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Going, going… Rivers government throws open bids for prime properties

By Ann Godwin and Obinna Nwaoku, PortHarcourt
11 April 2022   |   2:50 am
Fresh buzz last week gripped the Rivers real estate sector as the state authorities made good its decision to offload its prime properties, with residents cautioning on the proposed sale.

Former Niger Delta Development Commission(NDDC) headquarters, known as the Harold Dappa Biriye House

Fresh buzz last week gripped the Rivers real estate sector as the state authorities made good its decision to offload its prime properties, with residents cautioning on the proposed sale.

The properties are the former headquarter of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), popularly known as the Harold Dappa Biriye House as well as the former RIVBank building at Plot 6,7 and 8 Orije layout along Aba road, Port Harcourt.

Former occupants of the Harold Dappa building vacated it on April 2021 after the completion of its N16 billion permanent headquarters office situated along Eastern By-Pass, Marine base in Port Harcourt.

The nine-storey building sits on a land area of 2,694.993 sqaure meters. The building has conference halls and offices.

The Guardian gathered that the agency was paying the sum of N300 million yearly rentals on the former office complex, which has now been returned to the Rivers State government.

A visit to the agency’s former office complex, a nine-storey edifice situated along GRA junction in Port Harcourt City council shows that it has been deserted, only security guards were sighted.

It was also gathered that the former occupants vandalised some parts of the facility, a situation, which prompted the state executive Council to x-ray two options either to renovate the building and appoint a facility manager to manage it or embark on an outright sale, where the buyer renovates and do whatever he desires with the complex.

Similarly, the decision was also considered on the former RIVBank building and the state’s executive opted for the outright sale of the facility with the belief that the civil servants lack good maintenance culture. The building is a seven-storey, which sits on a land area of 2,132.32 square meters.

Sequel to the decision, the State government through the Ministry of Housing has called for public bidding on the properties. The state’s Commissioner for Housing, Tasie Chinedu Nwobueze, confirmed the development.

He said: ” We are calling for the public bidding of the properties. The state government has two options after NDDC left the complex; one is to renovate which will amount to millions and appoint facility manager, then second, is outright sale to let the buyer renovate and do whatever he desires”

“The state executive Council after due deliberations opted for the outright sale of the buildings. The response has been poor, the investors are proposing N2 billion but the condition of payment is not favourable to us.”

MEANWHILE, some residents have kicked against the idea of the sale of the Harold Dappa Biriye building.

They alleged that the idea has some political undertones, claiming that the state government is putting adverts to mislead the public, stressing that one of their cronies has acquired it.

While some suggested that the building should be put on lease so as to accrue revenue, others are oblivious of what becomes of the huge building.

Maxwell Oyi, a resident said: “The government should rent the building out to some of the corporate bodies so that it will generate money for them. I wonder why they want to sell the building. Outright sale of the building will not be good because it is a symbol of our heritage. The building is named after one of the founding fathers of the state and if it is sold, that means his name is wiped out.”

Fabian Amadi said: “The claim by the government to sell the build is a smokescreen to cover up their intention to convert it to personal property.

“Rivers state is a state where we play politics with everything. And the building is one huge asset of the state, what about allowing a company to run it and bring returns to government yearly?”

However, another resident, Kingsley Onyeka, said the government lacks a maintenance culture.

He argued that government cannot sustain the building, hence, should be sold off.

He said: “We all know that government do not know how to manage public buildings. Examples abound of many government properties that have become moribund or obsolete.”

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