•Real Estate Guru, ESV STEPHEN OLA JAGUN
Lagos State is the hub of real estate in Nigeria. But since the end of the tenure of former Lagos Governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola, real estate activities have been on the decline. The Ambode government seems to be more focused on other sectors. For some time now, some of the structures or projects of the immediate past administration have been left unattended to. One of such projects is the Ilubinrin project along the 3rd Mainland bridge.
A few months back, the Head of City People Real Estate desk, ISAAC ABIMBADE, spoke to Pastor Jagun, who is well versed in the sector and he narrated the dangers of leaving a project unattended to. He also advised government on how to create more houses for Lagosians.
Will it be right to say Governor Ambode has abandoned real estate in Lagos. Some people say since he came in, he has not given the sector the required attention unlike his predecessor, Mr. Fashola?
Everybody has his priorities. When Fashola was Governor, I was the Chairman of the Lagos branch of NIESV and some of those functions I attended were wonderful, laudable ideas on how to boost real estate and Fashola backed them up with action.
The current government may say that is not its focus. Its focus may be roads and some other things. But a government can’t ignore one sector for the other. Government is continual. You don’t kill what your predecessor did because you want to write your name somewhere else. Okay, even if a government wants to start a new project good, but it shouldn’t abandon its predecessor’s projects.
The idea Fashola had, he put together seed money to build some houses and the idea was that, from that seed money as people pay, it would be replicating itself and keeps growing, but as it were now, most of the projects have been abandoned. And in the needs of man, after food is shelter. If you create good roads and people don’t have where to live, what is the use of the roads. It will be of great advantage if the governor could give some thoughts to real estate.
Some of the projects he met on ground when he came in 2015 have been on standstill. There is even one I visited at Sangotedo, it was abandoned and the new project behind it too, on the Monastery road, Sangotedo, Lekki-Ajah axis. There were houses that were built before, but have been abandoned and hoodlums are now living there, while the government is building fresh ones behind them. What sense does that make? Is it possible the governor is not aware? But the people who really make the system to run are the civil servants; they are the ones to inform governor of what is going on, but we also have sycophants; they present to him what he wants to see. Sometimes, we should tell our leaders the reality.
Can we move or relocate some Army barracks that are presently occupying large expanse of land in metropolitan Lagos, like Bonny Camp in Victoria Island to the out-skirts of the state?
In Town Planning School, we were taught that city grows like people. In the 70’s and 80’s, barracks were far away from residential areas because soldiers’ ways of life are different. They want them to have some sense of discipline, but now they are in the middle of towns. Some of the barracks are now in prime areas. What does it cost the government to build new barracks for them?
For example, what are soldiers doing in the centre of a town? They have no business to be there. They need an isolated place because of some of the things they deal with like firearms and things like that. Look at the incident that happened at Ikeja, Ikeja Cantonment in 2002. Look at the number of lives that were lost because of the ammunition stored in the middle of a city. If that had happened in a desert, it would only affect soldiers and as soldiers, they know how to prevent such accidents, or curtailing its effects. And despite the sad incident, is that Cantonment not still in Ikeja?
Ikeja Cantonment sprawls from Mobolaji Bank Anthony Way to Ikeja side, Agege Motors road, to Oshodi. The government could bring developers to redevelop the site and take the barracks to Epe, Badagry axis or to Ikorodu axis, where there are large rural areas. Most of the installations in the barracks are fabricated steels; they could easily be moved. Now, if that is done, you have rebuilt a new city and the new place you’ve taken the barracks to would experience fresh development. Now, you have won on two sides.
Are you also saying government could relocate the National Stadium?
It depends on what they have in mind. It will require where a group of professionals will have to sit with Sports Administrators, Facility Managers, Surveyors and Valuers.
In valuation, we have what we call highest and best use. Now the question is, are we putting the land to its highest and best use? As a stadium today, is it generating the largest possible revenue? Can we transform the place to be another thing that would give it more value than what it is now?
If that is the case, then we can move it elsewhere and now add value to what is on ground. We need to get consultants to sit down. What are the variables on ground. Government can decide whether to transform one or transform the two into world class stadia that can stage the Olympics or World Cup. Why do people bid for Olympics? Why do they bid for World Cup? Is it going to transform their economy? If you bring Olympics to Nigeria today, we have two large stadia in Lagos and we have some in Ogun State. If we harness all of them, we can hold the event. It is an eye-opener. It’s just to think out of the box to make some of these things useful.
What can you say or suggest to government about the only road that leads to Ibeju-Lekki axis where a lot of people now rush to buy property?
It’s a matter of planning. As the city is growing, is government proactive now to think ahead? Yesterday, I had a meeting with somebody about 8pm and the person was lamenting on how to move around Lagos and I told him to take any alternative route and he told me that there was no alternative route because he lives around Chevron office (before Ajah).
The government has been shouting 4th Mainland Bridge for how many years now? There was even a time they said they wanted to connect Ijora to Apapa with cable car. All is gone! We are not hearing anything again.
Lagos can’t achieve Mega City status without good alternative routes. For example, if that 4th Mainland Bridge is done, you have opened up many axis. Can Lagos be developed without the use of train and others?
It’s unfortunate that, in this age and time, a place like Lagos is still struggling to have means of moving people enmasse from one point to the other. That single lane we have has been there 16 years ago. When Tinubu came, we had the idea of 4 lanes, blue, red, green. They would have been existing by now, but this same Buhari cancelled the first one they planned to have; I am talking about the metro line that Jakande had in mind in the 80’s.