Several administrations have come and gone but no meaningful result has been recorded in the area of providing affordable housing for the teeming Nigerian populace, but the coming on board of the All Progressive Party (APC) which paved way for the emergence of Muhammadu Buhari raised expectations that more would be achieved.
During the presentation of the party’s manifesto in October 2014, President Buhari promised Nigerians that his administration would solve Nigeria’s housing challenges by building 1, 000, 000 housing units annually across the country.
With this promise and many others, the APC and its candidate won the hearts of many Nigerians as their expectations were that, many would become possible owners of houses built by government and given for free or at subsidized rates.
Upon the coming on board of the administration, it took president Muhammadu Buhari, over seven (7) months to select his cabinet and start the process of reviving Nigeria from the shambles as he promised.
This act had bordered and brought called for questions among Nigerians including policy formulators and analysts concerning the plans and intentions of the new government even when there was economic collapse and numerous issues to be addressed.
With housing posing a familiar problem to Nigeria as a country, the promise made by the APC raised hope of a renewed Nigeria. Housing has been identified World-wide as one of the basic necessities of life.
It is required for the survival of man by providing shelter, refuge, comfort, security and dignity, while it is expected to be functional, attractive and identifiable within a neighbourhood setting, enabling of family needs, aspirations and preferences.
For sustainability, housing is also supposed to be energy efficient and resource-conserving to enhance quality of life. As an economic good, it is a source of prosperity, a yardstick for measuring the wealth of a Nation and a critical factor in its socio-economic fabric required for sustainable development while as an industry, it stimulates the National economy through employment generation and value addition to resources.
It is the desire of all Nations to provide for her citizenry adequate housing that is healthy, safe, accessible physically, affordable and provided with adequate utilities, community facilities and services.
In spite of several measures taken over the years by various Administrations in Nigeria and the immense contribution of the private sector in the housing process, available conflicting statistics all indicate several areas of shortfalls.
With a housing deficit estimated at about 18 million (up from 17million in 2012 when it was estimated that the Country required 700,000 units annually compared to less than 100,000 currently being developed according to the National Bureau of Statistics), attempt at disaggregating the shortfall along housing types, points to a grimmer picture.
The hope of having a better housing system was not soon expected or conceived by Nigerians because no political party or aspirant had assured Nigerians as President’s Buhari’s APC did.
It was until November 2015 when the president announced his cabinet naming a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and then immediate past Governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola as the Minister of Power, Housing and Works which formed the key sectors in the Nigerian economy that were in appalling states.
Fashola who was totally filled up with major works to do was later realized by the president where the Federal Ministry of Power was separated leaving him with Works and Housing to handle.
Nigerians remained resolute in seeing how the government would quickly begin work on the housing sector of the economy where a good number of people were homeless and could not afford accommodation due high cost and poor operating systems.
With workload reduced on the Minister for Works and Housing, it was expected that the minister would begin to work with stakeholders in the housing development sector in the actualization of the 1,000, 000 housing units promised Nigerians by the present administration.
After days of assumption of office, the Minister has conference with major stakeholders in Nigeria’s housing sector on affordable housing where he listened to the expectations of Nigerians.
It was until 17th July, 2016 barely three months later, that Fashola attended the largest housing event in Africa, the ‘Abuja International Housing Show (AIHS)’, an event that showcases the building innovations, exhibitions, sales and advertising of affordable houses across Africa.
The event was attended by the then President of the Senate, Senator Bukola Saraki, the Governor of Kano State Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, then Governor of Bauchi State, Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar, members of national and state assemblies, heads of ministries, departments agencies and members of the press.
At the event, the minister for housing and works, Babatunde Fashola questioned the figures mentioned by estate developers as per the cost of housing units in the country.
He seemingly doubted the reality of the figures and pledged to revive the housing situation in the country as promised by the All Progressive Congress (APC) during the launch of its party manifestoes and electioneering campaigns activities. With this in mind, the minister activated the National housing programme.
The National Social Housing Programme (NSHP) is the housing component of the President Muhammadu Burhari’s economic Sustainability plan to deliver affordable housing and millions of jobs for Nigerians.
It is a strategy adopted to allow many Nigerians to own homes of their own as individuals or as members of cooperatives as low as N2,000,000.
According to the information on the NSHP portal (which can be accessed on nshp.gov.ng), a 2-rooms (1bedroom house) costs N2,000,000, 3-Rooms (2 Bedroom House) goes for N2,750,000 and 4-Rooms (3 Bedroom House) goes for N3,500,000.
The answer to the question above is NO, this has not achieved tangible results especially as high population of Nigerians are still living in extremely expensive rented apartments, there is still a high cost in land acquisition and others living in slums.
It is so sad considering that, thousands of uncompleted buildings are seen standing in major cities including Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt and many others with threats of damage around them. It is wondered why a government that promised to take people out of local tents and poverty by building 1,000,000 housing units annually across the country would still abandon these projects.
In areas and states where these projects are carried out, they are sold at exorbitant prices far above the reach of ordinary Nigerians where many are civil servants with poor monthly payments and some involved in petty trades.
The Minister of works and Housing at a time started building houses in various states where he requested governors to contribute land for the programme and made budgetary allocation towards it. But till date, the story is the same, Nigerians are still where they were even as the ministry is trying.
It is though unfortunate to say that, the Federal Government has woefully failed in keeping to the masses promises made the public with many assume the promises were made as heart-winning electoral strategies or mere persuasively created to win public sympathy.
Even with the claims made on its website and the free allocation of lands by state governments, it is depressing to know that a one-bedroom apartment is worth 7.2million across the country. One wonders who can afford the money.
The Federal Government thrrough the Central Bank of Nigeria came up with a promise to pump N200 billion into the housing sector as intervention, all hope of seeing that promise fulfilling and seeing the sector’s stateholders benefiting is still awaited.
Having disputed the cost of houses which according to him was alleged by agents and others in the system, it was expected that the minister would work with relevant agencies yet nothing has been done in that regards.
Till present, estate development has been taken over by private companies due in part that, the houses built by government have been lying dormant and abandoned, land have not been allocated to people with Certificate of Occupancies (C/O) in most cases.
This has therefore exposed the unachievable promises made to Nigerians as the Family Home Fund itself has not come as a partway to save the common Nigerian’s situation.
It is expected that the national assembly would come up with amended laws or propose bills that would address Nigerian housing condition, especially in making reference to the land use act that will be well regulated to avert the situation where fraudulent persons in the name of agents are brutally defrauding poor Nigerians and posing as land development agents only to be fake estate developers.
It is hoped that the National Assembly would wade into the resurrecting issues of land, guiding Nigerians with The Land Use Act which was designed to achieve the good objectives such as (i). making land easily accessible to all Nigerians (ii). Preventing speculative purchases of communal land (iii), Streamlining and simplifying the management and ownership of land (iv), Making land available to government at all levels for development and (v), Providing the system of Government administration of rights that will improve tenure security.
If these objectives were fairly achieved by the Act, ultimately the questions to be addressed would have sought to find out whether the challenges posed by the Land se Act for housing and the overall investment in property development were operation-induced or perpetrated by the provisions therein.
To sum it all, the administration of the APC’s Government under Muhammadu Buhari’s regime have fallen short of hosing expectation of Nigerians.