Mortgage system in Nigeria works only on paper – Bode Adediji

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By YINKA KOLAWOLE

In this interview with Vanguard, Mr. Bode Adediji; Managing Partner, Bode Adediji Partnership, a firm of estate surveyors and valuers, also a former National President of Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV), spoke on sundry issues relating to the built environment. Excerpts:

Should government be directly involved in housing development?
A nation that has been confronted with the quantum of housing problems we now face, epitomised by 15 million housing deficit, cannot ignore any approach from whatever source that can ameliorate the ugly situation. In recent past, the clamour has been for government to hands off direct housing provision.

But to the extent that the state governments have not created the enabling environment that will enable the private sector to solve this problem, to be in the acceptable time frame and price regime, then, it will not be out of place if the much talked about public private partnership is put in the front burner of housing delivery.

Apart from availability of land, what other roles can government play?
I want to re-emphasize that even though the present housing minister has succeeded in rolling out a new national housing policy, the problem of Nigeria with housing has nothing to do with paper work like having quality land tenure system etc. It is a wide range of issues, for instance, it is within the capacity of any government anywhere in the world to roll out a workable, liberal, non-elitist and virile mortgage system.

Has Nigeria done so? No. The mortgage system in Nigeria works on paper and governmental sloganeering than anything tangible you and I can access and verify. So, a nation of 150 million people lacking a virile mortgage system will only continue to lament about housing crisis.

Bode Adediji

Your view about Lagos HOMS
The Lagos state Home Ownership Mortgage Scheme (Lagos HOMS) is a workable development. And that is why I keep telling people that even if the Lagos state government meant well in that, there are a whole lot of issues that must be executed simultaneously. For example, what has this country done by way of revolution to bring down the cost of construction? Nothing, apart from talking about it. That is, even if you have a serious mortgage instrument operating in the country.

Unless we are able to build houses that the generality of Nigerians can afford, by way of combined equity and mortgage, solution to housing will remain elusive. Another issue is that every construction planning in the country is so bureaucratic, extensive and discouraging.   And from one regime to another, pronouncements have been made but nothing tangible has been done to dismantle the appalling regimes of bureaucratic cases of construction and housing law.

Is the Lagos State land use charge good for property investment?
There is nothing wrong, abnormal or novel about the land use charge. What happened was that the way it was done some years back, people like me and other serious minded professionals, complained bitterly about it. But thank goodness, today many aspects of our complaint have been addressed.

You have a situation where a civil servant borrow money to build a house in Vitoria Island, and now occupies a wing of a duplex, and the land use charge being demanded at the inception of this law was ten times the annual income, because the adviser and originator of the land use charge is a foreigner, who have little or no knowledge at all as to the contemporary practices of land administration in Nigeria and the income spectrum of the people.

The only issue we complained about is that the assessment and the administration should not be a matter to be left in the hand of government officials alone. The input of the people in terms of the collection and the administration of this charges, is important to the success of the programme.

Also, if the experiences of the western world where many of these things originated are to go by, an average landlord and tenant who pay the land use charge, should be able to be told specifically the benefits that are derivable in terms of what the government spend these money upon with specific reference to the locality of points of connection.

In my home in London, annually they will tell you how much they are paying to collect refuse dumps, to sweep the streets, to cut the trees in the summer and to maintain security. And where these costs rise, my tenement rates rise and if these costs come down, my tenement rates come down. Unfortunately, you pay land use charge when you are still the provider of your refuse collection, your water, your security etc. that is the inherent social injustice in the entire context of the land use charge.

Lagos tenancy law, a year after
The Lagos state governor, Mr. Raji Fasola, meant well for the state by attempting to intervene in the tenant/landlord environment largely peculiar to Lagos state. However, the lawmakers failed to make wider consultations and in specific terms, there was no solid involvement of the professional body called the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers {NIESV) in that regard until that law was passed.

Unfortunately the first seminar held by this noble body, and attended by our respected Attorney General of Lagos state, it was obvious that if such professional body had been carried along, all the areas of abnormality which today have hindered the smooth implementation and operation of that law would have been avoided.

However, like an open minded government that the Lagos state government is, we have been assured that the law will be amended within a very short time. It is only incumbent on the pressure groups and all stakeholders to ensure that all these areas are presented to the government for timely consideration and amendment. But I must reemphasize that as a professional person, I am a supporter of the principle behind the law, even certain aspects of it are still tenuous and debatable.

In view of recent cases of ocean surge, how safe is Victoria Island?
In terms of my knowledge regarding the cycle of ocean surge in VI in the last 31 yrs, I will say that VI is relatively safe to a large extent.

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