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‘We’re working to ensure Nigeria catches up with global real estate trend’

Sir Nweke Umezurike is the Chairman of Estate Surveyors and Valuers Registration Board of Nigeria (ESVARBON)
Sir Nweke Umezurike is the Chairman of Estate Surveyors and Valuers Registration Board of Nigeria (ESVARBON)

Sir Nweke Umezurike is the Chairman of Estate Surveyors and Valuers Registration Board of Nigeria (ESVARBON). In this interview, he speaks on the changing global professional standards in the industry and how Nigeria is responding, among other issues.

What is the statutory role of the estate surveyors board?

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ESVARBON is an agency of the Federal Government established by Decree 24 of 1975, now known as Estate Surveyors and Valuers (Registration, etc) Act Cap E13 LFN 2004, to regulate and control practice of estate surveying and valuation in all its aspects and ramifications.

Valuation of properties (real and chattel) is a core aspect of the profession of estate surveying and valuation in order to ensure standards and stave quackery in the practice.

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Sometime in 2016, the board  introduced the use of adhesive stamp in valuation reports. The ovation that greeted the action by users of valuation services, particularly banks and financial institutions, corporate bodies, etc., was splendid. The need for improvement cannot be overemphasised, hence the need for the new adhesive stamp.

How is the new adhesive stamp expected to function and what are the documents that must carry it?

The new stamp is highly improved and personalised with the practitioner’s name and seal or registration number. It is easier to use with security features to avoid cloning and counterfeiting. It became operational from on January 1, 2019, and will be used simultaneously with the old adhesive stamp until the end of June, 2019, when the use of the old stamp will be discontinued.

The new stamp is bright blue and aesthetically pleasing. It does not have a validity date. The raison d’etre for the improvement in the form and its application to varied uses is to enhance better regulation and control in the overall practice of the profession.

The documents that must carry the stamp are valuation/appraisal reports-individuals and private sector organisations; letter of offer; arbitration, mediation and independent experts awards; project management, agreement and reports. Others are property and facilities management control and agreement; auction agreement and notices; agency agreements for sales and letting, and compensation indemnity certificates.

Recently, ESVARBON launched the Nigerian Valuation Standards, a document codenamed The Green Book, of what importance is this book in the practice of your profession?

As a standards setting body, ESVARBON has also made a giant leap with the recent publication of the Nigerian Valuation Standards (The Green Book). The practice standards compendium is a collaborative work of the International Valuation Standards Council (IVSC), Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and ESVARBON. The launch of the Green Book took place on December 12, 2018, in Abuja.

The book is a valuation practice document aimed at ensuring consistent high standards of valuation practice among registered valuers in Nigeria. This document is a product of local and international collaboration with key stakeholders in the valuation profession.

The Green Book, in the course of its preparation, was also exposed to the profession’s external stakeholders for comments and suggestions. These stakeholders include insurance companies and their regulators, capital market operators and their regulators, major corporate institutions, key professional bodies and Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs). We are grateful for all their valuable suggestions and comments.

The document is prepared in such a way that it is global in outlook, content and structure. This is because valuation rules are no longer national standards existing in isolation. There is now a single benchmark of common valuation standards to which all states can relate, which is the International Valuation Standards.

The Nigerian Valuation Standards represents a major development in improving the quality of valuation advice given to clients and in eliminating their dissatisfaction. Clients should now expect consistently high standards of valuation and reporting from valuers, upon the full implementation of the Green Book. Of course, the issue of proper pricing of valuation service is of interest to the board to ensure that practitioners are sufficiently encouraged to fully comply with the Green Book. This will help the industry and the Nigerian economy at large.

Does ESVARBON have a structure in place to ensure compliance with the new guidelines?

Yes we do. The new guidelines have been introduced to improve professional standards to meet that which is globally attainable and promote transparency in the industry. So, to further boost its regulatory and control roles, the council established the Regulatory Compliance and Enforcement Unit. The unit which is coordinated by very experienced members of the profession is charged with the general duty of monitoring and enforcement of standards, rules and regulations in the practice as enunciated in the Code of Professional Conduct of registered estate surveyors and valuers.

In what ways do you think these international standards can be achieved?

We are doing everything possible to reach all stakeholders in the industry; both internal and external. I have, on many occasions, led the board to many of these stakeholders and this is something we are still doing. When we go on courtesy visits to our stakeholders, we look for areas of collaboration and cooperation. We present our messages to them and drop copies of the Green Book for their own acquaintance.

For instance, just recently, ESVARBON was at The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN), the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN).

In order to further spread the message, ESVARBON has a plan to send copies of the Green  Book to tertiary institutions across the country to catch the students young so that by the time they leave school, what standards that obtain in the industry will not be strange to them. Things are changing in the industry globally; we are making serious effort to make sure that Nigeria catches up with the global trend. In fact, ESVARBON as the regulatory body of the valuation industry in Nigeria has been admitted into the Institutional Membership of the International Valuation Standards Council (IVSC).

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