Proffering solutions to Nigeria’s housing challenges

Though this year’s World Habitat Day has come and gone the main message across the globe has shown that housing is a fundamental human right, DAYO AYEYEMI reports.

THERE is no doubt that COVID-19 pandemic has realy exposed the housing situation in Nigeria.

It is even recognised that without adequate housing, it would be impossible to carry out social distancing and good hygiene practices.

Besides, the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11 aimed at resilient, inclusive, safe, diverse cities by 2030.

To achieve this, one of the targets is access to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services for all by 2030 and the upgrade of slum.

In Nigeria, the celebration, themed “Housing for All: A Better Urban Future,”

Presented opportunities for built environment professionals and government at all levels to reflect on the nation’s housing crisis of over 17 million deficits and proffer ways to get out of the wood.

According to the recent World Bank report, Nigeria would require at least 700,000 units per year to keep up with the growing population and urban migration arising from the housing deficit.

It added that the global pandemic arising from outbreak of COVID-19 has further exposed the non-performance of the sector as the GDP from construction decreased to N513,692.43 million in the second quarter of 2020 from N682,791.74 million in the first quarter of 2020.

The GDP growth as at August 2020 stood at negative -6.1 per cent and is projected to slide down further to -3.0 per cent by December 2020.

From Lagos to Abuja and other state capitals, experts decried rising slum settlements in cities’ centers.

Notable speakers at different fora organised in Lagos and Abuja respectively included Founder/President, World Communities Limited, Dr Tunde Reis, President of Association of Housing Corporations of Nigeria, Dr  Victor Onukwugha, Lagos State Deputy Governor, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, Commissioner of Physical planning and urban development in Lagos State Dr  Idris Salako, Managing Director MOA planners Limited, Moses Ogunleye and  Managing Consultant, Favoujk Planning, Mr Ademola Ojedokun, among others.

 

Experts’ views

In Lagos, Reis, who doubles as guest speaker, listed diverse of challenges confronting the housing sector.

To resolve these, he said there was need for real estate data, end users’ regulation, enabling regulation and policies, and affordability gap’s funding.

According to him, there were four pillars housing rest on.

He called the authority to partner the private sector for data collection and management, saying “We need data, without data you won’t know what you are trying to solve,” he said.

Besides, he said there was need for registered master plan of cities, adding that government must show leadership,

Lagos State Government said it has accorded urban planning and development as avenues for improving the physical environment of the state and the living conditions of its people.

The State’s Commissioner, Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, Idris Salako, said that Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s administration had made relentless efforts at not only ensuring housing for all but also making sure physical developments were in tune with the THEMES agenda of making Lagos a 21st century economy by strengthening legal institutional frameworks.

Flagship of the forum was the presentation 2020 Livability Neighbourhood Awards to partners which included Lighthouse Cooperative Building Society, Lagos Central, Magodo Brooks Estate, Lagos East, Maplewood Estate, Agege and Lagos West.

 

Association of Housing Corporations of Nigeria

In Abuja, the Association of Housing Corporations of Nigeria (AHCN), the umbrella body for all states housing corporations in the country, displayed scorecards of 36 states of the federation in the area of housing projects delivered in the last three years.

Aside Lagos, Ogun and Benue states that demonstrated committment through various housing initiatives executed, according to the AHCN ratings, records showed that other states could not match words with action.

President of the association, Dr Victor Onukwugha, emphasised that Kogi, Sokoto, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom and others have not really done much in the area of housing over the years.

Since the release of report of State of Housing report by AHCN, many states have kicked against the document, saying they have much to show in terms of housing delivery.

From Akwa Ibom, the state government has detailed what Governor Udom Emmanuel had been able to do as regards housing delivery.

Onuwhugha bemoaned situation where state ministries of housing that are supposed to formulate policies and create the enabling environment were involved in direct construction of housing units.

AHCN President said “We need to keep reminding the Federal Ministry of Housing and state ministries of housing that they have no business in direct housing construction. They are to formulate policies and create enabling environment.

 

Challenges

He listed poor implementation and non-execution of public housing programmes both at the federal and state levels; cumbersome land accessibility and availability with high cost of titling and documentation, official bureaucracy, over dependent and importation of materials at the expense of local production and crawling nation’s mortgage sector as some of the challenges confronting the housing sector.

According to the AHCN boss, the prevailing mortgage rate outside six per cent NHF mortgage ranged between 15 per cent and 25 per cent. This, he said did not assist affordability and accessibility of housing.

 

Way out

To get out of the current myriads of problems confronting the housing sector, AHCN president said the situation required urgent holistic approach to salvage the industry from total collapse.

Onukwugha called for deliberate attempt to address housing challenges of low and medium income group, adding that mass housing production “is a veritable and sustainable tool and channel of driving economic recovery in Nigeria.”

With the effect of Covid-19 which has paralysed most of the income generating sectors, Onuwhugha said it has become pertinent for government to recognise that housing sector possessed the most viable platform to rescue the nation from sliding into recession if approach pragmatically.

According to him, housing sector remained only sector outside agricultural sector that has potential to generate employment and contribute to economic growth.

 

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