Abandoned Billions rot in Lagos
Lagos is littered with abandoned buildings. Some belong to private individuals and firms. Many others belong to governments and their agencies. Their market values run into billions of naira.
Not a few of such buildings were abandoned as a result of the movement of the federal capital from Lagos to Abuja.
There are a number of abandoned buildings, which hosted banks and other businesses. The old Federal Secretariat has been abandoned for years. Others such as the former Ministry of Defence and old parliament building at Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS) are equally wasting away.
Also abandoned on the Island are the NICON House, Marina and the old Daily Times building on Kakawa Street.
The Nitel Building in GRA Ikeja and Dunlop Nigeria Plc on Oba Akran Avenue also remind passers-by that greatness used to be there. A bank now occupies a small fraction of the expansive Dunlop land. But the company insists the bank is occupying the 12,500 square metres of its 20.22 acres forcibly and illegally.
The company is also accusing a church of encroaching on a portion of the land, which used to be home to one of the country’s most successful companies. It said the bank prematurely called up a loan facility before subsequently selling the property to the church.
Dunlop left Nigeria when government policy favoured unbridled importation of sub-standard tyres. It was also said to have been affected by the dearth of infrastructure. The company could not compete with cheaper varieties finding their way into the country.
In Ojodu Berger, a second generation bank abandoned its massive office after completion when the public was just waiting for it to be inaugurated. The place is now home to itinerant traders and bike riders, who have converted it to their abode.
A now defunct bank also has a completed but abandoned building on Oba N’le Aro bus stop in Ketu. In Matori-Mushin, a second generation bank abandoned its building. Now, second hand tyre dealers and junk dealers have encroached upon it. The building has been abandoned for over a decade before the traders took possession.
Many of these buildings are now a haven for miscreants. Questionable characters hibernate there and commit crimes. Such buildings also get weakened and may collapse as a result of deterioration.
What govt should do?
An Estate Surveyor & Valuer, Mr. Sola Enitan, said under the Land Use Act, the Federal Government ought to have handed over the old Federal Secretariat buildings to Lagos State.
He said in the beginning, the building was ‘sold’ to an investor who promised to redevelop it into a luxury estate targeting Nigerians in the Diaspora. He explained that if the government had no need of it again and would not want to hand it over to the Lagos State government, the right thing to do will be to hand it over to the original owners.
He said: “The Federal Government has breached the terms of the engagement and also the relevant constitutional provision for which it took the land.”
He asked the original land owners to go to court while the state government should revoke the Cof O.
For buildings owned by an individual, he said the law provides that if it stayed vacant for three years, the state government has the right to apply a vacancy tax as a result of default in tenancy law or that the owner has a lot of money and doesn’t care if his property brings in rentals or not.
President, Nigeria Institute of Building (NIOB), Kunle Awobodu, said the abandoned properties should be put into good use by reallocating them to other government agencies which may need them for accommodation. He maintained that abandonement of properties devalue the economic potentials.
On the former Nurses Hostel at Ikoyi, he said the building is of a prime location and if disposed by government, it would bring in huge fund. According to him, any money invested in remodeling these buildings and putting them into better use would be recouped in no distant time to grow the economy.
Afolabi Adedeji, a civil engineer, advised the government to convert the Old Secretariat to correctional services or Police Barracks to enhance their operational efficiency.
Adedeji said the Old Nurses building in Ikoyi could be turned into specialist hospital to take care of special needs of women and children or cancer patients to reduce medical tourism and save the much – needed foreign exchange for the country.
He said: “The former Liaison offices on Ahmadu Bello Way have been lying fallow for ages , why can’t the government convert them to the Nigeria Law School hostel. There is so much the government can do to rid the state off abandoned properties and to have a saner climate.”