‘Why young people should take advantage of Lagos Rent -To – Own Scheme’

CEO of Maxima Productions, Femi Ogundoro

Last year, the CEO of Maxima Productions, Femi Ogundoro, launched a new campaign dubbed Dream Abode, with the aim of encouraging young Africans to invest wisely, particularly in real estate. In this interview with CHUKS NWANNE, he spoke on the need for Nigerian youth to take advantage of the ‘Rent To Own’ housing scheme being offered by the Lagos State government.

Last year, your organisation came up with the Dream Abode campaign, how has it been so far?
The radio show has been running, the online platform is on as well; it’s growing with the few episodes that we did last year. Like you already know, Dream Abode is not just a TV or radio show or an online platform; it’s actually a campaign. The idea of the campaign is to change the narrative of African youths. However, the key thing here is empowering people; educating them, letting them see the need to actually take a second look at real estate as an investment opportunity. From experience, we’ve discovered that ‘Mr. A’ needs to learn from ‘Mr. B’, but because there’s been no major platform especially for the buyers, where people can really share ideas, people make a lot of mistakes. Some of them don’t even think that sorting after any forms of professional advice is important, but we are trying to change that perspective. It’s important, you need to speak with professionals when you are doing quite a number of things.

How exactly do you intend to achieve this target?
The promise of the platform is to open opportunities for people beyond educating them. Lets look for the best opportunities, bring it on the show and allow people that are following the show to also benefit from them. For instance, last year, we gathered that Lagos State was going to release quite a number of properties in Lagos. Based on that, we’ve been trying to pursue it to see how to plug into it and let people benefit.

Could you tell us more about the housing scheme, how is your organisation involved?
Fortunately, part of the scheme is a ‘Rent To Own’ policy, which means you can pay 5 per cent of the value of that property, provided you are eligible, and then you can move in and pay the rest over a period of 10 years. What is happening in Nigeria right now is that you pay rent towards nothing. But now, the government is saying, ‘pay rent to own something,’ and I think it’s fantastic. That’s why we’ve gone to partner with the Ministry of Housing, Lagos State, to get this information out there through our Dream Abode platform.

People always have this perception about government initiatives, how credible is this scheme?
You are right, whenever anything is coming from the government, there’s a perception that it is only going to be for people in government. Like we say in Nigeria, ‘its for them, them.’ However, the team and I have met with the Lagos State Commissioner for Housing and I believe he’s sincere about what the government is doing. They truly want to put it out there for people to benefit from; that we can see. But as things unfold, we will definitely let the public know through Dream Abode.

How can young people take advantage of this opportunity?
Investment is very important; we’ve talked about it in the show. When this opportunity comes, do you have about one million naira to drop as 5 per cent of the property? Do you have N500,000 as 5 per cent to drop as equity contribution? If you’ve been saving for one year, you should that amount. It’s when you are prepared that you can take advantage of these opportunities when they come. But if you are not prepared, you will be running helter skelter. The truth is that, If you don’t already have that money in your bank account, sorry, you will miss out; you won’t be a part of the scheme, It’s very simple; there are some other houses coming up, they are serious. I just feel that we should bring this to people let people see it. We want young people in particular to take advantage of this opportunity to own their own home. So, during the show, we are going to be brining government officials to talk about the scheme and procedures.

What are the criteria for the scheme?
First thing is to go to the website of the ministry and look at the eligibility; you need to be up to 21 years of age, you need to be tax compliant, you need to have your Lagos resident card… there are other criteria listed there. Once you have all that, then you can apply. I think we need to be responsible young men; those are the people we are targeting. Do you pay your tax? Do you have savings? No matter the amount you earn, you should be able to save. These are some of things we talk about in the show. We cannot over emphasise the need to have property because; it appreciates over time. Yes, you need vehicles for convenience and moving around; that I can understand. But which would you prefer for your 22-birthday gift, a plot of land or a car? We put out this question on the show quite a number of our listeners kept saying they would go for the land. So, the awareness is there. If we don’t do this as young people, foreigner would come and do it for us; they are even doing it already.

Assuming one is eligible, how secure is the scheme, especially for those who are not Lagosians?
I think it’s very secure; we are also working with the government on this. I have a confession to make; I never gave Governor Ambode a chance, I didn’t know he was going to perform. But so far, he has actually blown me away; he has really impressed me. You can see the quality of thinking in his administration and he’s doing it silently. So, we cannot continue to live in the past; I think it’s time to give these government officials a chance. Before now, I would never partner with a government ministry on any project, but if you stay where you’ve been, you will not know what’s going on.
We had to step back and discovered that things have really changed in the way government do things; it won’t cost anything to give this a chance. We know young people will have doubts, but we feel that this is possible if you are eligible and can meet up with the criteria.

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