Land Use Act, Politics Threaten FG N200bn Social Housing Project
Housing industry experts have pointed out that the Land Use Act, politicking, and individual interests are potential threats to the Federal Government’s ambitious plan to deliver 300,000 housing units throughout the nation’s 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
The project, which has attracted N200 billion from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), is packaged under the National Social Housing Programme (NSHP) and piloted by Family Homes Funds Limited (FHFL).
The project was unveiled to reduce the nation’s housing deficit, arguably ranging between 17 and 22 million.
Although the housing conditions of Nigerians have progressively worsened, as the number of deficits has been on the rise since the nation gained independence, the federal and state governments have, however, been unveiling several housing plans.
But these efforts have been far from meeting the target.
Experts have said that more than 50 percent of Nigeria’s populations live in slums.
Even then, those who could find accommodation in single rooms and in slums are considered luckier.
In most Nigerian towns, such as Lagos and Abuja, a teeming population could be seen sleeping in market stalls, motor parks, uncompleted buildings and under bridges.
The groups mostly affected are the low-income earners and an army of the unemployed who can hardly afford the escalating cost of accommodation.
Indeed, there are houses but most residential units are far from the reach of low-income earners, hence the landscape of many cities in the country is adorned with empty houses.
And, as part of the ways to address the rising deficit, the Federal Government, last year, launched the NSHP.
Already, the company said it had engaged with 36 states and the FCT to provide land with adequate infrastructure for the NSHP.
“We are addressing the Nigerian housing deficit by providing accessible financing for affordable housing projects that align closely with the New Urban Agenda and the global goals promoting sustainable cities and communities, reduced poverty, good health and well-being, clean water, sanitation, decent work, economic growth, and reduced inequalities.
“We partner with developers and direct finance institutions that meet our strategic objectives,” Femi Adewole, Managing Director, FHFL, said.
But fears are rife that this initiative may fail like what happened under the Shehu Shagari-led administration.
“Under President Shagari, Nigeria had the fourth national development plan.
“Most of the state governments and parastatals which benefited from the housing programme of the National Party of Nigeria-controlled Federal Government failed to complete the houses.
“These abandoned projects litter the landscape of the country, overgrown with weeds,” Jagun Stephen, an estate surveyor and valuer, said.
Jagun noted that former President Shagari had good intention but that politics and the Land Use Act truncated it.
According to him, “The issue is that until we remove politics and hidden agenda from policies, as a nation, we will not make progress.
“Shagari wanted to do mass construction of low-cost housing, so all the opposing parties teamed up to frustrate that plan.
“Some of the state governors gave inaccessible landed property to the Federal Government.
“Yes, they built those houses, but those houses remain abandoned till tomorrow because of the way the Land Use Act is structured.”
He said as professional estate surveyors and valuers, they had always been calling for a repeal of the Act because the Act would continue to constitute an obstacle to the mass housing programme, irrespective of the political party in government.
When reminded that the CBN had already voted N200 billion for the project, signalling a strong possibility of its success, the estate surveyor and valuer countered and said: “If you have N200 billion, but the site given to you is not productive, as a businessman, will you take such site.”
Jagun said many states were not serious about the project because they were just paying lip-service for personal interest.
“It is unfortunate that some governors key into this project to take their own share of the cake.
“Some will make it a party affair, and if that happens, half of the money will not go into the project and the contractor won’t be touched because he or she is a party man,” he added.
Adetokunbo Ajayi, Managing Director, Propertygate Development and Investment Plc, who noted that the FHFL’s 300,000 housing initiative was shrouded in secrecy, said housing was not just erecting brick and mortar.
“Under Shagari, a similar thing was done but it ended up as a waste.
“Housing is driven by demand. There must be a demand before the supply.
“If you build in a remote area, do the people around the area have the capacity to buy the property?
“Or are you dashing out the property? Is it a national largess? That state governments are donating lands is not enough; we need to find out how functional and accessible those lands are to the eventual buyers.
“For me, I am very sceptical about the whole arrangement. The problem of housing is not construction and not mainly land, but the problem of housing is majorly access to funding,” the real estate chief added.Source: Independent.ng
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