Experts have tasked the incoming administration at federal and state level to focus more on housing as a means of reducing poverty in the nation.
According to Mr. Hakeem Ogunniran, Chief Executive Officer of Eximia Realty Company Limited, housing is one of the economic factors that must be used to help people in the nation escape poverty.
Ogunniran made this known at the 17th yearly leadership seminar tagged, “Closing the Poverty Gap through Housing: Issues, Challenges and Solutions” organized by Harvest Fields International Church, Lagos.
He observed that leaders need political will and policy shift by rethinking the underpinning philosophy of housing as a right and social good, adding that government policy must differentiate between affordable and social housing.
He said: “Housing constitutes an important part of people’s living conditions and makes a contribution to their life chances. The significance of the links between housing and poverty, and material deprivation deserves greater attention. The interaction between the two can have a big effect on the numbers of those defined as ‘living in poverty’, who they are and the implications for policy.”
According to him, the sector needs direct intervention from government by creating institutions that will deliver low-cost and social housing for the people.
He said the government should create policies to drive social and housing benefits that will subsidise cost of housing and partner with the private sector to create a collaborative platform to deliver houses at affordable prices.
“We need to build a coalition of critical participants in the housing value-chain such as the government, landowners, financiers, developers and off-takers. Government should create a solution that straddles the demand and supply side of the housing ecosystem.
“Government needs to work on an enabling environment that will help people to deliver housing. We must commodities housing, start to buy and sell houses the same way we buy and sell other commodities. We have to industrialize the process of housing delivery.
“Today, we are still building houses but we have to start manufacturing houses and standardize the processes to deliver houses in large numbers, lower the prices and make housing more affordable to the people,” Ogunniran said.
He said the incoming government needs to understand why the previous attempt to improve housing has not worked and create a policy that addresses issues of housing demand and supply.
The former managing director of UAC property Development Company said:” Housing has become more of a poverty aggravation tool, the new government has to change that narrative and convert housing to poverty amelioration instrument.
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“We have a National Housing Policy, particularly the 2011 policy, which touched on every element of housing to make it more affordable and accessible but the government decided to implement the easiest part of the policy, which was on housing finance by creating the Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC). We need a policy that will enhance mortgage creation and before you create mortgages, you have to build the houses.”
He called for special a window to secure building approvals, wavers for building material import and land provision at concessionary rate. He added that the Land Use Act of 1978, whose provisions, he said, needed review would make land accessible for housing.
Ogunniran challenged churches and other faith-based organizations to go beyond competing for building large auditoriums, but convert lands to building affordable housing for their members.
The General Overseer of the church, Reverend Akinola Abraham, lamented that some institutions in Nigeria like schools and other projects have not been well managed since the military regime to the present civilian administration.
He urged Christians to rise up to the occasion and restore the lost glory of the country as God has great interest in Nigeria.
Abraham charged Christians to make an impact in the real estate sector and other fields of endeavour, as well as imbibe the culture of excellence in all activities.