NREH: So tell us about yourself sir?
My name is Jide Odelola, born some years ago
NREH: (Smiling) some years ago can be 2010 so when exactly?
Well, I was born some years ago. At least I’m an adult. (Smiling) Anybody above 18 is an adult, isn’t it? Then I attended some schools.
(Laughing) And I taught in some schools. I actually had my own tutorial college before but when the idea of special centres started, I couldn’t do it and since I was having accommodation problems at that time, I stopped and started a Nursery school which my wife is taking care of now. I moved into real estate agency 1995 and I started from Abule-Egba as the first pioneer secretary of the association at the branch here
NREH: What association is that?
Association of Property Investment and Commission Agents of Nigeria
NREH: You mean APICAN?
Yes. In 2004, I became the chairman of this branch and in 2005 around March, I became National Organizing Secretary of APICAN. In 2008, I became the National Deputy President of APICAN which I’m still holding up to date.
NREH: Is it tenure based or it’s a life position?
I won’t say it is a life position but it is currently being run the way the founding fathers ran it and by God’s grace, one of them is still the President today
NREH: Who is the President sir?
Chief Yemi Akinrinmade, but he lost his sight some time back
NREH: And he is still the President?
Well yes; technically
NREH: When you say technically, what does that mean? Are you the one who is really running the association now?
Yes but I take advice from him and inform him of whatever we discuss at the meetings. That’s why I said technically.
NREH: But the active work rests on your shoulder?
Yes. That is why I’m the one you meet at the forefront whenever we have to discuss with the government, go on television or grant interviews to magazines, but usually with the consent of the President.
NREH: Okay! So, do you have a constitution or a law that says you are only allowed to spend three or four years in office? When do you think you are leaving the position of Vice President?
What we did was study the set-up of some associations and after we made a lot of research, we found out that what brings about the collapse or total eradication of some these associations is the in-house politics. In APICAN at the National level, we don’t elect people. Whatever office you occupy, you are there solely on merit. What we look at is your performance, activities, educational standards and how far you can take APICAN, and the appointment is done by the council, it’s not general appointment.
NREH: So there’s a council?
Yes. They are the ones that will study your performance and look at your ability to hold certain positions. For example, the President is an accountant even though he’s not chartered while our PRO was a journalist before.
NREH: But do you have to be in real estate to occupy a position?
Yes. You have to be in real estate. At least you must have been practising for more than 10 years before you can think of occupying any position; at least at National level. You must be a member of APICAN and know everything there is to know about APICAN before you can occupy any position. This is because all our officials must be able to answer any questions on APICAN and give the correct and appropriate answer.
NREH: Okay but the point we are driving at is; at what point does the council say your tenure is over? Do they give you 2 years or 3 years to occupy the position and remove you only when there is misconduct?
You occupy a position until we build an amendment of the Constitution.
NREH: So there’s a constitution the association works with?
Yes. There’s a constitution that is guiding us and the only way someone can be removed from a position is when an amendment occurs because like I said earlier, that’s the way it’s been run since inception. It’s not the position that we are holding that matters to us but what we are going to achieve because we are trying to take APICAN to a higher level. What we are after is the progress of APICAN.
NREH: So far, have you had stability in the body compared to other associations based on the system you are running right now?
Yes. We don’t have factions or anybody holding grudges. We are following our policy as we have laid it down. Even when there are new policies, what we do is discuss it within the council and take it to the general meeting because we usually have our monthly general meeting which involves all the Chairmen from the respective States where we are operating.
When we have this meeting, the chairmen go back to their charters and from charters to zones and zones to branches. That is how we disseminate information. However at the National level, we hold every branch together and don’t have factions. If as a branch you cannot follow our policies, it is better you go away.
We don’t bend our policies especially when we know that it is right, but that doesn’t mean we don’t listen to others. If a branch gives an idea that is much better than what we came up with, we adopt it. The important thing is once we agree on something, it has to be followed. That is why APICAN doesn’t have factions. Although we are small, we are very strong.
Right now, we represent estate agents in meetings with the government and featured on talk shows on LTV and Inside Out with Agatha. Whenever any institution or organization wants to call on real estate agents, we are the ones to represent them. The Lagos State government recently had a stakeholder meeting and APICAN and ERCAAN are the associations that are recognized. In ERCAAN however, there are factions which does not exist in APICAN.
Another thing that makes us stand out is that when we are going for functions, we carry along quality people such as the Permanent Secretary and former Permanent Secretary in Lagos States and many other notable people that are part of us. This gives us credibility and adds quality to what we are doing and who we are.
NREH: So can you tell us how you got into real estate and became an agent?
I was just passionate about it. Immediately I made up my mind to do it, I went into apprenticeship with some of my friends and after that, I went to a school but the school is no more now.
NREH: So you just decided to enter real estate? At that time what was it like being a real estate agent? What did it entail?
When you talk about agency in general, anybody can be an agent. For example, the fact that you are interviewing me on behalf of your company makes you an agent for your company. Real estate is just more popular than any other agent because it concerns everybody; landlord, tenant, whoever. If you are inspired to be a real estate agent, it is important for you to study from somebody first!
A lot of people think it is a very simple job but it’s not as simple as that. There are a lot of things people that are not in the business don’t know. That’s why they complain about the agency fee, the commissions we take and the forms we ask people to fill.
NREH: But don’t you think these complaints are justified sir?
Okay, but there is no law that stops you from finding a house for yourself! Is there any law?
NREH: No sir!
Exactly! So that means you are free to go and get a house on your own if you don’t want to engage the services of real estate agents. The way you are working for your own earning is the same way I’m not doing any other thing than to look for the house for you. That is where my earning comes. That is where I receive my income.
NREH: What if I have found a house and you just happen to be the person in charge of that property? Why should I still be charged?
But you saw my number on a board I put there?
NREH: Yes but I found the place myself, you didn’t help me to find the place which means you didn’t do any work
That is the essence of me putting my board there.
NREH: Okay but I’m talking from the angle of the client now
The truth is if I’m in charge of a house, the tradition is that I have to collect the agency fee from whoever is contracting me. If I’m in my office and you walk in and tell me you’re looking for accommodation, you will register to show that you are endorsing me or have employed me to search for a house for you. Now, if somebody has contracted me or given me a house to manage and I put my board there and you see it by yourself, it’s also a plus to me too.
NREH: (Smiling) Okay! So what then is the average qualification for anyone to do what you do?
He must have graduated from secondary school with his/her WASSCE Certificate.
NREH: That’s it?
If you have your secondary school leaving certificate, you have to undergo apprenticeship, but what is most important in the real estate agency business is the ability to endure and be patient. It is not every day people walk into my office and tell me they want to rent a house. Even the money the person will pay might not be for me alone. There’s the possibility that there are three to four to five agents on that little money.
We spend a lot of money, time and effort in moving around to search for a house that suits the client’s needs but some people don’t know that or appreciate what we do. If you are looking for accommodation and I take you to see a particular house, some persons will say what have I done, but I have done a lot. I’ve moved around and disseminated information and that’s not an easy thing. At least in your magazine, you do adverts, right?NEXT 1 2 3