•Rev. HAKEEM OGUNNIRAN, Founder/CEO, EXIMIA Realty Co. Ltd
Rev. Hakeem Ogunniran is an authority on Real Estate issues in Nigeria. He is also recognised as a leading thought leader on African real estate structuring, funding and delivery. That is why he is a frequent speaker at international conferences, seminars and retreats held in major cities around the world.
He has been involved in the activities of the Built industry over the last 20 years. He has paid his dues and he is well respected. He turned 60 this week and City People Publisher, SEYE KEHINDE had Coffee with him, at his Lagos home, during which he talked about his real estate exploits in that sector.
Below are excerpts of the interview.
When you look back at all you have been able to do in the Real Estate sector, how do you feel?
I feel good. Whenever I talk heart to heart with people I always tell them that God prepared me for the sector.
When I was in the university, my best subject was Land Law and Conveyancing. I took a special interest in that. When I went back to teach at the University of Lagos, in those days, I was mentored by Prof. J.A. Omotola, of blessed memory.
He was the No 1 in Land Law. I used to teach Land Law. I used to teach Secured Credit before I left the university and I went into the industry.
Of course, I went round and round and I got into UAC and did a whole lot of things, then I ended up in the Real Estate segment of the business, as the MD of UPDC.
So, in terms of the theoretical framework, I already knew everything about all that I needed to know. There are 2 or 3 ways that you can look at what we have done in Real Estate. No 1 is in terms of the Projects that we have delivered. Of course, when I was in UPDC,
God helped us to deliver some of the most iconic and complex projects in this country like KPMG Towers, VMP 2, Cameron Green in Lagos and in FESTAC we did Festival Mall. We converted one of the old Durbar Hotel blocks to 196 apartments. We did a whole lot in the Lekki Corridor like Alexander Miller. We did a JV with Aircom, Janes Pinnock. In Abuja, we did Metro City and The Pinnacle. In Ibadan, we did Olive Court. We did in Asaba, we did in GRA, Ikeja (Grandville). We did Lekki Phase 1 (Metro Gardens). We did all over.
So, if you are looking at our KPI, the key performance indicators for a real estate person, all those projects show a significant executional capability which is very important for any person in Real Estate.
Then, in terms of Project funding, which is probably one of the most difficult issues for Real Estate in this country, we took on the issue from a different perspective. We created unique instruments in the market. We floated Bonds. In 2020, we floated a Bond. We floated N15 billion naira bond. It was 100% over subscribed. By the way, that was the 1st non-government, non-financial institution bond in Nigeria. That was in 2010. That bond was very successful.
Later, we floated a Reith, the Real Estate Investment Trust N32 billion, which was also successful. It is still there till today. It is still listed on the Stock Exchange. We floated another Bond. We did a bridging Finance. Every time we were raising money for Real Estate projects, and they were all largely successful. So, we largely changed the narrative of the industry, by doing things, which people otherwise thought was impossible in the industry.
We opened up new areas. When I went to Abuja to buy land for Metrocity in 2010, everybody thought I was crazy. If you go to that area today you won’t believe the growth the area has witnessed over the years. So, it is about breaking new grounds, which we did.
I think one of our most significant contributions is also in the area of Reforms. For about 8 to 10 years, I was at the forefront of Reform of the Real Estate framework all over Africa because we share a lot in common, particularly in the area of Real Estate Investment Trust. So, you must have seen me speaking in various countries.
In 8 years, I must have spoken at 40 Conferences-Lagos, Accra, Abuja, Jorbog, Cape Town, London, New York, pursuing the Reform. And that has paid off, because now we have a legislation on Reith, probably not 200% perfect. But we are close to where we should be, with the Finance Act of 2019/2020.
We also impacted a lot of knowledge. So, I was always speaking at those events and that has really helped us, to build the kind of network that we also need for the industry.
These are some of the things we have done in real estate. And of course since I retired in 2018 and I started my business, we have also focused on a clear niche in the market, which is focusing on 1st time home-buyers, the Millenials. We have delivered 2 projects now, we are on our 3rd project and we have 3 other projects in our pipeline. All these have happened in 4 years. Eximia Realty is 4.
The market has accepted us which is very, very important. I always tell people that in this industry the number one currency is Integrity. You must maintain your Integrity in the industry. You must also stay away from the maddening noise in the industry. You must stay focus. The project I just concluded in Lekki, is a 48 apartment project. 95% of my buyers never knew my site. They just gave us money and when we finished we just called them that we have finished. That is the kind of Integrity we have tried to build in the industry.