The recent rise in kidnapping, banditry, and herdsmen’s attacks in several parts of the country has weakened private sector participation in house delivery and rendering of professional services in the real estate sector, writes CHINEDUM UWAEGBULAM.
In the face of macroeconomic headwinds, there are fresh concerns among operatives that insecurity may worsen housing deficit and hinder investments in the real estate sector.
They acknowledged that the rising insecurity and tension arose from dissatisfaction among the population of jobless youth, activities of insurgents, bandits and herdsmen, which resulted in loss of lives and destruction of properties. Many people, who are already housed, had their house razed down, while those displaced from their communities are left without homes, thereby worsening the overall deficit.
Currently, the insecurity has spread to other parts of the country, including Benue, Adamawa, Kaduna, Katsina, Sokoto, Plateau States, and Abuja, as well as the South-West, especially Ekiti, Ogun, Ondo, Oyo, Lagos and Osun where there had been resurgence of kidnappings. There were also similar cases in the south-south and southeast regions.
The Guardian investigations showed that some professional service providers, such as estate surveyors, town planners, land surveyors, developers, and even investors fear travelling to some parts of Nigeria because of the rising waves of kidnapping and banditry in the country. Tales of woe are replete of the rising cases of kidnapping and terror attacks on travelers on the highways. For instance, in the Federal capital Territory (FCT), some topnotch developers, investors and professionals have to pull out of sites.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the number of people forced to flee their homes has increased every year over the past decade and stands at the highest level since records began, a trend that can be only reversed by a new, concerted push towards peacemaking. By the end of 2021, those displaced by war, violence, persecution, and human rights abuses stood at 89.3 million, up eight per cent on a year earlier and well over double the figure of 10 years ago, according to UNHCR’s annual Global Trends report.
The report showed that over 3.2 million people are displaced, including about 2.9 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in north-eastern Nigeria. UNHCR said $848 million (N259,488,000,000) is needed to provide basic amenities such as water and shelter to the most vulnerable people inside Nigeria.
It is also seeking $135 million (N41,310,000,000) to help displaced people across the Lake Chad Basin region, where nearly 2.4 million people have been displaced due to Boko Haram insurgency, which started in 2009 in Nigeria.
Earlier report by World Bank states that since commencement of the Boko Haram scourge in 2009, about 956,453 (nearly 30 per cent) out of 3,232,308 private houses; 5,335 classrooms and school buildings in 512 primary, 38 secondary and two tertiary institutions; 1,205 municipal, local government or ministry buildings; 76 police stations have been affected in Borno State.
Specifically, a housing development advocacy group, Housing Development Advocacy Network (HDAN), has warned that if the Federal government does not tackle the spate of insecurity in the country, the real estate sector of the economy may soon be grounded.
Executive Director of the group, Festus Adebayo, who made the disclosure, said the organisation is worried about insecurity and its adverse effect on the real estate sector as the highest employer of labour and contributor to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
According to HDAN, addressing these security concerns is imperative, given the rising cases of kidnapping and other security threats within the FCT and across Nigeria. The network argues that a secure FCT is pivotal for the continued expansion of the real estate sector, a significant contributor to employment.
Adebayo underlined the growing apprehension among house owners and real estate investors due to the perceived high risk posed by escalating insecurity in the country emphasising the need for a swift and effective security response. “As the nation grapples with these multifaceted challenges, the call from HDAN serves as a reminder that security remains a linchpin for sustainable economic development, particularly in sectors vital for job creation and investment,” he said.
He tasked the Minister, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nyesom Wike, to enhance security measures in the nation’s capital and take decisive measures to fortify security in the FCT as by addressing these security challenges, the government can ensure a conducive environment for the sustained growth of the real estate sector, ultimately contributing to the economic development of Nigeria.
‘’We are strongly of the view that the Federal Government, elder statesmen, and state governments should unite to tackle security challenges facing Nigeria. We are urging that in the interest of real estate development and the economy as a whole, issues should be addressed,’’ he said.
HDAN noted that insecurity may increase the housing deficit in the country. ‘’We are of the view that with the perpetuation of the security challenges, the housing deficit of 22 million, may worsen as real estate investment may drop.”
According to the group, safety of dwelling places remains a key consideration when home seekers are making decisions on purchase or leasing of dwelling places. “No home seeker will rent or purchase property in an area where the earlier-mentioned atrocities are rampant for fear of their homes being burgled or invaded and destroyed.
Adebayo said lack of safety measures in certain areas will put pressure on existing properties in areas perceived to be safe by people fleeing from unsafe areas. The result is that there will be an increase in the cost of purchasing or leasing properties in these “safe” areas.
“The downside is that the pressure may result in sporadic construction of unsafe and unhygienic structures, which may eventually collapse or lead to break-out of epidemics; an experience not befitting of ideal real estate development decisions,” he said.
The President, Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP), Nathaniel Atebije told The Guardian that when interests are generated in the landscape, through the National Physical Development Plan and Regional Development Plan, as provided in the Nigerian Urban and Regional law, the ungoverned spaces would have designated land uses, which will generate interest of relevant users, adding that when such spaces are protected, insecurity will be minimised.
According to him, insecurity affects everybody including town planners. “Where there is insecurity, site investigations that need to be carried out before planning would be frustrated, monitoring to ensure that the right developments take place as approved could be risky. This has enabled the development of illegal structures and shanties in many places in the FCT, which also serve as hide outs for criminals,” he said.
He said that it is not true that developers are not going to construction sites anymore in the FCT, adding, “There are lots of construction going on in Abuja right now, especially since the minister threatened that undeveloped plots may be revoked. Many developers have rushed back to sites. Again, lifting the ban on granting approvals to developments in the satellite settlements opened a floodgate to new legal developments, which has encouraged many developers to embark on their projects.
“The policies on ground would encourage developments in real estate. However, for security reasons, the real owners of the estates may not be frequent on sites to supervise their buildings; and some professionals may not be spending all the time on site to supervise. The impact of this is that supervision and construction may be left in the hands of artisans, which may lead to compromises in terms of quality of construction.”
According to him, the government should involve all stakeholders in security matters. “There is the need for improved intelligence gathering, mobilise requisite law enforcement and security agents to critical locations in the territory, equip the security organs adequately to curb the challenges,” Atebije added.
For the Chairman, Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV), Abuja Chapter, Mr Adebanjo Adeleke, insecurity has not had a major effect, “but if it continues at the current rate, it will affect the real estate sector negatively.”
Adeleke urged the Federal Government and FCT administration to up their game in securing the country.
– The Guardian