· Minister commends the innovativeness of promoters as he unveils Prefabricated Assembly and Installation Building Facility in Abuja
· Says objective is to use cooperatives as a driving force in the country’s Housing programme
· Pledges government’s support for initiatives that promote national housing
· Urges caution over the repetition of a housing deficit figure that is unfounded
The Federal Government plans to initiate a National Cooperative Housing Scheme in the country as a provision to bring the informal Sector into the nation’s Housing Programme, the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN, has said in Abuja.
Fashola, who spoke at the unveiling of Karmod Nigeria Limited’s Pre-Fabricated Assembly and Installation Building facility in Abuja, said the objective was to use cooperatives as a driving force in the country’s Housing programme adding that their success in markets, in transportation and Agriculture, among other areas of the economy would be an incentive to achieve success in the sector.
The Minister, who said the government would also leverage on the successes and numerical strength of the cooperatives manifested in the many unions and associations they have in every state of the country, added that they would be mobilized under the aegis of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria to obtain loans to develop their own houses according to their tastes and preferences.
Cooperatives which would be eligible to participate in the scheme, the Minister said, would be those “who are properly registered, who have their trustees and leaderships to act for them, who have their own lands and who convey an approval of the type of house they want so that they won’t be stranded”.
“We will tell them to get a planned approval for land in which ever state so that it won’t become a slum. We will work with that state’s government to ensure that access roads are built; we will give them development loans to give Real Estate developers so that you build for yourself and contribute the counterpart fund to finish. In this way we will achieve the scheme”, he said.
Fashola said the Next Level Agenda of the present administration encompasses policies and programmes that are people oriented and are meant to consolidate and sustain the achievements made in the last four years in all sectors of the economy adding that policies like the Eligible Customer and the Off-Grid initiative have enabled private businesses to source their own power either directly from generation companies or independent of the national grid as done by Messrs Karmod Nigeria Limited.
“If you follow the trajectory of government plans, Housing and Consumer Credit, this is one of the major objectives of this government in its Next Level Agenda; Agro development, food production, processing, manufacturing and transport infrastructure – Roads, Rail, Airports and Seaports, Education and Healthcare. These are the major focal areas of this government”, the Minister said.
He commended the Chairman of the Company, Mr. Hakeem Shagaya, for investing in Housing saying in so far as it seeks to boost housing development in the country, the investment “sits appropriately within the focal area of the government which is Housing and Consumer Credit”.
“In the past, government has made policies that support direct access for small , medium and large agencies to take their own power directly from generating companies under the policy of Eligible Customer”, he said adding that the decision by the company to adopt Off-Grid supply was also a major policy shift of the Buhari Administration in the last three years; “promoting direct and independent power development so that business clusters can come together, develop their own grid, share it subject to licensing by the regulator; and so also can market clusters”.
Also congratulating the Chairman of Karmod International, Mr. Mesut Cankaya from Turkey “for bringing the investment to Nigeria”, Fashola, who told him that as government, from local, state and federal government, “Nigeria is ready to do business”, assure him of government’s support, not only at the Federal level but also at the municipal level “to enable you plant your foot and expand your business”.
Describing the investment in pre-fabrication method of building houses as “an innovation into Housing development”, which, according to him, “proposes an alternative method of building houses”, Fashola said the innovation was welcome; adding , “innovation is the driver of growth; it is the driver of prosperity and we are ready to partner with you”.
The Minister, however, tasked the Chairman and his team to engage in aggressive marketing “to persuade the end users to change what has become an acquired taste” adding that this would be expedient because taste and preferences in the choice of houses differ from country to country, from community to community and even from culture to culture.
“In some countries you see people building with timber; in other places they prefer burnt brick and in some other places they have adopted container type buildings. In all of this and at the end of the day no one can successfully prescribe that this is the method of Housing that people must all adopt”, he said adding that the transformation or acceptability was often slow and informed by culture, experience and other social indices.
He recalled some places where government had suddenly tried to move people from mud houses and the project had been developed but with no consultation and preparation adding that the people chose to ignore those houses and refused to move. He told the Chief Executive, “So it is now where the product can meet the market and that will be the challenge to you and your team how to make this an acceptable method of building”.
The Minister noted, however, that with the growing population of young people who, according to him, “are ready to go and who do not require too much space to operate in”, it would not be too burdensome to find a market for the type of building, adding that the young people would more readily accept such innovation than the older generation.
“We must accept that we have a growing large population of young people. We will also accept that we cannot live the same way. Their needs have changed, they do not need too much space. Their world is reduced to their laptops. They want to get up and go”, he said adding that all of the planning in infrastructure development must take cognizance of the need of the young generation.
Fashola promised that if the company could find ready market, government was positioned to respond. He declared, “But whatever you do, if the rubber (product) meets the road (market )and you close the deal, again, apart from infrastructure, government is positioned to respond”.
“We have the Federal Mortgage Bank that is managing the Housing Fund. The director is here; and every month they disburse a substantial amount of money from contributions made by contributors to help people access housing, to help people develop estates”, he said adding that it would be in the common interest of every Nigerian to open an account with the Federal Mortgage Bank because, according to him, “once we do, we will very likely benefit from it”.
Dismissing the much touted 17 million as Nigeria’s housing deficit, Fashola, who said he had investigated all the quoted sources of that figure, including the World Bank, declared, “Where did the 17 million figure come from”, adding that according to the Nigerian Bureau of Statistic survey, the actual figure of Nigeria’s households stand between 35 and 40 million households nationwide.
“Let us assume that one family lives in one house and you are saying that 17 million is the deficit; that means that more than half of Nigeria’s population is homeless. Is it a reality?”, he said adding that there was need to think through the issue and plan with the correct numbers so as to get the market right while the investment would also be sustainable and could deliver from the profit returns.
Maintaining that the 17 million housing deficit was unfounded, Fashola disclosed that the Ministry of Works and Housing has set up a team, and is hiring research companies to go round major urban centres to do an audit as a sample of how many houses have been virtually unoccupied for six months and above. “That will tell us whether we should be producing more or change strategy”, he said.
During a short interaction with newsmen after inspecting the Karmod Prefabrication facility, Fashola, who reiterated that it was an innovation in the Built Industry, declared, “It is innovation by young people; it’s innovation that brings investment into Nigeria, it is innovation that brings business and progress. And, therefore, government recommends it as part of its business expansion along with the economic opportunities that it brings”.
“So it sits very well with one of the key objectives of the government in terms of housing development and consumer credit. Every house creates a demand for finance. And potentially every mortgage being signed deepens our access to credit for people”, the Minister said.
Noting that the framework of the prefabricated building he just commissioned within the company’s premises was made from 12 shipping containers and finished with cement boards and other materials, the Minister reiterated that if the product found acceptability and the company was able to roll it out, government would give support through the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria.
“To my right here is one of the directors of the Federal Mortgage Bank who is saying that if they find buyers who are ready to off-take and there is a market and those buyers are willing to bank with the FMBN that will elicit for them an opportunity to get mortgage finance credit”, he said, adding, “So, we are, in a sense as government, with policies and programmes, taking demand to the market and enabling entrepreneurship flourish”.
Earlier, in his welcome address, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the company, Mr. Hakeem Shagaya, said the company was established five years ago in partnership with a Turkish company with the objective of helping to bridge the nation’s housing deficit which he put at about 17 million adding that in order to address the problem the company has adopted the simple philosophy of fast production, fast execution and fast assembly.
Also present at the occasion which took place at the company’s premises at Plot 3075, along Kubwa Expressway, included Chairman, Karmod International, Mr. Mesut Cankaya and renowned entrepreneur Alhaja Bola Shagaya, among other Stakeholders in the Built Industry as well as top officials from the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing.
HAKEEM BELLO SPECIAL ADVISER, COMMUNICATIONS TO THE HON. MINISTER