By Oki Samson, Trek Africa Newspaper.
…Says ‘The environment you live will dictate the kind of thinking that you produce’.
…Encourages government to help workers to own homes
The housing need in Nigeria is an ever-growing one. This requires that engineering, construction and other allied activities must be on continuous gear. One of the business moguls that are influencing the housing industry is the Chairman/CEO of Righteous Construction Nigeria Ltd.
His other company, another real estate company at that, RiveBond Nigeria Ltd. is the promoter of RiveBond Lagoon Estate, Epe, Lagos where about 500 housing units are currently selling.
The politician cum entrepreneur was the Chairman of the conference at the recent Trek Africa Real Estate Summit & Expo 2020 themed ‘Make Nigeria Livable: Building Safe and Secure Homes’ held at Oriental Hotel at Lekki in which he delivered a glowing Chairman speech by a representative.
He said: ‘Having been in the construction industry for over three decades, I have seen a lot of improvement in the sector which makes me glad and I am encouraged that there are great possibilities for Nigeria. But there are also challenges. The challenges come in the area of the country’s rise in population and the fact that there are many homeless people in the country. Getting houses for many youths is quite hard unlike our time. How do we solve this issue? We need to build safe and secure homes. This is what this conference is out to address.’
In this special interview, Epe, Chief Lanre Rasak who is the Bobagunwa of Epe and popularly known as ‘KLM’ shared with Trek Africa Newspaper.
Trek Africa: When did you start RiveBond Nigeria Ltd.?
Chief KLM: We established the company about ten years ago to meet the shortfall in housing in this country and we have been doing our best. We are already on the ground in RiveBond Lagoon Estate, Epe where we have constructed about 500 housing units for the upper and middle class. You know too well that Epe will wear a new toga when the Lekki Free Trade Zone comes in place with the refinery, deep seaport, petrochemical industry etc. and comfortable living will be important for the workers that will serve there.
Trek Africa: How do we make housing affordable for an average Nigerian?
Chief KLM: You can’t expect a salary earner to buy a home of N20m, N50m, N100m, or N200m at a goal. And that’s why the mortgage arrangement comes into play. The bank will come in and buy the home, and sell it to people while spreading the payment over 20, 30 years. Government is encouraged to support their workers to own homes. The environment you live dictates the kind of thinking that you produce which impact productivity. It is when you are happy that you can expect the best from people.
Trek Africa: you have been in this industry for over 30 years, what have been the major challenges for you?
Chief KLM: Life is about challenges. There is no endeavour you get to that there are no challenges. First, getting the land is an issue that if you are not careful in this part of the country, you can get into wrong hands and run into litigation. Human capital is another, then the finance to run the project.
Trek Africa: Talking about structural integrity, what’s your take on quality?
Chief KLM: There is no alternative to a good job. Some people, for reasons best known to them, cut corners. And you can’t eat your cake and have it. You don’t cut corners in building and construction because it can involve loss of lives. And I am glad that the Government is putting stringent measures in place. You lose the land, lose your license and you may end up in jail. That’s why it is not every Tom, Dick and Harry that can be into construction. We should have professionals. There is a provision that you should do a soil test to determine the kind of foundation to do. Your building will remain if you comply with engineering specification whether on swampy or dry ground.
Trek Africa: We hear Gov. Jakande did a great job in housing in Lagos, what do you have to say?
Chief KLM: Yes, the houses he built close to 40 years ago are still standing. Look at Iponri, Ebute-meta, Oshodi, Oke-Afa, Mile 2, you will still see the houses meeting the need of people. if you don’t provide housing for people, you are providing a problem for them. And that’s why we are committed that we won’t only cater to the high class that will give us huge profit but also the middle class and low-income earners. They deserve to live in comfortable and good homes.
Trek Africa: What do you have to say about the handling of COVID-19 by Lagos State Government?
Chief KLM: One thing people seem to ignore is that when calamity is prevented, they will not appreciate the impact. But it is only when people are safe and happy that people can work and pay taxes. Should a breadwinner die, the calamity for the family is huge. I encourage everyone to support the government. Coronavirus is real and dangerous.
Trek Africa: What’s your advice to youths who want to venture into real estate?
Chief KLM: There is due process to every business you want to venture into. They should meet professionals that can help draw guidelines on how to go about it. Government is also giving to real estate in the form of finance and land. Ensure that you don’t throw your hard-earned money away.