Osinbajo commissions Odu’a housing estate built by UK-based diasporans he inspired to invest in Nigeria

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, commissions a housing estate, the Westlink Iconic Villa, a joint venture project of Odu’a Investment Company Limited and Chapter Four Estates Management Limited owned by UK-based Nigerians, in Ibadan, Oyo State, on Thursday, February 9, 2023. Photos: Statehouse/Tolani Alli

• VP speaks on solutions to Nigeria’s housing deficit

A group of UK-based Nigerian professionals and investors who are partnering with the Odu’a Investment Company Limited to build a big housing estate in Ibadan, say they were inspired to come home and invest at a meeting in London years ago with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, even as he details required steps to address Nigeria’s huge housing deficit.

The VP spoke at the commissioning of the Westlink Iconic Villa – a joint venture project of Odu’a Investment Company Limited and Chapter Four Estates Management Limited owned by UK-based Nigerians, on the requirements for addressing the housing deficit in Nigeria. He said a more lasting solution lies in ensuring adequate housing finance, affordable mortgages and available social housing.

“There is a significant housing deficit, 17 million, which should ordinarily be a major economic opportunity not just for house ownership but also for the many jobs and manufacturing opportunities that housing brings. The missing link is not the market, neither is it the number of ideas for private development. Housing finance, affordable mortgages and social housing are what we need,” the VP noted.

Continuing, Prof. Osinbajo said “every developed economy has had to grow, usually, with government support, mortgage schemes. What needs to be done is that government must provide the capital to derisk single digit mortgage lending by banks.”

Citing examples in the US where government-sponsored enterprises have been instrumental to the growth of the housing sector, the VP said “the role of government is crucial.”

On the Federal Government’s efforts aimed at addressing the deficit in the housing sector, the Vice President said “we started that process in our housing for jobs programme under the Economic Sustainability Plan. The Family Homes Fund was the arrowhead for the first phase.

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“CBN was to provide the intervention fund for mortgage finance through the Family Homes Fund. We are still working on the programme but there must also be affordable private sector funding for housing.”

The Vice President recalled a meeting held with the group of UK-based Nigerians in March 2015. “I encouraged them (diaspora business persons) to bring their skills and capital back home and to partner with the incoming APC government to develop Nigeria.”

“After the event I had a discussion with one of the leaders of the group of business persons, Mr. Shams Ogumuyiwa, who expressed a keen interest in coming back to Nigeria to invest in real estate. Some time after that meeting he and others came together to develop this project,” the VP added.

A recorded video of the VP meeting the diasporans in 2015 in the UK, was played at the event.

Commending the Odu’a Investment Company Limited for the feat attained, the VP noted that “the future is bright, if we stick to the vision of providing derisking funds supported with development finance funding such as Odu’a’s.”

Prof. Osinbajo added that “though the road to raising capital was rough they (investors) kept at it through the years. But the breakthrough appears to have come by way of another great story. The Odu’a Investments Company Limited.”

The VP acknowledged the contributions of Nigerians in Diaspora in the project, noting that “…the Nigerian diaspora has a crucial role to play in the Nigerian economy.”

In separate remarks, the Odu’a Group Chairman, Mr Bimbo Ashiru and the MD of Chapter Four Estates Management Limited, Mr Shams Ogunmuyiwa – representing the diaspora investors, paid glowing tributes to Prof. Osinbajo for laying the foundation for the project.

According to Ashiru “the Vice President deserved to be celebrated for encouraging citizens in the diaspora to invest at home which resulted in this project. It was the VP’s interaction with four UK-based Odu’a citizens that motivated them and set in motion the investment into the project.”

On his part, Ogunmuyiwa recalled that “it started in 2015 when the Vice President came to the UK. Sir, you may not remember everybody who met with you, but those of us who met with you will never forget that situation.

“You promised that your government will make ease of doing business a priority. We thereafter had one on one chat, that meeting inspired what set us up on this trajectory.”

The first phase of the project comprises 67 housing units located in Alakia, New Ife Road, Ibadan. The second phase will have more than 200 units added.