Fresh concerns loom large in Nigeria’s housing sector as experts and citizens worry that the lingering security crisis in the country will further deepen the housing crisis, even as safe, affordable, and sustainable housing demands skyrocket.
According to them, aside from reducing the sector’s relatively significant contribution to the national GDP, insecurity discourages new investment in the country, ignoring Nigeria with its large market.
In an interview with the Africa Housing News on Monday, the President, Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria (REDAN), Aliyu Wamakko, while urging the Government to be alive to its responsibility of safeguarding both lives and properties of the citizens, noted that the Federal Government has all it takes to solve the nation’s security woes.
According to the REDAN Boss, achieving housing development in a violent and hostile environment is likened to a mirage, hence, unrealistic.
“The essence of governance is to protect lives and property. Any government that’s not able to give this, I believe that it’s derailing from its original objectives and aims. Gone are the days when insecurity only surfaced in the northeast; today, it’s ravaging nearly all nooks and crannies of every region in the country. This has eaten deep into our marrow, hence rendering both the government and the people helpless, as the government seems not to know what to do.
“I’ve always emphasized the fact that the government knows where these bandits are, especially in the northwest. The northwest is not a rainforest area. it ís almost a desert. So, it is very difficult for these bandits to find a place to hide without being caught.
Wamakko, who opined that the government should not wait until citizens are killed or deprived of their homes before taking proactive steps, said “these criminals should be followed to their den and eliminated because government had already declared them as terrorists. I still wonder despite the number of soldiers, police, civil defense, and other security operatives that we have in Nigeria, we still can’t solve the security challenge in the country. It’s something very worrisome. I think if the government is serious about it, the problem can be solved within a twinkle of an eye because it has the capacity to do that.
While stressing the need to restructure housing, most importantly in the most ravaged regions in the country, Wamakko said: “when people are being chased out of their houses by these insurgents, they also burn down their houses and most times, kill them. It’s necessary for the government to come to their rescue and resuscitate victims by building homes for them to live in.”
“No developer can risk investing in a war zone. It’s so sad that we can’t help promote housing development in the affected regions but we can’t shy away from the truth. Anywhere there is banditry or insurgency, it affects our business tremendously. We wouldn’t be able to deliver effectively what we are expected to do”, he said.
Wammako also charged the Government to ensure that the apparatus provided for the purpose of securing the country works, adding that “despite the huge budget allocated to the security sector on a regular basis, there is nothing to show for it.”
Also sharing his professional view on the effect of insecurity on housing development in the country, a security expert, CP Lawrence Alobi (rtd) revealed that insecurity is not only a threat to housing development but also to human nature.
According to him, security in Nigeria is not technologically driven and as such, charged all developers to integrate security into their project plans.
He also urged developers not only to capitalize on economic gains from housing projects but also prioritize the welfare and safety of occupants within their project framework.
While noting that housing security also extends to the quality of building materials used during construction activities, he said “security starts from the planning of the structure itself.”
“Government must provide infrastructures like a good road network and stable power supply. For instance, if there are no good roads, criminal elements can take advantage of that to perpetrate their evil. Government must be proactive in its security approach”, he added.
Asked how the Government can restructure the country’s security architecture, a real estate expert, Fonahanmi Idris, sued for effective implementation of property identification through home numbering.
“In the seventies, post office officials go to every house to drop messages in the village. I was raised in the village. They would bring a post and drop it inside our box because it has an address. So, we all know ourselves because there is an identity and no home is fenced. To me, that is the best form of security. If houses are well numbered, insecurity will be reduced as there would be no hiding place for bandits”, he said.