A prototype of the housing units.
By Levinus Nwabughiogu
Soon, the humongous rent in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT of Abuja will crash owing to a fast-moving bill that seeks a monthly payment system from the yearly practice. Saturday Vanguard in this piece evaluates the accommodation challenges before now and forecasts the future should the bill become a law.
They are ubiquitous, dotting the landscapes, the nooks and crannies of the city. They are magnificent, epitomizing urbane architectural masterpieces. Though they have the appurtenances of a class culture, the turn off, however, is that they are empty and unoccupied. They are the surfeit of structures, houses and buildings that litter the roads and streets of Abuja.
And in a nutshell, that is the narrative of the Abuja real estate sector.
Yes. Abuja, the federal capital territory is fascinating. The topography is alluring. Its infrastructure is superlative. The city is clean. It is metro and fastidious. Broken into zones and districts with many suburbs and satellite towns, it’s a destination of choice from every conceivable stance. But it’s definitely not for the poor and low in the society. To be blunt and candid, Abuja discriminates. It is class-conscious. Of course, it is the seat of Nigeria’s power, the nation’s capital.
Abuja is not a place for the unprepared. It is not a ghetto. It’s not a place to roam and walk the streets aimlessly. Industries and factories may be scarce but politics is rich. Public and civil service are also commonplace. Abuja is also the headquarters of the corperate world with requisite and elevated hospitality taste. Yet, you don’t rush into it. It is not a city for starters. Often times, life in Abuja is showy and ostentatious.
Yes, every first timer is forewarned. It is either he goes bouyant, pays his own accommodation bills and meets his appointment or be accommodated by someone already aware of his trip, waiting to receive and harbour him. And almost, always, the purpose of the visit must be worthwhile otherwise it may choke after a while. That’s Abuja.
And for a relocation? This definitely can’t be a day’s plan. It takes quite a while to execute unless there is an already-made home for you. Why so? High rent. Just about everywhere and anywhere within the FCT is high to rent or acquire. The shylocks litter the space. Ans it’s even worse within the city centre.
The rent system presently
For instance, a self-contained apartment is princely, going for N350.000 to N450,000 depending on the area of the town. Elsewhere, it is N500.000 to N600.000. A gate, security house is non-negotiable at N250,000 in any private housing estate. A two bedroom apartment goes for between N750,000 to N1.5 million. Again, depending on the area. Elsewhere, it is from N2 million to N10 million if not more than than.
The same situation faces the edibles and the consumables. In Abuja, food doesn’t come cheap. An average plate of food any normal day costs between N3000 and N5000. There is the one N1, 500 but be ready to play the Oliver Twist. Elsewhere within the metropolis, it is outrageous, such that small chops and drinks may cause a crater in your pocket.
This is a piece of luxury many can’t afford. Movement in cabs appears cheap. It goes for between N1000 and N2000 at first. But by the time a few places are visited and drops made, more fortunes are expended. That’s the stark reality.
The question is: How much does one make daily? Now, what about body and foot wears? Your guess is as good as mine. Their prices are simply out of reach. In fact, the cheapest commodity in Abuja, like every other city in Nigeria is salt. True? Yes, sachet (pure) water is even more expensive.
But despite the challenges and the high cost of living, Abuja still remains a destination of choice for both Nigerians and the world. It booms and the residents, most of them, pretentiously survive. Pretentiously? Nay. Prayerfully survive for Jesus Christ is a Nigerian. He’s from a certain suburb of Aba called Abayi Ohanze in Obingwa Local Government Area of Abia State. In fact, Jesus is from Aba.
ALSO READ: HOUSE RENT: Nigerians must not continue to suffer in hands of Shylock Landlords — Sen Smart Adeyemi
But owing to the ugly trajectories, the many subterfuges of the big men in the real estate sector and the need to assist the Nigerian young and fresh starters, the Senate of the federal republic got jolted and introduced a bill to slash the rent system from yearly to monthly payment packages. Interesting!
Bill for monthly rent births in Nigeria
Titled “Advanced Rent Residential Apartments, Office Spaces, etc Regulation Bill, 2022 (SB. 893)”, the bill is sponsored by the gregarious and voluble Senator Smart Adeyemi, the former national president of Nigerian Union of Journalists, NUJ between 1999 and 2006, representing Kogi West senatorial district in the 9th National Assembly.
The piece of legislation has already scaled through second reading and has been slated for public hearing.
The sponsor, Adeyemi told Saturday Vanguard the benefits of the bill.
He said: “The bill is basically to checkmate the high rate of rents of rooms, apartment and shops in Abuja. We came to realise the fact that one of the problems confronting residents is the problem of accommodation. And I think quite a number of landlords took it as an advantage because of the ever increasing population of Abuja, because of the high level of insecurity in neighbouring states, many people now troop into the city.
To get a fairly good two bedroom within Abuja city centre, we’re talking between 500,000 to 1 million and the landlord will ask you to pay for two years minimum. Sometimes, they asked for three years.
“Now, there are a large army of unemployed youths who are highly intelligent, highly visionary and they need a place to put their head in order for them to survive, in order for them to be able to articulate their vision within the framework of the law.
They want to be law abiding but they want accommodation. They want to live well. Now, if you ask such guys, such category of Nigerians to go and look for two years rent, how do they get it?
“In developed nations of the world, people pay monthly bills. I wouldn’t know how we got to this level that landlord will now demand for one year, two years, three years rent. Some landlords go to the extent of even asking for five years.
Now to me, we have a duty as lawmakers and our duty is very simple. Our duty as lawmakers is to make laws for effective governance of the nation in such a manner that every Nigerian will have a sense of belonging and where his rights will be protected, and he’ll be responsible citizens and patriotic to his nation.”
Reactions from Nigerians
No doubts, most Nigerians are at home with the bill as it would help them in no small measures solve their housing and accommodation problem in Abuja. But on the other side are also artisans and entrepreneurs whose earnings are neither regular nor fixed as they don’t work for the government to expect salaries at month ends. One of them is Epiphenia Ijeoma.
Even though she applauded the Senate for the bill in her reaction, she however said that the bill may not be significantly helpful to her.
“I believe the senate had good intentions for trying to get the monthly rent bill passed but just like every good intention, it doesn’t favour everyone.
There are down sides to it which affect a better part of the population.
“Personally, I don’t think this bill favours a lot of people which include me.
I’m an entrepreneur that makes men’s wear and with the difficult situation in the country and high cost of living, I rarely get clients as many as I should, which affects my monthly income immensely.
“My monthly income isn’t steady. There are some months I’d be lucky and I’d get orders, and there are months I barely make anything enough to feed and take care of petite bills. I’m only able to pay my yearly rent with savings from those months that I was lucky.
“Imagine if this bill is passed, I might probably be able to pay the monthly rent with my savings for the first few months, but what about those months I’m not lucky enough?
“You could be harassed or even worse, evicted by the Landlord. This bill favours people with high paying jobs that have their salaries paid promptly every month.
“The senate might have good intentions but this bill will be the end of us all with inconsistent monthly income”, she said. Discussing the bill on Arise TV, Rueben Abati, said paying monthly could see landlords pursuing some difficult tenants every month although he commended the intentions of the lawmakers.
Ijeoma may just be one out of many Nigerians who share different views on the import and impact of the bill. But then, Senators Adeyemi said it can’t possibly be. He said that the landlords are now propounding the ideas to raise discontentment and public hysteria against the bill. But whichever way the argument goes, members of the public are expected to put forward their presentations at the soon-to-be public hearing on the impropriety or otherwise of the bill.
On the sidelines, the relevant Senate Committee chaired by Senator Sam Egwu, a former governor of Ebonyi State is also strongly advised here to take into congnizance some of these postulations and synthesize them for the best of public good. That’s the essence of a public hearing, anyway. And of course, the lastline.