As President Muhammadu Buhari clocks two years in office tomorrow, CHIKA OKEKE examines major events that shaped his administration in the Ministry of Power, Works & Housing (Housing Sector) and its department and agencies.
Access to affordable housing by successive governments for Nigerian workers had remained a herculean task over the past three decades.
With an annual population growth rate of 3.5 per cent, Nigeria needed additional one million housing units annually to reduce the deficit by 2033.
The deficit which is pegged at between 17 to 20 million, would cost the federal government more than N6 trillion to bridge the gap.
Given Nigeria’s enormous housing challenges, Rtd General Muhammadu Buhari, who was the APC flag bearer during the Presidential campaign, vowed to amend the constitution and the Land Use Act to create freehold/leasehold interests in land along with matching grant for states to create nationwide electronic land title register on a state by state basis.
He further assured that his government would create additional middle-class, of at least, two million new home owners in the first year in government and one million annually, thereafter.
He also said his government would create an additional lower-class, of at least, four million new home owners by 2019, as well as reviewing the collateral qualification to make funding for home ownership easier, with 15 to 30 year mortgage terms.
Added to the promise is the enactment of a national mortgage system that would lend at single digit interest rates for purchase of owner occupier houses as well as creating a national infrastructural development bank to provide loans at nominal interest rates exclusively for the sector.
Two years after, LEADERSHIP Sunday investigation revealed that neither the two million home owners nor the National Infrastructure Development bank was created even as the housing sector is bereft of activities.
Below are part of the achievements; successes and failures of the administration in the housing sector.
NATIONAL HOUSING PROGRAMME
While defending the housing sector 2017 budget proposal before the Senate Committee on Lands, Housing and Urban Development in Abuja, the minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Raji disclosed that the National Housing Programme (NHP) is expected to gulp about N41 billion from the N64.9 billion budgeted for capital spending in the housing sector 2017 budget.
He maintained that the ministry would soon commence the construction of 165 blocks of 2,000 units of housing estates across the states under the National Housing Programme.
Findings by LEADERSHIP Sunday indicated that the National Housing programme is still wobbling even as some states are yet to benefit from the project. Aside the National Housing Programme, the ministry (Housing Sector) is dormant while members of staff remain idle in their office; a situation that is linked to the merger of the ministry with Power and Works.
This, stakeholders say, has further ruled out the possibility of creating middle-class home owners by 2018.
However, the Head of Service of the Federation, Mrs Winifred Oyo-Ita recently launched the Federal Integrated Staff Housing (FISH) programme in partnership with developers, meant to provide decent accommodation for civil servants.
UN HABITAT III PARLEY, ABUJA
The African Regional Conference on Housing and Sustainable Human Settlements (Habitat III) which held in Abuja last year February was declared open by Vice President, Yemi Osibanjo.The conference which was attended by Heads of Delegation from different African countries was targeted at seeking practical solutions to sustainable urban settlements in Nigeria and Africa generally.
President Muhammadu Buhari called on African Housing Ministers to address inequality and social exclusion, saying that the increasing number of slum dwellers in many African countries was a clear manifestation of inequality.
This is even as he regretted that the continent was yet to achieve social exclusion, inequality and urbanization, noting that Africa has the highest rate of inequality in the world which is largely manifested in high population, unequal access to education, poor healthcare, and indecent life.
The president who was represented by Vice President Mr Yemi Osibanjo insisted that environmental sustainability was important for cities and human settlements to remain livable and attractive, stressing that it was the only means to prevent youths from fleecing abroad in make shift buses.
It, however, culminated with the unveiling of an official document titled, “Abuja Declaration”, which was Africa’s common position at the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development in Quito, Ecuador in October 2016.
PBM’s TRIP TO CHINA
Also, during President Muhammadu Buhari’s China trip on April 2016, the presidency expressed satisfaction that the one week official trip would yield over $6bn additional investments for Nigeria.
For the housing sector, the Infrastructure Bank and Sinohydro Corporation limited sealed a deal of $250m to develop an ultra-modern 27-storey high rise complex and a $2.5 billion agreement for the development of the Lagos Metro Rail Transit Red Line project, though the project is yet to take off.
Worried by the borrowing plans, engineers are lamenting that the federal government may end up piling huge debts for younger generations adding that indigenous engineers would be sidelined in the project execution, a situation that would be inimical to national growth.
AFFORDABLE HOUSING SUMMIT
The Affordable Housing Summit organised by the ministry in collaboration with German Development Cooperation (GIZ) took place in June, 2016.
The theme of the Summit, “Developing a Blueprint for Affordable Housing Delivery in Nigeria”, was meant to kick-start the National Housing Programme.
The minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola said after the review of some methods for implementing the National Housing Policy, such as initiatives by the Federal Housing Authority and Public Private Partnership (PPP) through Development Lease Agreements (DLAs) that it discovered that there are better ways of attaining affordable housing.
He said that the ministry’s internal reappraisal revealed that since inception of FHA 40 years ago that it had built about 40,000 housing units adding that the DLAs and PPPs over a decade, under the Construction Finance Initiative which targeted delivery of 21,008 housing units have so far delivered 2,750 completed units.
Fashola also revealed his intention to adopt Foam Work technology for quicker methods of building in a bid to reduce the over 17 million housing deficit in the country.
This, he said, was necessary given that the current methods of building is slow, saying that there is a need to embrace the new technology to produce housing in large numbers.
According to him, “The foam work allows us to build blocks of flats of about four floors in eight weeks and bungalows in about two to four weeks but we need to create a design.”
He revealed that one set of foam work could be adopted for three different designs such as bungalow; blocks of flat, among others, saying that foam work could only be feasible after standardisation of designs.
FMBN, FHA PARLEY
The Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) in collaboration with Federal Housing Authority (FHA) has set out a marshal plan to deliver 30, 000 housing units at the cost of N9 billion to Nigerians before end of May 2017, with an estimated 2 million jobs nationwide.
FMBN is expected to provide funding for housing development on land banks held by FHA nationwide which targets low-cost housing for the mass market.
This initiative which is in line with President Buhari’s directive on building one million housing units annually across the 36 states including, FCT would be facilitated through FMBN and FHA joint committee on inter agency collaboration for housing delivery.
FMBN recently commissioned a 252-unit FMBN/ Lape housing estate, developed by Lape construction services limited under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement with Platinum Mortgage Bank as well as similar projects in other states.
The joint projects with FHA are yet to be completed, making the May deadline unrealistic.
Meanwhile, in January 2017, FMBN yesterday signed a $2 billion Memorandum of Agreement (MoU) with Shelter Afrique and Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria (REDAN) for housing development across the country.
The immediate past managing director of FMBN, Mr Richard Esin noted that the agreement was timely saying that a lot of reforms were introduced at the bank to enhance its performance.
Esin noted that the housing scheme when commenced is expected to create about 150, 000 jobs.
35th AGM/ INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM
The 35th Annual General Meeting and International Symposium of Shelter Afrique, organised by the ministry in June 2016, climaxed into the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Shelter Afrique and Real Estate Development Association (REDAN) to provide affordable housing in Nigeria.
Shelter Afrique is the only pan-African finance institution that exclusively supported the development of the housing and real estate sector in Africa.
There, Buhari disclosed the intention of his administration to commence direct housing supply across the six geo-political zones as part of strategic intervention measures to ameliorate the 17 million housing deficit in urban areas.
Speaking on the theme, ‘Housing Africa’s low Income Urban Population’, he noted that the comprehensive housing programme would guarantee middle and low income earners access to the housing units through targeted mortgage and off-takers arrangement.
Represented by the minister of FCT, Mallam Mohammed Bello, he enjoined Shelter Afrique and other development partners to invest more in the Nigerian housing sector as a way of deepening the vibrancy of the Nigerian housing market.
With different programmes targeted towards ameliorating the housing deficit, the onus lies on the federal government to eliminate the bottlenecks like Land Use Act, foreclosure law and titling process militating against affordable housing to enable increased private sector participation in the sector.