When the Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria (REDAN), Lagos State chapter held its maiden edition of ‘REDAN Awards Ceremony’ for its members, Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi was one of the big names that attended. He didn’t only grace the occassion, he also urged government, especially Lagos State government to work hand in hand with the Developers in the state. And he gave many reasons for that.
“What I want to tell all the real estate developers present is that the sky is the limit for everyone, and I’m delighted to be in your midst.
To the glory of God, I started this journey of mine in the late 90s when there was really nothing along this corridor (Lekki) and to the glory of God I had a lot of mentors that I mentioned earlier on that have been very impactful in the course of my real estate career, and we have a lot of landmarks in terms of development.
My encouragement for you is that I have noticed the trend over the 20 to 30 years in the real estate sector of Nigeria. There’s something that is always dynamic every ten years. Something would evolve one way or the other. And I know that so many great things are still coming on board.
I left the industry specifically in 2015. I left very abruptly because the destiny-call came so fast and I couldn’t handover properly. I just left very abruptly. I left many unfinished projects here and there. But what I have learnt is that you must work toward delivering your project, work towards your regulators very well. And I’m happy there’s a close relationship between the regulators and the operators. This never happened during my time; we always got very scared of them. So something is evolving. We were always at loggerheads. Imagine you being in the midst of Commissioner of Physical Planning, Commissioner for House, Permanent Secretary of Land, the Governor, the Deputy Governor, Special Adviser on Housing, Surveyor General. Honestly speaking, it has never happened! So I want to thank the organisers and the brain behind this because as little as I am, I know that I actually paid my dues in the real estate sector.
I was young but I was able to work virtually with all of them. I didn’t have a specific company. I was a JV (Joint Venture) expert. I worked with everybody and to the glory of God I’m here today, I want to show that appreciation. Now, that you are bridging that gap between the regulators and operators, please and please start thinking of building another Lagos. You can do it! Something is not that common yet, which is called Developers plots. Lagos is on 3,577 kilometres. 20 to 25 per cent of it is water. The operators are here. Please, on behalf of all real estate developers, I’m still part of them though. Lagos State Government needs to work with these developers. The bulk of your revenue is always from land, and I’m happy you are not joking with them. And the current governor is an expert as far as real estate is concerned and he’s passionate about it. So please start thinking of another Lagos. I keep telling everybody that we have 3 Bridges across water in Lagos and that’s the 1st Mainland bridge, the 2nd Mainland Bridge and the 3rd Mainland Bridge.
It’s a shame to all of us that till date that those 3 bridges are the ones we have. We should have had 10! We should be on 10th mainland bridge now!! This axis is a Peninsula, from here to Epe. Go to the river Thames in London; it’s about 8 bridges, one of them is London bridge. The government might say we don’t have money but these developers will raise money. They will raise money because it’s all about ideas. So I want to appeal on behalf of everyone to join hands together. I’m doing this because I know I won’t go hungry. And anytime I put a call through any of them they would surely be of help to the throne. So I can be an advocacy platform for real estate developers. The government should give them that opportunity. The PPP. They are very smart people. If you know what they have done between 2015 to 2020, it blew my mind completely, honestly.
And some people would be shouting Nigerians haven’t done well, that Lagos State is not doing well. Just 5 years, they have done really well. To the glory of God, I’m just 5 years on the throne, but a lot has happened, a lot of transformation has happened and I couldn’t believe it that this is happening in just 5 years. So I want to thank you. I want to encourage you to continue to do more. The Lagos State government can give the developers plots. Developers plots shouldn’t be one hectare or two hectares. The government should at least give each of them 50 hectares or 100 hectares. The government should tell them that we want this income from you, this is what you will pay the Lagos state government for the next 20 years, and with this, they can plan. Regulators (government ), I hope you are following me? Do not joke with these people. Continue to bridge the gap and come up with that initiative of developers plots. Enough of you doing Abijan scheme. They won’t obey your rules; these are the people that will obey your rules. These are the people that will let your income come freely. If you give a developer 50 hectares he knows he’s building 1000 homes there because he knows what to buy and do business with. But if you do Abijan scheme 1, let’s say 200 plots, you don’t even know if I have probably given 10 to my girlfriend from those plots. And you won’t even say if they fail to develop it in 20 years the government will collect it back but if you give this land to private developers, you can tell them when the land should be developed and the government would start getting the dividend. These people (developers) are the engine room of Lagos. Please don’t joke with them. I repeat, do not joke with them! This is your oil and gas in Lagos. And I’m happy the gap is being properly bridged. And I want to thank REDAN Chairman for doing this. All the developers here present I say thank you. You make me proud. I’m not the biggest developer; I was then like an errand boy to a lot of developers. Today, I’m happy to be in your midst. God bless you. God bless the work of your hands” he concluded.