This week, estate surveyors will converge on Imo State for their 47th annual conference, to acquaint the government and public with the peculiar roles of the profession in the economic development of the country. In this interview, the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers president, Dr. Bolarinde Patunola-Ajayi, throws more light on the conference and other issues.
This year’s conference will focus on how to boost government’s revenue from landed property through your theme, ‘Growing and Diversifying the National Economy: The Real Estate Imperatives’. What prompted the theme?
The theme of all our conferences usually centres on topical issues that serve not only the interest of the profession but the society at large. The choice of this years’ theme is premised on the recession caused by the drop in oil prices worldwide. This has resulted in the sharp reduction of the country’s revenue and the consequent recession in the economy, as oil revenue was the mainstay.
As professionals that deal in land and landed properties, several programmes, seminars, workshops and mandatory continuing professional development programmes and conferences have been held towards enlightening the individuals, parastatals and the government on the imperative and importance of real estate growth and development in the economy.
This year’s theme is of paramount importance because the economy is in dire need for economic revitalization and diversification since it is clear that oil which was and still is; the major source of Nigeria’s revenue since the 1970s is not contributing well to the National growth due to the drop in the prices of crude oil and the exchange rates.
It is quite obvious that the economy requires a mixture of solutions working in tandem to improve the standard of living of the average Nigerian through job creation, generation of revenue and overall economic growth. Of paramount significance in this regard is the role of real estate.
Real estate in Nigeria is touted at the moment as one of the developing sectors with great potentials and one of the competitive players in the global market that is fast becoming increasingly attractive to investors. Hence, there is a need for the government to effectively maximize the potentials in the real estate industry towards generating revenue to aid the present economic recovery and growth strategy.
The institution has made move to sanitise estate agency, can you say this association has lived up to expectation?
Obviously, the institution has lived up to expectation in serving as a regulatory body through the inauguration of Association Estate Agents of Nigeria (AEAN). All estate agents in Nigeria under any group or association should join the AEAN. Very soon, there will be enforcement that only registered estate agents with Estate Surveyors and Valuers Registration Board of Nigeria (ESVARBON) can operate in Nigeria.
The Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV) has made several efforts towards sanitising and monitoring activities under estate agency. Estate agency over time involved various charlatans. The quacks in the business were causing a lot of harm, and creating a bad image for the profession. These had led to several issue of distrust on the activities and functions of estate surveyors. As a professional body, NIESV has ethics and code of conduct that govern their members.
Over the years, a lot of people have fallen victim of fraudsters who disguise as real estate agents and end up being swindled, with no hope of getting their money back or the property they paid for. This has given the public a poor perception of estate agents. To reverse this perception and curtail such fraudulent activities, NIESV mid-wifed the establishment of the Association of Estate Agents in Nigeria (AEAN) to ensure that industry standard is met and upheld and members are regularly tutored and trained in the method and technique in which they can practice successfully such that all parties are satisfied.
Other objectives of AEAN include the development of estate agency into a respectable profession in Nigeria, maintaining a database of estate agents in the country, and maintaining a Property Information System (PIS) that allows the establishment of market trends.
Also, more recently in sanitizing estate agency through the activities of the charlatans, Lagos State Real Estate Transaction Department (LASRETRAD) was established in Lagos to regulate and monitor the activities of estate agents in the state.
What has been the fate of efforts to ensure a uniform surveying body in the country? Do estate surveyors still support such body?
We are in support of a uniform surveying body. It allows for uniqueness just has it is been operated in some other countries. Even recently, we made a proposal for the office of the Valuer-General, which is also in a bid to ensure continued growth and development of the surveying practice.
The call for a uniform surveying body was pioneered by several bodies including NIESV, Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (NIQS), Nigerian Institution of Surveyors (NIS) and chartered surveyors under the aegis of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), Nigerian chapter. The call for the unification of all surveying professional bodies as is the practice in the United Kingdom where the RICS holds sway and in the neighbouring Ghana was basically to ensure a proper functioning and surveying practice between the three surveying professions in Nigeria which are NIS, NIESV and NIQS. The uniform body when formulated will be expected to develop frameworks that will make the government accountable to the populace. Hence, efforts geared at ensuring a uniform surveying body in country if well processed and executed will also enhance the surveying practice in the country.
Are estate surveyors satisfied with the way governments and its agencies patronise their services, especially valuation? What should be done?
I must say that we are quite satisfied with the position of the law and the recognition of government and its agencies on our services especially valuation. Also, the services we render transcend beyond valuation, and estate surveyors can be employed by firms and individuals. We have seen cases of allied professionals been in charge of real estate sections; in States where tenement rates are collected, the jobs are given to tax collectors at the expense of estate surveyors and valuers and non-consultation of estate surveyors in matters related to estate surveying and valuations.
All government agencies at different levels are expected to engage the services of estate surveyors because they have the expertise in all matters related to land and landed property such as management, valuations, investment appraisals, social cost and goods, and cost benefit analysis amongst others.
The role of estate surveyors in asset declaration cannot also be over-emphasized. Who verifies the value and fixes the worth of the assets declared? Issues relating to the land titling and management amongst other have also been raised. Hence, these are areas where the services of estate surveyors can be sought.
Recently, you made case for government to develop residential property to house their workers. Why did you say so, don’t you think with the recession, the era of spoon-feeding workers is over?
Housing of workers is not a spoon-feeding approach. One of the primary responsibilities of a good government is provision of adequate and affordable housing to its citizenry. It is a primary responsibility of the government. However, in line with the current and high rate or urbanisation, inadequate access to land, high cost of development and basically the high need and demand for housing by the workers; a call was made to the government on the development of housing for its populace and the provision of infrastructures.
Housing is one of the most basic human needs. Nigeria as a country is faced by a multifarious housing challenges ranging from rapid urbanisation, high level of rural-urban drift, irregular population growth, high cost of construction/building materials, lack of adequate skills by our so trusted professionals, inadequate financing and poor state of infrastructure. Furthermore, with the current housing deficit of about 16 million units, lack of finance is no doubt the major contributing factor.
Hence, the call by NIESV for the development of residential properties to house its workers. Such housing schemes have been inaugurated by the Lagos State government, which has not really reduced the housing need and still with its own attending problems are expected to be reciprocated by other state governments.
With the dwindling revenue from oil, most state governments are having problems paying workers and not tapping into other internal generated revenue such as property tax. Don’t you think that estate surveyors have failed in convincing governments in this regard?
Estate surveyors have always played a lead role in the identification and determination of benefits accruing from land and landed properties. As stated earlier, several calls through seminars, conferences, mandatory continuing professional development programmes amongst others have been organized towards convincing governments at various levels and state on the importance and benefits of real estate. Such calls have been made since the inauguration of NIESV. As far back as 1978, a conference was held on property rating as a source of financing local governments in Calabar. Overtime, all the themes of the conferences been held have centered on real estate growth, development and the national economy. At the end of each conference, communiqués are issued and presented for work action. I think the problem here is more of implementation of policies on the part of the government as several opinions are often presented to the government.
How do you rate the future of the profession?
The future of estate surveying and valuation practice is very bright and glowing. The nation has not succeeded in unlocking the wealth in the sector, which is the only robust solution to grow the economy. With the current rate of real estate development in the country, the practice can be considered to still be at infancy with lots of future enhancement, benefits, growth and development.
By The Guardian