By Bennett Oghifo
Financial transparency has been proferred by stakeholders as one of the critical elements required for the sustainable development of Nigeria’s property market.
These stakeholders, who participated in a webinar hosted by the Nigerian chapter of the International Real Estate Federation (FIABCI-Nigeria) with the theme, ‘Effective Governance and Rational Dispute Resolution’, canvassed property rights and effective governance in the industry.
According to Bill Endsley, Principal Consultant, World Citizen Consulting, besides property rights and effective governance, Nigeria also needs such core elements as access to credit, rational dispute resolution, appropriate regulations and financial transparency in order to develop a sustainable property market in the country.
The Chairman, Lagos Building Investment Company (LBIC), Hakeem Ogunniran moderated and enriched the discussion, while Mr. Adeniji Adele, President FIABCI-Nigeria set the tone for the day’s business with his opening remarks. There were inputs from Olukayode Enitan, Principal, Enitan Associate, and Nechi Ezeako, CEO, El-Values Advisory.
The Programme Officer at Centre for International Private Enterprise (CIPE). Lola Adekanye said, “There are huge economic growth opportunities in Africa. Global businesses are well positioned to tap into the countries and sectors with the highest potential for growth.”
But she faulted attitude to integrity in Nigeria, citing a report by transparency International, which says one in every three Nigerians paid bribes for basic services from 2016 to 2019. She noted that such development erodes investor confidence and prevents foreign direct investment in real estate.
She said, “Weak law enforcement, sanctions and regulatory regime, poor corruption mitigation and compliance capacity, limited access to credible information and compliance resources as well as limited automation in public administration and company management operations are impacting the real estate sector negatively.”
She also called for institutional structures that would make the industry attractive for investors, encouraging players to show responsibility by promoting transparency in the market.
According to a real estate lawyer and managing partner, Mark Odu and Company, Francis Okpaleke, though the real estate sector plays an important role in the development of any economy, resolving disputes in the sector through the traditional court has been very challenging over the years.
Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), and Partner, Akinwunmi and Busari advised stakeholders to get involved in matters relating to real estate and protection of property rights of the citizens.
Olumide-Fusika said, “High cost of transaction, high informality and issues of security of tenure reduces property investment in the sector as well as deter foreign investments,” stating that if people in the real estate sector are involved in policy making, there would be focus on policies that ameliorate issues affecting growth of the industry.
He said if any investor commits funds to real estate in Nigeria, he or she should be interested in what the law says, especially in the equality before the law, right to acquire, and own immovable property and the justice delivery system.
“Properties are not supposed to be revoked from the owners, without compensations, but properties are revoked by those in power and allocated to politicians,” he said and called on the government to improve on these basic fundamentals to boost interest in the industry.