‘Estate surveyors should be engaged to address Nigeria’s land data challenge”
The practice of estate surveying and valuation in Nigeria has been bedeviled with several challenges leading to negative public perception. In this interview, the second vice president of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV) and the principal partner of Portharcourt based Emma Wike & Partners Emma Okas Wike, gives an insight on what the board is doing to address these challenges as well as the issues of land data in Nigeria.
What would you say the Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV) should do to encourage younger professionals who are embracing estate surveying and valuation profession?
Presently, the council has introduced so many policies towards encouraging the young ones. What we want to do is to encourage our members to go into specialization and that is why the present council under the leadership of Dr. Bola Patunola-Ajayi is ensuring that we have several faculties. At the moment, we have 15 faculties. The essence of this, is to encourage the young ones to embrace specialization. Apart from that, it is aimed at building the capacity of the young ones, so that they will be able to compete favourably either within Nigeria or abroad.
We are also trying to boost the welfare of our members. Currently, we are talking to a lot of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA) to partner with estate surveyors and valuers to carry out their responsibilities.
We have a good relationship with the Accountant-General now. All these efforts are geared towards creating jobs for our members and thereby increasing their welfare. We are also trying to encourage mentorship where the older adopt and train the younger ones to deemphasize mentality for quick money but working to time as well as customers’ satisfaction.
We are also talking to the higher institutions of learning for the teaching and training of students on estate management on career prospects. We are also talking to our members in government to try as much as possible to open frontiers that will help our members.
These are some of the ways we have been trying to encourage our students and younger professionals to stay in estate surveying and valuation because I don’t know of any profession better than ours.
We tried as much as possible to bring sanity into the profession by ensuring that members of the institution practice the profession according to the code of ethics and conduct and that has helped us to reduce the number of cases we normally have. We have also reprimanded those whom we think went contrary to either the code of ethics, conduct or the constitution. This has brought discipline into the institution.
However, that does not mean we don’t still have members who still indulge in unethical practices but once the person is reported to us, we make sure that the law takes its course.
As the chairman, Rivers State Branch, I have tried as much as possible to bring more members into the professional members of the institution. In our institution, for you to be professional member, you have to follow the cadre, you must be a student of estate management; you have to write the professional exams.
Then, I also made sure that we tried as much as possible to engage in advocacy, especially as it concerns government’s projects. In most of the fora, we made sure that estate surveyors and valuers were visible. We tried as much as possible to establish a working relationship with the government and up till now, that relationship continues.
At the national level during my tenure as the publicity secretary, we tried as much as possible to do much publicity, had good media relationship, a feat, my successor continued with.
What are the challenges facing your profession and how is your institution handling them?
One of the major challenges we contend with is about public’s perception about estate surveyors and valuers. A lot of people look at us as estate agents. But, we are far more than estate agency, though that is just a minute of our roles. To whistle the effects of these challenges, we have created about 15 faculties, meaning we have about 15 frontiers where we are supposed to work. So, public perception about us is a key challenge. This is why the present leadership of NIESV under Dr. Bola Patunola-Ajayi is empowering the state chapters of the institution to go into aggressive campaign.
We are working towards improving the knowledge of government officials, as we have discovered that many government functionaries do not know much about us.
Another challenge also plaguing our profession is that many of our clients do not listen to our advices, they want to do it their own way. But it is to their gain if they listen to us when it comes to real estate matters.
In what ways can estate surveyors help government to address the challenge of land data in Nigeria?
I can tell you that we have the resources because we are the land managers. What the government should do is to engage the estate surveyors and valuers and let us do that data generation and management for them.
As an expert in compensation on oil polluted land, in what ways have you been helping the masses in this regard, particularly in the Niger Delta?
On the issue of valuation and compensation, that is statutory. That means there is law that guides that practice. For us in Rivers State and South South, that happens to be one of the major jobs that we do. What we have done is to make both the acquiring authority and the people know that estate surveyors and valuers have the competence in this field and therefore they should consult us. The best they can get is through the estate surveyors and valuers. Secondly, as estate surveyors and valuers, we have been engaging with the governments to ensure equitable compensations are given to all communities.
Can you assess the impacts of the Nyesom Wike’s administration to the development of Port Harcourt?
First of all, the Greater Port harcourt is a new city that the Rivers State Government wants to develop. The intention is ensure that Rivers State has many cities. The government had to acquire an area to build a new city.
We have been trying to encourage new investors into the new area and I can tell you that in few months time from now, a lot of activities will be happening in the new area.
What I have been doing is to bring my expertise to bear first of all in ensuring that compensations are paid on landed property acquired so that will not have the challenge of the communities halting or kicking against the investors.
Two, as the chairman of investment committee, we have been making moves on how to make that place investment-friendly and we have been discussing with the government through the governor to try as much as possible to give some waver to some of the investors as well as give tax holiday to others.
I am aware that there is a new project we want to do, which is Spartmart, a new market that will be for automobile spare parts dealers and mechanics. When that project came on board, the Governor having seen some of the impacts it would make on Rivers State economy, he had to wave some of the processes they had to follow and today so many of the people are happy.
About two weeks ago, we signed a Memorandum Of Understanding (MoU) with two different companies to build 2,000 housing units within the Greater Port Harcourt City.
I know that when these projects come on board, it will create employment opportunities in Rivers State and besides, the housing deficit in the state would be reduced. I know that Rivers State presently is a safe haven for investments and we are working in line with the vision of the Governor to bring in more investors to Rivers State and most of them are responding.