FG’s inconsistency on housing raises more doubts on home ownership

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 …Analysts bemoan president’s directive to only APC states

By DANLADI BATURE

THE discordant tunes emanating from the Federal Government on housing delivery for Nigerians is raising doubts on possibility of satisfying the over 17 million housing yearnings for the citizens, National Daily investigations have shown.

Consequently, some analysts are saying that the ensuing politicization of the housing programme for a predominantly ‘homeless’ Nigerians is raising more doubts than hope, adding that the president’s directive to only APC states to deliver housing begs a lot of questions. “Is Buhari the president of Nigeria or that of only APC states? They ask.

President Mohammadu Buhari, last week Monday at the just concluded National Economic Council (NEC) meeting in Abuja told the 22 states governed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to build 250,000 housing units annually that would be made available to Nigerians at affordable prices.

Buhari explained that the move would enable the party redeem its campaign promise of bridging the country’s 17 million housing deficit by providing one million housing units yearly for Nigerians, and also as part of government’s response to the lingering challenges in the economy.

But some analysts say the restriction of the proposed 250,000 housing units to only the All Progressive Congress (APC) controlled states leaves much to be desired as they say, it amounts to reducing his influence and powers to only his party.

“The president should see himself as the president of all and not only APC controlled states as the housing problem is for all,” says an analyst.

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Also, the analysts say the statement seems at variance with recent pronouncement by the same government that it would build 40 blocks of housing comprising 12 flats (homes) each in each state and the federal capital territory (FCT), Abuja which would translate to 480 flats (homes) per state, and 17,760 flats (Homes) nationwide, for a start.

“Government will lead the aggressive intervention to increase housing supply, by undertaking construction of public housing and formulate policies that will invariably lead to private sector participation and ownership to reduce our housing deficit”, Babatunde Fashola, the Minister for Power, Works and Housing, announced in his maiden media briefing in Abuja.

The analysts have dismissed all of this as another empty statement that Nigerians are so familiar with coming from their leaders, past and present, noting that the present government which has no economic step to refer to, seems to be continuing with campaign speeches almost a year after.

“The usual policy talk of ordering the construction of housing units by this and past governments does not hold water and give no cause for excitement”, says OlisaNjoku Estate Surveyor and Valuer.

Njoku, who noted that the present government was still struggling to come to terms with the reality of what they met on ground, explained that “there is so much that goes into achieving these objectives and, in most cases, political will, enabling infrastructure and regulatory environment are completely missing in heading towards realizing these objectives”, warning that unless some drastic actions including changes in laws governing land and land acquisition, etc are made, this call would be another policy on paper.

An investor, who did not want to be named, stressed that “whether it is APC promising to build one million housing units, Fashola planning to construct 40 blocks in each state, or Buhari calling on states to build 250,000 housing units, they are all pipe smoke and nothing to hope for”.

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He however commended the president for identifying housing along with power, agriculture and manufacturing as growth sectors of the economy, advising that government should engage professionals and other relevant stakeholders to deliver housing because, according to him, government has no business going into direct housing construction.

Adetoku Ajibade agrees, warning that government should thread cautiously with its intervention in housing development. “Government should avoid the temptation of getting into housing construction in its zeal to accelerate housing delivery. That will lead to regression and breed corruption.

The government should rather focus on helping to build strong housing and mortgage systems with the private sector serving as the engine of execution”, Ajibade advised further.

“Descending into the arena to quench an inferno without proper planning may be grand standing, but it hardly secures real success”, he noted, advising further that government should embark on deliberate infrastructure development, especially major transportation-infrastructure, to stimulate massive housing projects.

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