Nigeria’s Democracy @ 23: How Government Performed in Bridging Housing Deficit

Nigeria’s Democracy @ 23: How Government Performed in Bridging Housing Deficit

Housing is an important component of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and a key driver in accomplishing several of the SDGs, or Sustainable Development Goals. Adequate provision of shelter, decent and affordable accommodation has a positive impact on health, education, and economic possibilities. For many families, the process of improving their housing is more or less like a stepping stone out of poverty. These modifications benefit the larger community by reducing inequality and increasing resilience to economic and natural disasters.

By all current assessment parameters, Nigeria occupies the lowest hierarchy in the area of affordable and sustainable home delivery. To get the country’s economy back on track, especially in light of the current global economic crisis, Nigeria must prioritize the issue of decaying infrastructure while working hard to rebuild trust in her capital markets, as well as the banking and financial sector.

The quality of infrastructure services strongly influences a community’s quality of life and productivity. Moreover, the rate of development in any nation is heavily dependent on the degree of infrastructural development, the absence of which would definitively put an end to any government’s social, economic, and political goals.

Roads, power, portable water supply, housing, primary health care (health centers and hospitals), and markets or shopping centers are at the top of the list of these infrastructural facilities.

Actions to provide suitable and cost-effective housing have a variety of implications and benefits in the accomplishment of other global goals and initiatives for development, such as the New Urban Agenda, the Sendai Framework, the Paris Agreement and the Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

Unfortunately, the sole attempt to address the housing issue in the last 23 years of democratic rule in Nigeria was when former President Olusegun Obasanjo formed a commission known as “The Peter Odidi Panel.” However, nothing significant resulted from it because there was no Professional Estate Surveyor and valuer in the committee to offer excellent comments, which ended up being a mere academic exercise and chat show.

In other countries throughout the world, housing accounts for 35 to 40% of GPD (Gross Domestic Product), however, it only accounts for 7.5 percent in Nigeria. The government’s refusal to provide housing has resulted in slum communities even on the outskirts of places occupied by the wealthy and influential citizens.

Besides the notorious slums in Apo Mechanic Village, Durumi, Gishiri, Jabi, Kado Village, among others, now, almost every major settlement within and outside of the Federal Capital Territory is defaced with a besieging of shacks for urban poor shelters. Unfortunately, there is yet to be a government in this country that places housing in its priority list.

The President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, again, identified three to four bankable housing projects to deliver at least 1million houses per year, of which didn’t come to fruition.

Surprisingly too, President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 promised to Create an additional middle-class of at least 4 million new home owners by 2019.. However, as it stands, the current administration can not boast of 10,000 housing units provided to that effect let alone fulfilling its long-term 4 million new home owners’ pledge.

In the last seven years, experts have hurled shocking criticism on the housing sector. They claim that nothing significant has been done, noting that the government appears to have prioritized other projects worth billions of Naira while doing nothing substantial to provide suitable housing for the urban poor. They also attacked President Muhammadu Buhari for failing on his mandate to provide affordable and sustainable housing for Nigerians.

“Since 1999, I can’t see what the Federal Government has done. Our intention was that this current administration is going to make a differnce, it’s so unfortunate that they are all birds of the feather,” said HDAN Executive Director, Mr. Festus Adebayo.

The only thing the Federal Government has done since 1999 is to sell properties built by their predecessors to themselves, friends, and colleagues. We are all aware of the numerous controversies that have surrounded the selling of mansions in Abuja and Ikoyi. This remark was in reference to Mrs. Mobolaji Osomo’s scandal involving the selling of government residences under the OBJ era.

Remember that before the current democratic dispensation, many houses were built in Lagos, including Fetac Town, Satellite Town, Amuwo Odofin, Ogudu, and others.

But, in the years thereafter, not much achievement was recorded by that ministry. The Federal Government keeps harping so much on Public Private Partnership (PPP), such that it is concerned with creating an enabling environment for the private sector. But the question remains that, how many people will the private sector cater for? The private sector can only take care of high income earners, and not the low income because they (private developers) are profit orientated or motivated.

Nonetheless, when it comes to the critical subject of housing delivery, certain state governments deserve a pat on the shoulder. Many states have shown an admirable sense of accountability at the state level. In this regard, the Lagos state government takes an upper hand through its property development corporation (LSPDC), which builds residences and establishes estates.

Aihs 2022

As earlier pointed out, the idea of the Federal Government relying solely on private sector accounts to abdication of its own role. The private sector being profit motivated will only partner with the government to provide houses for the low income under subsidized terms. The argument has always been that if the government builds houses, they are always more expensive than what the private sector can take to build. The reason is not being far from official corruption, which is endemic in the government’s contract awarding process often done at inflated rates.

Supposedly, the provision of housing for the high income end should not be the primary concern of the government in any part of the world because the rich class can always take care of themselves. The Federal Government ought to borrow a leaf from some states, especially the Lagos State LSDPC’s three schemes for the low, medium and high income groups. In this arrangement, the low income group gets a subsidy in land, cost of infrastructure which accounts for about 35% of total project costs, being left with only the actual construction costs to bankroll. Whereas, the middle income pays fully for the infrastructure less the profit accruing to the government in the transaction because profit realized from high income groups is used to subsidize the low income end.

Equally of great concern is the truth that lack of possible access to decent housing compels people to do what ordinarily they wouldn’t have done, such as financial crimes and other corrupt practices. Besides the provision of shelter, housing conditions and delivery mechanism reflects on the economy as it entails manpower and capacity building in the environment as well as engineering sector.

Therefore, housing constitutes an essential organ of economic revolution, such that the government needs to encourage people to be proud homeowners. The land use Act still remains an elaborate fudge as it cannot solve the problems encountered by people (individuals and corporate entities) in acquiring lands for projects. The seamless challenges presented by vigorous process of land titling and registration calls for the urgent need of land reforms and administration.

The problem of difficult access to crucial information due to slow data storage and retrieval is the bane of credit finance and mortgage services in Nigeria. It is difficult to obtain borrowers’ credit histories, particularly those of individual people, due to a lack of accurate data and an effective mechanism for storing and retrieving information on personal data.

As a result, urban poverty and poor living conditions can be attributed primarily to a lack of basic needs (housing and infrastructure), with attendant consequences such as uncontrolled urban sprawl, inadequate and overburdened infrastructure, increased and rapid slum sprouting, unemployment, and urban violence, among others. Let us be clear about one thing: healthy banks are to the economy what healthy hearts are to people. They keep them going by providing the “lifeblood” of credit. However, in Nigeria, people are still unable to represent their property and generate capital. Owning a home or a house is still a privilege that many people cannot afford.

The contributions of Buhari APC administration will be remembered with the establishment of family Homes Funds , achievements of federal mortgage banks and that of federal ministry of works and Housing under the former governor of Lagos state .The issue of lack of data for the sector is still a big problem .Hoewver we must acknowledge the contributions of Abuja International housing show under the leadership of a very humble but never tired festus Adebayo in putting housing advocacy in every corner of Nigeria and africa

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