Govt hasn’t done much in terms of housing in Nigeria —Akanbi

Samuel Olasunkanmi Akanbi is the newly elected national publicity secretary of the Association of Professional Bodies of Nigeria (APBN) and principal partner, Sam Akanbi Associates, a firm of estate surveyors and valuers. In this interview by OLUSEGUN ADEEKO, he shares his thoughts on Nigeria’s efforts to provide affordable housing for its citizens as well as his plans for his new role.

What is the Association of Professional Bodies of Nigeria (APBN) all about and which professional bodies are under its umbrella?

APBN is an umbrella body of all registered professional bodies in Nigeria. It’s the hub of all professional bodies. It’s a leg of a tripod. We have Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), National Association of Chambers of Commerce Industry Agriculture (NACCIMA) and APBN. You will realise that these two bodies are always contacted for their input by the government whenever a policy is to be formulated, but without the professionals body’s input there will always be a gap. So, in January 1992, APBN was given official federal government recognition as the third leg of the tripod of the Organised Private Sector (OPS), although it’s activities started in 1983. We presently have about 30 professional bodies as members. For example, Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV), Nigeria Society of Engineers (NSE), Nigerian Medical Association, (NMA), Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), Nigerian Institute of Town Planning (NITPS), Nigerian Institute of Surveyors (NIS), Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (NIQS), Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA), and so on.


As an experienced chartered estate surveyor, do you think Nigeria is on course as regards the provision of affordable housing for its citizens?

Let’s first look at the word ‘affordable’: Affordability in terms of housing delivery is relative. As a matter of fact, what Mr. A considers affordable may not be affordable for Mr. B. However, the government has not done much in terms of housing in Nigeria. The housing deficit in Nigeria is huge, and this is not about formulating a policy again. We have enough policies on housing that can bring us out of the woods but the political will on the part of the government is on sabbatical leave. A government that is serious about housing delivery in Nigeria will first of all look into our Land Use Act and create an enabling environment that will make it easy to have access to land. Computerisation of land titling and registration is key. Encourage the use of local content. Without these, we aren’t going anywhere.


You just became the association’s publicity secretary; how do you intend to showcase the association more, considering the fact that not many people know about its existence?

Public enlightenment is the key, and that can be done with the help of the media. I wish to leverage on my relationship with the media family. I intend to court both the traditional and social media. I am looking at creating a platform of interaction between all publicity secretaries of professional bodies. Through this, our activities will be propagated to the larger community. We shall also be looking at a quarterly newsletter. All these and other legitimate means shall be exploited to create a robust awareness.

You are also pastoring a church. How do you strike balance between your practice as the principal partner of your firm, the APBN assignment and your pastoral calling?

Grace of God; that’s number one constant and undeniable factor. Secondly, I have always been pastoring since campus days, combining academic work with pasturing; but now, I am not a full-time pastor and I have many able assistants both in church and office. It’s all about planning.


People call you Big Sam. Is that your real name? Or who is Big Sam?

Big Sam is a nickname from my campus days which has refused to go. My name is Samuel Olasunkanmi Akanbi. I was born in the great city of Ibadan in mid-70s. I had my education from primary to tertiary in Ibadan, Oyo State. I am an Egba man from Gbagura quarters. My mother is from Ijebu, but my parents built their house and settled in Ibadan. So, I can claim to be an Ibadan as well as Ijebu man.


You have always been very close to the media circle. How did you end up in another profession?

I love journalism. In fact, while I was on campus, I started a campus-based magazine called Campus Ovation with two of my friends. The magazine is still in production 20 years after we started. But I realised that my heart is in building-related industry like construction, real estate generally. Now, I am grateful to God that He led me into this path. I am into real estate fully. I am a chartered estate surveyor and valuer. I am the principal partner of Sam Akanbi & Associates, a firm of estate surveying and valuation, and SAMAK Engineering.


Any future plan to join politics?

Absolutely, if it’s God’s will for me. Why not?