'How to renew Ilorin' - Hakeem Lawal

Date: 2014-11-24

An estate developer, Hakeem Oladimeji Lawal has said Ilorin the capital of Kwara State can be renewed in two phases.

Speaking with journalists in Abuja yesterday, Lawal who aspires to govern his home state of Kwara noted that Ilorin is developed but it needs renewal.

However, he cautioned, "You have to manage the difference between those that hold unto the old ways and those that want change. It must be a gradual process.

"You must bring up a new metropolis which you will develop housing and infrastructure.

"Gradually, the population will move into that. Then you come back to renew the old town-renewing it, still maintaining our culture and heritage because it forms a critical part of our history.

"Achieving that will take not four, eight years. We look at 12, 16 maybe 20 years. That's why it's important when doing it, you're also planning for succession so people can carry that out."

He said in 1999-2003, Ilorin was given major renewal: "It was part of the design that said first stage, three boreholes in each ward. That was the immediate short term solution.

"The next stage was to build huge reservoirs-if you go to Ilorin you will see them-big tanks that connected them. When water was pumped, it got to the reservoir, before that reservoir runs out another water is pumped. It gives you medium term solution.

"But the long term was to expand and improve on the dam. When another government came in 2003, that whole scheme and money spent on it was abandoned. Till today, it's still abandoned."

Lawal, son of former governor of Kwara State, the late Mohammed Lawal identified housing as not only a business but a social responsibility.

He explained, "For me it's not about making money. It's easier for you to say I'll award 500 million housing units at N5 million or N8 million and they'll give you a return of 10 percent. But money will finish, people are suffering!

"If I ask somebody to contribute N1,000 a week to the National Housing Fund…many buy recharge card of more than that in a week...as long as you continue to contribute to it, I’ll give you a three-bedroom bungalow.

"It means if I get 500,000 people out of our 1.3 million population [population of Kwara State] on that housing scheme that they are contributing N1,000 a week, it means I'll have access to N500 million a week.

"N500 million at N5 million housing units, it gives me 100 housing units. It means 50 to 100 people should get houses a week.

"If we say government should put a seed fund to that, it puts a seed fund of N1 billion, whoever contributes gets.

"Economies are built on real estate. Nobody can give you a loan without collateral. But if I give you that house at N5 million, you know that the open market value or valuation any bank will do that house is between N8 million to 10 million."

Lawal underscored need for properly utilization of resources saying, between 199-203, the monthly allocation for Kwara State was between N600 million and N800 million.

"With that resource, civil servants were paid and they were able to do enough projects.

"For instance three boreholes in each ward, a cottage hospital in each ward. Housing project were done with meager resources.

"Today, Kwara receives between N1.8 billion and N2 billion revenue. Even if the over head has doubled, the money has tripled. So it's about proper resource management.

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