Lack of adequate data affecting planning in housing sector

lack of reliable housing data, has armstrung proper planning of housing provision and development in Nigeria, the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) has noted.

This view was expressed by the Managing Director of FHA, Prof Mohammed Al-Amin, in Abuja, recently, while calling for conncerted efforts to address the situation.

Al-Amin also questioned the genuineness and authenticity of the much flaunted 17 million housing units deficit figure in Nigeria, saying the figure was not being backed up by any proven data. Prof  Al-Ami further noted that though an attempt was made to incorporate a housing census into the 2006 national headcount, the data obtained from the exercise was unreliable.He attributed the failure to defective nature of the tool designed for it.

To tackle the unreliability of the country’s housing statistics. Al-Amin said the FHA was keen to participate in the implementation of the resolutions of the just concluded Habitat III- the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Development held in Quito, Ecuador.

The FHA boss regretted that Nigeria had not been taking advantage of platforms opened to it by international organisations, adding that FHA was poised to participate in the follow-up to Habitat III at the national, sub-regional and regional levels. In addition, he said FHA was eager to work with the United Nations’ agency on critical housing issues, such as slum development and the rising housing deficit in the country to improve the quality of urban life.

Meanwhile, the Senate Committee on Housing last week stated its resolve to  work with relevant agencies to fast-track the restructuring and commercialisation of the Federal Housing Authority.

The Chairman of the committee, Senator Barnabas Gemade, said this in Abuja when he led his colleagues on an oversight visit to the Authority’s headquarters.

Gemade said urgent legislative action was required to fast track the reform and commercialisation of the FHA which had been ongoing since 1992.

He said the planned amendment would strengthen the Authority and return it to its pride of place as an effective national instrument for housing delivery.

Accompanied on the visit by four members of the committee, Gemade noted that the fortunes of the FHA had been adversely affected by somersaults in government policy.

He said the removal of the FHA from government funding had stacked the odds against the agency and abridged it’s ability to deliver on its mandate.

To further strengthen the Authority, Gemade promised that his committee would explore the possibility of  benefitting from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s N30 billion Real Estate Development Intervention Fund.

He directed the Authority’s Managing Director to furnish the committee with a list of all its completed and ongoing housing projects, list of all partnership projects, loan portfolio, and nominal roll.

During an inspection visit to the FHA/ENL Paradise Hills Estate, Apo, Abuja, Gemade expressed satisfaction with the quality of work done on the houses.

He said FHA had demonstrated a high level of professional competence in delivering quality houses for medium ad high income earners and urged it to brace up to build houses for millions of the nation’s low  income earners.

Welcoming the committee members earlier, the Managing Director, Professor Mohammed Al-Amin said there was need to strengthen the Authority’s ability to deliver on its social housing mandate through special subventions and regular budgetary allocation.

He also pleaded with the committee to facilitate the completion of the ongoing reform process in the Authority by hastening work on the amendment of the law establishing it.

Al-Amin said the FHA had depended solely on public private partnerships to deliver houses since government funding for it stopped.