Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Getting access to reasonable supply of electricity by PHCN is getting worse by the day. Some parts of Lekki and the Mainland, have not had more than one hours supply in total in the last few weeks.

A client who lives on a small estate, got so fed up of their monthly PHCN bills steadily increasing up to N50, 000.00 per month when they hardly had any electricity, he took the meter readings, calculated the number of units used in the last six months and sent off a detailed complaint letter by courier to the PHCN (Eko Distribution Company) local and head office managers. The residents were spending hundreds of thousands to fuel their generators, just to have some reasonable quality of life, yet were being hit with astronomically over inflated PHCN bills that did not reflect their supply and meter readings.  They had fought so hard to get the meters installed and now the meters were in, the readings were being ignored?

Everyone waited to see what the outcome of the complaint would be. What happened next was that a few weeks later some officials from the PHCN office turned up in a van and with ladders, and proceeded to disconnect the supply to the estate! When they were challenged by some of the residents, they were told to come to the local office to see the “oga”. No one on the estate did anything, as they were prepared to sit this out. A week later amended bills were brought and the electricity reconnected!  The bills still did not reflect the meter readings but had been substantially reduced. You would have thought that would have been a partially satisfactory outcome to the story, but no! The next month the bills arrived and had been overinflated again. The residents had not had light for the month in which the bills were provided for, neither had their meters been read. My client sent off another letter complaining about this, but nothing has been heard from it. A few days ago, their electricity supply was cut off again. An official turned up again to say they should come and pay “something” so that they can “enjoy some light” Maybe this was said as a joke, but maybe not. Who really knows what goes on in these offices?

My client is in the legal profession and is prepared to take this to its logical conclusion; the residents are behind him and are prepared to go without power supply until the matter is resolved. They have had enough! I for one am eager to see what comes of this as no responses have been received to the letters, although from the actions carried out, one can only guess that the letters are lying on someone’s desk causing some irritation.

The country has been promised increased megawatts of power every other day for the last ten years or more. In the last few years this was stepped up and went out to privatisation. We are urged to be patient, yet it seems the power supply gets worse. Apart from a couple of years ago when a former minister of power was in power! And we could obviously see some improvements, he was thereafter relieved of his position and the power supply immediately dropped again. We are yet to see the benefits of the current privatisation initiative.

We must however continue to rely on our generators to power our homes and businesses and hope that one fine day, we will see stable supply. Interestingly, it is reported that Nigeria is the largest importer and user of generator sets in the world!


OK, so this is Nigeria, we know there is a lack of maintenance culture everywhere, but have you passed through the Muritala Mohamed International Airport recently? Did you feel the heat and note the air conditioners not working? the ceiling tiles that are missing which makes you look up all the time hoping that rats don’t fall on your head, the escalator that is broken or the only working conveyor belt that moves at worse than snail speed and breaks down intermittently, and the unpaved airport car park and surrounds that gets flooded and muddy when it rains and makes it difficult to push your cart?

 Let me just simply focus on the most basic infrastructure that an airport must have, working toilets!  When you alight from the plane, you have to wade through the long lines for immigration and then wait for another couple of hours or so to collect your baggage and there is still no working toilet in sight!  For their own safety, passengers should use the airplane toilet before landing. You know the announcement that the pilot makes prior to landing that this is your last time to use the wash room before landing; this ought to be modified for planes landing in Lagos – “This is your last opportunity to use the toilets, be warned, there is no working toilet in the terminals”.   Let us examine this issue of toilets. So there is work in progress, how is it that all the toilets have to be cordoned off at the same time? Why can’t the works occur in sections? Let us even say that the contractor or the supervising engineer is not smart enough to do a good project planning, why the stench? Did someone not clean or prepare the site properly before work commenced? Or perhaps some people sneaked in to use the toilets while it is under repairs? Do you blame them?

Who is to blame? What have the big wigs of the country got to do with this? This is too far removed from their oversight you may say. No it is not I argue and here is my argument. From the bottom-up, it is obvious that the contractors handling the project are not in control. Whose responsibility is it to supervise this contractor and the supervising engineer? Someone in the Airport authority? Are both the engineer and the contractor are not aware of what is happening? I don’t really know the chain of command but certainly the management team or managing director of the airport is responsible for the contracts and the jobs being executed in the airport. Does he/she ask questions? Does he/she make surprise visits to the airport? Does he/she not see the state of the airport or the lack of progress of the works? My guess is that the management of the airport reports to the aviation ministry. Again, what is the role of the ministry? Do they not know what is going on in the busiest and most important airport in West Africa? Do they not question the lack of progress? It is clear the required budget and funds from the federal government and contracts have been awarded for the upgrade and renovation of the airport. Great! But is that it? Can someone not be made accountable for the shoddy work that is being done? Do the “ogas at the top” not pass through the airport? What do they see? Must they wait for people like us to point out the issues to them?  So many questions, but no answers! A very sad state of affairs for our international airport


Acknowledgement should be made when complaints are raised about poor service and this is dealt with by the appropriate service providers. A couple of weeks ago I wrote an article about the problems with the Facility Management in Shopping Malls. The Managing Director of the Facility Management Company for one of the major shopping Malls called me to discuss my article and promised to look into these complaints. It was pointed out to me that the issues I raised were being managed by another sub Facility Company within the mall, but not withstanding, this would be addressed.  I visited the Mall a week later and can gladly say that all the issues raised had been dealt with and everything was back in full working condition. If only all poor service complaints were dealt with so fast and so effectively. Well done!

Nigeria is a complex country we hear all the time, but if there is accountability, a lot of things will get done very well in this country.

Are the problems at the airports so big that they cannot be easily resolved? I don’t think so. We are not talking about NEPA/PHCN or power issues here, which on its own will take up a few years worth of articles. We are talking about simple renovation of “tired” infrastructure which a good and competent contractor will take only a few months to execute. The private sector in Nigeria does it all the time. Visit some of the major international oil companies and see how well their facilities and infrastructure are maintained. If our public services cannot succeed at such a simple task, then one really wonders about their leadership. If we truly want to improve things in this country, people have to be made accountable at every single level. One person cannot do it all, but must work with other like minded persons to achieve the goals set out. Make the managers accountable for their budgets. The managers in turn should make their respective staff accountable and so on. It is called ‘distributed leadership’. 

Nigerians would like to see our airports, hospitals, schools, roads, electricity, water, etc etc, improved and maintained well. These are basics for any country interested in the well being of its people. Yet we see housing estates springing up in upmarket areas with prices that can only be afforded by those with access to loots of money or low subsidised interest rates! The average working man does no10t have a hope of affording a good home or even a plot of land? It is reported that only 10% of Nigerians earn over N5million per annum! If this is true, then only less than 10% of Nigerians have any hope of owning their own home. The rest will be renters or squatters, depending on their family and network links. A very sad state of affairs!

Even though the government widely reports on new low cost developments being built around the country, the N15-N25m costs are still very much out of the reach of the average working class Nigerian. When these developments are completed, they are snapped up by friends, relations and workers in the corridors of power, who then re-sell or let out for exorbitant amounts. The facilities are never maintained, and by the end of the second year, they are already run down. The lack of maintenance unfortunately does not only apply to low cost developments, but can be seen in some of the most up scale developments in Ikoyi and Victoria Island.


It unfortunately appears that many clients only see Estate Agents as disposable items that should be used and dispensed of when they have served their purpose. Estate Agents are appointed to find, manage, sell and rent properties for clients, often having to show clients many properties before they agree to take one, or in some instances do not even bother to tell the agent that they have taken another property with another agent.

I have a client who contacted me in February this year, to view a property on my books with her “oga’s at the top”. She rang me in the morning and wanted to view the property by midday. She was insistent her oga’s had to travel out of the country that evening and had to see the property before they traveled. She rang me at least five times in the space of an hour to confirm that the appointment would go ahead. I on my part dropped everything I was doing to contact the landlord, arrange pick up of the keys and hot foot it to the property by midday. I got there on time, had a quick check to make sure viewing would be smooth and waited. The potential clients turned up, but without the lady who had made the arrangements. The two expatriate gentlemen proceeded to examine the building with a fine tooth comb. After an hour they left promising that the lady who had contacted me earlier would contact me with an answer in a few days.

After a week of no news, I rang the lady, who said she cannot guarantee anything and will get back to me when she has news. I did not hear from her for a month, then out of the blue I get a call from her saying someone else wanted to see the property within an hour. Luckily the property was still on the market. She rang every five minutes to check if I had arranged the viewing, I had to tell her to give me the phone number of the person who wanted to see it so I could arrange with him directly. The viewing was arranged and I never heard anything again. A few weeks later, she contacted me again to say that she wanted another inspection from the worldwide oga who was in Nigeria for a short stay and wanted to see the property that day! I told her I was not too happy with the way she rang up to arrange inspections immediately then did not get back to me afterwards. She was quite defensive, but said she would get back in a few days with his final decision. I asked her to send in a letter of her interest for the landlord who wanted to know who this client was. She sent the letter and the appointment was made. She rang the next day to say he liked it and they wanted to measure for fittings that day, this was duly arranged. That was three weeks ago!  To date, she has not contacted me, picked her calls nor returned my emails!

This happens regularly and makes you wonder why clients feel that they can behave this way with Estate Agents. Even though I am an advocate of Estate Agents improving the way they work, so also should clients respect Agents sufficiently enough to let them know when they will not be using their services again. It is a symbiotic two way relation that must be based on trust and respect.


This is a personal experience I had at large famous Shopping Mall in Oniru in Victoria Island last Friday.

I went to watch a “late” film with some friends, late because the traffic in VI and Ikoyi that day was horrendous and everywhere was gridlocked and we spent hours trying to get to the Mall. After we bought our tickets and proceeded to our film hall, we noticed how hot and stuffy the hall was, but thought that once the film started they would put on the air conditioner. The film started and fifteen minutes later, we noticed that we had started sweating. Someone went out to look for a staff member to complain to and was assured the air conditioner would be turned on. Half an hour later, I could smell the sweat on other people in the hall and started to feel dizzy, so my friends and I walked out of the hall to ask for the manager. There was some reluctance on the part of the security guard to call the manager, but he turned up after a long wait. We asked why the air conditioners had not been turned on in a packed cinema hall with at least 100 people in it, and no ventilation. He admitted that the air conditioners were not working! We were shocked and asked why the Cinema had then sold tickets to watch films? He could not provide an answer, so we demanded a refund of our tickets. He reluctantly gave the money back to us.

I decided to use the toilets before I left the Mall, only to find the entrance to the toilets locked. The Security guard ran up behind me to tell me that the door was locked because the toilets were not working! When I expressed surprise at this, he said the toilets had not been working for ONE WEEK! I am sure you are reading this and cant believe it either. Toilets in a major shopping Mall, not usable for one week! The alarming part of this saga is that this Mall is managed by one of the leading Facilities Management Company’s in Nigeria and Africa, who have offices in the  same Mall. Unfortunately the offices were closed at that time, or else I would have marched in and demanded answers. I hope they read this piece. I will however lodge a complaint and update you with the outcome.

Often you go into Shopping Mall’s, whether large or small, and you can see immediately that the floors are stained with food or drink, the mall smells, light bulbs have blown and not replaced, the place is hot, toilets are dirty or locked and people loitering around doing nothing in particular. This is a common sight despite the malls employing reputable Facility Management companies to manage the services. You even see security guards and cleaners openly sitting on the chairs or sleeping in corners.

Before I left the mall, a number of security and other staff had crowded around us, watching curiously and cluelessly to see what was going to happen. I had to point out to them that they only had jobs because of the money we customers and visitors spend when visiting the Mall or Cinema, and they should be aware that if this stops due to their poor service delivery, they would join millions of other jobless people on the streets of Lagos. Although I am sure this point went right over their heads. I am sure they do not even know what their job specification is!

This is a sad reflection in our airports, hospitals, schools, hotels, offices and mall’s everywhere. Facility Management needs to be overhauled