As Nigerians look forward to celebrating Democracy Day, housing experts have scored President Muhammadu Buhari’s one year regime low.
In another five days, May 29 precisely, the Federal Government will be rolling out the drums to celebrate ‘Democracy Day’ being a day that the country finally returned to civil rule. Besides, it also marks one year of President Buhari’s administration in office.
While both federal and state governments are preparing for the celebration in the midst of slumping economy occasioned by the plunge in oil revenue, forex restriction, naira devaluation and hike in fuel pump price, housing experts insisted that the president’s performance in their sector has been dismal.
For many built environment experts who spoke with New Telegraph, apart from the roadmap presented by the Federal Government, there is no activity that took place as far as housing delivery, mortgage provision and road infrastructure are concerned.
They also expressed worries over the huge number of abandoned road projects and the inability of government to pay contractors for the works already executed.
Although, government had, a few weeks ago, announced its intention to release N350 billion into critical sectors of the economy, which include road and real estate sectors, the experts said they were yet to see any industry that has received the pledge.
Taking a critical look at the housing sector during the period under review, Chairman, H.O.B. Housing Estate, Akure, Chief Olusegun Bamgbade, said that government seemed to have a good roadmap for housing and infrastructure delivery, judging from the 2016 budget provisions.
“Though nothing serious has been identified in this regard since the government came on board, however, there is hope in site,” he said. If within the next one year, Nigerians are yet to see any spectacular progress on housing and infrastructure provisions, he said they could come out to condemn the authorities for non-performance.
“As a matter of fact, we need to exercise a little patience with this government. Going by the body language of the president and the pedigree of the vice president, in conjunction with the crop of ministers in the cabinet, I see a ray of hope in the future in all spheres of the economy,” he said.
On his part, Managing Director, Xpress Property Services Ventures Limited, Mr. Olusegun Allan Alli, said: “I can cautiously say nothing much of clear significance has been done in this sector, at least, yet to be publicly disclosed.”
He blamed the situation on delays in approving the 2016 budget and also flayed the government for the financial plan adjournment, saying it was not an acceptable excuse for a government, which is now one year in power considering the obvious deficit in affordable housing.
Alli said: “I am afraid, not much is there to place on an assessment scale so far. Same goes for infrastructural development. Therefore, I will suggest that these questions be deferred to probably six months into the release of budgeted funds for these purposes.”
Lull in property market
The clampdown on corruption and money laundering freeze the cash that ought to have been invested in the real estate business during this period.
Consequently, residential and non-residential building markets registered sluggish growth due to the anti-graft crusade. Many houses belonging to former public office holders under probe were sealed by officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). These developments created panic in the housing market, as prospective buyers withdrew patronage.
Managing Director, Financial Derivative Company, Mr Bismarck Rewane, noted that the Eko Atlantic City and major ongoing commercial/office projects such as shopping centres, struggled to gain attraction, as domestic and international investors adopted a wait-and-see approach to their projects. A Lagos-based estate surveyor and valuer, Chief Kola Akomolede, said that the lull in property market would continue due to low disposable income of ‘honest’ people.
There was no serious mortgage activity in the first quarter of the year, as little was heard of the much-flaunted Nigerian Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC). The underdeveloped mortgage market is considered to be a hurdle to both developers and house seekers.
The domestic mortgage industry is currently underdeveloped and credit is expensive, with interest rates averaging around 30 per cent, according to a recent report published by the African Development Bank.
Most estimates suggest that only around 20 per cent of the population participate in the formal banking sector, with the remaining 80 per cent dealing almost entirely in cash.
Jagun implored the president to deliberately allocate funds to the provision of low-income housing to revamp the economy. Besides, he wants the restructuring of the mortgage system to enhance easy access, low-interest and home-ownership for Nigerians.
Regarding what needs to be done by the government to achieve a more impacting infrastructural and mass housing policies, Alli said there was need to explore partnership with the private sector especially in area of workable Public-Private Partnership (PPP) so as to reduce the burden on government’s expenditure.
This initiative, he explained, would ultimately expand house delivery to the masses with wider coverage and also activate competition by forcing down cost.
He said: “Government may need to directly or indirectly subsidise the various materials needed in the sector for both programmes since they are interrelated. Good road network, stable power, clean water is what makes up public infrastructures.
“The good news and hope is that higher funding have been provided for both programmes more than ever before in the current budgetary allocations.”
As government promised to release money to fund some of the critical sectors of the economy, implementation, execution and delivery of projects will play significant roles in its actualization of projects in the country’s roadmap for this critical sector.
By Dayo Ayeyemi