Besides the death of some protesters that have left their family and friends grieving, the real estate sector of the Nigerian economy is the worst victim of the wanton destruction that trailed the mindless killing of #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki Tollgate in Lagos by persons suspected to be Nigerian soldiers.
The sector is currently bleeding as some private residences and many public assets have been either vandalized and looted or completely burnt down by hoodlums who took over the peaceful protest and went on destruction spree, leaving families homeless, and businesses in hopeless situation.
Among the private residences that were torched are the home of the governor of Lagos State, Sanwo-Olu’s mother, and the palace of Rilwan Akiolu, the Oba of Lagos which the hoodlums looted and made away with his staff of office. The palace, an expansive one-storey building, was allegedly partially burnt.
Though public buildings such as the Igbosere High Court on Lagos Island, Oyingbo and Ojodu Bus Terminals, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Orile and other police stations , local government secretariats, Federal Road Safety Corps and Vehicle Inspection Service etc, were badly torched, the impact is not as deep and far-reaching as that of private business facilities that were destroyed.
“The retail sector is the worst hit and that is going to affect so many things in that sector,” Damola Akindolire, managing director, Apha Mead Development Company, confirmed to BusinessDay, noting, “this is a sector that is still smarting from the impact of Covid-19 which has reduced not just patronage but also footfall in the malls.”
By the last count, about five malls in Lagos alone were either looted or burnt or both. They include Adeniran Ogunsanya Mall in Surulere, Circle Mall, The Palms The Spare in Ikate, Novare Mall, all in the Lekki axis of Lagos, and Oshogbo Mall in Osun State.
While Adeniran Ogunsanya Mall was completely vandalized and looted, Circle Mall was looted and partially burnt, The Spare, The Palms and Novare Mall were only looted and vandalized. Novare Mall is suffering this kind of attack a second time in 12 months.
It was also looted and vandalised in October last year during the Xenophic attack in South Africa. In the present #EndSARS attack, Games and Shoprite, both South African retailers, had most of their electronic gadgets and foodstuff looted by the hoodlums.
“What has happened has grave implications for this sector. What it means is that, for a long time to come, the sector will find it difficult to recover and grow. Again, it will be difficult for this sector to attract fresh capital because security of assets is no longer guaranteed. Investors have to consider all the risk factors before investing in this space,” Akindolire noted further.
He added that, going forward, investors have to be mindful of where they set up their retail business, explaining that those within 100 square metres radius of middle class residential communities are hardly attacked, citing Ikeja City Mall and Maryland Mall.
The retail market in Nigeria before 2015 had was a preferred investment destination. It witnessed what was clearly a revolution as it gained significant interest from local and international investors who supported the development of modern shopping malls and centres similar to those in Europe, America, South Africa and other developed nations.
From a zero base, the sector attracted Foreign Direct Investments estimated at $3 billion that was deployed towards the development of about 20 shopping malls and centres in over 10 cities, including Lagos, Ibadan, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano, Warri, Ilorin, Enugu, among others.
Hakeem Oguniran, CEO, Exima Real Estate, recalls that the sector generated employment opportunities for skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled workers in excess of 1000 jobs per retail center, adding that these employment opportunities largely targeted the youths.
MKO Balogun, CEO, PFI Global, agrees, stressing that the large scale destruction meted out on retail malls, public and private buildings poses a huge challenge to the real estate sector, coming at a time when construction cost has escalated due to the impact of Covid-19 and the sector’s peculiar problems.
He disclosed that Thomas Estate, a middle class estate on the road to Ajah in Lagos was torched while many others on that axis would have suffered the same fate if not for the locals who resisted the hoodlums. This, according to him, would add to the problems of the sector.
“This is not healthy for a sector that is still struggling with high demand-supply deficit; these destructions mean housing stock has reduced and rebuilding these assets have high cost implications for governments, businesses and the economy at large,” he lamented.
Other private businesses whose buildings were either looted and vandalized or burnt down or both, are TVC Station, The Nation Newspaper, Oriental Hotel, Anchor Insurance in Akwa Ibom State, banks branch buildings, telecom shops and warehouses, Samsung office at Eric Moore Junction, a large pharmacy shop on Admiralty Way, Lekki Phase 1, etc.