The Federal Government has again been charged to either concession or sell all its buildings that are not being utilized across the country to private investors in order to forestall further deterioration as a result of continued abandonment.
A Professor of Building, Prof. Olumide Afolarin Adenuga, who gave the charge in his inaugural lecture at the J.F Ade Ajayi Memorial Hall, University of Lagos, Akoka, on Wednesday, said, N126.2 billion revenue have been lost since 2006 on the Federal Government properties in Lagos State alone, because the government have refused to either sell or concession the assets.
Adenuga, a professor of building management lamented that the nation have been hemorrhaging as a result of the neglect of the buildings, warning that the huge economic benefits of these iconic structures would continue to elude the nation if the government continue to ignore the need to restore them to beneficial use for Nigerians.
The university don who said maintenance is as old as creation, said man have had to contend with managing his space and the ecosystem since he abandoned a wandering lifestyle to adopt a settled life, pointing out that maintenance was responsible for increased lifespan of structures such as the Egyptian pyramids, the Papal States in the Vatican City, The White House in the United States and the Golden Temples, and other monuments, most of which have been kept in same serviceable condition as they were at the time of their construction.
For him, it is regrettable that many of the nation’s iconic assets, which were pleasant to look at, at the time of their construction, had been allowed to degenerate due to lack of maintenance and planned repairs that could have reversed the trend and turned them into positive economic assets.
“It is a glaring fact that our buildings are in very poor and deplorable conditions of structures and decorative disrepair, abandoned and reduced more or less to refuse dumps and natural homes for rodents and vermins in spite of billions of Naira spent to build and commission them.”
Adenuga listed among such assets wasting away in Lagos State to include; the National Stadium, Surulere, the Federal Secretariat Complex, Ikoyi, The Nigerian Eternal Telecommunications (NET) building, Marina, the Defence House (formerly Independence Building), and the former NAVY Headquarters building in Marina. Other buildings according to him are: the National Arts Theatre, Iganmu, former National Assembly complex, Tafawa Balewa Square, and the Supreme Court building among others.
He said: “All these buildings are in deplorable states of structural and decorative repairs because we do not have any maintenance culture, a fact which manifests in the general apathy for maintenance coupled with ignorance on the part of occupiers of the benefits of planed preventive maintenance and care of buildings.”
According to him, the cumulative potential economic loss at the National Stadium alone, between 2004 to date, is about N52.6 billion, while the Federal Secretariat, which has been overgrown with weeds and is now home to reptiles and rodents, could have been yielded over N72 billion, if it had been converted to luxury residential apartments as proposed by Resort international Limited since 2006, while the 32-storey NET building with about 720 sq. metres of lettable space could have attracted over N1.6 billion in rent annually if well maintained and optimally utilised.
He said apart from the loss of the huge revenue which could have been ploughed back into provision of social amenities for Nigerians, the 480 units of luxury residential apartments being proposed by RIL could have contributed to reducing the shortfall in the nation’s housing stock.
“Because of their present deplorable state, these once iconic structures have become a nuisance not only to the city of Lagos and her residents, but is also a source of economic loss arising from abandonment and gross under-utilisation,” he added.
He said since it hardly feasible to construct buildings that are maintenance free, it is desirable for experts to think of building maintenance projections even at the design stage to reduce the cost of maintenance work throughout the lifespan of a building.
“All elements of buildings deteriorate at a greater or lesser rate depending on the materials used, methods of construction, environmental conditions, and the use of the building,” he said.
To reverse the trend of improper maintenance of public or private properties, Adenuga recommended a formulation and formalization of regular minimum repair programme, regular and effective inspection of all the fabrics of the buildings, including their surroundings, as well as the comfort of the occupants to detect signs of disrepair, prompt attention to repair needs of buildings, to prevent further deterioration in order to keep the buildings in acceptable standards.
He canvassed planned preventive maintenance, which according to him are best accommodated at the design and construction stages of building development, even as he urged occupiers of buildings to be adequately educated to report, as soon as noticed, defects for prompt maintenance even as he charge them to use the property in such a way as to keep them in good tenantable conditions.
He canvassed that occupiers of public properties should be responsible for repairs and maintenance of the properties, the avoidance of deliberate alterations, which may lead to immediate or eventual decline in the state and aesthetic value of property, the standardization of building components.
He added that property owners, both private and public, should guide against overcrowding which may result in over-use of facilities and undue pressure on sanitary facilities.
Adenuga, a product of the polytechnic system, who described the lecture as his debt to academic and scholarship, is the second professor to have given his inaugural lecture in the Department of Building and the ninth professor in the Faculty of Environmental Sciences of the University of Lagos.