“I have known since 1979 that this was what I wanted to do.”

Makanjuola Ojewumi

Born in Ibadan, Makanjuola Ojewumi had a very focused path at an early age. His business endeavours show a rare passion and dedication to the housing sector. Now on the verge of unveiling the newest mall in Ibadan we all wait with anticipation at the magnificence that is to be The Jericho Mall.

What is your full name?

My name is Makanjuola Olabanji Ojewumi

Can you tell us a bit about your educational background?

I am a housing professional specifically an estate surveyor and valuer. I got my degree at the University of Lagos in 1986 and then later a Masters in Housing at the University of Ibadan. I'm a member of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers, and Institute of Ratings, Revenues and Valuation of the Uk.

It seems you have always known this was your path, is this true?

I have known since 1979 that this was what I wanted to do. I was so passionate about it that I convinced my whole ‘A’ level class to go and study Estate Management. I was just fortunate.

What has been one of the major problems you’ve faced in the housing sector in Nigeria and specifically in Ibadan?

Housing is a real problem both in the supply end and in the buyers end. It’s an uphill task trying to make housing a product and to go through the motion of building properties. There are several deficits and one of the major ones is the financing deficit. There are no structures for financing houses in this country; the banks have also not helped. The money deposit banks don’t understand the product and because the economy has allowed them to play in other sectors outside of the housing sector they are not bothered about participating in housing. One of the things that I have had to do is build capital incrementally over time and that takes a lot of discipline, denial and focus. Building a house over time to sell, talk less of an estate with 10 houses is an enormous task.  In addition, the artisan culture has been lost to okada riding and more immediate rewards, based on the Nigerian system. You find in places like Ghana and Togo people remaining in their apprenticeship programmes, plumbers, electricians, tilers, etc. But in this country we’re not developing those types of programmes. I can tell you now categorically with many of the structures that we do now, we have to outsource the things to Lagos mainly and you find that many of the people doing these jobs are not Nigerians; they are Togolese, Beninese and are very skilled workers too. Third in line is the lack of government support. To get approvals is tough and that’s when they are not demanding bribes. We say to the government create a mortgage environment but they haven’t done so. So these are a few of the many problems that I have experienced in the housing sector.

The construction of the famous Jericho Mall is on the way what can we expect from the new mall coming to Ibadan? What will set it apart from the current malls in the city?

What we’ve done with Jericho mall is more of an American concept. It’s not as that in size but it’s as that in the layout. It’s on four floors and you find that the design is intriguing; it’s not the typical Nigerian mall where all you see are two door corridors and that’s all the mall that there is. That is unfortunately the way malls were presented in Nigeria. Fine, it’s better than nothing. It’s also good, that and the fact that most malls in Nigeria are grocery centered. Shoprite is a grocery store and most malls are grocery anchored; then the cinemas but there are more to malls than that. But hopefully as we grow, because we’re still small relative to others, we’re looking forward to introducing a new concept to mall as is known in Nigeria. One of the things that we’re really looking forward to is that the mall is family centered. And so one of the themes you’ll experience is that once you enter the mall, you’ll have fun all the way. We’ll have game arcades, grocery stores, retail stores, cinemas etc. I promise you the Jericho Mall will be addictive.  At the latest, the mall should be up and running by the ending of October 2016.

What makes Ibadan special?

I was born in Ibadan and I tried to leave this city, schooled everywhere else but somehow I found myself back here. I am closer to retirement than ever after thirty years post graduation experience and work life so for me Ibadan is home.

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