By: Chidiebere Nwankwo
In an effort to ensure that corruption is completely eliminated in this country, the 21st President of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV), Dr. Olorugun James Omeru, has declared that another body which is the National Property Agency, has to be set-up to superintend and manage those properties confiscated from the people so that the Economic and Financial Crime Commission(EFCC) of this country will have among their duties to just prosecute seized properties and pass to other bodies to manage.
He stated this during the 46th Annual Conference of the Nigeria Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers, in Abuja, with the theme: “City Growth: Issues and challenges of Urban Sustainability in Nigeria”.
In his word, “The EFCC is trying in fighting corruption, but they should not superintend over the management of the properties they have confiscated”.
Omeru, stated that the theme of this year’s annual conference was carefully chosen as Estate Surveyors are Stakeholders in cities- not only because the city is the environment which they operate, but also because they are professionals with relevant skills which policies for shaping cities.
He however said that Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria was conceptualized to be a model sustainable city in contrast with what was obtained in the former capital city of Lagos, and to this end, a master plan was drawn up to give this nation a city that should be one of the world’s model cities, adding that what one is seeing today does not conform with the original concept, and the city is growing very fast. But unfortunately, some of the challenges, especially sustainability issues witnessed in Lagos are now becoming stark realities in Abuja.
On the issue of declaration of assets, he reiterated that, “If we must cut corruption, we must hold people to it. The law is there, implementation is the problem. When you are telling people to declare their assets, tell them to also bring the Evaluation Support. There is a body in this country that has the statutory responsibility to determine the value of assets. We are advocating that the process will be more credible if we handle that, and we are in better position to help this country move forward in the issue of maintenance. Engineers are trained to design and construct. We are saying without blowing our trumpets that Estate Surveyors are trained as maintenance professionals, we are concerned more with value. We are really quite equipped to help this system”.
Olorugun, expressed that one disturbing aspect of property tax is that most people are willing to pay if the services are actually provided, “If we want to be sincere to ourselves, if people pay this tax and we use it properly, people will be encouraged to pay more, if they see that the tax is judiciously used”, he stated.
At the same programme, the First Vice-President of NIESV, Dr. B.J. Patunola-Ajayi stated that the issue of accommodation, rent, property tax, development, slums, etc., clearly should not be left to go off the scene because they are very important to the good living of the people, believing that people will become more enlightened before the end of the conference.
Also, the Second Vice-president of same association, ESV. Rowland Abonta, stressed that the issue of conversion of uses from one to the other is a problem that emanated because of long standing un-reviewed Master Plan, advising that plans are meant for reviews, they are not static, because the envisaged population at which those plans were made has really exploded beyond the imagination of those who prepared the first Abuja Master plan. And that, for the past 20 years, no proper review has be made on Abuja master plan, so people are choked using the same few spaces for the same purposes that are so many to manage.