One of the biggest property developers in Lagos is Chief Emmanuel Okafor, the Managing Director of a foremost property company, Marcopolo Properties. You can’t drive round Chevy View Estate and you would not see more than 6 mini-estates of the man. He doesn’t only build houses there, he also has other beautiful estates in all the highbrow areas of Lagos. Talk of Lekki, Ikoyi, Victoria Island and other major locations where properties are on high demand, Chief Okafor has his presence in these locations. He started property business 22 years ago and has built a lot of housing estates in Lagos. He also owns one of the best hotels in Lagos called Marcopolo Hotel, opposite Chevron head office in Lekki. Chief Okafor is one of the few developers, who opened up Chevy View in Lekki, a location in Lagos where he built many houses and has his hotel situated.
Two weeks back, City People’s Head of Real Estate Desk, ISAAC ABIMBADE and City People TV Online Journalist, Nurudeen Salisu, paid him a courtesy visit at his Chevron Head Office, where he told us about his 22 years property company, challenges he’s faced over the years in the business and a whole lot more about him. Below are the excerpts.
Why did you adopt Marcopolo as your company’s name knowing fully well it’s not a Nigerian name?
Marcopolo is a worldwide brand and it’s a brand that’s so unique. Because my business is unique that’s why I adopted the name.
Tell us more about Marcopolo as a property company.
Marcopolo is a group of companies that consist of Marcopolo Properties and Marcopolo Hotel.
What encouraged you to go into Property and Hotel business?
Like I always say, housing is an essential part of life. It is so important for every human being. So, when I look around, I always think of how I could contribute to human development. This is one of the reasons I went into this business, to do the little I could and to provide accommodation for members of the public. And because it’s something I love so much (real estate), I have been doing it with all passion and commitment. I have been in this game for the past 22 years. I am one of the local pioneers in this business (property business). Before, I used to work with property companies and later started our company. Our brand is something that can be found all over Lagos today. We have a future plan to expand to other states. Some of our housing projects are affordable and they are built to taste with quality materials. People are happy with what we are doing. They always send referrals to us and with that, it gives us more strength to do more and also shows that people are happy with what we are doing. And because I’m a man of taste, I always put myself in other people’s shoes especially, those who want to buy the properties. I always like to build my house to taste, like the house I want to live.
Talking about Marcopolo Hotel: I have travelled to many places in my life and I always want a good place to stay each time I travel, and that’s what brought the idea of having a world-class hotel, where people will enjoy a world-class infrastructure. The hotel is about 6 years old. People think it’s a hotel of 1 year. We maintain our hotel. That’s why the company like Chevron chose us to service them. Because for you to be able to service Chevron, you must have a very high standard. So, we have been working round the clock to make sure that anybody who comes in contact with our properties would like to come back.
Can you tell us what stands Marcopolo Properties out from other property developers?
What stands us out at Marcopolo Properties is quality. Well furnished homes are our watchword because we want to give you value for what you are paying for. We want our customers to be happy. Like I said earlier, we do this job with passion and we make sure we do the best that people are always happy with. That is what makes us stand out.
Tell us where we can get some of the newly completed houses of Marcopolo Properties.
Right now, we have a lot of completed and ongoing projects. We have properties at Osborn Phase 1 Estate in Ikoyi, we have at old Ikoyi, we have in Lekki Phase 1. We have at Bakare Estate in Lekki, we have in Chevy-view in Lekki, we have in Chevron road in Lekki. We have a lot of on-going projects too.
How affordable are your properties and what do people gain by buying houses from you?
Today, one of the reasons people are interested in our housing units is that we have adopted a modern model to our business, which gives people a payment plan that allows subscribers to pay for the property for 2 years. So, this has helped us to be able to stand out. We have made our products available to salary earners and to those who are just getting up on their feet. We can give you a package that will enable you to pay for about 24 months or longer.
There’s one estate that we are about to launch, Ivry Luxurious in Lekki. It’s going to be a wonderful estate that will come at N32 million per unit. What you need to do, to benefit is a down payment of 20 per cent of the total cost, which is N6.4 million. You can spread the balance over time to have the estate. It’s very close to the Chevron head office. Very accessible and has shopping malls around it.
Can you tell us what drives you in this business, because this is the same sector that some of your colleagues are complaining of many difficulties? How do you overcome those challenges?
What drives me in this business is my urge to help humanity. One of the major challenges in the sector today is multiple taxations. High-interest rate is also part of it, and lack of infrastructure, which I believe the present government is working around the clock to make better.
Let’s talk about the man behind Marcopolo Properties. We always hear how you are often being conferred with chieftaincy titles. Can you tell us more about yourself?
I believe in everything we do, we should give God the glory. I always feel honoured and happy anytime I get recognised in society. Recently, in my home town, Ojoto, Idemili South, Anambra State gave me one of the biggest chieftaincy titles in the State and what this shows to me is that people recognise the good work I’m doing and people are happy with me. Like I always say, I will keep giving my best to humanity. I have also received so many awards across the world. Entrepreneur award, a company of the year award. We have received so many awards even from our banks.
What can you tell those who are in the diaspora about your properties and how can they key into it?
Marcopolo Properties and hotel are fully online. You can always google us to know more. Right now we have a lot of clients in Overseas because of our commitment and good works. What I can tell anybody is google www.marcopoloproperties.com or www.marcopolohotel.com. You can have the best housing or hotel services through us and we are reliable. We are the people you can always do business with without any fear. You can see our projects both completed ones and the ongoing projects. Our business and products can be verified anywhere you are around the world. Our company has a good track record. So, we urge everyone to key into some of our products. No matter where you are. I always tell people to invest in properties because the return on investment in properties today is very high. It is a lucrative business to do. So, I urge everyone to come and invest through Marcopolo and I can assure you that you will be very happy you did. And to those who are coming home for holidays, let them have the feeling of this hotel, opposite Chevron head office, Lekki, Lagos.