Abandoned federal government properties in Lagos, Nigeria have continued to rot as the country’s housing deficit worsens by the day.
Nigeria: Federal government properties fall into disrepair as housing shortage worsens
Derelict federal government properties in Lagos have continued to rot as the country’s housing deficit worsens by the day. The Ikoyi federal secretariat complex is one of them.
Other government properties in this category include the Nigerian External Telecommunications (NET) building on Marina Street, the Defense House (formerly the Independence Building) and the former Army Headquarters building, all of which are located on Marine Street.
Despite the federal government’s claim that there is no housing deficit in the country, the deficit has now reached 22 million units, according to Bismarck Rewane, who spoke recently at the June Breakfast held at the School of Business. of Lakes (LBS).
Public Works and Housing Minister Babatunde Fashola insists that the deficit is primarily an urban problem, saying: “My understanding of the housing deficit is that it is largely an urban problem: people migrating to cities.”
If you travel to the countryside, you will see houses owned by city dwellers. These residences are secure. We cannot talk about a housing shortage when there are so many empty houses”.
The 12-story Federal Secretariat Complex in Ikoyi was one of the government properties sold on the real estate market by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration between 2003 and 2006. The complex, which was built in 1976, housed the entire Federal Civil Service, but it was decommissioned in 1991 after the federal capital was moved from Lagos to Abuja.
The weed-infested compound, along with the other properties, is a testament to poor asset management in a country desperate for any available space to house its largely ‘homeless’ citizens.
Aside from residential housing opportunities, these properties could have been potential sources of government revenue if properly utilized. Now they are depreciating and losing value because they are empty and unused.
The value of the federal secretariat, including the land and physical structure, was revealed to be around 40 billion naira and could have been higher if the asset had been in constant use.
“That asset is on prime ground; don’t forget it’s in Ikoyi, which is one of the most expensive places in Nigeria,” a land surveyor and property appraiser, who requested anonymity, said in an interview about the value of the asset. .
However, there has been an attempt to convert the complex into a residential building after it was sold in 2005 for N7 billion to Resort International Limited (RIL), which intended to convert the complex into apartments for 480 families.
With an average of five people per family (father, mother, two children and a maid), the complex could house around 2,400 people. However, the project stalled.
Mikail Mumuni, Manager of Group Corporate Affairs at RIL, explained in a recent media post that shortly after they paid for the complex, the Lagos State Government intervened, claiming that the complex should have been sold to them and no one else. , despite the fact that it did not participate in the bidding process.
“But the state government didn’t stop there. When RIL workers arrived on the site to begin construction, it sent thugs to chase them away. In a clear show of bad faith, the state government also made other ridiculous demands, such as demanding that RIL get from it a new Certificate of Domain (CofO), regardless of the documents issued by the federal government on the property, ”he revealed.
The government, it added, has also asked RIL to seek consent from the Lagos governor on the property and a change of use, as well as request a development permit from the state government.
RIL viewed these demands as inconsistent with the Development Lease Agreement (DLA) it signed in 2006 with the Federal Government, which granted it a 99-year lease to redevelop the secretariat complex into luxury apartments.
As a result, it took the Federal Government to a Court of Arbitration, claiming that it had suffered damages totaling N88 billion as a result of the government’s breach of a DLA clause.
Although the Court, chaired by architect Fred Adeniyi Coker and supported by a lawyer, Yusuf Alli, Chief Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), and former Federation Attorney General Abdullahi Ibrahim, ordered the FG to pay the company N54 billion in damages, it is not clear whether this decision has been followed.