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We protect Nigerians in diaspora from dupes - CEO, Richard Sodiya and Associates
Richard Sodiya is a Nigerian professional resident in Austria. He is a specialist in hotel and apartment construction and management. In a brief encounter with Wale Ojo–Lanre at a hotel and apartments seminar held recently in London, spoke on issues affecting Nigerians in diaspora and hotel and apartment construction. Excerpts:
In your presentation, you gave a very good impression about the property investment in Nigeria, particularly in the hotel and apartments construction sector. What informed this assertion?
You see, I am a Nigerian who had his rudimentary upbringing in the country. I know my country very well. I know the investment capability and investable sectors and I have studied what is wrong with this sector, I mean hotel and apartment construction. I can talk authoritatively about it. All I said about investing in Nigeria were the bitter truth. Investment in Nigeria 80 per cent profit assured. it is a done deal in which you reap big profit. That is the truth . And let me tell you, the Europeans know this as well. That is one of the reasons why they will never want any problem or crisis to escalate beyond proportion in Nigeria. Nigeria is still a virgin land of immeasurable opportunities.
But this is contrary to the media reports being daily published in Europe?
We all know that there is a big gulf between what the arm-chair journalists in Europe write about Nigeria in particular and the reality on the ground. Let me tell you, all these falsehoods and half-truths only impacted heavily on political discussion and perception, they have no serious impact on investment. Look, Nigeria has many things to its advantage which no other African states could boast of. The population alone is a critical factor at making her the bride of investors. Why is it that the more they write the more Europeans scramble to Nigeria.
You seem to be grounded in real estate, property management and hotel construction, how come?
I do not think it comes because I read or acquired knowledge on this sector. I think what accounted for it is my early education at the Mayflower School, Ikenne Remo, where the late Tai Solarin taught us what passion can turn a vision into. It is on this that I built all my endeavor. Nonetheless, I strived hard to acquire the necessary education prerequisite in this sector. I studied Mechanical Engineering at the Federal Polytechnic Ilaro and latter moved to the United Kingdom at London South-Bank University, where I bagged First Division in Quantity Surveying and Master’s Degree in Facilities Management and immediately offered a PhD research programme in Construction Economics with emphasis on “Construction Strategies and Economic performance.”’
That is quite impressive. But what did you do with this?
I was immediately snatched by the British Airport Authority Plc,Gatwick Airport,one of the UK construction industry prestigious clients. But because of my interest of having a feel of all aspect of construction and surveying, I moved to Hammond James Associates where my work activities involved working in conjunction with many design consultants the client have appointed, developing a scheme from outline proposals, and usually prepared estimates of construction cost for client approval.
I was fortunate to work on some of the prestigious projects around London, such projects include contract re-measurement of Stratford Station on the Jubilee Line Extension, bidding of PFI projects undertaken by Trillium/Nat West Bank Consortium on British Telecommunications Properties, Harrods Shopping Complex Extension, Knightsbridge and so on. I was also part of the team that successful produced a delay claim documents and valuation that resulted in the settlement of £800,000 for M & E client contractor on A12/M11 London Hackney Road Link project
Later, I moved to. Balfour Beatty Plc - a reputable international contractor in 2001 as the Cost Manager/QS for Kent Contract Area under IMC2000 Contract where the work carried out on behalf of British Network Rail involves responsibility for inspection, maintenance and management of all rail infrastructure assets between the boundary fences with total contract sum at £60m target cost per annum.
I also worked for Eme Kalu Associates and Axtrium Associates both in London, UK between 2004 and 2010, multi-disciplinary consultancy firms, where I was the Senior Quantity Surveyor/Project Manager on various building and civil contracts. I qualified as a chartered builder and engineer with Chartered Institute of Building and Association of Building Engineers United Kingdom both in 2003 and have had over 12 years practical field experience before deciding to provide a more responsive and better tailored-made services for Nigerians in Diaspora.
How do you do this?
You see, we found out that many Nigerians in the diaspora are willing and ready to invest in property at home either inform of apartments or hotels. But unfortunately, some of them who tried it before had gotten their fingers burnt. They relied on their relations who defrauded them of their hard-earned money. Hence, some of these people were disillusioned and this has a lot of impact on Nigeria’s economy and image. Thus we decided to take it upon ourselves and help shouder this responsibility. We then founded the Richard Sodiya Associates with other professionals with the sole aim and objectives of helping them in their effort to invest at home,build residential houses, apartments and hotel at minimum cost to specification and design.
How do you execute this?
The first thing we always do is the establishment of trust between us and our clients, as we are more interested in his dream, not his money, unlike a relation who may have multi – diverse interests.
We also get to know his dream of what he wants and thereby provide him the necessary advice, consultation and what he needs to make it a reality by providing a highly detailed report, covering every single aspect of each phase involved in achieving his dream.
We also present to our clients a tool that will help to secure funds from their financial institutions, which allows their under-writers to clearly trace every single kobo involved in the construction process, while providing them with exact figures for each stage draw down, thus minimising their risk of exposure and maximising opportunity to ensure funding while avoiding the need for top-ups at a later stage.
“The majority of Nigerians, no matter how sophisticated they may be, consistently find it difficult to find the right channels for getting their building projects done correctly and this is causing a lot of problems. These problems include misappropriation of funds by the privies, cost overrun, inadequate supervision of construction, and the use of substandard products to cut corners. The end result can easily be total project abandonment with all the invested capital tied down indefinitely, or eventual, dangerous collapse of a finished building. Our company is dedicated to ensuring that our clients never experience such devastating outcomes.
We understand the problems that people face in self building. Our experienced construction and estate supervisors are dedicated to making our clients’ building experiences as pleasant as possible. Our goal is to make self-building affordable and trouble-free. And we have been successful.
Without sounding immodest, some of these beautifully gorgeous houses in choices Estates in Lagos, Port Harcourt, Ibadan, Akure which belong to Nigerians in the diaspora, are our efforts. We have been able to help the diasporas to crystallise successfully, their dreams of owing houses and hotels in Nigeria without any fear of being defrauded or having a hotel or apartments constructed with sub – standard materials.This is our joy and Nigerians appreciate this.