By Ekerete Udoh
Life in the Diaspora
This week, in our series, Life in the Diaspora, we bring you another Diaspora Nigerian who has been a remarkable ambassador of our country in the key area of real estate, Andy Ogbue. He brings his unique insight into the subject and proffers ideas where Nigeria could replicate same to create a thriving middle class. Next week, we shall bring you the much -anticipated crises in matrimony within the Diasporan community and why husbands are killing their wives and infidelity seems to define marriages in our community. It should be a must-read. Keep a date
Mr. Andy Ogbue is a walking encyclopedia of real estate industry. He has spent almost 20 years in the industry and understands the nuts and bolts of the industry. He talks about it with ease and facility and believes passionately that the one verifiable avenue for creating a thriving middle class in Nigeria is through the mortgage industry. “Housing in America has been an engine of growth for the American economy. Each time there is a lull or bust in that industry; you can see the effect being felt all over the economic horizon. Real estate has so many components-the lenders, the borrowers, the construction industry, the appraisers, the lawyers, the underwriters- all these groups have brought varying levels of growth to the American economy. Nigeria can do the same.”
With a wealth of experience garnered over the years in the industry, Mr. Ogbue stated that owning a piece of property is a win–win proposition. “You can do a lot with the ownwrship of a home. Some homes are worth hundreds of millions of Naira and they are just there – some are unoccupied. All it requires is for banks to come up with creative ways of doing business with these home owners and stop the idea of forex and merchandise trading.
“You can refinance these homes, take out the equity from such homes and invest in other areas of the economy or put the money away towards your children education. Seating on a 10,000,000 Naira home without using it to make money I believe is an economic waste. People should know how to use what they have to get what they want. This will create a massive employment in the country, thereby taking away the burden of employment from both state and federal government that will lead to reduction of crime in the society.
“I recognize the fact that it is a bit difficult due lack of national or social security numbers to monitor lending and investment, but there are ways this can be checkmated and make the lending practice possible and successful. I believe that housing is a major way that a burgeoning Nigerian middle class could be created or reestablished as it was in the 70s and 80s. Both federal and state governments should give incentives to some commercial banks to create an enabling home financing environment for investors.
“Federal mortgage bank of Nigeria should expand its lending mechanics to individuals and not only to their workers that contribute to NHF alone. I think that FMBN should stay away from housing development that they are doing all over the country for their workers and focus more on how to carry every body along and create more employments. FMBN can create employment in the following areas as part of their day to day operation such as title companies, payment collection unit, mortgage brokers (as sub lenders) with FMBN as the investor partner with some commercial banks.”
Asked why he is so particular with the creation of the middle class, Mr. Ogbue said “the middle class has always been the engine of growth of any economy, from history, has been the force that changed societies for the better. Look at the French Revolution; it was masterminded by the middle class made up of the Jacobins. It is sad that we have witnessed the disappearance of the Nigerian middle class which was a thriving entity in the 70s and the 80s. Government must act fast to create the enabling environment for that class to thrive again.”
Mr. Ogbue who is a senior loan consultant with the Long Island, New York-based Continental Home Loans was asked if he entertains political ambitions considering the populist manner he sounded. Smiling while betraying his deep political aspirations he said: “there is no doubt that those of us in the Diaspora who have been exposed to the best practices in many levels of socio-political platforms can bring a lot to bear towards the deepening of our political culture and help further our developmental goals.
I do have interest s in my state, Delta’s politics. I think Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan has done extremely well. He has been able to carry all Deltans along as a leader. I have been privileged to see the level of development the governor has engendered in Delta and I am totally amazed by his capacity to deliver such democratic dividends. With what the governor has done, if the new set of leaders who will come in 2015 keep pace with his policies, Delta will certainly be the best state in Nigeria as far as the provision of infrastructural tools and general economic developments are concerned.
“Look at the International Airport in Asaba, which is one of the best constructed airports in Nigeria-it was a great business idea locating it in Asaba, given its close proximity to many industrial and commercial hubs in the Eastern part of Nigeria. The main contractor, Chief Uche Okpomor, a Delta patriot ensured that the airport was constructed with the most modern facilities-He didn’’t cut corners. That is the way Governor Uduaghan has inspired Deltans to see themselves as stakeholders in the development of the state.”
Asked about the centrifugal forces that define the politics of Delta and where the next governor may emerge, Mr. Ogbue said when the time comes, all that would be resolved. Even though he acknowledged that it should be the turn of Delta North to produce the next governor, he said “that is too early in the day. Lets us see the process play out, while we give our maximum support to our dear Governor Uduaghan. We have great sons and daughters of Anioma who could be governor of the state. I was in Dallas recently when the best and the brightest sons and daughters of Anioma came for a convention, and it was great to see such young and inspired leaders like the current Speaker of Delta State House of Assembly, Hon. Victor Ochei, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, top-flight entrepreneur Sir Chika Chiejina MD and CEO of Savannah Suites, Abuja and others Delta patriots celebrate their state and common ancestry.”
Asked to comment on those who see things differently from the sunny disposition he projects about the performance of Governor Uduaghan, Ogbue said, “You know Delta is a microcosm of Nigeria. You can’t satisfy every interest group, there are those who would never give the governor a pass mark no matter what he has done. These people often times, blinded by hate or narrow and parochial interests. They are entitled to their opinion, but the majority of Deltans know that Governor Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan has performed incredibly well and we are very proud of his accomplishments.”
Ogbue, a native of Ogwashi-Ukwu, holds degrees in estate management and finance.
Wiz Kid, Banky W Show Ends in Chaos
The much anticipated musical show of popular musician-Wizkid featuring Banky W which took place last weekend in New York City ended in chaos as NYPD had to be called in to restore order.to what was clearly a disorganized and haphazardly planned event. Trouble started when security could not control the surge of people who thought they had purchased VIP tickets and were entitled to be seated at the VIP, only to be given a wrist band that was meant for other ticket holders. To compound problems for the show organizers, Audacity Promoters headed by Rasaki Bello-Osagie and Shawn Ola Ojo, it appeared the main act, Wizkid was not throughly prepared for the show, as the rendition of his hit songs felt flat. Banky W was later heard screaming that the organizers should get him out of the hall, as police fired several cannisters to disperse the crowd.
It was not a very pretty sight as most concert goers lamented that previous Nigerian music stars had great and flawless shows and wondered why the organizers didn’t appear to have done their homework properly.