Adamu Kasimu is a former Chairman, Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV) FCT Chapter. In this interview he explains some of the problems of Abuja city, the way out and other sundry matters. Excerpts:
It’s like there’s a lull in the property market in the FCT, how true is this?
The property market is like any other market that responds to factors of demand and supply and if the demand side is weak naturally it will affect the supply and hence price.
Now the demand for houses in Abuja has dropped drastically and it may not be unconnected with the spendable income that is available to potential house buyers. But looking at the property market in general, it is not a lull per se but a sectoral lull, and more affected is the residential rather than commercial properties that are affected.
Why do people prefer to buy land and develop themselves rather than buy finished products?
This is a social or cultural issue. When you look at the definition of housing, it involves a product and a process. It is not only a house, it also means the process of getting that house. So your needs differ with mine, one, it could be problem of access to land, if you give service land to some people that may be the solution.
Number two, it could be capital, mortgages could solve their problem. So it’s not just about owner-occupation, that is the mistake government is doing, they want everyone to own a house, no, that is not the solution. The issue is that everyone should have access to house.
If you have access to N10 million, you may not be able to buy the desired house you need, but that N10 million may afford you a decent accommodation as a tenant paying maybe N500,000 per annum, so for the next 20 years you are OK, that is the opportunity cost. So it is not just about ownership but access to housing and this where government should focus, make housing accessible to citizens, not that houses should be built for citizens.
Why do people still patronize local village heads who sell them fake land?
In every society there are laws. If you want to buy land there are rules to follow. In FCT the President is the trustee for all lands in the territory because Abuja is a federal land. People go to buy from the villagers believing that nothing will happen yet something will happen, so there is a problem there.
Abuja is growing fast and seems to be overwhelming the authorities, what is the way out?
Remember Abuja was conceived as a planned city and the planners of the FCT did not just plan for the development and growth of the federal capital city but also for the federal capital territory. And again they planned for areas that are contiguous to the territory.
The regional plan of FCT that was prepared by a consultant Doxiadis in the 70s provided that the federal government should consider the establishment of an FCT Wider Area Planning and Development Commission. This was the focus by the planners then, that the impact of the FCT to the east would be felt up to Akwanga in the present Nasarawa state, in the West it might get to Bida, to the North the impact is up to Kaduna, and to the South you have Lokoja.
So in that document that I mentioned these areas are graphically displayed…they conceived that the city will grow and become a liability to the surrounding states.
Up till now we are yet to have that commission established but then if you look at Mararaba, if the entire federal monthly allocation of Nasarawa state is being spent on Mararaba alone it will not solve their problem, there is no infrastructure like hospitals, schools, water etc., yet the place is growing by the day.
No government has made any effort in establishing this commission?
What we have been hearing is that the Governors of these contiguous states stars approach the minister regularly requesting for the establishment of this commission’ planning committee but that is not sufficient. The Nasarawa State Governor recently met with the FCT Minister requesting for a joint planning committee, but all other states should also key in through their Houses of Assembly, they should pass a resolution requesting the federal government to, as a matter of urgency, establish the FCT Wider Area Planning and Development Commission.
This commission will be funded just like the NDDC is being funded. The states should present a common front, it could be through their National Assembly representatives, to address the problem I think the federal government will listen and we will get there.