Given the real estate deficit that has plagued the nation, MD/Chief Executive Officer, Reftop Homes Limited, Oluwafemi David Asogba, recently harped on the need for government and stakeholders to unleash the real estate potentials for Nigerians in general, Precious Ugwuzor reports
For MD/CEO Reftop Homes Limited, Oluwafemi David Asogba, the need to release the real estate potentials of Nigerians is quite germane. According to him, they are focused on providing accommodation for people, just as they encourage people to invest in real estate.
Although he might have been in the real estate sector for the past five years, Reftop has been in existence for one year now and they are registered with Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and also are also a member of Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria (REDAN), while the application is ongoing with the Lagos State government to retrieve their license.
On how insecurity, COVID-19 and economic downturn affected real estate developers in meeting the need of housing provision for generality of Nigerians, Asogba said: “COVID-19 affected everybody and all businesses around the world. We have kept our dream alive and no matter the challenges we are going through, we promised ourselves that we must deliver. Though it has not been easy but God keeps us moving to deliver affordable homes to Nigerians.
“On insecurity, you need to be alive to be known and addressed as a real estate developer. Insecurity has made developers go low to save their respective lives. COVID-19 is not even helping matters. The economic downturn is a reflection of poor governance. If every area of the economy has been handled proficiently, the economy would not have witnessed such a downturn.”
On the need to prioritise provision of low income housing for the average Nigerian with reference to those done by former Lagos State Governor, Pa Lateef Jakande, he said: “To be honest with you, Pa Jakande has done very great. Pa Lateef Kayode Jakande deliberately built low cost houses all over the length and breadth of Lagos State for the masses. He named it low-cost housing scheme but the masses named it ‘Jakande Estate’.
“ Today, Jakande Estate has moved up the masses to middle income brackets. Jakande Estate has provided houses for the low and medium income earners. It has linked the entire Lagos State together from Badagry to Iyana Iba, from Ipaja to Ikorodu, from Isolo to Lekki, from Ibeju to Epe. Just name it. Jakande’s records in housing delivery are yet unsurpassable.
“Meanwhile, the current governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has been filling the vacuum and I read in the news that he is coming to Sangotedo to commission some building. We believe he can do more and create enabling environment and businesses in the real estate sector to thrive.”
On what is preventing the private sector real estate developers from filling the gap of providing houses for the low income earners, he cited funding. According to him, “funding is the limiting factor preventing real estate developers from filling the gap of providing houses for the low income earners.
“The institutions responsible for the provision of funds for private real estate developers are lagging behind in the discharge of their statutory duties especially in low-income housing delivery. I will appeal to the Lagos State government to do more because most of the land under acquisition today can be released to the real estate sector and the private business owners that are running real estate.”
Lamenting the rising cost of building materials and its implications for the housing industry, Asogba said the prices of building materials and other items will continue to rise as long as Naira depreciates against the dollar. “Once we stop paying dollars to import petroleum products into the country, the pressure on Naira will reduce or disappear. Most of the building materials are not produced in Nigeria. They are imported. What I would advise the government is to look inward, work on our tax and importation duty. We should build our own building materials instead of been a consumer. We can be a producer of those things”, he added.
Harping on the role of government in meeting Nigeria’s housing deficit he said: “In many nations of the world, government is not taking hundred percent of charge of buildings. It is played by the private sector. So what I will advise is that the government should give the private sector the level playing ground to carry out the assignment.
“In some countries, there are loans for companies. For instance, the government can say this company should come and take loan and build this unit of houses. Even Lagos State government can say a particular loan is available for real estate sector for a period of time and they will be followed by regulations.”