Mallam Muhammad Musa Bello, the FCTA Minister, while speaking yesterday when members of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers, NIESV paid him a courtesy visit told the body that the Federal Government of Nigeria would soon put in place a law that would force downward, cost of accommodation in the Federal Capital Territory.

He explained that the current Buhari-led administration was deeply concerned with the high cost of housing in the territory and was working out modalities that would guarantee access to decent accommodation by the masses and less privileged.

The Minister who tasked members of NIESV on a viable solution to end high cost of accommodation in Abuja, also challenged the body to have a downward review of their professional fee, stressing that although the concept of estate development was a very commendable one, the industry was facing many challenges in the capital city, questioning the rationale behind payment of rent on annual basis in the country.

He further pointed out that as a professional body that was primarily concerned with provision of houses, the NIESV has a burden of ensuring that accommodation does not get out of the reach of the common man.

Bello said, “As a body, you must take deliberate steps to bring down the cost of accommodation through reduction of your charges and commissions.

“I know that you charge between 10-15% but I think that rate needs to come down, else at some point in the future, legislation will force you to bring it down.’’

The Minister wondered why Nigerian citizens would pay rent on a yearly basis whereas in developed countries such as United Kingdom and United states, tenants pay rents on a monthly basis.

He queried, “Why should we pay rent annually in Nigeria; why should we pay two, three years in advance.

“All the people you see here including the Minister get their rent allowance on a monthly basis, only very few organisations in Nigeria pay rent allowance annually in bulk.

“Why can’t we start asking our tenants to pay rent monthly even if they are in Asokoro, Maitama or wherever?”

The Minister disclosed that as part of the moves to make housing affordable in Abuja, the FCT Administration has put the necessary measures in place to ensure that all plots of land not developed within a stipulated period would be revoked and re-allocated to willing developers, adding that the number of uncompleted buildings and empty estate houses in the city was very alarming and a committee would soon be set up to look into the issue.

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