Frank Okafor

Shelter no doubt, is one of the basic needs of humans. Anayo Okolie, who visited some of the projects executed by Chief Frank Okafor, the Managing Director of Marcopolo Group of Companies, in order to meet the housing needs of Nigerians, writes

Housing is known to be a major component of creating stable and healthy communities; however, both federal and state governments in Nigeria have failed to provide this important amenity to their citizens.

The failure of government to provide affordable, quality and comfortable housing for Nigerians has made individual with business acumen to thrive in real estate and hospitality business.

Therefore either temporarily or permanently, it is expected for a man to live under a roof.

Although, people from the private sector, especially those in real estate business have strived very high to put the housing problem of Nigeria to an end, the dilemma still remains.

It is widely believed that the problem continued to exist because the government has not been able to develop a viable and sustainable housing finance system.

In a bid to alleviate this problem, Chief (Sir) Frank Okafor, the Managing Director of Marcopolo Group of Companies, has proved to the world that he is a man to be reckon with by doing a lot in the real estate and hospitality business to make life comfortable for people in different parts of Nigeria, especially in different parts of Lagos, where his company has built several estates and first-class hotel.

Okafor, the CEO of Marcopolo Properties Limited and Marcopolo Hotel and Suites, who is heavily involved in the day today running of his companies with support from capable, reliable and committed staff, has thrived where many people failed, having used his business acumen and skills to redefine real estate and hospitality business in Nigeria.

In the Lekki/Ajah axis in Lagos, Chief Okafor is well known as a big real estate player. Over 15 years ago, he single handedly built the Marcopolo Group of companies which is heavily into real estate and hospitality business.

Marcopolo Properties, according to Okafor has over the years provided real estate services within Nigeria at different locations. The company has delivered quality properties to its numerous clients.

However the company realises that it is not just the quality that is most important, rather it is delivering the right quality at the right time and at the right place.

The company has a history of embracing new approaches to established norms and breaking away from set patterns in order to generate exceptional results and it is constantly thinking to attain greater efficiency and faster growth.

Marcopolo Properties is pioneering to be among the leading real estate developers by applying innovations to deliver quality services in the areas which we conduct business.

In Marcopolo Properties, customized orders are available to suit specific construction requirements from their clients in which case the company build and deliver same as requested. It also builds according to client’s discretion and affordability.

One of the remarkable and unique projects of the Marcopolo Properties is Cruz Garden, an architectural and aesthetic masterpiece is located in the high brow area of Lekki in Lagos, the Centre of Excellence.

The garden provides breathe taking serenity, class and a true experience of the lagoon breeze.

Cruz Garden, which is strategically located at a beautiful neighborhood for a blissful family life, is tastefully designed to be a home in every definition and offers a life within Lekki.

Cruz Garden is a premium residential gated community, providing good drainage system and detailed POP finishing.

Chief Okafor’s ventured into the real estate business because of his quest to solve housing problems in Nigeria.

According to him “The truth of the matter is that I went into real estate business because I found out that Nigerians need houses. One of the challenges we are facing in Nigeria is that government is not doing much in terms of housing units.

For a long while now we have been looking at how to partner with government and that is my main aim of entering into the business.”

With over 15 years in the real estate business, Okafor despite various challenges that came his way has not quit, rather his companies is growing in strength by building more than giant 20 estates in Lekki. He has built Marcopolo Properties Limited into a big name in the real estate sector.

According to him, “It is quite challenging because basically government policies are not too friendly. The workmanship in Nigeria, the commitment level is poor. I have never allowed the challenges to slow me down because I see challenges as part of life and I don’t think there is nothing you are doing that you will not face its own part of challenges.

“So, because it is one of the things I like doing, we always find a way of solving the challenges and move on. We always find our weakness and trying to make it to be our strength in the next level of our construction.

“We have been there for a while and we started from scratch. And over time it is a brand we want to turn into a big name that when you think of quality housing. So over time we keep on improving in what we have done, that is why about two years ago, we were able to set up a hotel (Marcopolo Hotel and Suites) to be like our brand that people can always see the quality of business we have done.”

Unlike many real estate businesses which do not protect the interest of the lower and middle class people, Okafor’s Marcopolo Properties Limited is affordable for all because the company operates in three categories of the business.

Marcopolo is a brand that provides for the lower, middle and high classes in the building sector.

One unique thing that stands Marcopolo out from other estates and competitors is quality. “What stands our brand different is quality. We believe so much in quality. We have engineers in different departments that will make sure we come out with the best quality that can stand in any part of the world.

Also we give after sales maintenance services. If you buy Marcopolo property we will be able to maintain that property for you for the next six months free of charge. So that is what makes us different from other people,” Okafor reiterated.

Despite the success Marcopolo Properties Limited and other private companies have achieved in reducing housing deficit in Nigeria, Okafor believes strongly that there is so much he can still do in solving housing problems in Nigeria if government give him more support.

“I think, for the housing deficit to reduce in Nigeria we need a lot of government backing in this line of business. They should be able to make accessible loans. Because today, one of the challenges we are facing is funding and the government are not doing much to help the matter. I wish government could understand that they need to partner with the players in the sector because it will go a long way to reducing the housing deficit.

“We need government backing to achieve more. There are couple of things to do and one of them is the issues of documentation; the cost is high, the timing and cost of documentation. That is the first step I think government has to look at.

“Another aspect I think government can do is land. Most time, you find out that you hardly get allocation from government; you have to buy those lands. So, if they can give allocation of land to people like us to develop at a better price. I think it will be able to help the industry.”

In the area of hospitality business, Okafor is a man to be reckoned with. He has a five-star hotel, known as Marcopolo Hotels and Suites. The high-class hotel, which is located at No 4 Yeni Crescent, Chevy view Estate in Lekki, opposite Chevron head office in Lagos, boasts of state of the art facilities.

The facility has fully air conditioned rooms, orthopedic beds, power showers, plasma screen television, internet access and uninterrupted power supply. The hotel also conforms to all fire safety and health standards as required by major oil industries in the country.

Without any iota of doubt, one of the basic problems in Nigeria today is unemployment and this problem has made many people, especially the youths not to be productive in contributing their quota to the private and public sectors.

Okafor believes that unemployment would hardly be eradicated if private sector did not create jobs opportunity for people and that is why the CEO of Marcopolo Hotel and Suites and Marcopolo Properties has done a lot in creating jobs opportunities through his companies to reduced number of unemployed in Nigeria.