BY CHIKA OKEKE, Abuja
The chairman of All Progressive Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, as well as the Ministers of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola and his counterpart in Labour and Employment ministry, Dr Chris Ngige, have reiterated the commitment of the federal government to meeting the targeted N1trillion for new Social Housing Programme through combined efforts of the public and private sector.
The federal government had last year disclosed it was working with the stakeholders to raise one trillion naira to provide affordable housing for Nigerians.
The scheme which is included in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) of the government would deliver about 2.5m housing units over the planned period using mainly local materials for construction.
Speaking in Abuja yesterday at the 11th Abuja International Housing Show (AIHS) organised by Fesadeb Media Group Limited with the theme: ‘Solving Nigeria’s Housing Challenge through Innovative Finance and Infrastructure Solution,” Oyegun said the objective of the new social housing programme is to mitigate the housing deficit and stimulate economic growth as one of the strategic activities designed for exiting current economic recession.
He said: “To finance the programme, the federal government has proposed N1bn fund as part of its contributions and working to mobilise the private sector and other development partners to join in this initiative.’’
He recalled that APC in its manifesto stated that one third of all Nigerians lived in cities and urban areas with a national housing deficit of about 17 million.
“We promised decent and affordable housing to all our people and the establishment of a national policy in cooperation with State Governments with a target of raising enough finance to build one million units annually over the next decade,’’ he said.
Oyegun noted that existing housing funding avenues and agencies such as Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN), National Housing Fund (NHF) and Nigerian Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC) are being recapitalised, retooled and reformed to ensure more efficiency and broader access to financing housing in the nation.
In his speech, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola stated that the size of Nigerians problems should not dampen their morals to find lasting solutions.
On 17 million housing deficit, he said, “It’s indisputable that housing is a problem globally but who carried out the census to determine the exact number of deficit.
“We have overcome many problems and we can overcome the deficit; we are not idle and inactive but step by step, we will get to our destination,” he said.
Also speaking, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige confirmed that the federal government is working towards increasing the minimum wage of workers to enhance their welfare and boost productivity.
“When this increment is actualized, the average Nigerian worker will still not be able to afford decent housing by private developers”.
Ngige pointed out that the quest for home ownership and to live a comfortable life after retirement has unjustifiably driven some workers into corrupt practices adding that one of the cardinal pillars of the government is to bring corruption to a standstill.
He stated that a 29-member committee comprising of six articulate governors, trade unions and other critical stakeholders would review the existing minimum wage in line with the prevailing economic conditions.
Contributing, the Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, who was represented at the event by the chairman, House committee on Housing, Hon Mustapha Dawaki, lamented that despite several interventions in housing dating back during the colonial administration till now that no meaningful achievement has been recorded.
He maintained that the housing gap kept widening yearly as the population increased, just as he urged federal and states government to be pragmatic in addressing Nigeria’s housing shortfalls.
The Managing Director of Urban Shelters Limited, Mallam Ibrahim Aliyu regretted that no single city of about 20, 000 population in Nigeria could boast of continuous water supply for 24 hours daily.
However, the President of Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Bobbai Kaigama inquired if stakeholders have gathered data on affordability test and how many workers could pass the affordability test.
Also, the convener of AIHS, Barr Festus Adebayo said the essence of establishing the show 11 years ago was to assist in promoting housing development in Nigeria adding that with adequate housing that Nigeria’s problems would be resolved.