There’s a problem if you don’t own your own house at 40 – Debo Adejana, Realty Point MD/CEO
He does not brood any sentiments when it comes to the issue of real estate, especially as his passion is for every Nigerian to have a roof over their heads. Truly, he is the apostle of the phrase 'Sack your landlord.' Consequently, he has helped many people to sack their landlords by transforming them to landlords. Welcome to the world of Debo Adejana. He is the head honcho at Realty Point Ltd. and its subsidiaries.
It pains Adejana to see some people who should be in their own houses still holing up in rented apartments, whether in choice areas or downtown settlement. He says, ”Your first house is a must. You must achieve it within reasonable age limit. For me, if you are 40 and you don't have a place you can call your own, there is a problem.”
For him, having a place you could call your own does not mean you have to stay there if it will jeopardise your health or does not make economic sense, especially when the location where you built your house is far from your working office.
”If the nature of job demands it, the stress of waking up early and coming back late could best be imagined. In this situation you could put up your house for rent and get a rented apartment in town where you can afford. If at any point, your landlord sacked you in this apartment, you could also sack your tenant,” he adds.
For the Iragbiji, Osun State-born Adejana, excuses are traits of either lack of vision or ignorance of how to achieve this. He offers what seems a practical way out of this quagmire. He states, ”As a company, we have three mission statements: To help a tenant become landlord. That is where 'sack your landlord' comes from. We teach them and show them the way and take them by the hand to do it. And there is the aspect of real estate financing, which can help them achieve their aim.
”We have a publication, Prime Assets Plus, a real estate magazine, then Prime Assets Plus Online; we invest in real estate, we initiate and administer real estate investment clubs. We consult for other investment clubs as well. We initiated a cooperative as well; it is called Prime Assets Housing Cooperative Multi-purpose Society.
”We are into construction, we build for people; we are into mass housing development, that's our main business. We have four estates right now – we have two in Ofada phase one and two, we have in Pakuro, opposite Deeper Life, and we have in Igbesa.”
Adejana, who runs the School of Estate, which is a joint initiative with Realtors Institute, where real estate entrepreneurs or people that are generally interested in real estate are trained, says Realty Point grew fast because he got other directors to buy into his dream. He decries the situation whereby some people keep their business proposals to themselves, and this he claims has resulted in many stunted companies and fortunes.
He says the response to the School of Estate has been overwhelming. ”People stand to gain information that would help them understand real estate more, deepen their practice, benefits and experience in that field. It covers the major areas of real estate profession,” he adds. He mentions the names of Mr. Akin Olawore, a renowned estate surveyor and valuer and Mr. Femi Olayinka as director of studies and coordinator respectively.
Ironically, it was an unpleasant experience that triggered the entrepreneurial spirit in the quiet Adejana. ”Like any business, I would say it's an interesting experience for me because while in the university I never thought of myself being a business person,” he recalls.
”But the awakening came for me when I went to do my youth service. I thank God I never attempted to influence the station I was posted to. I had it in Maiduguri, Borno State. It marked a turning point in my life. I faced a situation for the first time in my life, which really changed my perception about being self-reliant.
”For the first time in my life I was faced with hunger. Hunger in the sense that not that you are fasting or you have chosen not to eat for whatever reason, but you are looking for what to eat, you don't know where it would come from. There is this (time) lag between when you come out from the orientation camp and they give one the bicycle allowance or whatever they call it. It was a lot of money then, and the next time you will collect your monthly allowance.
”When you come out of the orientation camp, you have to do some documentation with the bank and all that, get placement where you are working, get letter from them to the NYSC, so that your account can be credited. This process usually takes towards the end of the second month before you get your first allowance after the camp.
”That was the period for me. I blew the bicycle allowance, not knowing what obtained then. I was faced with hunger and I vowed to myself 'it would never happen again in my life.' And I realised that how it would never repeat itself in my life is for me to take charge of my life. At that time too, I realised I had come of age; I left the notion of being young with that experience. I told my parents to stop sending me any allowance.”
Advising the youths, he uses a motivational book, Acres of Diamond, to point out that there is no greener pastures anywhere, and that where you are is the greenest that can be. ”I'm widely travelled and I know that Nigeria is one of the easiest places to survive legally. Because, we still take a lot of things for granted in this country, it is an advantage to anybody that can see,” he adds.
Adejana, who worked with former Equity Bank and Fortune Bank, states that there is a problem with education in Nigeria. He explains that the youths are not as fortunate to be educated properly. He argues that he is not talking about formal education alone but ”I'm talking about basic home education, social education that a child should get from home. It is not there. The parents are no longer doing what they are supposed to do. If we can be there for our children and give them the proper training, it would be better for all of us.”
An MBA holder from the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, he insists that his mother and father had a great influence on what he is doing currently because he combines the business acumen of his mother and the knack for excellence which he copied from his civil servant father.
While commenting on the recent show of shame in the House of Representatives, he notes that most of those in that House are not the true representatives of the people. He argues, ”In the true sense of the word, we did not give them the mandate to represent us. In a place where your vote does not count, you cannot say somebody governing you is your governor. And that is why he is not answerable to you; he does not care about you. He is answerable to his godfathers and the political system that put him there, because they are the ones that can sustain him there.”
Adejana says that until votes start to count, Nigerians can't talk about having leaders. He submits that the leaders that should lead in this country are not there, adding that a few of them that have tried did not gain access and the few that gained access, we did not understand them.
Ask Adejana to talk about his better half and you see a glow in his countenance. ”I met her in the university; I was in the final year while she was in 100 level. But I made my intention known to her after I had left school. What struck me about her was her free spirit. She is someone that you can put in the midst of strangers, and she can hold her own.”