Suru Group GMD is Edward Akinlade is a guru in the real estate sector. In just 10 years he has built an impressive real estate portfolio that spans major parts of Lagos from Badagry to Ikorodu. He is a hands-on CEO, so he is involved in every step.
Last week, Akinlade told City People that he is worried stiff by the recently related poverty index which puts Nigeria as a leading poverty ravaged country where Poverty has reduced the lifestyle of the teeming population to nothing. He says the solution to eradicating poverty lies in government providing land, and partnering with property developers. He explained how easy it is for this to happen and how it does not involve payment of cash. Edward Akinlade is a London trained Accountant who practised in the city of London before returning home 10 years ago to come and play in the Real Estate and Hospitality sector.
According to the handsome GMD, Suru Group has been in Nigeria now for over 10 years we have focused on 2 core business areas-real estate and hotels in real estate, we have done so many developments here in Lagos. Thats our focus whilest we own a number of hotels all around Lagos-Suru Express Hotel.
We own the Best Western Hotel. And also on the whole we have done developments in Ikorodu, Surulere, Ebute Metta, we are one of the first companies that did major terrace construction, here in Ikeja GRA. 10 years ago, we build about 56 terrace houses. We sold part of it and kept 30 of them in GRA that we rent out. That is what Suru Group has done in the last 10 years in Nigeria. We have to separate divisions. We have Suru Homes which handles the Property Division and then we have the division that deals with the hotel like Suru Express Hotel and Best Western.
Suru Homes are involved in a number of projects in Joint Venture with a number of partners. At the moment we are doing developments in Ikorodu where we are developing about 40 flats of 1 bedroom, 2 bedrooms, 3 bedrooms. That we hope to complete by December this year. We are selling on easy payment terms. So whatever the prices, we asking the buyers to pay part of it and we are giving them 2 years to pay the balance.
So we’ve got Ikorodu, Ebute Metta, Ketu, Surulere we have a diverse portfolio through Suru Homes. Suru Home at the moment is doing what we call the Silicon Mall on Ajao Road, Ikeja. The mall targets the people who are into hi-tech. We want them to be using the mall. So if you want any item you go there and you do your shopping. That construction is going to take us another one year to 2 to do. So, you can see that Suru Homes is actively at the front of Real Estate development in Lagos in terms of what we are doing, I think the total project size of what we have to do is in the region of about N15 billion the moment in terms of what we are doing in real estate.
In the hotel, like I said to you we are involved at every level-at affordable level, budget hotel, middle level hotel and luxury hotel. So, keep watch in that area. In other to provide other facilities to back this up, we have people dottled all around our organisation, providing security, maintenance, HR. So, we have a diverse group in terms of what we do.
One area I want those in government and our politicians to address is the issue of poverty and poverty index. Nigeria now is the No 1 country in the whole world known for poverty. We have overtaken India. That has been published officially. That is the big challenge that our politicians need to address. One of the ways of addressing the poverty crisis facing Nigeria is to build homes. if the federal government decides to build homes. If the federal government decides to build 100,000 units per year, in every state of Nigeria, that is 3.6 million new homes in every state in Nigeria, in a year. For 4 years. It will transform lives, because once you create one job you are also supporting people behind those people at home.
Whenever you come up with ideas like this the question people often ask is where is the money? Where will government get the money? And my response to them is that the Federal government of Nigeria has money. They may not know it. They may know. For example. Recently, they went on a road show to raise funds. The bond was over subsribed. We had to return some of the money back to the subscribers.
If you bring that sort of money into Nigeria, we are not bringing the money to come and spend or chop, not for recurrent expenditure but for capital projects only, like Real Estate, homes for our people. Don’t forget we have that Jakande report done some years ago, talking about 16 million housing deficit, for me now I reckon tht we have a housing deficit of 20 to 25 million shortgage of homes in Nigeria. And the bulk of it is in Lagos.
Look at the house prices in Lagos, look at the range in Lagos. Hardly can you find a room and parlour to rent in Lagos for N100,000 a year. You will struggle to get it. That is actually the price of a room per annum. So if we now build more homes for people, we would reduce the shortage. If every other state is building 100,000 units, Lagos should be doing 500,000 units. It will create jobs, money will get into our peoples pocket. They will use the mortgage system to pay it back.
I am not one of those people who encourage the federal government to build anything Federal government should encourage people like us and say look Suru Homes I want you to deliver 10,000 units, this is land.
This is how it can be structured. The structure is very simple. The government will give us the land. We would develop. And then we would split the finished units, the accommodation. So it i a win=win situation. We would make money. The government will make money too. Because we are getting the land from government, the price will be low.
For example, if I go into Ikorodu now and I want to buy a plot with title, it is about N5 million. If government wants to give the land to me they will give it to me at N1 million because all the land in the outskirt of Ikorodu belong to the Lagos State government. So Lagos State government will actually give it to me at N1 million. But I won’t actually pay any cash. All I would do is, arrive there, and build. Once I finish building, I will split the units with lagos State to pay for their N1 million.
That is the model. Unfortunately, our politicians don’t know they can transform Nigeria by building Homes. It was done in England, by Margaret Thatcher by what she called Right to Buy where she made available the opportunities to tenants to buy their own homes. By doing that she moved Poverty Level to a different level.
When you do that to our people, because you are selling the houses to them, they can use their houses as security to get more loans to do business. So, it has a lot of multiplier effects. So, I believe that this high level of poverty in Nigeria can be resolved in just one year by expanding the investment in homes. By doing this it can take us out of poverty in one year. I mean it. We need to reduce the level of poverty in Nigeria.