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Need for Cooperative Houses, Properties in Nigeria

Housing is a durable residential edifice. It is a place of safety against harsh weather conditions. It is a safe structure that protects lives and properties against external forces or attacks. As an essential need of man and the most costly composite resource, everyone desires to have a home. House is a shared factor in the existence of man. In all clans in Nigeria, a man, in the event that he doesn’t have a house isn’t complete.

Sequel to that, every man anticipates the day he will have his own home. Gone are the days houses were made up of locally sourced building materials of the earth (laterite or mud or mastic soil) as walling materials, trees’ stems for rooftop construction and raffia palm leaves as rooftop cover. Toilet, bathroom and kitchen are not inside the structure.

Oftentimes, a makeshift structure serves as a kitchen and bathing area while the toilet is the nearest bush. In the early 1950s and up till the late 1960s, the rich Nigerians adopted moulded bricks as walling materials and cement-sand (mortar) mixed with water in the ratio 1:6 as binding agent of the bricks, sawn planks as roof members (structure) and galvanized sheets as roof cover.

In the South-West, the cooperative method of construction is known as “owe bibe” or “aro gbigba.” While “owe bibe” is a social exercise, “aro gbigba” is a cooperative exercise in which a beneficiary must serve others. This means that every member of a community is involved in the construction of an individual community member’s house. While the men are digging the earth to expose the laterite or mud underneath, mixing the walling materials and setting them to form shape, the women will be in charge of fetching water, carrying off-site materials like timber and raffia palm leaves to the site and cooking food for all workers. Housing was seen as a social asset and a basic property for living.

The family ties were very strong and the community head see the provision of housing for all qualified residents as a necessity of the whole community. The population of the community was manageable and everybody knew each other. Nobody sold land and buildings, as everybody has his own home. Modernization and relocation of family members to areas where he or she is not a part of the family led to “tenancy at will.” People started living in other people’s properties after leaving their place of birth in search of better living conditions or “golden fleece.” Rents were not usually collected as everybody is his brothers and sisters’ keeper.

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AIHS 2022

Houses are now investment instruments in that people now build purposely to rent out to others and collect rent periodically. Not everybody finds it easy to buy their own properties because of the huge one-off fund involved. This is why there is a need to advocate for cooperative homes practice. Cooperative homes involve the purchase or construction of a property by more than one person and deriving income (rent), which will be shared by the investors according to the ratio of their investments, or in which one person will occupy the house and continue to contribute for the acquisition of property for the other cooperators.

It is a principle that works on the maxim, “time and tide wait for nobody.” If five people (cooperators) can contribute money together and buy a property now, it is better than individual non-cooperators saving for years to buy individual properties. More than one person who bought a property today will start deriving income and capital gain as soon as they take possession of the property. To become a housing cooperator, there is a need to gather like minds and people who are known to you and who are earning regular incomes. A cooperative name must be formed and registered with the ministry of cooperative in the state in which the cooperative housing will be located. Each cooperator will contribute a regular and fixed amount for the purchase or construction of a house.

A member can occupy this house while still contributing for the purchase or construction of the houses of other members, or the house can be rented out and investment continues until the houses can go around all cooperators. This exercise will continue until all members have their own house. This is an easy way of self-help of the people in getting themselves homes they can call theirs. A professional estate surveyor and valuer will be willing to serve as a consultant to any housing cooperative.

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