the last week of July 2019, the governor issued a terse query giving the VC mere 48 hours to explain the killings, sorting and employment rackets. By Saturday of August 3, 2019, the tragedy went from gunshots to sacks. The governor sacked the VC and his first deputy. This was contained in a statement by Dagogo Adonye Hart, permanent secretary, Ministry of Education.

It said: “Rivers State Governor and Visitor of the Rivers State University, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has relieved the Vice Chancellor of the Rivers State University, Prof Blessing Chimezie Didia of his appointment with immediate effect.

“Also relieved of his appointment is the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Administration), Professor Magnus Oruwari. Accordingly, Governor Wike has approved the appointment of Professor Opuenebo B. Owei, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academics) as the Acting Vice Chancellor of the Rivers State University.”

The statement added that Governor Wike has suspended the ongoing employment exercise at the university. Furthermore, a committee has been set up to investigate the employment exercise and report to the Rivers State governor in two weeks.

Fate of ICT

Many said the Didia administration ruined the ICT and that the 1000 computers have been vandalised. BDSUNDAY investigations however, showed that the computers are intact. What may have happened is that the powers and relevance of the centre have gone. The power to decide results, which many lecturers kicked against, has been stripped off it. Some persons have been sacked.

Pro-Fakae people said they were being haunted because of Fakae but insiders told BDSUNDAY that it was not so; that some of the IT boys were found to manipulate scores at a fee and were implicated.

At the moment, the centre is largely idle as the faculties have taken back handling of results. If any sorting is to happen, it would happen at the faculties and departments. This seems to give joy to the departments but fear to students.

Also, exams are said to be no more CBTs (computer-based tests) except screening tests for admission seekers and tests for clients such as the NDDC. The unit is said to have collapsed in activity and relevance. Funding is said to be difficult for the centre at the moment. Again, it was seen as a Fakae heartbeat.

Owei has some Fakae traits?

Insiders hint that the acting VC, Owei, has some Fakae traits and is keen on ICT too. Nobody has said why her up liners (VC and first vice) were sacked and she was retained. It could only be that she was not deeply involved in running the university and thus could not have been implicated in any secret report.

Now, however, she would be on the spot. Some say she would need to bring all factions and camps together, show anger at cultism and sorting, and allow merit to determine those to be employed (as the governor demanded).

Others say the Fakae era allowed the PH press in the task of rebuilding the physical, academic and reputation capital of the UST now RSU instead of cultivating media enemies in a war that media does not ever lose. Owei and any future VCs may be persuaded to toe that line.

Hopes are high that the ICT would bounce back because any attempt to restore credibility would need to remove a lot of decisions away from human hands.

Conclusion

After Fakae, the RSU may dither but it would never fall to pre-Fakae years because people would raise alarm and would recall the Fakae years. Then, government will surely strike.

Growing Urbanisation Will Do Africa Good Yet

It is a human thing that many of us may delight in a ‘good’ jibe hurled at those perceived not too kind to us. Thus, when the then BBC Business Editor Larry Madowo recently took a dig at the western media for their often poor portrayal of Africa, there were many cheers on social media by Africans.

He wrote: “If you only know Madagascar because of that animated penguins film, you’ve not been using the internet properly. But that is understandable, because the African island nation has faster internet speeds than you in the UK, France, or Canada.

“It has birthed a thriving call centre industry in a country that is also home to 95 per cent of the world’s real vanilla and, even more delightfully, delicious caviar. But all you probably hear of the nation is how impoverished it is — and that’s the problem with much of the western media’s portrayal of Africa.”

I bring this up because of what it implies; that it is not just the media that doesn’t always get it right, but that they are a reflection of the global north to sometimes get a thing or two wrong about Africa.

The noted economic advancement in Madagascar is apt, as it is an example of how Africa has moved from merely being rural.

It is apparent that Europe and the western world, in general, continue to perceive Africa as a rural continent, with this perception forming the basis of their development cooperation with countries Africa. Their development paradigm remains mostly rural than urban-oriented.

This observation is not new. Studies have for several years showed how this perception of Africa appears to overlook or fails to see, the rising trend in urbanisation calling for a rethink on the rural development paradigm.

But Africa is set to become more urban than rural. To see why first take this comparison of Africa and Europe’s rate of urbanisation: It took Europe 110 years to move from 15 per cent urban dwellers in 1800 to 40 per cent in 1910. Well into the twentieth-century, urbanisation was mainly a phenomenon of the industrialised global North.

But in 2013, a little more than a hundred years later, six of the ten countries with the highest urbanisation rates in the world are in sub-Saharan Africa. In Africa, 14 per cent of the population lived in cities in 1950, and in 2010, 60 years later the percentage was estimated to be over 40 per cent.

By 2050, it is projected that way more than half of all Africans will be living in cities. According to the World Bank, urbanization is the single most important transformation the African continent will undergo this century.

The thing, however, is that rural Africa will still have its place. And, that most of Africa’s urbanization is yet to happen, there is still time to get the things right.

Typically, African cities share three features that constrain urban development and create daily challenges for residents: They are crowded, disconnected and costly.

They are crowded and not economically dense, meaning that investments in infrastructure, industrial and commercial structures have not kept pace with the concentration of people, nor have investments in affordable formal housing.

They are disconnected because they have developed as collections of small and fragmented neighbourhoods, lacking reliable transportation and limiting workers’ job opportunities while preventing firms from reaping scale and agglomeration benefits.

Costly for households, particularly slum dwellers estimated at around 60 per cent of Africa pay a high price for low-quality services including housing, water, food and other amenities.

As a knock-on effect, workers’ high food, housing, and transport costs increase labour costs to firms and thus reduce expected returns on investment.

The growth of cities, however, if handled right, is development’s good omen for the continent. Cities have been civilisation’s crucible for economic activity, leading to wealth and job creation.

City planners in the region must be aware of this and are in different stages of planning for growing urbanisation. One example is the updated Kigali City Master Plan expected to be launched this month.

It takes into consideration the changing population demographics, the need to provide services to the citizens, aspiration for economic development.

These include ensuring affordable housing, an efficient transportation system and compatible land uses that promote public health, safety, and welfare that will benefit all.

Source: newtimes

Ways to Stop Gullies Around Your Home

Gully formation may be severe in areas with deep soils and steep slopes. On steep slopes, the velocity of the water is very high and the scouring effect will be great. A deep soil profile with only little cohesion is susceptible to rapid and deep gully formation during heavy rainfall.

Purpose of gully control

The purpose of gully control is not so much erosion control as an attempt to limit the effects of erosion which is taking place upstream from the gully. Of course, existing gullies should be prevented from developing further. What measures are taken to prevent or control the process of gully formation depends on the size of the gully and the area to be drained (the amount of water to be diverged). First of all we try to check the amount of water coming into the gully by protecting the soil upstream or even by diverging the water. The velocity of the water in the gully also has to be checked so that it doesn’t scour out further.

Smaller gullies

Smaller gullies can be kept in check by the farmers themselves as follows: As far as possible the water is kept in the middle of the gully so that the walls cannot be undermined. In shallow gullies small dams with an overflow can be laid out with rubble, twigs, stones and wire bolsters.

The water can then ooze through these fairly open constructions whereas any transported silt is held back upstream. In this way the longitudinal slope is reduced and with it the flow velocity too. If available, wire netting supported by wooden posts, can be used for smaller gullies.

Protection of the head of the gully can be done by protecting the soil with broken stone, rubble, twigs or similar material. It is also advisable to keep the area around the head of the gully planted up with trees or a tuft forming crop, for example vetiver grass. To prevent trampling by cattle (sometimes even the direct cause of gully formation) preventive measures should be taken by making a good fence (thorny hedge for example). By leading the water along the lower parts of the land you must be sure that water actually comes into the gully.

Points of attention

When laying out these check dams, the following points should be taken into account: – The principle is to shorten the length of the slope in the gully over which the water flows, so that the flow velocity (and with it the chance of further erosion) decreases. -The gully walls at the position of the dam and also a part upstream are graded to a slope of 1:2 (going up 1 meter over a distance of 2 meters) or less, so that the chance of breaking is minimized. – There should be good contact between the dam and the gully wall (well anchored); otherwise the temporary structure will wash away.

Fencing poles are always driven deep into the soil so this applies to these structures too. The dam should be lowest in the middle where the flow has to concentrate at the overflow. The gully floor should be strengthened down stream against the scouring force of the water. This can be done by making a type of mattress or cover which is well sealed. (For example broken stone, discarded car tires filled up, concrete rubble etc.). After overflowing, the water is very turbulent. Even though the stream is concentrated in the middle of the gully, the walls will have to be extra strengthened.

Source: sunnewsonline

500,000 Homes, 1.5m jobs Expected in 5yrs as Fund Partners Firms, DFIs

In the next five years, the housing market in Nigeria expects about 500,000 homes, that is 100,000 housing units per year, as Family Homes Funds (FHF) continues its interventions in the country’s housing sector through strategic partnership with players in the housing sector and leading Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) in the world.

At an average of four persons per housing unit, it means about 2 million persons will have shelter over their head when these housing units are completed and delivered to the market, reducing considerably the country’s over 20 million housing demand-supply gap.

FHF is Federal Government of Nigeria’s intervention programme in the housing sector. It is expected that the funds housing development activities will create about 1.5 million jobs. Given the multiplier effect of job creation, expectation is that over 3 million households will be empowered economically.

Recently, on the sideline of the Abuja International Housing Show, the Fund signed a memorandum of understanding with Construction Skills Training and Empowerment Project Limited (C-STEMP).

C-STEMP is an organisation with a vision to build a pool and database of certified artisans with the requisite skills to meet industry needs that translate to better quality of work and life for all stakeholders.

This partnership, according to officials of the Fund, is very strategic and critical because it will help to provide the needed skill set for the production of the planned 500,000 housing units without recourse to importing labour from neighbouring West African countries like Togo and Benin Republic where most of the artisans for housing construction in Nigeria come from.

Currently, FHFL is seeking partnership with developers to create vocational jobs and empowerment programmes and products for low to medium income earners currently in or potentially interested in building a career in construction.

In implementing this empowerment programme, the Fund emphasises need to incorporate training, assessment and certification as conditions for beneficiaries to access its programmes and to ensure that only skilled labour are utilized on its projects. Its partnership with C-STEMP is also aimed to provide affordable and quality homes while creating jobs for highly qualified persons.

FHF is also in partnership with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Ministry of Finance and international financial institutions, making it a pivotal force in delivering affordable housing to Nigerians through multiple schemes including Help-to-own, Rent-to-own, affordable and flexible mortgage plans, among others.

“Our role is primarily to meet affordable housing demands in Nigeria,” explained Femi Adewole, the Fund’s managing director, adding, “we are here because it is not enough to supply houses without taking care of the demand side.”

He disclosed that the Funds had, so far, developed about 1000 homes with another 3000 at different stages of completion, pointing out that the fund has been able to create about 1400 jobs through these projects. Over 500 units have been completed in Nasarawa State, 750 in Kano, 650 in Delta and many more all over the country.

The Fund recently bagged ‘Affordable Housing Promoter of the Year Award from at the just concluded 2019 edition of the Nigeria Housing Awards.

Adewole commended organisers of the Awards and also his team and partners in the housing sector for chasing the much needed dream of ensuring that Nigerians, irrespective of their income level, could have access to one of their most important needs: shelter.

Source: businessdayng

First-Time Buyers ‘Underestimate Size of Deposit’

Aspiring homeowners are substantially underestimating the size of the deposit they need to get on the housing ladder, while women save half as much as men, according to research underlining the barriers facing first-time buyers. In a survey of about 5,000 UK adults aged between 18 and 40 — treated as a sample of potential first-time buyers — Santander Mortgages found two-fifths (42 per cent) of respondents had saved nothing towards their first home. The average pot saved towards a deposit among other respondents was £8,300, with men saving an average £11,600 and women £5,620.

When asked what they were targeting as a total saving for a deposit, participants’ responses averaged £24,816 — significantly below the average deposit of £44,000 put down by first-time buyers in figures published in March by the Office for National Statistics. Santander said the aim of home ownership was moving out of reach even for middle earners.

“With the majority of mortgage borrowing limited to 4.5 times gross salary, the deposit amount buyers in each region say they are looking to save would price individuals, or households relying on a single middle income, out of every region in the UK,” the lender said.

The proportion of middle earners — those bringing in between £20,000-£30,000 in 2019 — who own their own a home has declined from 65 per cent in 1996 to 27 per cent today, the report said.

Today, buying is increasingly restricted to those with higher levels of household income and dual-income couples. Some 64 per cent of first-time buyers have household incomes of more than £40,000 and 16 per cent are individual buyers. Miguel Sard, managing director of Santander Mortgages, said the situation was likely to worsen unless the government took further action.

“Without change, home ownership in the UK is at risk of becoming the preserve of only the wealthiest young buyers over the next decade.” The warning comes at a time of intense competition between mortgage lenders, with many offering low rates and other deals, and growth in the number of home loan deals at loan-to-value rates above 90 per cent. Yet high house prices in many areas and tight mortgage regulations have still left many buyers struggling to pass lenders’ affordability tests.

The survey also quizzed people on what they would like to see the government do to help first-time buyers. Top of the list, with 37 per cent in favour, was a call to extend Help to Buy, the government’s popular equity loan scheme that is due to end in 2023. Thirty-five per cent would support rent caps; while 33 per cent were in favour of stamp duty land tax being cut for buyers of homes under £500,000 — a proposal floated by Boris Johnson during his campaign for the leadership of the Conservative party.

Santander did not lend its support to those proposals but used the survey as an opportunity to sound its own call to action. Noting that the inability to raise a deposit was seen as the biggest barrier to ownership among aspiring buyers, it suggested an extension of the current Forces Help to Buy scheme, which allows those in the armed forces to take an interest-free loan of 50 per cent of their annual salary towards the purchase of a home, to a maximum of £25,000. This scheme could be extended to public sector workers such as nurses and police, Santander said.

It also questioned the “stress rate” that regulators require lenders to use when judging whether a mortgage is affordable. Borrowers must be able to afford the loan under a notional interest rate that is 3 percentage points higher than the rate customers revert to at the end of a fixed rate period. Graham Sellar, Santander head of mortgage business development, said the stress rate was originally based on a five-year projection of interest rates by the Bank of England.

Today, similar projections look much flatter in the medium to long term. “It’s a call to look at that figure and to make affordability better for customers, especially first-time buyers.” The research also underscored the role of the Bank of Mum and Dad in supporting first-time buyers. Forty per cent of those interviewed said they were relying on an inheritance to boost their deposit — much higher than the 10 per cent recorded in government statistics who used an inheritance for this purpose in 2017-18.

The authors warned that the role of housing equity in providing a stepping stone for the next generation was limited. “As life expectancy increases, we can expect the number of people in care to increase and the wealth they have built up through property ownership quickly diminished,” the report said.

Source: ft

Legislators Lift Abuja Property Market

Despite apparent uncertainties surrounding the economic health of the housing sector in major cities, Abuja property market appears to have rebounded, with the juicy accommodation package granted the legislators by the Federal Government.

Following the payment of their welcome packages, many of the Senators, their House of Representatives counterparts and assistants who are new comers to the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja have besieged offices of notable estate surveyors and valuers as well as popular agents in search of accommodations.

Every four years of the election cycle, about 70 per cent of them are first timers. Some of them now have to do with hotel accommodations till suitable residential apartments are found.

According to the prescription of the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) in its Remuneration Package for political office holders, each senator is entitled to a combined furniture and accommodation allowance of N10,132,000 on assumption of office. While the accommodation allowance is N4,052,800, and furniture allowance is N6,079,200.

Similarly, each member of the House of Representatives, is entitled to N9.926, 062.5, comprising furniture allowance of N5,955,637 and accommodation allowance of N3, 970,425.

The development has increased activities in the market. Nigeria Real Estate Report 2019 released by Ubosi Eleh and Company, an estate surveying and valuation firm, projected that letting and sale of real estate will pick up from March to September in Abuja. After September, the tempo will drop by at least 60- 70 per cent and completely flatten out by the first quarter of 2020.

It is estimated that another 200 rental properties in the range of N1million- N2million per annum will be in demand to satisfy the needs of their aids and numerous assistants.

The report further projected that properties prices between N40 million – N69 million will experience increased demand. “Our market indicates that this demand could easily reach as high as 120 – 150 units of detached houses, terraces, bungalows and flats,” according to Mr. Chudi Ubosi, Principal Partner, Ubosi Eleh and Company.

It was learnt that steadily rising housing rents in many of the FCT highbrow areas, have been worsen by the coming of the prospective tenants to the administrative capital, especially in areas such as Asokoro, Maitama and Apo Quarters.

The issue has reignited the discussion whether to build permanent legislative quarters and do away with monitisation policy. Notwithstanding the crave for residential apartments, the vacancy rates in those highbrow areas have remained high due to the high rents fixed for such properties.

Source: guardianng

TOPREC Inducts 139, as NITP Plans Summit

About 139 town planners have been inducted by its regulatory body, Town Planners Registration Council (TOPREC) and charged to uphold the highest professional standard.

Speaking at the investiture ceremony in Abuja, TOPREC President, Prof. Olayiwola Egunjobi urged the inductees to allow code of professional conduct and practice regulations guide them at all times.

Egunjobi noted that the induction is tailored to not only enable them understand the ‘Dos and don’t’ of the profession and expectations on the job, but to build confidence and contribute more effectively wherever they find themselves.

He said, “The new inductees have successfully passed both the written and oral examinations. This brings the total registered town planners till date to 4,753 while those that are register-able stand at over 3,000.

The milestone that is being achieved is an attestation from the Council to having been properly trained to prepare you for the challenges of practice. Those of you who have been involved with the daily operations of Urban and regional planning since you started work, must have realised that you are now in a different world and therefore, your activities should now reflect the thinking of the new world in which you have found yourself”.

In a message to the occasion, the National President Of Nigerian Institute Of Town Planners (NITP) Lekwa Ezutah advised the young professionals never to allow the desire to be rich within a short time becloud opportunity of enjoying the benefits of mentorship and excellence in practice stressing that they must practice responsibly and fulfill all obligations to the Institute.

Meanwhile, NITP has disclosed plans to hold the maiden edition of its ‘Green Cities Summit’. The event themed, “Brown to green: enhancing wellness and livability”, would take place this month at Central Bank International Training Institute, Abuja.

According to the institute’s first Vice President, Mr. Toyin Ayinde, who spoke during a press conference in Lagos, the summit will bring together stakeholders from various sectors of the economy and groups, including multilateral bodies to discuss and brainstorm on the key challenges confronting the urban environment.

Ayinde who is a former Lagos State Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, noted that majority of the country’s cities do not reflect best practises of town planning because the various stakeholders involved have failed in their roles.

The chairman of the summit committee, Mr. Moses Ogunleye said the outcome of the programme would serve as core advisory for government and other key players in taking decisions or actions that would make cities and towns in Nigeria most friendly, effectively green and livable at all times.

Source: guardianng

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