For quite some years now, many properties belonging to the Federal Government have been suffering from either outright abandonment, or under-utilisation, thereby constituting dangers to lives and property in their immediate vicinity.
But according to experts, apart from the perceived dangers they constitute, most of these buildings are very much suitable for conversion into other usage other than the purposes for which they were originally built.
All the while, experts in the real estate sector, especially, the builders, architects and estate surveyors are at a loss on how a nation could wantonly subject such iconic properties to an “unmitigated abuse.”
Prior to the advent of President Buhari, observers traced the unwholesome situation to political differences between Lagos and Abuja, because while Abuja was under the control of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Lagos has been under the control at various times under the Alliance for Democracy (AD), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and now the APC.
“For the sake of posterity, it’s time that President Buhari should use his position as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and a strong leader of APC to ensure that these properties are put into proper use, sell those that need to be sold, and lease out or concession others to private investors,” urged Mr. Samuel Odedina, a Canada-based Estate Surveyor, who spoke with the Nigerian Tribune in Lagos recently.
To Mr Akin Adejumo, another Lagos based Estate Surveyor, Lagos and Abuja will do well to have some rethink over the affected properties, including the Independence Building which used to house the Ministry of Defence and the Glass House by Okesuna Street, Lagos Island.
“Others that require such attention are the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, Ministry of Education Building, the National Assembly Complex at Tafawa Balewa Square and the 37-storey NECOM House at No.15 Marina Street, which was allegedly sold to a company owned by an Ogun State born politician at a paltry sum of N4 billion.
“Besides, NITEL Building, former Supreme Court Building, former Navy Headquarters on Marina, which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs once used, the NNPC Complex in Ikoyi, NITEL offices at Falomo and Iponri and the uncompleted NPF Building at Okokomaiko, off the Lagos-Badagry Expressway, among others, also need attention.
It would be recalled that sometime during President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration, efforts were made by Wale Babalakin to buy the Old Federal Secretariat, but some powerful people, under the pretence that the land on which the property was sited belongs to Lagos, hence, it ceased to belong to the Federal Government.
This group has amongst them, Chief Femi Okunnu, a former Federal Commissioner in the First Republic, whose argument has been that the Land Use Decree that vested land under the Federal authority was no longer valid since Lagos had ceased to be the nation’s federal capital.
At a point, the immediate past Governor of Lagos, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, who also wasn’t well disposed to the sale of the property, once told his audience at the 6th Town Hall meeting on security, that these abandoned Federal Government properties served as hideouts for criminals, including armed robbers and miscreants, popularly called Area Boys.
“There are a number of abandoned offices and houses all over Lagos resulting from the movement of Federal agencies to Abuja. These buildings attract criminals and miscreants who use them as hideouts for planning criminal activities and sharing their ill-gotten loot,” he said.
According to a security source, there is a 17-storey building constructed in the 70s by the Federal Government in the Okokomaiko area of Badagry Expressway, which wasn’t put into any use.