Only professionals should be involved in Real Estate Business - NIESV President
The President of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers, Johnbull Amayaevbo, tells FAITH AJAYI about his journey in the real estate industry
At what point did you decide you were going into the real estate business?
I decided early in life, right from when I was a teenager, that I would go into real estate business. I got fascinated by the idea of doing a business woven around properties. My father was involved in this line of business as well, and I used to be with him developing properties in Benin City, Edo State. Also, I usually got excited whenever I saw new buildings. When it was time for me to go to a higher institution, my immediate elder brother advised me to study Estate Management, which is a discipline that is related to properties. I started reading books and articles on real estate, and I decided to build a career in the field. That was how I enrolled for Estate Management at the Yaba College of Technology, Lagos, where I bagged my Ordinary National Diploma and Higher National Diploma. I eventually graduated as the best student both in the Department and School of Environmental Studies.
Aside from the fact that your father was involved in the business, what were your other reasons for going into this field?
I got to know that real estate guarantees one a good income, a comfortable life and an opportunity to contribute positively and effectively to societal and national development. Real estate is a sure path to financial freedom. Only a few careers can offer what is obtainable in real estate. If one is the type of person that loves flexible schedules, constant acquisition of knowledge, and exposure to opportunities for leadership growth, one would opt for real estate. A career in real estate offers one the opportunity to meet with the who is who in society. This is because, no matter one's position or status, one needs properties, whether commercial or residential, and these are provided by real estate practitioners. Those are some of the reasons I ventured into real estate.
Tell us about your career trajectory.
My career has been challenging, but interesting. Mine is a confirmation that the end justifies the means. I worked in the firms of two prominent names in the profession— Diya Fatimilehin & Co, and Ayo Otegbola & Co. I really learnt a lot from them. I was exposed not only to the different areas of the profession, but to the nitty-gritty of the practice of real estate. It was challenging as I earlier mentioned, but the goals I envisioned and set for myself informed my strong desire to progress and succeed in my career.
You have been the Principal Partner and Chief Executive Officer of Johnbull Amayaevbo & Co for over 20 years. What are your roles?
By the grace of God, I am the founder of the firm. I have been effective and I am in charge of drawing business plans, taking decisions and ensuring the implementation of the plans for the actualisation of the vision and mission statement of the firm. I oversee the affairs of the firm. I manage clients and the staff. I manage and allocate resources for the smooth running of the firm. Of course, I also hire and fire as the situation demands.
To sharpen my leadership skills, I have attended several leadership training and seminars within and outside the country; including studying policy, strategy and leadership at the prestigious National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, Plateau State; the popular University College of Estate Management, Reading, United Kingdom; and University of Cape Town, South Africa, among others.
What are some of the challenges you have battled with as the Principal Partner/CEO of Johnbull Amayaevbo & Co?
Real estate practice, and business generally, have their ups and downs. It was particularly tough in the early days. It was challenging to set up the firm and start my practice; it was difficult to secure clients and get briefs. The business comes with huge challenges, ranging from managing clients to some clients being extremely difficult. There is also the challenge of resource generation and allocation of funds.
How were you able to overcome those challenges?
(The late American activist) Martin Luther King, once said, "Our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change."
The person who doesn't want to face challenges will always have challenges thrown at them.
Sheer determination, commitment and focus on the goals I set for the firm and myself motivated me a great deal. It made me to be even more prayerful; and to believe and trust totally in God. With determination and resilience, I was able to move forward and break through eventually.
You are also the President of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers. What are your responsibilities in that office?
I am currently the President and Chairman of the council of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers. Basically, I am the Chief Executive Officer of the institution.
I preside over the meetings of the council, including the annual general meeting. These are the organs which take crucial policy decisions and oversee the affairs of the institution.
I am like the pilot of an aircraft, so the buck stops at my table. All the committees of the council report to the council. I also oversee their programmes and activities.
What are the highlights of your time in office so far?
They are numerous, and they are clearly stated in my scorecard for the past year. Under my leadership, we have taken the institution to greater heights, in terms of increase in membership, capacity building, research and development, branding, members’ welfare, advocacy and strategic engagement with policymakers and stakeholders. We have made tremendous progress in the building of our national secretariat, and we would be moving into the building anytime from now.
We have also commenced on giving a facelift to our building in Ikeja, Lagos.
In terms of staff welfare and other areas, we have made significant impact. Our recent 53rd Annual Conference and AGM in Ilorin, Kwara State, which was my first as the president, was a huge success. For the first time in our history as a professional body, a former president of another country (Ghana), John Mahama, was our special guest of honour. Also for the first time, we collaborated with the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, to organise a four-day leadership retreat for newly elected public office holders across all political parties in May 2023 at the Presidential Banquet Hall of the State House, Abuja. I am not aware of any professional body that has done that in recent times, or even before.
The event was well attended by some governors, deputy governors, senators and members of the House of Representatives.
In a similar vein, we organised our maiden Merit Award at the International Conference Centre, Abuja. We also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Lagos Business School to hold a national conference on the real estate sector of the economy. This is in addition to strategic engagements with many of our critical stakeholders. My one-year scorecard at our last AGM outlined all. To the glory of God, we have made our mark.
What challenges have you encountered in this office?
A popular adage says, 'Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown'. Regardless of location, industry or organisational structure, leaders, all over the world, face both internal and external challenges. Managing a team and handling different perspectives, including members of staff and stakeholders, is a big challenge. I have had to manage the financial resources of the institution, and in the course of that, I have stepped on toes. However, I just have to take decisions as a leader for the interest of our institution.
How did you rise beyond those obstacles?
As a leader, one must make decisions based on circumstances and available facts.
Regarding the challenge of finance, I have been able to raise funds from within and outside the institution to finance our projects and run the institution.
When it comes to discipline, we use the 'stick and carrots' concept, depending on the circumstances. But in the long run, good reason prevails, and we are often able to reach a common ground in the interest of the institution. In all, I ensure that I am guided by objectivity, and collaborate well with my team.
I face issues squarely, while seeking innovative ways to change, grow and improve; making sacrifices here and there.
Getting land titles in Nigeria is a Herculean task, and many fall into the hands of swindlers. Why is this a recurrent issue in the real estate sector?
The truth is that the Land Use Act is long overdue for review; and the NIESV has been clamouring for that. We live in a dynamic society, and a law which came to effect in 1975, which sought to address certain issues of that year, must be reviewed to align with the realities of the present.
Culled from Punch Newspaper, August 2023