Olufemi Adedamola Oyedele, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Fame Oyster & Co. Nigeria, is an expert in real estate investment, affordable housing and project/construction management. In this interview with DAYO AYEYEMI, the estate surveyor and valuer speaks on the need for the governments to adopt social and subsidized housing initiatives to help the poor, who cannot access the existing housing stock. He also speaks on what the authority should do to reduce the ugly incessant building collapse in Nigeria’s cities.

Access to home ownership among Nigerians has been a herculean task. What is your take and what is the way forward?

Access to home ownership by all cannot be possible in Nigeria because of the high rate of unemployment and high poverty level. Nigeria has the highest number of poor people in the world. If we want to help poor Nigerians who cannot access the existing housing stock, governments will need to adopt social and subsidized housing. This is taking into consideration that housing is a basic need as enshrined in Article 25 of the United Nations and imprinted into the constitutions of many nations in the world. If a country like Austria can see public housing as social housing, the Federal Government and state governments of Nigeria should see housing as social service and provide housing for the poor and vulnerable in the society as a social service.

How can we solve some of the issues ranging from dearth of cheap funds, lack of easy access to land, high cost of registration/approval/title, confronting the real estate sector?

It is unfortunate that less than three per cent of Nigeria’s properties have titles. Landlessness is the worst form of poverty. The only thing we can do is to urge the state governments to issue more Certificates of Occupancy. The local government chairmen in rural areas also have rights to issue Certificates of Occupancy. Concerning the issue of cheap funds for housing, let us adopt the usage of local and cheap building materials. Late Professor (Arc) Aradeon   propagated “Build with Earth”. Why can’t we improve on these materials to reduce capital flight and bring the cost of housing down?

Building materials’ prices are no longer affordable to real estate developers and home builders. How can we address this?

Cooperative housing is still unpopular in Nigeria. Government needs to encourage Nigerians to engage in this form of collaboration which was used by our forefathers to provide housing. Members can supply labour and assist one another in making sure all members get accommodation.

How can we explore local building materials to reduce the cost of housing?

To address the issue of escalating building materials, let us adopt the use of local materials like bricks and terracotta roof. Timber can serve as walling materials and ceiling materials. Bamboo can serve as light reinforcement for columns and short span lintels (beams). Earth, especially laterite, can provide materials for brick making. These earth materials can be stabilized by adding five per cent of cement to 95 per cent of earth mud. Bamboo can be used as reinforcement for lintel and short span beams. Arches can be used at openings to reduce reinforce members as arches are self-supporting. Our stones and rocks can be well sliced and shaped into paving stones for roads and walkways.

Incessant building collapse has become a trademark in Nigeria.  How do we get to this level?

We used to be ethical in Nigeria, especially in our obeyance of laws and orders. The military governments which came to intervene in the affairs of governance came by force and vetoing all rules and regulations. Who is that public officer that will query a military officer about his building plan approval? What we saw as oppression became endemic corruption and a practice by the low and mighty. The result is that we are all products of corruption and more buildings which were shoddily built in the past will collapse very soon.

What can be done to halt the ugly trend of building collapse in the country?

Only proper monitoring and enforcement of building process rules and regulations, and reduction of corruption in the building industry can reduce incessant building collapse.

Source : Nigerian Tribune