HOUSING is a basic necessity of man. Indeed, all over the world, progressive and people-oriented governments make housing a major consideration of their development policies as its adequate provision makes a beneficial impact on the well-being of the people.
Considering the importance globally attached to housing provision, it is unfortunate hat Nigeria’s housing profile since independence leaves much to be desired. Successive governments over the years have failed woefully to attend to this basic need of the citizenry in spite of several promises made during political campaigns and speeches by government officials.
The unfortunate consequence of this is that a significant proportion of Nigerian population is currently either not housed or living in accommodation that is far from decent or habitable.
Currently, Nigeria’s housing is put at 17 million, which translates to about 10 per cent of Nigeria’s estimated 170 million people. Yet it has been repeatedly argued by those in the position to know that government will continue to flounder in its quest to tackle the multi-faceted problems crippling the nation’s economy until it squarely addresses the prevailing housing challenges. A former President of the Nigerian Institute of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV), Mr. Bode Adediji, is of the conviction that government’s neglect of the housing, property and production sectors is responsible for our inability to revamp the ailing economy after many years of trying.
Against this backdrop, we feel strongly that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government should revisit the issue of housing and effectively address its challenges. This, it can begin by accelerating the process of the land reforms.
A major impediment to the construction of houses in Nigeria is the high cost of land. In fact, it is estimated that Nigeria requires 17 million plots of land to meet its 17 million housing units need. To make this estimated land available for housing development government should make haste in ensuring that the Land Use Act on which the reforms are based is amended to remove every form of impediment.
There is also a need to make funding more accessible to qualified individuals through a sustainable mortgage system. Government, in partnership with professional private developers, should embark on mass housing programmes and plug in citizens to pay over a period and become homeowners.
The current grinding efforts of people embarking on building their own houses saps the middle and lowers classes of savings and generally predisposes people to corruption.
The entire housing approach in Nigeria has to change in tandem with best practices from around the world, whereby citizens can have easy access to housing and pay over time, irrespective of their economic stations.
BY VANGUARD EDITORIAL