Political Parties’ Housing Ambitions Accompanied By Doubts And Dim hope.
The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and African Action Congress (AAC) have unveiled their plans for housing ahead of the 2023 presidential election.
But Nigerians, especially experts and stakeholders in the housing sector, have received those plans with doubts and subdued hope, saying they are common features of election cycles that hardly survive campaign periods.
While the APC’s plan dwells more on mortgages and federal government’s housing agencies, the PDP promises land reforms and administration while AAC pledges to close the housing gap by building affordable units at an average cost of N2 million each.
In 2015, APC promised to deliver one million housing units yearly and pledged to establish a vibrant mortgage system with a single-digit interest rate to drive homeownership.
But the APC government, seven and half years after, has only completed the construction of 2,249 housing units in 34 states and the Federal Capital Territory, out of the 4,694 housing units it initiated during that period.
Ministries and agencies of government are not faring better. For instance, the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing completed and commissioned only 1,487 housing units this year with 519 units done through the Public Private Partnership model and 968 units under the National Housing Programme.
It remains to be seen what impact the Family Homes Funds is making given its mandate at inception. Its impact is yet to be felt despite investing over N19.9 billion across six states, for the development of 2,754 homes for low-income families, through its partnership with the respective state governments, private developers and others.
As if the government is in competition with the private sector, the cost of the delivered housing units is far beyond the affordability gap of most Nigerians as a one-bedroom flat goes for as high as N7.1 million.
This contrasts with the APC government’s promise of making housing more accessible to Nigerians. The government is yet to encourage private developers to engage in low-income housing through attractive tax rebates and other incentives.
It is yet another campaign season and the APC is promising Nigerians that when it returns to power in 2023, it will merge federal housing agencies into a competent body to ensure greater cohesion and efficiency for addressing the housing deficit, noting that these agencies are too small and fragmented.
Among other things, the party also promises to lower costs, remove delays associated with housing development and promote more efficient use of land. It also promises efficient land allocation, which would bolster the housing industry and lower costs for investors and subscribers.
On its part, the PDP is also promising Nigerians that it will make sure they have easy access to land and provide easily transferable property rights by revamping land registries and creating a uniform platform for a nationally acceptable system.
The PDP also promises land reforms to reduce transaction time for property transfers, improve access to credit and increase transparency in land transactions and promote the use of local materials for affordable housing.
Among other things, the party says it will provide affordable housing as well as build more inclusive communities, comprising a mix of different income brackets guided by equity and inclusiveness.
The little-known AAC says it will build affordable units at an average cost of N2 million each across the country and pledges to ensure a mortgage tenure of 20 years at interest rate that will not be more than 10 percent.
The party promises that when it forms the next government, it will provide land valued at $3.64 billion for construction, explaining that the fund would come as seed investment and will be used to capitalise an investment fund that all Nigerians could invest in.
Experts are worried that none of these parties is telling Nigerians how it is going to implement these plans, especially those of the ruling APC that are overly capital-intensive.
“It remains to be seen how APC particularly is going to fund its ambitious plans given the current state of the economy where rising costs and galloping inflation have made any venture a huge risk,” Johnson Chukwuma, a civil engineer working as construction consultant, said in a telephone interview.
Chukwuma stressed that the question was in the ‘how’ and not the rhetoric, pointing out that anything outside the ‘how’ or the process of execution is another political journey that will end at the middle of nowhere.
“It is not enough to talk because, as we know, talk is cheap and anybody can mount the podium and talk as we had seen in the past. Nigerians want to hear and know where the work is and that is in the how,” he said.
Developers under the aegis of Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria note that the APC has good intentions in its plan, but doubt the readiness to implement. Apart from not having done much, the association says that the prices of houses they built are high and not for low-income earners.
“The manifestos of some of the parties don’t meet our expectations because it is not the responsibility of the government to build houses but provide an enabling environment for the private sector. Nigeria is not a socialist country but a capitalist government,” Aliyu Wamakko, president of the association, said.