·         Continued from yesterday

Government should put abandoned assets to good use

Today, several edifices that were once national monuments have deteriorated into an eyesore to the embarrassment of a nation that is increasingly becoming incapable of maintaining its national assets. For instance, many of the national stadia have become a huge economic waste. The Lagos stadium is in distress. Even the Abuja stadium, built in 2003 at the cost of $360million is now a shadow of itself. Renovated several times with billions of naira between 2009, when it hosted the Junior World Cup, and 2012, the stadium was once an unofficial grazing reserve for cattle.

 Officials have blamed poor funding for this unfortunate situation. Available records show that the six stadia got N300 million in the 2012 budget for maintenance, increasing slightly to N400 million in 2016. With this meagre fund, it is evident that the facilities could only be what they are. We urge the federal government to take quick steps on many of these entities that are wasting away either by giving them out to private investors in line with its concession policy or handing them over to states that are interested in running them.

Experts in the real estate sector are at a loss how a nation could wantonly subject such iconic properties to abuse. Indeed, former President of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV), Emeka Eleh noted rightly that vacant houses run down faster than occupied houses and advise the government to lease the houses to individuals who can afford them, while others suggest that the federal government and the states should find a way of putting these buildings to better use.

Even more disturbing is the spate of building collapse. There is no doubt that many buildings collapsed because of their decrepit state and neglect.  According to the latest report from the Building Collapse Prevention Guild, about 604 building collapsed between 1974 and May 2024. The report indicated that Lagos State recorded 57.28 per cent of the total collapses with over 346 buildings caving in the last 50 years. Even though findings by the guild attributed many of the incidents largely to professional ineptitude ranging from excessive loading, use of substandard materials, faulty design, poor workmanship to weak foundation, there is no doubt that years of neglect and abandonment contributed to the tragedies. 

 We have seen governments come and go in Nigeria with none of them making it a priority to recover the real values of national assets that are depreciating by the day. Every government compounds the problem by adding more to the list of abandoned projects. Yet, we are bothered by this proclivity to the waste of scarce resources, especially at a time the population is growing at an alarming rate and the economy is slowing down. We feel that all abandoned national assets should either be turned around for economic benefits to the country, or handed over to entities that can make the most of them so they can create jobs for the people. At a period when we need to think out of the box to address the myriads of socio-economic challenges, there should be no room for waste.

As the raining season sets in, the authorities should do more by giving adequate attention, and transforming many of these historic landmarks into creative use. That will help to get the needed money into cash-starved government coffers. Besides, as the House of Representatives has noted in their passed resolution, it makes no sense to abandon buildings erected at enormous costs and begin to pay scandalous amounts on rent for government agencies.

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