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Nigerians Are in Captivity, A Lot of People Are Trying to Escape – Pat Utomi

 

  • ‘Nigeria has had very bad politicians one generation after another’

A political economist and former presidential candidate, Prof Pat Utomi, who also contested the governorship primary of his party in the last election, shares his thoughts about the state of the nation in this interview with TUNDE AJAJA

Nigeria will be 59 in two days and many Nigerians are grossly disappointed with the country’s level of development. How would you assess the country’s progress so far?

Part of my personal burden is that I have been around for all of those 59 years and so I have seen those 59 years from the eyes of a young person, a teenager, a middle-aged person and someone now entering into the twilight of his time of being. I think one sentence sums it up; excruciating and painful witness to a country’s failure to live its dream. Most of my adult life has been focused on two things; social justice and economic development. In both areas, Nigeria has been a remarkable failure. I still remember as a young academic interested in development issues the days people used to say to Indonesia that ‘if you organise yourselves well, maybe you can be like Nigeria.’ And now I’m living through a time people are saying to Nigeria; maybe you can be like Indonesia. Isn’t that a great irony? In fact, a friend of mine, an American professor at the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins, Peter Lewis, reflected that in a book, titled ‘Growing Apart’, which was a comparison of Nigeria and Indonesia. As Nigeria went south, Indonesia moved up the ladder. If Indonesia is painful to compare Nigeria with, you just try to compare it with Singapore. If I compare what has happened over the years in Singapore and Nigeria, sometimes, I literally break down in the night and begin to sob. I just love Singapore.

What’s the attraction?

Well, it’s the story of a country that was literally nothing. I saw it grow from a fishing village to what it is now. Its Prime Minister once broke down and wept because they thought they could not survive without Malaysia when the Malaya Federation got rid of them. But it became the hub of development. Everything happened before my eyes. Something happened when I went to Singapore this summer, and the story is very real. I was in my hotel room; reflecting and I found myself literally going into private conversations with Chinua Achebe and Nelson Mandela. In many ways, some of their expressions reminded me very deeply, painfully and sorrowfully the failure of Nigeria as a country. I was just lost in conversation with these men and I actually plan to put down a book of those conversations of which I got no reply from these men. Somebody interviewed me in 1990 and I was shocked when the person said there is a topic you would turn to that would animate me any day, which is Nigeria. I have always been pan-Nigeria in all my views, but Nigeria has been a depressing ride; its youths are leaving and they are unsure about the future.

Where do you think the country is getting it wrong?

One of the things that the Nigerian elite have never gotten around is understanding what it means to govern. So we have one generation after the other of very bad politicians. Government has gone from bad to worse; you think it’s going to get better and the next one is just worse than the one before it. It’s depressing when you think they would learn from the mistakes of others but it never happens. Associated with this is the fact that governing Nigeria is expensive; politicians are on ego trips, which must be manifested in motorcades and how they steal the commonwealth in the name of taking care of themselves because they are government officials. In many countries, public officials are some of the least paid persons. Here, they are probably not as well paid but we know how much of our resources they have plunged.

The budget of the country comes to less than six per cent of our Gross Domestic Product and what it takes to run the government is extracted mainly from revenues from crude oil and taxation, and about all of it going into the budget. And this budget maintains less than two million of us who are either civil servants or politicians and they don’t even feel accountable enough to ensure that the rest of us have a decent life. They actually think who are we to be talking to them and asking to be governed well. So, between the civil servants and the politicians, we have a new colonisation of the Nigerian people. Femi Falana said the other day that Nigeria is governed like we are a conquered people and I disagreed with him. I told him we are not governed like we are a conquered people; we are a conquered people. Only a conquered people can be governed the way we are governed. We are in captivity and that is why a lot of people are trying to escape as if they are trying to break out of captivity. It’s a run for freedom. We cannot continue that way; it’s not possible.

Would you have an idea of how the country got to this level if Indonesia once admired us?

Yes, it wasn’t this way from the beginning. I remember the late Prof Emmanuel Elebute saying that when he was appointed a professor of medicine in the 60’s, his pay was higher than that of the Prime Minister of Nigeria. Can you imagine anybody in the National Assembly allowing a professor of medicine to earn more than them? That’s impossible in today’s system. We know how long it took him (Elebute) to get there, but we don’t know how long it took to get to the National Assembly. In some cases, all it takes is to steal a few ballot boxes, even if you are coming from the gutter. A collapse of culture happened somewhere along the way. When there is a collapse of culture, nothing dear exists anymore. Value shapes human progress and it determines what any society becomes, but there has been a collapse of culture in Nigeria and there are no values guiding anything anymore. Anything goes and you can get away with murder, literally. You can steal the maze today and the next day you would be the custodian of the maze. That’s a society that has lost everything.

If Nigeria continues on this route, where do you think the country is headed?

For three decades, I have been trying to get the Nigerian middle class to realise that they are the problem. I recently wrote a book, titled ‘Why Not’, where I talked about the complicit middle. I think I played some role in waking up that middle in 1993 after the annulment of the election. I wrote an article, ‘We must say never again.’ Professionals got up and said truly we couldn’t continue, but everybody went back to sleep and the conquest continued. Fully conquered by the political class, the Nigerian people are wondering who they are and what would happen to them next. But, you see the thing about situations like this is that they are not sustainable; it’s just for a period of time. About 25 years ago, I began using a phrase that Nigeria would witness the revenge of the poor. My friend, Rev Fr George Ehusani, seems to have popularised the phase. It’s happening as we speak. Let the rich travel from Abuja to Kaduna in their flashy cars and see what happens. And it’s just starting. Unfortunately, the poor and middle class are also caught up by it. We could have avoided all of these and build a prosperous and just society for all. When there is no justice, peace is hard to find. Nigeria built an unjust society and today it is searching for peace. It was all avoidable. I can go back to look at all my writings for the last 40 years and I can show where I predicted where we are today. I am tired this time and it’s time to retire.

There are people who believe that the discovery of oil is part of our problem, do you agree with that?

Nigeria has suffered a major problem that led to the collapse of culture, and it’s what I like to call the dangerous alchemy of the convergence of soldiers and oil. Military rule, which brought an authoritarian structure, met with oil, which brought free money. The people in power, who were soldiers, did not need the people because they had enough money coming from oil exploration to do as they pleased. So, people were very happy that they (military) left them alone. Then, they also stopped paying taxes and they stopped asking what they (leaders) were doing with our (oil) money. That drove the emergence of state capture. The people who had power and money basically captured the Nigerian state. I often talked about those who own Nigeria as their property. For nearly 60 years, we have had a group of people who have captured the country and owned it. In many ways, groups negotiate with them entry into sharing some of what they own. I have a very remarkable relationship with former President Olusegun Obasanjo and I love him. There are two sides of him. There is a side of him that is with that rapacious group of captors and a side of him that represents a certain social will for good of all. He’s a very complex man caught in the middle of this and people don’t understand him. There are things about him that you may not like but there are things about him that you can’t but respect. But, there are others in that group that are not given to his pang of conscience. It’s a rapacious parasitic group.

There is also the belief that the Nigerian citizenry went to bed after the return to democracy in 1999, was that truly the case?

While the state capture lasted, they woke up in 1999 and we all fought the system until they (military) decided to let go. After that, we – and I charge myself as the first accused – decided we had done our bit, which was the ultimate mistake, in my view. It opened the doors to a bunch of charlatans and once those traditional politicians moved in, that was it. People who came with the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Michael Opara and Ahmadu Bello, who grew up in the understanding of social conscience, thought the military was not serious about going. Then a bunch of bandits stepped in and Nigeria has not recovered since then.

Do you think it is possible to recover?

It is possible to recover. You see, why I think any nation caught in this kind of mess can recover is Brazil. If Brazil can come back, why not (Nigeria)? But my fear is that if we are not careful, instead of taking the Brazil option, we might do Argentina or worst still, we may do our natural ally and soulmate, Venezuela. Do we learn from our mistakes? Nigerian civil war was the worst genocide of the 20th century outside Hitler’s attempt at exterminating the Jews, even though we tried to cover up that history. Rwanda went through genocide and recovered brilliantly in the way President Paul Kagame has tried to rebuild the country. Nigeria has not had a good fortune of learning from the error of the Nigerian genocide in the way Kagame had. So, where do we find hope? I think there is still a group of people committed to the dignity of the human race, who are middle class persons and are still driven by a bigger good. I remember that one of the things I had written while reflecting on my thoughts about Achebe and Mandela was what I titled 1,100 years of servitude. My fear is for Nigeria as a nation not to plunge its people into 1,000 years of servitude. When I talk to many Nigerians, people are so short-termed and instant gratification-driven and it increases my pain. To have elite that are not sensitive to the pains of Nigerians is one of the reasons my time of being has been a depressing one.

Your party, the All Progressives Congress, on assuming power in 2015 lamented what it called PDP’s 16 years of misrule and people felt the APC would do things differently. Do you think anything has changed since your party took over?

Let me tell you my own history with that adventure. I think about seven or eight years ago, I was asked to give the annual lecture of the Leadership newspaper and the subject was ‘political parties’. I remember vividly and I remember that in that room were almost all the people who became the bigwigs of the opposition, sitting on the high table. I took the pain to analyse what political parties are; what their role is in building up ideas for social transformation and progress. But there was something interesting after I finished speaking in that hall. Paul Unongo (former Chairman of the Northern Elders Forum) running to the podium saying to me that he felt like locking the doors and preventing all of us from leaving the place so we could sit down and discuss how Nigeria would move forward. That lecture was to get the opposition to realise that the redemption of Nigeria was all these people getting together, crafting ideas about how Nigeria should travel and using the platform of a political party, based on ideals of social democracy, with the people’s capitalism embedded in it, to organise a better society. The first thing I would say about the trouble with Nigeria and my party, as you called it, is that we didn’t form a political party.

How do you mean?

We created something called the APC, but it’s not a political party. Political parties in Nigeria unfortunately remains essentially machines for winning elections; a classic example of machine for elections. Machine politics does not save a nation, rather it produces political actors, whereas Nigeria needs to be saved. Once we did not manage to form a political party out of the APC, the game was lost. The first game that was lost was that the APC had no machine for internal conversation. So, once the machine produced officers, it was the end of the game; we could not even talk internally about what we should be doing as a party. People who can testify are still alive.

I kept going back to talk to Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, who was the chairman of the party, about the need for us to sit down, develop ideas and coach all the people elected on the party’s platform about what we stand for and where our country should be. He said we truly needed such but that there was no money, and I told him we didn’t need money. I said he should invite them and leave the rest to me. I told him I would bring my friends free of charge to orient them. So, I went through that with him, but when you can’t find a platform to speak inside your own party, what do you do? Maybe once in a while journalists would harass you (laughs) and you would say one or two things and that is the end. I’m not surprised that we are where we are now. But, it’s a tragedy for our country. And there is this big misconception that we are a rich country; but we are not. We are a bankrupt country. If we are a company, we would have gone like Thomas Cook (a British global travel group that folded up a few days ago).

Have you tried having that conversation with the new leadership of the party?

Remember I said I’m retired (laughs). Since I have no pension, maybe I would first go to an American campus and speak English for two years, perhaps I would earn enough that could sustain me in my village (laughs). It’s a big pity, because this country has so much potential. A professor at Harvard years ago said the central conservative truth is that it is not politics but culture and its values that are responsible for the progress of the society. The central liberal truth is that politics can change the culture and save it from itself. In effect, what he was saying was interpreted very nicely by Samuel P. Huntington (jnr) who gave an example of that. Lee Kuan Yew in many ways represents that central liberal truth.

He was a man who used politics to change the culture of his people and in doing that effectively, he took that country from the third world to the first. Unless there is a change in culture and values in Nigeria, the result would be the same. For example, our youth bulge should be producing demographic dividends for us, but, right now our youth bulge is producing the road to Somalia. Robert Kaplan told us 20 years ago that we would likely descend into anarchy, with ethnic, religious and economic cleavages. Instead of us to work assiduously at preventing that from happening, we just kept on behaving every day to get to the destination we were warned against. If lives were not involved, Nigeria would be a serious comedy, but the lives of millions of people are involved.

You participated in the presidential campaigns of your party prior to the 2015 election, and as an economist, some people expected that you would be in the President’s team to bring your experience to bear. Would you know why you didn’t get an appointment or were you offered and you declined?

One thing I know about God is that He loves me and He doesn’t let me go to where it’s not in my best interest. So, whatever happened was absolutely what God loved to happen, and it has been for my own good.

You took part in the primary election of your party for the governorship election in Delta State in the last election. Even when you wrote to your party to postpone the primary because the list of delegates was not available, you said you got no response. How did you feel about it?

I believe in process. The rule said if you would use the indirect primary you must provide all the aspirants with the list of delegates so they could pitch their ideas to those people, but the list never came. To be on the record, one week to the exercise the list didn’t come, so I wrote to the state and national offices. Even on the day of the exercise, we didn’t see the list. What is tragic about our situation is that we have used social media to confuse many things. I have seen on the social media on how some people said I didn’t know where the primary was taking place and that I went to another place. It was all nonsense. But they planted it in the media to suggest that I was somehow confused. But there was no such thing. 70 per cent of the things I see in the social media with my name don’t emanate from me, but what do you do.

What happened on the day of the primary?

You see, based on what I just said, there was no reason for me to show up; when I didn’t get the list and there was no response to my letters. On the day of the election, which was supposed to start at 9pm, they called for a meeting at noon and the delegation from Abuja was there. The then Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Ibe Kachikuwu), who is also from the state was there, including the other aspirants. Every single person, except one, said it didn’t make sense and that we should postpone it. The chairman of the panel said, ‘Prof, you know the way things are in Nigeria’ and I asked if I could see the list but he still didn’t bring it out. He said he saw it yesterday in Abuja and I said okay, can we see it? He said ‘Prof, you know we are brothers, let’s just go to the field.’ I was looking at the man and I asked myself how this country came down so low.

He even said, ‘Prof this is not classroom’ (laughs). At that point I didn’t know whether to be amused or not. I knew it was clear what they came to do, so there was no point. The problem is that people who violate laws don’t go to prison, so it would be done again in the next election. In a normal country, all those involved in that process should be in prison by now. I am watching for the third time in my life, grand treason against the Nigerian people. What has happened in Nigeria unfortunately is that it has become a way of life. It has become a racket. So, rights are denied Nigerians normally. Several times I have told the Nigerian Bar Association that they have a duty to be activists for the rule of law.

At the point that the process didn’t go as planned, did you make any attempt to reach out to the authorities at the national level?

Which authorities, when they were the ones doing it? Whatever it was, there was deliberate collusion from the upper echelons of the party. They (electoral committee) can’t just do that kind of a thing among themselves.

The man who won the primary lost the election, were you surprised?

I expected that to happen. That was why the whole thing was like a no-brainer and I wonder why they didn’t understand that was how it would play out. The general politics of the place was such that anything other than someone like me emerging was baptising the incumbent.

Do you think you would have won if you had emerged as the winner?

Clearly, I would have. People were looking for something new and different. I didn’t wake up to say I wanted to run for any office, but they harassed me in my house. Those concerned persons disrupted my peace. Nobody around me, family and friends, wanted me to contest, but the people who came to me were not even my kinsmen. They were mainly from the central part of the state, which was what impressed me.

What was the position of your wife?

My wife, more than anybody else, was the one going quietly behind me to beg my friends to tell me not to go ahead. But, I also ask myself how history would remember me if there was a chance to mount the stage and effect a change and I walked away. One thing I can never be accused of in this country is not having made the effort to change anything I have ever criticised. I criticised how we treat widows and then I created a centre to support widows and it has been on for nearly 30 years. I observed that we didn’t have a public conversation, so I created Patito’s gang to aid public conversations. I know what it has cost me, beyond what it costs to air and produce the television show for 20 years. But I have been happy to live with all those things as part of my own sacrifice for nation building.

Housing Deficit

Are you still a proud member of the APC?

Political parties are an aggregation of groups in a direction, if it was really a party. The Conservative Party have the back-benchers, so consider me a very serious back-bencher in the APC.

You once contested to be President and then you later contested to be governor, some people would see that as a descent. Did you see it like that initially?

No, I don’t even think of those things like that. Many people thought that way but I don’t think in those terms. That is where pride really is, and the example I gave in my book, ‘’Why Not’ on that subject was that when I was a graduate student in the United States in the 70s, the Governor of California, a gentleman called Jerry Brown did something similar. After he left being the governor, he went to be a local government councillor. Over 30 years after, he ran for governor again. I had a good fortune of becoming friendly with a one-time Prime Minister of France. Just before he died, he was the Mayor of Lyon, after being the Prime Minister. So, I don’t think like that. In fact, if you tell me that what would change Nigeria is if I become a local government councillor, not even chairman, I will. My interest is not in the title but the impact.

After those attempts, do you still have plans to contest any office?

I told you that I’m making the moves to go to my village, you’re talking about an election (laughs). In fact, if not that I’m not buoyant enough to retire, because I don’t have a pension, I won’t be here (laughs). I also believe that impact is not a function of title. I wish people didn’t have to have a title to make a difference. I’m not looking for a job and I’m not looking for a title. What title did Mahatma Gandhi hold in India? You mention India and the first name anybody thinks of is Gandhi. I ran into Dr Tokunbo Awolowo-Dosunmu sometime and she looked at me and shook her head. She said ‘you know I have been watching and following you; I see these people trying to stop you to block you out the way they blocked my father.’ I was struck. As she walked away, I turned to the person next to me and I said I wish they would succeed. If I could go to my grave in the stature of her father, I would rather that than any title in Nigeria.

Now that you want to retire, what do you do at your leisure?

I talk to people like you (laughs). Of course, I read a lot, and that one is a habit. If I have 10 minutes to myself and I didn’t read, something would be wrong because I would always have a book in my hand.

Source: punchng

South Africa’s Tech-Based Property Register Holds Lessons for Nigeria

In real estate development, South Africa has always been ahead of Nigeria. For Nigeria’s less than 1 percent mortgage contribution to GDP, South Africa has about 30 percent. In South Africa, it takes lesser time and costs less to register property. It is also less cumbersome.

Nigeria lags behind South Africa in terms of home ownership. For South Africa’s 56 percent, Nigeria has 25 percent home ownership level for its 200 million population and acclaimed largest economy in Africa.

The country comes far behind Indonesia and Kenya where the levels are 84 percent and 75 percent, respectively.
Recently, South Africa outpaced Nigeria with the development of its first blockchain-based property register made possible by a partnership between Centre for Affordable Housing Finance in Africa (CAHF), research consultancy 71point4, and Seso Global.

A blockchain is an aspect of what is now popularly called PropTech, a short form of Property Technology which is a collective term used to define start-ups offering technologically innovative products or new business models for the real estate market.

The new development in South Africa will be the first working example of a blockchain-based property registry in the country. Aside from creating an immutable record of who owns which house, it will facilitate and record transactions such as sales and transfers out of deceased estates.

The blockchain solution comes with benefits.
Daniel Bloch, CEO of Seso Global, a blockchain property registry company, explained that the solution allows data to be stored in a decentralised, secure database that can be updated without any loss of historic data.

“This means there is a secure, back-to-back record of all transactions that is completely tamper-proof. Eventually the vision would be to integrate this record into the Deeds Registry when other impediments to transfer have been removed,” Bloch said.

This is a major lesson for Nigeria where getting data remains a big issue, making the property market in the country very opaque.

Abdulhakeem Sadiq, founder/CEO of Zama, a new PropTech company in Nigeria, said though PropTech is slowly gaining momentum in developed markets, it is yet to gain traction in Nigeria.

“And we feel a developing market like Nigeria can learn and re-calibrate itself for seasoned investors,” he said at a forum in Lagos.

Roland Igbinoba, president/founder, Pison Housing Company, agrees, stating that global investment in Prop-Tech has been significant.

“It surged from a mere $20 million in 2010 to $14 billion in 2018, and projected to hit $20 billion in 2019. The investments have been witnessed in virtual reality, real estate crowd-funding, big data & analytics, artificial intelligence, smart building technologies and portal listings among others,” he said.

Like Nigeria, South Africa has land titling problem. But unlike Nigeria, the country is thinking and working on solving that problem, hence the new development with its many benefits.

Kecia Rust, CEO of CAHF, said the South African government has built over 3 million houses since democracy. But CAHF’s analysis of deeds office data indicates that only 1.9 million of these properties have been registered. In Nigeria, only 0.5 percent of properties are in formal mortgage.

South Africa’s National Department of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation (NDHSWS) estimates that the title deed backlog for properties built prior to 2014 currently stands at 511 752. These properties were given to beneficiaries, but no title deeds were registered and handed over. At the same time, there is a backlog of 351,470 title deeds on newer properties.

Registering these properties so long after they were built and handed over to subsidy beneficiaries is an administratively complex task. In some cases, original subsidy beneficiaries are no longer living in the properties. Some beneficiaries might have passed on; some might have tenants in their properties while others have sold their houses informally.

Source: Businessdayng

South Korea Is building a $40 billion City Designed to Eliminate the Need for Cars

When residents of the International Business District (IBD) in Songdo, South Korea go to work, pick up their kids from school, or shop for groceries, driving is optional.

That’s because the $40 billion district — currently a work-in-progress about the size of downtown Boston — was designed to eliminate the need for cars.

A project that began in 2002, the area prioritizes mass transit, like buses, subways, and bikes, instead of road traffic, according to Stan Gale, chairman of Gale International, the developer behind the IBD.

When completed by 2020, the district will span 100 million square feet. It’s located on the northwest side of South Korea.

In Songdo City, South Korea, Gale International is building the International Business District (IBD) on reclaimed land along the Yellow Sea.

Cosentini Associates

Consenti Associates

From the first planning stage, the developers aimed to make the district eco-friendly.

songdo

Gale International

One strategy was designing the area to reduce the need for cars.

songdo NC_Cube_CanalWalk_1

Gale International

BD features a mixed-use urban plan, meaning its retail, office space, parks, medical facilities, and schools are all close to housing.

NC_Cube_CanalWalk_2

Gale International

Apartment buildings and businesses were built 12 minutes within bus or subway stops.

Most non-residential buildings are walking distance from everything else.

Songdo_Convensia
Songdo’s convention center. 
Gale International

Fifteen miles of bike lanes go through the district, connecting to a larger 90-mile network in Songdo City.

songdo south korea
Gold medallist Ai Ueda (R) of Japan and Ma Claire Adorna of the Philippines cycle during the women’s triathlon at Songdo Central Park during the 17th Asian Games in Incheon September 25, 2014. 
Reuters

Around 40% of the area is reserved for green space (about double that of New York City), which also encourages residents to walk, Gale said.

Songdo_Central_Park_7

Gale International

IBD’s largest park, measuring 101 acres, was inspired by Manhattan’s Central Park.

“What you see today in Songdo, a city that is compact and very much walkable, is a direct outcome of this thoughtful approach to planning,” Gale said.

The IBD is one part of a larger development, called the Incheon Free Economic Zone in Songdo City, spearheaded by the South Korean government.

songdo south korea
A construction site of Songdo International City district, a part of the Incheon Free Economic Zone, is seen in Incheon, west of Seoul, December 11, 2008. 
Reuters

When the government started planning Songdo City in 2000, 500 tons of sand were poured into the marshland to lay the foundation.

Currently, 20,000 residential units are complete or under construction in IBD, where around 50,000 people live. Approximately 100,000 residents live in the greater Songdo City.

Another perk of living in the district: there are no trash trucks. Instead, a pneumatic tube system sucks the trash from chutes in residential buildings to a central sorting facility in seconds.

Gale International songdo

Gale International

There, it’s either turned into energy or recycled.

IBD has over 100 buildings that are LEED-certified, the world’s most widely used green rating system.

Songdo_Central_Park_9

Gale International

The development is shooting for LEED certification at a neighborhood scale, and plans to recycle 40% of the water used.

songdo

Reuters

Songdo City produces a third fewer greenhouse gases compared to another city of the same size.

Songdo_Central_Park_hanok_traditional_village_3

Gale International

However, some residents have complained that the IBD and the larger Songdo City are too remote from Seoul, the country’s economic, political, and cultural hub. It takes over an hour to reach the capital.

seoul
A man stands on a street in downtown Seoul, South Korea, April 18, 2013. 
AP

 

Around 70,000 people work in Songdo, which is far fewer than the 300,000 people the city government had envisioned.

songdo

Reuters

For that reason, it could be too early to say whether Songdo will become a thriving urban center.

Songdo_Central_Park_10.JPG

Gale International

“In a lot of ways, it’s the city Koreans want to show the world, in that it’s a clean, futuristic-looking place with no visible poverty,” Colin Marshall, a Seoul-based essayist who writes about cities, told The Los Angeles Times.

 

 

When CityLab’s Linda Poon visited Songdo this spring, she spoke with residents who have had trouble building community in the new city.

Songdo_Central_Park_11.JPG

Gale International

Source: CityLab

“There’s a ton of people living here, but you don’t really see them,” one resident, Lindy Wenselaers, told CityLab. “So the city is alive, but it’s invisible.”

Songdo_Central_Park_hanok_traditional_village

Gale International

The IBD currently measures 60 million square feet. By 2020, it will nearly double.

 

Source: businessinsider

 

Delayed Land Use Act Review Affecting Foreign Investments in Nigeria – Expert Laments

The continued delay in reviewing the land use Act had caused Nigeria to lose trillions of naira in foreign direct investments, according to Sir Rowland Abonta, Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV) president.

He stated that the NIESV had been engaging relevant stakeholders in order to initiate the process of reviewing the Act.

Speaking at the 2019 Mandatory Continuing Professional Development (MCPD) Seminar organised by the Abuja branch of the institution, Abonta noted that the present Land Use Act is undemocratic having been enacted through decree by a military administration.

He said, “The normal approach of every professional association is to set up advocacy to the government and the institution have done a lot of advocacies. Even to the National Assembly then, we made a presentation, and our recommendation was that the Land Use Act be removed from the constitution, and then it will become amenable to reviews’’.

Speaking on the theme ‘Redeeming the purpose of compensation from compulsory Acquisition in Nigeria’, Prof. Victor Akujuru of the Department of Estate Management, River State University, called for the amendment of Land Use Act to reflect current realities in compensation method.

He observed that the Land Use Act as currently constituted failed to provide compensation for land in the event of compulsory acquisition.

According to him, “The Land Use Act by its provisions specifies the replacement cost method of valuing building. It also specifies that we should use compensation rates to value economic crops and trees but does not provide any compensation for land.

“Now, the compensation you determine from replacement where are you going to build, a building that had been taken over, or does the law assume that once you have acquired a building compulsorily, the person should become a destitute.

“The truth of the matter is that the law needs to be amended so that people are compensated for the value of the land on which the building is standing, and then, market value should be used in assessing crops and economic trees, and in determining the compensation they pay for the buildings” he said.

Source: Guardianng Excluding Headline

Accra Dialogue Tasks African Governments on Green Climate Fund

Representatives of the African local and regional governments have called on countries to provide an enabling environment that will create the conditions for enhanced climate actions, and the localization of climate finance.

They also urged the Green Climate Fund to create a window for local and regional governments, as well as the African Development Bank through the Urban and Municipal Development Fund to support local and regional governments in the implementation of their climate initiatives and actions.

The city experts, who met a three day summit organized by Climate Chance Africa in Accra, Ghana also request that a local and regional readiness programme be established, funded and implemented using the national associations of local and regional governments and their continental umbrella organization, the United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG Africa) in order to contribute to building the capacity of African cities and sub national governments as well as non-state actors to be able to prepare and submit eligible projects to the climate finance institutions.

They acknowledged that the summit is the first major African climate event that took place after the UN Secretary General Climate Summit in September 2019 in New York. The participants subscribed to the UN Secretary General alert on climate emergency and call on all stakeholders to urgently act in order to avoid worsening the situation of global warming and to address the challenges brought about by climate change.

A recent IPBES 7 – IPCC special report on climate change and Land-use – IPCC 1.5 report) warned that life is from now on at risk on the planet, in which environment, biodiversity and ecosystems are, more than ever, endangered by collective incapacity to act and transform model of development in order to protect and restore nature.

They recognised that the full implementation of the current Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) subscribed for the implementation of the Paris Agreement will not be sufficient to close the ‘ambition gap’ to limit global warming to 1.5 °C above pre-industrialization era.

“Conscious of the fact that the fight against climate change will be won or lost in cities and other sub national governments, and that this battle will certainly not be won if climate action does not become everybody’s business at all levels of government as quickly as possible,” they said.

While calling attention to the fact that African priorities on climate actions focus mainly on adaptation to climate change and access to energy, they recommended a balance in funding between climate actions addressing mitigation and adaptation.

“Considering that in this global context, as a region of the world already home to nearly half of the earth’s human population below the age of 18, and that will become the most populated region of the world before the end of the 21st century. Being also the continent least embedded in the fossil energy dependent economy, Africa has the responsibility to pave the way to the transition towards low carbon economy.”

“We further recommend that the recourse to clean energy sources such as solar and wind energy be prioritized when defining strategies to bridge the energy gap in Africa. We propose the involvement of local and regional governments in the implementation of this strategy,” the stakeholders said.

The senior officials of governments strongly supported the proposal by UCLG Africa Climate Task Force to initiate a bottom-up approach to the revision process of the NDCs starting with the elaboration of locally determined contributions (LDCs) feeding into the NDCs.

“This approach should be disseminated through the national associations of local and regional governments and UCLG Africa, in order to accelerate ownership of the climate agenda by all relevant stakeholders, and ensure alignment of climate actions at all levels of government while at the same time addressing coordination and coherence within the framework defined by the Katowice Rule book.

They strongly encouraged African local governments to join the Covenant of Mayors in Sub-Saharan Africa, as the only movement driven by the local governments, by implementing effective actions on energy access, adaptation and mitigation and by setting ambitious targets through their local climate action plans.

Source: guardianng

Housing Deficit: Nigeria Accounts For 39% in Africa

Nigeria’s housing deficit accounts for about 39.3 per cent of Africa’s total, Shelter Afrique has said.

Shelter Afrique, a pan-African finance institution, said Nigeria had 22 million housing deficit out of the total 56 million on the continent.

The Chief Executive Officer, Shelter Afrique, Mr Andrew Chimphondah, who made this known during the signing of a memorandum of understanding with Family Homes Fund Limited, said Nigeria remained the firm’s biggest market and target for affordable housing.

He explained that one of the reasons for the MoU was to co-fund specific deals, share market knowledge and operate in line with best practices.

According to him, the core vision is to develop decent and affordable homes for all Nigerians and solve the affordability challenge in the demand and supply side.

Chimphondah said, “We are very grateful to get into a partnership with Family Homes Funds and we are delighted to sign the MoU. One of the things we realised when we re-strategised over the last few years is that beyond financing affordable housing, one of our strengths was leveraging our partnerships and networks.”

The signing of the MoU is expected to result in specific co-funded affordable housing projects which both organisations said had been identified as low-hanging fruit projects that would be affordable.

The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Family Homes Funds, Mr Femi Adewole, said the MoU was a small but momentous occasion as Shelter Afrique had been a housing financing organisation for more than 35 years with significant experience across many countries.

“On the other hand, Family Homes Funds is barely a couple of years old. This partnership and relationship, birthed out of this MoU provides the beginning of what I hope and expect – and we will work assiduously for it to be a very successful relationship,” he said.

He added that both organisations would create houses for Nigerians who needed shelter the most.

Source: Punch Excluding Headline

FMBN Boss, Dangiwa Explains How NHF Subscribers Can Own a Home At 0% Equity

The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN), Ahmed Dangiwa has thrown more light to the bank’s scheme known as the National Housing Fund (NHF).

The NHF scheme according to him is designed to enable Nigerians have access to affordable mortgage loans through a contributory system. He made this known on Friday while granting an interview to Housing TV on their One on One Segment in Abuja.

The National Housing Fund scheme managed by FMBN is meant to provide home ownership for low and medium income earning Nigerians. According to Dangiwa, it’s a contributory scheme for Nigerians in formal, informal, private and public sectors to contribute 2.5% of their monthly earnings into the pool of funds. It’s from this pool of funds that they provide mortgages for Nigerians. The contributions are refundable at retirement and it gives its contributors the leverage to approach the bank to get mortgage loans.

Through the National Housing Fund, the FMBN are providing loans for people to either buy, construct or renovate their own house.

For those wishing to buy their own houses, the bank gives soft loans at 6% which can be paid over a period of 30 years for a maximum of 15 million naira.

For Nigerians who wish to obtain housing loans not exceeding N5 million, the bank has been mandated to offer 0% equity. Also, Nigerians will deposit only 10 per cent equity to it to be able to access loans between N6million and N15 million.

For those also intending to construct their own houses, the bank gives loans for that in any location of their choice. But that, according to Dangiwa, is only possible as long as they have a C of O, design and costing.

‘’We also give soft home renovation loan of 1 million naira, but people in the rural areas do not only use it to renovate but to even construct their own houses.

‘’We also give construction finance to developers to build houses for the NHF contributors. When they build the houses, they will bring it forward to the bank, we will choose a Primary Mortgage Bank who will package it or we go through the Rent To Own scheme.

‘’The Rent To Own is another window where once you are packaged for our funded estates, you move in and start paying your rent and at the end of the day the house becomes your own when you have completed the mortgage payment through your rent. These are some of the products the NHF provides,’’ he said.

Dangiwa said the Rent To Own package which was launched early this year is already assisting many Nigerians in accessing affordable housing.

He said, ‘’If you go to Kaduna state you will find the KSDP estate where we built up to 263 houses placed on rent to own. It was packaged by the trade union congress and Nigeria labour congress of Kaduna state. We have done same in many states of the federation.

Dangiwa added that The Rent To Own is a great and much improved option because it also comes with an insurance for beneficiary even while still paying the rent.

‘Infrastructure Built by Colonialists Stronger Than Those of Today’

Government at all level have been challenged to focus on building infrastructure and amenities, instead of blaming colonial masters for the infrastructure problems of the country.

The call was made by a lecturer with the Department of History, Obafemi Awolowo University, Dr. Emmanuel Akubor at the launch of the book ‘Infrastructure and Urban Amenities in Colonial Northern Nigeria, 1903-1960’, written by Professor Philip Akpen of the Department of History and Diplomatic Studies, University of Abuja.

Dr. Emmanuel said it was unfortunate that the infrastructure built by the colonialists still exists and stronger than that of today, adding that the book is recommended for leaders to see the past so as to focus on building strong infrastructure in Nigeria.

He commended the author for dedicating his time to write the book and further said that he has set agenda for government to see the efforts of the colonialists. On his part, the author, Prof. Apen, said he was motivated to write the book by the challenges of building infrastructure in the country adding that government can learn how the British articulated and implemented their policies.

Source: dailytrustng

 

Niger State Kicks-off Urban Policy Preparation

Rallying efforts towards accelerating the development of Nigeria’s largest state in terms of land area, the Niger State government has jump-started a comprehensive programme that will deploy the potentials of its rapidly growing urban centres and their proximity to the nation’s capital, as a platform to boost the economic, social and general wellbeing of its citizens.

The renewed vigour is part of new initiative undertaken with technical assistance from the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and other partners, which involves the following primary activities:
One, preparation of Niger State Urban Policy (SUP), based on the Nigerian National Urban Development Policy, 2012;

Two, preparation of a pilot integrated development plans for Minna and Suleja. This, among others, will include the development of improved plans, policies and designs for them to become more compact, integrated, connected, resilient and socially inclusive;

Three, preparing a plan for developing a smart city near Suleja. The objectives of the project are to decongest Suleja and provide affordable housing for the residents and commuters to Abuja; and four, strengthening and building the capacity of the state institutions in charge of the development and management of the cities and towns.

The initiative is founded on the conviction of the Niger State Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello that the effectiveness and sustainability of towns and cities were hinged on their level of good governance, especially transparency and accountability to their residents; and their ability to operate on a self-sustaining basis.

Bello equally emphasised his conviction that the over-reliance of the states and local governments, in Nigeria, on the monthly Federal Allocation had been such that their local economic potentials had remained undeveloped with inadequate efforts at achieving internal resource mobilization.

The governor expressed the eagerness of his administration to develop the human settlements sector in a holistic, comprehensive and integrated manner through the formulation of the SUP.

This was to ensure that the resources of the state, especially land for urban development was used efficiently and effectively for the present as well as future generations without unnecessarily depleting good agricultural land.

Essentially, the state government has received a grant from the South Korean Government to develop its urban policy and smart city strategy, alongside Iran and Myanmar. The support is to offer the three pilot projects a platform to foster synergy, coherence, capacity development and mutual learning and exchange globally on national/sub-national urban policy.

Similarly, World Bank, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Cities Alliance, as International Development Institutions, are participating in the normative planning and for the opportunity of financing related development projects from the policy.

Through this assistance, Project Manager, Niger State Urban Support Programme (NSUSP), Prof. Mustapha Zubairu, explained, the state government and other stakeholders can begin to use urban policy as an instrument for public and political awareness of the gains to be obtained from sustainable urban development.

Specifically, the State Urban Policy is being prepared through a bottom-up and stakeholder-driven process that will assist the government and people build a consensus on the causes and effects of the current development challenges of the towns and cities of the state.

The process will also ensure the rearranging the financing, management and governance of the cities and towns so that they can operate on a self-sustaining basis, instilling in all citizens the willingness to pay their equitable share of the cost of service provision.

Prof. Zubairu told The Guardian that emphasis is being placed on ensuring that those affected by the current urban challenges, and have a stake actively contribute to the whole process. “It will guard against unexpected outcomes that will have adverse consequences to the populations, especially the most vulnerable groups,” he said.

He said that a steering committee and a 33-member technical support team have been established to ensure effective support at the highest political level and participation of critical stakeholder groups in the process of developing the SUP.

The expected outcome of the SUP includes, enhanced capacity of the state and its 25 local governments to develop, implement, and monitor and evaluate the state urban policy (SUP) and develop smart city strategies.

Others are increased centralisation of knowledge and tools on the development, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation of urban policy (SUP) and smart city strategies.

According to him, the policy will enhance capacity among the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the state government to shape the urbanization trajectory of the state and allow cities to follow sustainable growth patterns, where densification reduces the city footprint in terms of land, energy consumption, allows for the presentation of green areas and improves ecosystem functionality and landscape connectivity.

It will also ensure that principles that promote compact, socially inclusive, better integrated and connected cities that foster sustainable urban development and are resilient to climate change in order to exploit economies of scale and agglomeration while emphasizing the green economy.

The policy is expected to ensure that a holistic approach to urban growth is adopted and the efforts are oriented for sustainability of patterns adopted both from an environmental point of view and from a social perspective, where segregation and inequalities will be minimized or mitigated through mixed uses.

It will integrate all stakeholders with a particular focus on the needs of women and those who are most vulnerable, including children and youth, older persons, persons with disabilities, the urban poor, the landless, rural to urban migrants, to positively impact on their life.

Source: guardianng

Stakeholders Urge Government to Sanitise Projects’ Procurement Process

Stakeholders have called for holistic adherence to the public procurement Act to mitigate existence of quacks, use of substandard materials and the prolonged delays in project completion.

The Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on Works and Infrastructure, Mrs. Aramide Adeyoye who set the tone at the 28th Lagos builder’s conference, explained that appropriate procurement methods help in minimizing cost through effective competition, protection of public funds; timely delivery of quality projects at the right price, and provide high level of satisfaction for all its users.

However, she expressed concerns that in the light of the unwholesome situation in the built industry, the effectiveness and efficiency of these methods are not been deployed in Nigeria, thus, the result is failure of many project.

Adeyoye said the usage of the appropriate procurement methods in building production helps the clients including government, corporate or private developers to ensure and promote sustainable developments by utilizing available resources in the most efficient, transparent and ethical manner.

According to her, the passage of the public Procurement Act (PPA) 2017, which emphasises competence, appropriate pricing, structured funding, usage of standard and quality materials, amongst others, was meant or designed to entrench quality, efficiency and safety, in line with global best practices.

“It is a catalyst for success, a recipe for growth and the bedrock of sanity in every area of public procurement especially as it affects the construction sector,” she stated.

The Chairman, Lagos State chapter, Nigerian Institute of Builders (NIOB), Adelaja Adekanmbi maintained that the time has come when builders in Nigeria needs to align themselves with procurement methods that would effectively manage time tested and valued building production processes in line with the acceptable global practices.

He said: “Appropriate procurement methods when holistically analysed at inception and put to use would undoubtedly help in reducing, if not eliminating cost overrun that culminate from extension of time due to unforeseen mistakes from any of the various stakeholders on such projects.”

A professor at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and Chairman, Council of Registered Builders of Nigeria (CORBON) Kabir Bala charged Nigerian builders to brace up and play effective role in procurement as the most trained stakeholder in the built sector by imbibing transparency, efficiency and timely delivery of quality projects.

NIOB President, Kunle Awobodu observed that due to faulty procurement method in the country, many foreign investors have stayed away from committing funds in Nigeria. He said Nigeria need to develop a procurement method that is suitable for the peculiarity of the nation.

“We need to continue advocacy on ways to improve the method of our procurement by drawing attention to the anomalies in the methods. Nigeria must make licensing compulsory for all builders and enforce the laws on construction. We need to consider the consequence for our errors in building production,” he added.

Source: guardianng

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