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‘Valuation is not all comers job’

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National Publicity Secretary of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers, Charles Oghenero Ebiai, spoke to MUYIWA ADEYEMI in Ibadan on the essence of the Institution’s conference that started on Tuesday and ends today at the International Conference Centre of the University of Ibadan (UI), with the theme, ‘Real Estate And Infrastructure As Drivers Of National Economic Development.’

What is the essence of this yearly conference?
The yearly conference of our Institution is actually an opportunity to discuss and take positions on some topical issues as it affect the country.

After thorough deliberations, we advice the governments on various policy decisions they take, especially as it affects the landed profession. This time around, we are talking about infrastructure and real estate. All over the world, everybody knows that Africa is the destination for infrastructure development.

If you look at our Nigeria presently, most times, when we start a project, we don’t complete it. There are many things responsible for this, including power generation. Since the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, we have spent so much money, but what we are hearing is that some people in some villages are stopping the projects. These are supposed to be developmental projects that people should warmly embrace, but because of the Land Use Act, most times the compensation payment is not adequate.

As a result, people tend to hold the government down for one reason or the other, but today, with what we have heard from the guest speakers from the South Africa and Kenya, we are looking at how to do this in a way that people will not stop government projects and the easiest way is to look at the arbitration, instead of people going to court.

This conference will surely help government to do a better work. In fact, the South African emphasised that in all issues bothering on the right of way entails negotiation, specifically with those affected by the project.

The Land Use Act says the governor, who is holding the land in trust under Section 28 of the Act on behalf of the citizen, can at any time, with Section 29, revoke that same land. The Act provides for compensation, but the mode of compensation is what we are addressing here.

You don’t just take people’s land like that. If you look at Ibadan where we are holding this conference now, people are saying infrastructural development is going on here, but it must have affected a lot of houses and so many things attached to it. If the government says it will pay compensation based on replacement cost that will take into consideration the value of the house, depreciation, in terms of what they see, which determines what they will pay.

But, of course, you know that even if you want to build that house again, it can’t be at that particular location.

What are those things your members would take away from the conference?
The profession of estate surveying and valuation is very wide and that is why we have created faculties and business groups. This is the first time we are having business session for groups to discuss issues at it affect their way of business.

We are trying to encourage a situation where you cannot say you are all-rounder as an estate surveyor, but you can take four or five out of the business groups and study to become an expert in those areas. That is why we say we have been paying lip service to infrastructure, because infrastructural development is more than payment of compensation.

What informed the choice of the theme of this conference?
It is the fact that all over Nigeria today, this government is talking about infrastructure, whether in power, road or rails and we are saying that all professionals are supposed to come together to discuss projects from the beginning, rather than a particular group just taking it head on.

What happens in the ministries is that engineers, who are in charge of the road projects, do not carry along other professionals. For example, if we are going to build a bridge, they put in a small cost of demolition, forgetting that there is a provision for compensation. Because they are not learned about estate valuation, they will not be able to estimate.

That is why we brought the engineers and that is why many of them are attending this conference. There is no quarrel; you can achieve your job better if at the beginning, you do on the spot valuation carried out by an estate surveyor and valuer.

We are also using this opportunity to inform Nigerians that not everybody does this kind of our profession. We want people amongst us to know that there are new ways of handling some aspects of our profession. It is better for them to update themselves at this conference.

What are the differences between this conference and previous ones?
In the last four years, our conferences have been focusing on development, tourism, etc, but different faculties created make this conference unique.

How is your Institution expanding research on how to solve housing deficit in Nigeria?
We have various committees and there is a committee for research as well. Recently, we were charged by the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, to look at the possibility of rents coming down or whether we must pay annually or monthly?

What quickly carried out the survey of what rents exactly are and from our experience, we told government why rents go up, that it is a function of demand and supply.

On the possibility of paying monthly rents, it is possible, but we have issues with our laws and court system. If you go to court now that you wanted to eject a tenant for lack of payment, it is very difficult and takes a lot of time. The property owner who did it for investment will be suffering.

A lot of reforms are going on in the court system, but rather than going to the normal courts, there are tribunals that dispense justice much faster.

What is the Institution’s role in appraisal and costing?
The real issue is that the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) has created a subset profession that is dealing with appraisals and costing. They want to call it cost engineering, saying that as engineers, they are in a better position to do valuation of plants and machineries.

But all over the years and all over the world, surveryors, valuers and appraisers interpret values and by interpreting values, they look at demand and supply and the worth of that particular thing, not necessarily the engineers for you to interpret values, though you need them to tell you the working condition and we always invite them to do that, whereas we go further to determine the economics and other forces at play.


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