Victor Ayeye is a big name in the real estate sector in Abuja. He is the founding Partner and Chief Executive Officer of Ayeye & Co, a leading firm of Estate Surveyors and Valuers with about 20 years experience in the Real Estate sector.
He holds a Higher National Diploma in Estate Management with an Upper Credit from Osun State College of Technology, Esa-Oke where he won The Best Graduating Student Prize in Estate Management and capped it recently with the Most Valuable Alumnus Award (MVA) by the Faculty of Environmental Studies of the same Institution. He is also equipped with a Masters degree in Public Administration (MPA) from Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, (LAUTECH) Ogbomoso, Oyo State. In addition, he is an alumnus of Lagos Business School.
Victor is a Fellow of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers, (FNIVS), Fellow of the Corporate Administration Institute (FCAI), Fellow of the Institution of Management Consultants (FIMC) and a United Kingdom Certified Management Consultant (CMC)
He is the immediate past Honorary National Secretary, a former Hon. National Publicity Secretary and Current Council Member of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV). He is also a member of various Real Estate-related professional bodies which include among others, International Real Estate Federation (FIABCI) Paris, France, International Facility Management Association (IFMA), Africa Real Estate Society (AFRES) etc.
He is the Chairman, Governing Board of Kings Care Universal School, Board Member, Whitefield Hotels Ltd and a former Board Member of Estate Surveyors and Valuers Registration Board of Nigeria.
In December 2012, Ayeye was ranked among the top 20 most Respected Young CEO’s in Nigeria by Accolade Communications where he emerged the winner of the “Young Enterpreneur Of The Year Award” at the 5th African Leader Par Excellence Award 2012.
Recognition of his landmark contributions to service includes: •Nigeria Real Estate Practitioners Gold Award (2010), *2011 Enterprise Leadership award of the Institute of Corporate Administration, *Noble Achievers International Partner in Service Award (2012) * NIESV President Service Award (2016), *Nigerian Entrepreneur Merit Award: Estate Surveyor & Valuer of the year 2017. *African Entrepreneur Merit Award for Excellence and Business Innovation 2017, *2018: Institute of Corporate Administration Icon of Excellence Award.
A widely travelled professional, he has attended conferences and seminars both locally and internationally in his quest to render an unbridled professional service to his clients, and to remain relevant in the service to humanity. Pst. Ayeye is the Pastor-in-charge of RCCG – Covenant House, Abuja, a fast-growing parish of RCCG in Abuja. He is happily married with children.
Last week, he spoke to City People Publisher, SEYE KEHINDE about why Abuja real estate market has been very dull. Below are excerpts from the interview.
What is your assessment of the Abuja Real Estate Market over the past few years?
The Abuja real estate market has suffered serious setback in the past few years. First and foremost, you will agree with me that, the real estate market doesn’t operate in isolation. It operates in the economy. The economy has been in recession and during recession, issue of investment is not a priority. Residents struggle to even eat and cloth themselves which is more important than housing. According to Maslow hierarchy of needs, after food and shelter comes housing.
Properties are not changing hand in the market, people are even afraid to buy, investors are scared, generally the sector has been in a coma.
Tenants even find it difficult to pay rent. Landlords couldn’t get rent and as such can’t pay their children school fees.
The government claim of fight against corruption grounded the sector and worst still, there is no access to finance from Financial Institutions for those who even need bank loans and those who are lucky to get the loans have to pay through their nose interest rate as much as 25%. Access to Land itself is also a major problem. The FCT Minister has been very slow in the issuance of Certificate of Occupancy and for those who even need consent, the cost is too high and therefore so many properties doesn’t have Title and as such wealth cannot be created.
The state of insecurity in the country, has also caused a lot of setback in the property market. Killings everywhere from Boko Haram to Herdsmen etc. foreign investors have been scared and all this have effect on the Real Estate Sector.
In the area of Letting, so many properties are vacant and To Let and has remained so for years because of lack of funds to rent. People now are moving very far away from the city because of affordability and there are no infrastructure to support this.
What can be done to reawaken the Abuja Real Estate Market?
The government should pay serious attention to the issue of Housing. For instance, presently the Ministry of housing is subsumed in the Ministry of Power and Works and its headed by a person who is not a professional in that field, a lawyer for that matter.
A doctor has never been the Minister of Justice. An Engineer has never been the Minister of Health. So while would a Lawyer be Minister of Housing when we have Estate Surveyor and Valuer and other relevant Professional in the building industry.
Secondly, access to land should be made easier to attract investors who will invest in building, once the sector is active, unemployment in the country will be drastically reduced, if you want to build a 3 bedroom bungalow for instance, you will provide employment for at least 50 people. From the Architect, to Estate and project Manager, to Bricklayer, to Plumber, Labourers, food seller etc and this will reduce crime rate.
Thirdly, Government as they have just started should embark on massive infrastructural development. The Rail should work across the nation, good roads should not be in scarce supply, electricity should be common and general, portable water supply should be made available to all.
Finally, there should be access to finance. Presently, Nigerians do not have access to development finance, a rate of 25% is grossly excessive loan for housing should be single digit to encourage investment in housing.
How is the real estate sector in Nigeria today?
The real estate sector has suffered serious setbacks in recent times because of the precarious economic situation of our country. About 60% of Nigerians are living below poverty line. According to Masco’s hierarchy of human need, food and shelter are key to human survival, and because many Nigerians are struggling to eke out a living, they find it difficult to pay their house rent let alone acquiring a befitting apartment of their own. In fact, these challenges have been further compounded by the anti-investment policies of the government of the day. The persistent rise in the value of dollar against the weakened naira and government’s onslaught against potential investors in the sector under the pretext of fighting corruption have left the housing sector in a state of coma.
What ideas and suggestions do you have to improve the sector?
For the sector to bounce back to life, government needs to be directly involved in the housing sector. Government should also look into the cut-throat interest rate of our banks and review it downward. In Nigeria, most banks give loans at 25% interest rate with stringent conditions that scare away investors. More so, government should invest massively in infrastructural development. Nobody wants to live in an area that is not accessible by vehicle, owing to poor condition of road or live in a place where basic life necessities such as water supply and stable electricity supply are not available. The parlous state of infrastructure has turned every house owner in FCT and other parts of the country to Local government Chairman as every landlord now takes upon himself the responsibility of fixing bad roads because of government’s indifference.
Housing sector is critical to the socio-economic development of our nation. It is the only sector that opens vistas of jobs for the people. For instance, at every building site, you will see bricklayers, wielders, carpenters, plumbers, and food vendors, among others.
How do you see the effort of the Housing Minister?
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola, has really tried his best even though we are still battling with perennial problems associated with power generation and infrastructural deficit, among others. The Minister’s capacity to man a ministry effectively has been over stretched by putting three sensitive ministries under him to manage together.
Babatunde Raji Fashola is a renowned legal practitioner and a good politician given his record as Lagos State Governor. But saddling him with the responsibilities of overseeing three sensitive ministries is ill-advised and counter-productive. Until government starts putting the right people in right the places, there would never be any meaningful change. If I were appointed the Minister of Housing, as a professional estate surveyor coupled with my vantage experience as National Secretary of NIESV-National Institute of Estate Surveyor and Valuers, I would do better because it is my terrain and I know what better curve could be invented to drive the sector and address the housing problems in Nigeria. So, making a former governor of Lagos, Babashola Raji Fashola, a minister of Housing is like putting a square peg in round hole.
I would like to implore our government to always allow only the technocrats and professionals with necessary expertise to manage sectors under their line of training regardless of their political affiliations. Since no lawyer or architect has ever been made the minister of health before, government should also ensure that only the professionals in the field of estate surveyor, quantity surveyor and architect are put in charge of the housing sector.
How do you see the new National Housing policy of this administration?
Right from the time I was a small boy, every succeeding government has policies and programmes. In fact, we have been hearing of vision 2020 and other various programmes with little or no action being taken toward meeting the target. Rather, government keeps shifting them without any cogent reasons. The problem is not the policy but the implementation; our leaders lack political will to implement good policies that have direct bearing on the masses and the economy. Also, because, technocrats and professionals who could have managed the sector very well are always overlooked by the government, while people who have no inkling about what the sector is all about are being made the managers of the sector by virtue of their political affinity and influence. Our minister of works is still struggling to find solutions to housing problems in the country because he is not trained for the task thrust on his shoulders.
How can we reduce the housing deficit?
Policies should not be based on mere projection and propaganda as we have seen over the years. Policies should be supported with statistics that reflect the reality on ground so that planning can be geared toward critical areas that need development. For instance, if we need 20 millions houses in 20 years, we should be able to plan for extra ten million before the timeline.
Government also needs to review its land act such that an average Nigerian can own, at least, 500square metre plot of land in places of their choice in urban centres. Land is too expensive in the city and that is why low income earners buy unapproved and illegal land at affordable prices not minding the risk of forfeiting their houses when the same government that fails to provide for housing scheme for low income earners comes with bulldozers to demolish their structures. And finally, government should make funding available for estate development. Loans should be made available to people with low interest rate. Until the foregoing are looked into by the government, whatever policy they come up with would be like a gyroscope spinning in circle with too much motion but no progress.
How did you get into real estate? What was the attraction?
I studied Estate Management at Osun College of Technology where I did my ND (National Diploma) and HND. I graduated with Upper credit as The overall best of my set and thereafter I went for my industrial training and compulsory national service. Aside my qualifications, I have also travelled abroad for further studies, written series of professional exams within and outside the shores of the country. I also wrote National Institute of Estate Surveyors and Valuers exams. I was the National Publicity Secretary of the institution and the National Secretary. I was an associate of the institution for a decade, but now I am a fellow of the institution, which is equivalent to SAN in law profession. Now, I am part of the decision making organ of the institution at the national level. I also worked for the firm of RCO, Okafor & Co. for years before I voluntarily retired about ten years ago to start the practice of Ayeye & Co Estate Surveyors and valuers and I have branches virtually in all parts of the country with 560 member of staff in my employ.
Tell us about your growing up years. Where were you born ? And where was growing up?
My parents hail from Ile-Isa in Osun State. But my parents relocated to Lagos in the 60’s in search of greener pastures. So, I was born in Somolu in Lagos and I grew up there. I attended Shepherd Primary school. Although my parents were not well to do, they strived to give us good education even though this was tough as I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth, but like I always tell people, I must not die without a diamond spoon in my mouth. I thank God that my Ayeye & Co estate Surveyors and Valuers has grown in leaps and bounds. My resilience and commitment have been the driving force and today, my passion for education has propelled me to establish a school called Kings Care Universal School in FCT, the best school so far, having won many national quiz competitions in Spelling Bee, Mathematics and English, among others. We also revel in the excellent performance of our pupils in the last Common Entrance exam.
Tell us about your marriage. How did you meet your wife? What made you decide to marry her? How old is your marriage.
I met my wife while we were in the school. I was in my final year, while she was in her first year . I was a member of Student Union Activists and it was on one of our outings that I met this God sent (my wife). During our courtship, I observed that she possesses some attributes of a good wife as she always supports me in everything I do.She is down to earth and very caring, so much so that she can put her life on the line for me. So, Why do I have to wait too long dilly-dallying before taking her to the aisle?………..laughing……… Our marriage has spanned fifteen years and it still feels like yesterday. She has been my bulwark of support and she has also played a huge role in helping me become what and who I am today.