Monopoly tournament teaches about corruption in real estate in Nigeria

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Lagos, Nigeria’s biggest city, hosted Africa’s largest Monopoly tournament. The Monopoly tournament could make it into the Guinness World Records book. The game night drew over 1,200 students, which trumps the current record of 605 players at Singapore’s Universal Studios.

This tournament is significant for not only its sheer record-breaking size, but also the message that it sent. It educates students about the state of the real estate market in Lagos. Like the massive tournament, this Nigerian market is surrounded by chaos. The real estate industry is riddled with corruption, bribery, scams and gang activity.

Monopoly only started to become popularized in Nigeria within the last four years. The rising popularity can be attributed to changes in the game that made it more relatable for players from Lagos.

Boardwalk, the most exclusive property, has been replaced by Bourdillon Road, which is an Ikoyi neighborhood that is home to luxury apartments.

Park Place’s substitute, on the other hand, is Agege, which represents a government affordable housing project near Nigeria’s main airport. The game has become so popular that the Lagos State Sports Commission has even officially recognized the board game as an actual sport.

The sports commission hopes that the tournaments will act as a fun way for students to learn about wise economic practices like saving money and making good investments that will translate into real life.

Currently, however, owning real estate is impossible for a number of Nigerians. Nigeria has one of the biggest economies in Africa and a fairly sizeable middle class. Despite these seeming signs of economic prosperity, Nigeria is in the grips of a recession. With rising prices caused by rapid inflation, many of the nation’s citizens simply cannot afford to buy houses.

However, problems confronting the real estate business go beyond even difficulties in purchasing a home. Con artists will sell homes they do not actually own to unknowing buyers. Even after a real estate deal has been closed, buyers must beware of criminals. Lagos gangs will often extort money from buyers before allowing the construction of any buildings to move forward.

Corruption in the real estate market has also tainted the government. Officials often demand bribes in exchange for the official documentation that is needed to purchase property.

Under the principle of eminent domain, the government will often seize private property. The liberal application of this principle caused devastation in 2012 when Nigerian officials had city slums near one of the city’s main ports razed, displacing 9,000 people from their homes.

This Makoko slum is even represented as one of the properties in Lagos monopoly. The judicial system offers little relief from these difficulties because problems take years to resolve, meaning resolutions come too late.

Organizers of the Lagos monopoly tournament encouraged students to haggle over properties to reflect true real estate dealings. Tournament organizers hope the game will not only break records but also educate potential buyers in Lagos.

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