NREH: I don’t know what your opinion is about another model of financing housing construction that has been lauded successful especially in the eastern part of the continent. It runs like a gradual incremental micro housing finance. Mortgage for us in our country looks like a high horse hanging there. Micro housing finance looks like its closer to us but what would be your take generally.
PROF NUBI: You see that’s why we say that one way does not lead to the market. When we say mortgage, a woman selling fish at Bariga which still constitute almost 50% of their population does not understand mortgage and cannot even fill the form. Does she have a regular salary to pay mortgage? So mortgage definitely would not be their own way out. The way out for such group of people is micro finance. For a nation that is dominated by the informal sector, the solution is micro finance. How can we say mortgage is up there, its just a matter of putting our acts together.
NREH: that is what I mean not that mortgage is farfetched.
PROF NUBI: Dangote did mortgage. Dangote built the houses, and because of the way he built it the price was low, but he was selling a two bed room flat for N6 million. The civil servants said no, they can’t still afford N6 million. He said pay for ten years and they were deducted from their salary. That’s mortgage. Mortgage is you have your house then you are paying gradually for a long period of time which makes it affordable.
There is no other term for what he has done except mortgage. He gave them a ten year old mortgage. And that’s what Fashola was asking that nobody is able to build 66,000 houses in four years why can’t we learn that model so that we can build in mass. If since 1983 that Jakande left we have been building 50,000 houses yearly we would be far away from this scarcity that we are talking about today. If we are able to solve the mortgage sector, and we introduce so much stuff into the market those of us who are tenants today will become landlords through mortgage.
Why can’t you break it down? You give them the mortgage for the foundation and then let them pay that and then they’ll be paying on 1 million instead of 5 million. So what they pay back is not more. It breaks it down into those phases so the loan you are asking for is not big.
The intervention still releases the housing stock to the market faster than when we are left without intervention that will take 15 to 30 years but with mortgage it can be just five years. We have so many developers in this country that if they were packaged ahead to deliver a thousand or five hundred units each, then we are having fifty thousand units coming to Lagos every year.
NREH: you are a veteran of the classroom can you tell us how lecturing has impacted you because it is one of the least paying jobs you probably had. Why did you stick to it?
PROF NUBI: You see, I was discussing with my colleague yesterday and he said that if a man quickly knows his journey and he embarks on it, there’ll be nothing as beautiful as that. After my ND, we were talking amongst ourselves, which was after our final paper. We asked ourselves what we wanted to become; I told them that I wanted to lecture, that was precisely 1982. So teaching both in the classroom and in the church has always been my life.
And I’ve learnt in life that it is always good to go for your passion. So the classroom gives me a platform to express myself. The classroom gives me the opportunity to mold life; it gives me the opportunity to communicate my vision especially when you find yourself in an area where people don’t understand you. Then you find out that if this generation don’t understand you, then you need a platform to communicate your vision so that maybe one day somebody can really understand you.
My passion in life is housing, the environment and youth development. The classroom gives me the opportunity to do that. I read some time ago, one of the great minds said if you want to look at the future of a country, peep into their classroom. So I believe so much in the Nigeria. I believe that Nigeria was once great and Nigeria will be great again through us and through those who are coming after us.
Then when you look at the financial reward there are days when I pack up and decide to quit school but I find out that I become emotionally drained so I changed my mind. It was just like any other field of endeavor, it was not profitable at the beginning being a lecturer. Our salary was so small especially if you belong to the profession where our colleagues can sell a plot of land and become millionaires so you ask yourself what you are doing here.
When you go for professional meetings your friends ask you if you are still in UNILAG? Its like are you sworn to poverty? How do you feed your family? So God has being faithful in his way. We keeep on serving him here, serve him in the classroom, serve his creation and all the way he has been meeting my needs. And besides that, a university environment does not stop a professional from practicing his profession because your field knowledge is quite important to the quality of what you deliver. So I’ve been involved in projects and in governance.
So it makes my class richer, it makes my delivery acceptable. You see the ills in the society and you try to correct it in the lives of these students. So the university gives me the platform and I am very fortunate to work in the University of Lagos. It gives you a platform and people accept you because of where you are coming from and once you have that acceptability, you can really capitalize on it.
The fact that you are working here opens doors for you. Anybody can work in a bank, anybody can work anywhere but not anybody can lecture, that’s the truth, so in all God has remained very faithful. He has been there to meet our needs. He has clothed us with honor. My being a lecturer here is an opportunity to serve God more. It helped my health and everything. I have no regrets of living my life on campus.
NREH: Sir I just want to know your opinion on the recent ban on Okada in Lagos .
PROF NUBI: Slum is the ingenuity of the poor to solve their housing problem. Okada appears to be a solution to unemployment in Nigeria, but it is a curse to our generation. Each time I see a man on Okada, inside me, I cry. These are people without hope, without future. An average Okada man will never end up enjoying the old age of good health. You that is being carried on Okada, the following day look at the pus that will come out of your eye.
In those days when Okada came, those that must ride it have a shield in front so that it will prevent wind from hitting their chest. You see them dressed up and put up their helmet and they wear goggles so that dust cannot enter their eyes. Many of them will have eye, health problem and they suffer for it in their old age. So say in twenty years or so we have a sick nation dominated by sick people. So it’s not best because it’s a work with no pension. They don’t really have a tomorrow so at the end of it, they will be ridden with every form of illness at old age. So that’s the implication of what they are doing today but they don’t have a choice.
The truth is government can help these people to expand their scope of choice. That’s why all over the world there are training programs that were set up for enterprise. I know someone working in a bank that lost his job and ended up riding Okada to feed his family. But you lose your job; there should be an opportunity for retraining. In the construction sector of the economy we have been discussing since, one of the construction centers today is workforce. We don’t have tillers, electricians and carpenters to do good jobs and people are riding Okada.
There are ways we can create opportunity. For government to say stop this there must be an alternative but it is not the best for us. Okada men riding on Lagos – Ibadan express road, Ikorodu road do so without helmets, and don’t obey traffic laws. They have destroyed so many people’s lives.
Laws are to be obeyed. So it’s a big problem that requires severe measure. As far as I am concerned, if I am the governor, there would be no single Okada on the streets of Lagos because there is no Okada on the streets of London and yet it has one of the best transportation systems in the world. They have a good bus system.
You don’t need to have a car to leave there; they have a good train system. We don’t need Okada in Lagos, they are not doing us any favor, they must get them out of the road and besides that I want to tell you there was a survey carried out in Apapa and 80% of these okada riders came from a particular local government in the northern part of the country. These state governments are not ready to develop their citizens.
And they believe that they can carry their bags and come to Lagos to become nuisance on the roads. They don’t even know how to drive these bikes so there is a lot of recklessness. In other nations, you can’t just wake up one day and carry your bag saying you want to live in London. There is urban permit, there’s rural permit. There’s urban permit in china. If you are living in Ijebu Ode in china and you want to move to Lagos, there’s urban permit. They’ve messed up this city, it is not a solution, it is a temporary solution with a lot of cost implications. Go to Igbobi and see the ward for Okada accidents.
Most of us are very lazy. Some of the distances that people use these Okadas are walkable distances. I walk 15 minutes every day from my house to the train station in London. When I was at Ketu, from Obanlearo to Ketu bus stop is a ten minutes walk. From my house to Obanlearo is a five minutes’ walk. We trek it with joy, and we don’t feel it. The people from the church(UNILAG) there to the gate are waiting for a lift. So we have become very lazy.
See a white man in Chicago, in Philadelphia, in New York; you see the speed in which they move. Sometimes I have to run after them. These people do trek. I was in Los Angeles many years ago and I wanted to go and eat at the hotel. I was asking for African food and they said eight blocks away. A block is quarter of a mile and eight blocks away is two miles. They do trek it and these are distances we use Okada to cover. It is a nuisance. That’s just the truth. When they were not there were we not moving around?
NREH: For my last question we would like to know one or two pit falls or mistakes you may have made.
PROF NUBI: The truth is that most problems in Nigeria is caused by the inability to separate business from person. So here you say you are the head of a business and you have the check book of the business in your pocket. So those are issues. I can’t really describe myself as a business person. But one of those things I always tell people is that we should reduce our propensity to consume. We consume too much.
For example, there was a year I bought a Mercedes and it was the second car I parked in my compound all they use it for in my church is for whoever is getting married. And these are monies if I have invested in shares today would yield me enough profit. So when an average young man sees money, he wants to spend it.
But my counsel for any young man is to go and read The richest man in Babylon. The book tells you not to eat your baby. It says that you must save ten percent of your earnings no matter what. If you are a Christian, pay your tithe and also save ten percent. You are not permitted to spend more than eighty percent no matter how small because little drops of water makes an ocean. So let us cultivate the habit of saving.
All these lack of saving for mortgage is right from the lack of saving habit. People save as much as 60% of their income in Korea. So any community bank in Korea can loan you billions because they have access to funds. So you don’t need to go to capital market because everyone in Korea saves 60% of their income. They live a marginal life. They are okay with their shirt and trouser but here in Nigeria, we are very loud and that’s why an Okada man will use the horn of a trailer on his machine. They want to wear different colors of clothes and shoes, and they don’t want to sacrifice.
We lay too much emphasis on consumables which never adds up to make us anything in life. So let us reduce our consumption. A white man has very small number of clothes in his wardrobe but a Nigerian has so many clothes. We have so many unused items. We buy most things at impulse, things we do not need. And they are all under our beds. Items that for two years we have never touched so let us reduce our consumption, and thus save more.
Let us defer our gratification, just sacrifice today for a better tomorrow. Let us suffer today so that we can rest tomorrow. Let us look less at television and look more into the future, let’s develop ourselves, let us go to school. I come from parents who could not read and write but now I have a PhD. Let’s keep on training ourselves. And we should understand that things are changing. Let’s train and retrain ourselves if not, one would be rendered useless.
Make yourself important, get to the peak of your career. If it’s through training, train. Nobody can tell me that they don’t need my services in the University of Lagos, in life I can’t lose my job. If I lose my job today, most of these state universities and private universities will welcome me with red carpet because I have trained myself to be indispensable.
NREH: Thank you so much.