Rogba Orimalade is a popular Estate Surveyor and Valuer. And a senior member for that matter. He is the new Chairman of the Lagos branch of Nigerian Institution of Real Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIEVS). All those who know him know he is a man of great ideas. He also holds strong views about how the Real Estate industry should be run, especially what the role of the Estate Surveyor and valuer should be. He has a radical approach to issues and he thinks the industry should have moved beyond the level it is today. Shortly after he came in as Chairman, he came out with his agenda which is to radically alter the way things are done in the industry. A few weeks back, City People Publisher, SEYE KEHINDE spent 2 hours with this easy going fellow who has been in practice for over a decade. Below are excerpts of the interview.
How do you feel becoming the new Chairman of Lagos NIESV?
Its a good feeling. Its something I have always long time desired, not just to be in the position, but to be in a leadership position in the institution where you can give your bit in uplifting what you believe the situation should be. So, Yes, I am excited and by God’s grace ready for the challenges ahead.
You are coming in at a time when the economy is in a bad shape, don’t you think this will affect your plans for moving forward the sector?
That really shouldn’t be a problem. Like I tell people, it is the same Nigeria going through Recession that you see some governors who are gasping for breathe that you see Lagos State where Gov. Ambode is pursuing mega projects and Lagos State declaring the highest revenue yearly and doing things beyond our eyes that we have never seen before. It is the same Nigeria where some governors are complaining of Recession, even at the federal, that Ambode has never mentioned Recession.
The point is this; We are fortunate that we are first of all, NIESV Lagos State branch beyond any other thing. So, there is no reason why an institution like ours should not be taken to another level even within this period of supposed economic recession. The reality is this: Its all about working smart and being able to do things in the right way. This period has made us realise that there has been a lot of wastages before. For instance, we own our building in Ikeja as you can see. Before, you’ll just make use of all these space.
It is at a time like this that you say to yourself wait a minute, part of this space, can’t I sublet it? Can’t I lease it out? So, its all about being smart, being effective, trying to utilise the resources that are in your disposal, and now asking yourself, based on, not just the economic recession, but based on the period we are in this country and this world, what are the necessary things that you should do now, to meet up and follow up with what the world is doing and where it’s going.
Let me go straight into what my plans are; The truth is that I can’t shy away from what Lagos State is doing. When some one is doing a good job, as professionals we ought to say so, and when he is not doing a good job in certain areas we should say it also. Never before has the use of technology been so key. We are in an era now where the world is being driven by technology. Years back, the Lagos State government couldn’t capture your plate numbers, for someone outside your car to know whether your registration has expired or not.
Technology has made that easy. In terms of the bus terminals, its going to be driven by technology. And so conductors will soon become irrelevant on the buses. Like they do abroad, you are going to go to the terminals and buy tickets. So it will be a cashless situation. We now see the use of streetlights. Thats technology. We now talk of smart cities driven by technology. All over the word, smart cities is what people are using but it is driven by technology. All these have to do with NIESV.
I am using Lagos State as an example because we as a branch by God’s grace, through this current exco which I lead, we are going to totally transform the way in which we have been doing business. Statisticians state that close to about 60-65% of our population is made up of youth from the ages of 45 downwards.
These are people that are now the IPAD, Phoning-Phoning people. They are not the people of our fathers generation that sit down and buy Tribune everyday. These are people who rely on first hand information from the tips of their phone before they even think of buying newspapers. That is the new communication strategy. And that is key.
What does this mean? It means for us we are going to make use of our website. We are going to totally off load, we are going to totally revamp it. We are going to make use of some social media platforms, never been done before, and not just upgrading it because everybody is doing so. We are going to use it to send messages out there to educate the populace, to educate our members in so many ways to be able to communicate with our members in so many ways. So, that’s the key thing we are going to use.
Also using the website and social media we are going to target the people in the University and schools to be able to get information to them not just about our institution but even the benefits of the courses that they are doing in Estate Management. Isn’t it ironic that when every one enters university, every student has a mobile phone, why then is it so difficult to realize that the easiest way to get in touch with them is through the mobile phone?
So, we are going to use Technology to drive our message and to be able to educate not just our members, but disseminate information to the general public which Lagos State is using greatly.
Some people are not aware that the governor of Lagos State is very much into social media. Infact, I follow him on Instagram every day. What he posts on instagram every day is far more than what his press people put in the papers the next day. And its real time. And you can engage him. That is the new world we are in. All the leaders of the world now make use of social media in running the countries. Barrack Obama won an election using the Youths and Social Media.
That is what he used to galvanise the youths. So, if we accept that this is a youthful population we have to use the tools we know that will help us get across to the youth. We need to communicate to the right people.
Are there other plans?
Another key thing which by God’s grace this exco is going to do, which successive excos have tried to do, I mean my predecessors, by immediate Chairman, ESV Samuel, UKpong did a lot about it, in terms of sending messages out on what we are about, but there is still a perception about the Estate Surveyors & Valuers.
The picture of the Estate Surveyor and the Valuer is not so clear, the way you can see a man and say he is a Lawyer or an Accountant. It is muddled up by the picture of a man jumping on the road carrying a board on the roadside. That is the impression unfortunately.
So, part of what we want to do is to change that impression by using the right tools in branding. So we are going to brand the branch in a way that will present us in how we should be taken. We are not sending a story through branding that is not true.
A lot of us went to University and we spent up to 5 years to read the course. Its an Institution, its not an Institute. It’s high-level professionalism for you to call yourself an Estate Surveyor and Valuer. That has to be portrayed out there. Its not just talking about an estate surveyor and valuer. It has to show in our action and presentation. So a lot of our action and presentation must change.
So, branding is actually one of the key things this exco is going to focus on. We have to change that mindset and that look. We are not just Estate Agents, we are professionals. And we should be taken as such.
Another key area which this current exco has felt is very key and important ever before is now the issue of being able to have Strategic Engagements with the Public Sector and the Private Sector. What does Strategic Engagements mean? It is important to first and foremost realize that the Estate Surveyor and Valuer also has its own challenges just like lawyers and accountants do. So the criticism out there of Estate Surveyors and Valuers not doing things right sometimes applies to all professions.
All said, we feel we should face head on all the beer parlour gists. What do I mean by that? We are going to go to Public Institutions. We are going to the regulatory bodies like SEC, BPP, Nigeira Stock Exchange, AMCON. We are meeting them to say, look! this is what we do, we know you have been making use of our services and dealing with our colleagues. Its like a fact finding mission.
We want to know exactly what your challenges are with our members. Is it report writing? Is it the Methodology in carrying out valuation? Is it the way we just write our letters? let us know what people are saying generally. That is the public sector. We are going to go and engage the key agencies of Lagos State government. Talk to them one on one. What are the challenges you are having with us? Let us know.
From there we are going to go to the banks. The banks have been very critical to us because some of them have said to us that part of the problems they are having with their bad loans is because of the way valuations are done wrongly. So, the issue now is beyond you just saying it as a blanket statement, what are the issues? Our plan is that by the time we get the feedbacks from all these stakeholders we would now come together, put up a good report on it and be able to create Master Classes and Training Programmes that will now hammer on all these issues and retrain our members and upgrade our members to these challenges that we have come to realize seems to be what the stakeholders are complaining about.
That comes with its own challenges. What that does is No1. It brings credibility to the system.
It also makes the stakeholders know that the Institution is doing something about this. It makes the Institution to now get involved also in these training. We all have to help each other to better the system and stop criticism. The plan at the end of the day is to create Master Classes, Special Seminars, Programmes on a quarterly basis that are able to attack these issues and be able to upgrade our members in areas that you feel or the stakeholders feel we are lacking.
Its not as if the Valuers don’t know what they are meant to do. Things are moving so fast internationally that atimes some of us find it hard to cope and it is only by virtue of our stakeholders continually telling us how things are evolving that makes us to quickly catch up with the changes in technology. A lot of things are changing globally because of technology. The way valuations are done are changing. I
If care is not taken some of the options before you will soon become archaic. It is the same way with valuation. Nowadays, just by you having a soft ware on your IPAD when going to site, once you impute everything that you have to impute before you get to the office you can send the client a one –paper of certificate of Value. That’s technology. Technology has brought a situation where you have drones.
Drones are now being used to take Aerial pictures of certain commercial properties. That the drone technology. That is how far technology is going. There are softwares being created to enable you do your valuation by the touch of the button. There are basic principles that guide every valuer. Those principles have never changed. However, what changes is Technology, that makes certain styles of doing certain things to be done differently. We need to update our members through master classes. So, we are going to embark on Strategic Engagement which leads to training, branding to capture us in the proper light as we are meant to have been captured as Professionals and the issues of using the right technology like social media, websites, using those tools properly and effectively.
We are in a seamless world now using those tools properly and making it less of a paper economy, more of like a paperless economy.
Finally, in terms of our plans what we plan to do is also to create benefits to our members. Its not enough to tell members to come and pay your dues. Members want to have a sense of belonging. Members want to feel like what is the benefits of paying the dues. So, we are going to use the brand of NIESV to bring partners that will rub off on our members, get certain discounts in certain places they go to.
Just by you showing your ID card as a NIESV Lagos branch member guarantees you to certain things. All the things we plan to do which I have enumerated here are foundational, because its almost like you’re trying to understand how the institution is being run as a branch using technology and bringing it in to change the way you do things is foundational. We feel that is the starting point, to enable us meet the demands of our ever changing economy and to also meet the demands and support Lagos State Government which we feel that at the rate at which they are going, if we are not able to arm ourselves with the right tools to follow them, we would lose out.
The institution is doing a lot. A lot of people are not aware that the institution created an Estate Agency arm; to be able to cater to the supposed quacks. As they cannot come up to our level of training at which we are, any level you are, you are able to come up under that umbrella and we are able to regulate that umbrella. Its the Estate Agency Association. It’s a body that provides basic levels of training you will be given. They will provide you Agency Etiquette. Its basic. What we are trying to do is once you play in this sector, under that umbrella they can provide you basic steps and educate you about the practice of Estate Agency.
And because you are going to be under that umbrella, midwifed by NIESV it is easy for us to regulate you and guide you to ensure that you do your business properly. They will for example teach you on how to write an Offer Letter and basic things you need to do.
If you are going to sell a property you should be able to understand that you just collecting your fee is not enough. You should be able to guide the person that buys the property till the end of the transaction. That is the basic education and the basic level of training that we can give back to those level of agents.
We need to change the old perception of Estate Surveyors and Valuers. We are a noble institution. We are an institution they can trust. Also if a client is dissatisfied with the work of a practitioner, he can report to NIESV. We are a regulatory body. I am regulated. NIESV regulates us. I am answerable to that body. That is the only difference between us and any other institution that claims to be handling estate agency.
All a dissatisfied client needs to do is to report me to the institution and the institution will call me to order.
We need to let the public understand the importance of our profession. Estate Agency job is part of what we do, but that’s not all we do. But who will you like to deal with? Someone that has no umbrella or some one that has an umbrella that you can come to?