Chief Loretta Aniagolu, the Managing Director of FIT Consult Limited, operators of HELIU Residences, has stated that most Igbo businessmen are not investing in the Southeast because doing business there is more difficult than any other region.
Aniagolu was addressing a team of architects from the Enugu State chapter of Nigerian Institute of Architects as well as student architects from various tertiary institutions in Enugu on an education tour of HELIU Estate, located along the Enugu-Port-Harcourt Expressway in Enugu.
She said investing in such businesses as real estates and large scale industries, attracts lots of frustrating hiccups.
According to her, a combination of state governments’ insensitive financial charges and communal constant disturbances discourage such investors.
Aniagolu however admitted that Enugu State and Southeast has highest return on investments with the highest rate appreciation rate of property in the entire country.
She said: “Nobody knows why it’s like that, but I think it has to do with the sentiments of the Igbo in owning property in Enugu.
“So you find out that the minimium appreciation rate of property in Enugu is 100 per cent annually.
“For instance, these bungalows – when we built them , we sold them for N8.5m for three bedrooms. But today, people are selling them N20m. I can’t even believe it but that’s the reality and it’s shocking because the houses were just sold in 2019. So that tells you something about the appreciation rate in this place; not even Lagos has this kind of high appreciation rate.
“This is actually the first District we’re developing in the Southeast. We have not done any project in the southeast. We’ve done in the North. We’ve done in Zamfara. We’ve done in Taraba. We’ve done in the Southsouth”.
She however lamented Southeast is a very difficult place to “do this kind of business. In fact, now that we’re doing it , we know the reason some people are not really doing some investments in the Southeast.
“Indeed, it is a very difficult place to do business. It’s extremely difficult to do business here, and I have to be honest with you.
“For people who have funds and they are accusing a lot of the Igbos who invested in Lagos, in the West, North and so on.
“When you see the way they are going to treat you and the way they are willing to bend over backward to try and bring you into their space, you won’t have options but to do business with them.
“But here, after you battle in the Southeast, you won’t do another project there; that’s even when they’re using your own money, too.
“In most other parts of the Southeast, when you want to do a project, you actually have to pay the entire money to government on their land upfront.
“This(Enugu) is one of the few times we worked with a state governor and they said okay, pay us part of the money as we work along. And so we have an arrangement – they take a share of what you have as they go along instead of saying pay us the entire N4billion upfront.
“So when you are a developer, if they give you bush, you have to provide light, road, water, which is the job of the government. In addition to that, they estimate what you are doing based on an assumption that you have already done it and they charge you as if to say it’s done but meanwhile you’re still in the middle of the bush.
“So it’s a very difficult place to work. Also, the communities don’t make things easy. As soon as the communities see somebody coming in – I mean, we’ve invested over $15million so far – and we haven’t borrowed money yet”.