Mr. Akintayo Adaralegbe is the Chief Executive Officer of T PUMPY LTD. The Ekiti born young man, who has a passion for building, especially for the masses is renowned for his humility and integrity in the building sector. Adaralegbe believes that there has to be a conceited and sustainable collaboration between the Federal government and genuine private developers to bridge the housing deficit. Honesty, he said, is his Unique Selling Point. In this interview, he speaks on some issues in the building sector. Excerpts:
How can the housing deficit which stands at 17 million houses nationally and 1.7 million in the Federal Capital Territory be bridged?
You can see the different promos were doing, different packages. Were doing the best we can. And we believe,.like I said in my last interview that government cannot do it alone. Because we discovered that even with the new increment in salary, if were not doing it the way we are , it will be difficult for a level 10 officer to own a house. Before we came on board, we discovered they’re receiving N10 million, 20 million , 30 million to own a small piece of land. And we discovered we could do it better, which is why we’re giving them blocks, cements, and bringing up different programmes to bridge the gap. And we’re concentrating more on the masses.”..
Can you tell is how you got into the Housing/Estate Development sector?
I graduated 2006/7 and I served around that time. But I was into recharge card business. I was selling recharge card when one of my brothers put up a “To Let/Lease signboard. From there, I started renting houses for/to people, and the money I got, I began to invest in land here in Lugbe in the FCT. I have been in the agency business for 10 years now. I started gradually as a recharge card seller, then into agency and now a developer. Though it has not been easy, but we thank God.
What would consider your unique selling point in this business?
“As I said earlier, honesty takes one far. Because, if someone buys something of one thousand from you and is able to get it, he will tell his friends, and this is what people look for. So, we thank God because he has been faithful.
With the escalating prices of land in the FCT, and the general hike in building materials, can an ordinary low income earner still be able to own a house?
“There is no person that is ordinary. By God’s grace, even a Bike man will have a house to call his own, the way were planning it. We”re bridging that gap. Anybody whose salary is 40 or even 30 thousand, we’ll make sure we have a package for them, at least people must own a house. There are three things a man has to do in life to have a legacy…someone must build a house, you must marry a wife; and if God helps you, you must write a book. These cannot be easily erased in a man’s life,
What do you think of the threat and the directive of the FCT administration that it will repossess undeveloped plots after a certain deadline?
As I’ve been saying and I’ve been applauding the present FCT minister. This government is not interested in taking the property of the massses. We’ve had governments in the past, they will be allocating it to themselves. This government has been helping in reducing this housing deficit. They have been giving land to those that genuinely own them. So, it makes it easy for those who have saved to buy their lands to get it. Not the bourgeoisie. They’re not revoking, theyre not taking people’s land, annexing or grabbing people’s plots like we’ve been having on the past. I think we should applaud the government for embarking on all these programmes.
What would pinpoint as T PUMPY’S unique selling point?
The truth is that the only Unique Selling Point I have is honesty. People keep
telling me : T PUMPY, we want to buy from you. Even on Saturday they come to my house. So, I asked someone, why do you people.always say you want to buy from me? I discovered if you’re being honest it will always make your ways better. These people we’re talking about, you have widows, pensioners and others who have saved to acquire their lands. I believe in God, and being honest is a grace.
What do you think of the innumerable number of abandoned estate projects in the FCT?
On those estates, its not that they’re abandoned, they’re fronting for people. It’s government money. If somebody has used his money to genuinely buy the land, would he abandon his plots? All those abandoned estates you’re seeing, they’re not genuinely owned by the masses. It’s owned by those that embezzled government money. Theyre just looking for where to keep the money, I can assure you of that. They’re not owned by people who are genuinely yearning for homes. As you are now, you know how long it will take you to build a house. Will you now leave such a house and be staying in a rented apartment? That is impossible. Its those that have plenty of money and are looking for where to keep it that will have buildings like that and abandon them.’
Considering that lots of funds are required to engage in such a business, do you have to take out loans to sustain your business?
“Funny enough, I don’t borrow from banks, I don’t borrow from anybody. I started gradually and saved a lot to reinvest. If I buy now and sell, the only thing is I reinvest. If I buy for ten thousand and sell for thirteen thousand, I reinvest twelve thousand. That is what I’ve been doing. I’ve never borrowed from anybody and I’ve never asked any Uncle to come and help me.”
There are adverts all over about a T-Pumpy 20/20 promo, what is that all about?
In December, I discovered that we need to encourage the masses, and we had to bring down our price. And we thought of what to do to welcome Nigerians to 20/20 by living them a better package that will.make them own their own house. That was how we came about the promo.
According to you, you started by selling recharge cards, you’re now an estate developer and seemingly wealthy. How are you giving back to the society?
I have a Foundation because I lost my mother 8 years ago. I have the foudarion in her memorial and from the foundation, I pay people’s school fees, assist in school issues and make sure in do the little I can to better the society. Besides, if you look around me, my staff strength, direct employment alone, I think we have hit 50, indirect is now over 250, that benefit on daily basis. People that we give work that still employ more people. Not to mention those that sell cement, sand, granite, blocks or food. Its a domino effect and I think it’s much, though were still praying to be able to do more.
What woukd you want government to do to estate developers like you to take your business to the next level?
What we want from government is to keep supporting. Though, this government is trying, I won’t deceive you. We are just encouraging them to do more. They should help us stop land grabbers and racketeers by enacting a law that will prohibit them in the FCT.
There was an investigation by the House of Representatives sometime ago and your name was number one on the list; what was that about?
(Laughs) I like that question. You know we were asked to come to the House of Reps then and I went to confirm what the issue was. They said some of us were doing the business legitimately and some were grabbing peoples’ land. I think that was what prompted the investigation then. They went through our track records and some of us were cleared.
What is your advice to Nigerians that are yearning to have their own houses but are inhibited by funds?
I can tell them the masses can own houses without the impression that they have to save 10 million. They can be doing it gradually, its a gradual process. They don’t have to wait for an uncle, a government job or anybody. Before you can start. Remember what I told you that I was selling recharge cards. I never worked.for anybody.