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Captured in the speech of the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola, points highlighted showed that the housing sector presents an economy opportunity for positively impacting the economy to promote not only growth but inclusion.

There have been a couple of national housing policies that the ministry intends to appraise, and the most current one is to make changes in the sector only when necessary.

But beyond a policy, what is important is consistency of implementation according to the minister, when he recently held the maiden press briefing in Abuja.

To achieve major aspects of his objectives, Fashola said the government will lead the aggressive intervention to increase supply, by undertaking construction of the public housing and formulate policies that will invariably lead to private sector participation and ownership to reduce our housing deficit.

About the housing deficit, the minister stated that they have to be certain about the actual figure before attending to it. “We are mindful of some numbers the size of housing deficit. Those numbers need to be verified and we will undertake a process of scientific assessment to define the accuracy of that data as well as the actual demand.

“But what those numbers do for us, no matter how big they are is that they define the journey for us.

On how strategic planning and consistency could solve housing issues, the minister cited a country as small as Singapore with about 3million people that have consistently implemented a home ownership programme since 1960 and has accommodated 80% of their population in 2013.

This, thus, have mandated the ministry to hint to Nigerians that, “if we can spend N10billion in each in each state and the FCT on housing alone every year subject to (a) the capacity to raise money and (b) the capacity to utilize the funds, having regards to our current construction methods and the time it take to complete construction, which our ministry intends to change by research and industrialization of housing.

“If we achieve this, we will move from where we are now, start construction in all 36 states and the FCT and sustain this as we go along,” his statement read.

Other considerations regarding the buildings, there’s been a continuous debate about whether the houses should be “affordable,” whether it should be “low cost,” whether it should be “social” or whether it should be “mass housing”.

Fashola said, “As for the meaning of “ affordable”, “social” or “low cost” we intend to contend a national survey and get feedback from our people as to what they want to pay and whether it is possible.

“But we must be clear that sustainability is critical to solving the problem. One component of sustainability is that we must be able to repeat what we do, which means that we must recover the cost of houses, even if there is no profit, so that we can build more.

“There will be no sustainability If we sell below our cost price. Therefore we must agree about who is entitled to a house and what type of house their income entitles them to.

“We must also decide whether those who have no income can legitimately expect to own a home, without abdicating our responsibility as a government to increase the capacity of the economy to employ more people.

“These are questions to which our national survey will be directed and honest answers will help provide guidance for us to give you what you want, and not what we think you want,” he said.

Away from affordability, the ministry also resolved that through construction, it is expected to address economic commitments of change by stimulating jobs across the states, especially for low income people like bricklayers, welders, carpenters, plumbers, vendors, who live on the margins of our society.

The ministry is also considering the re-design of existing housing Roof types to make ready to receive solar panels from electricity without damaging the roof or cause leakage during installation.

Their projections have it that if success is recorded, this will open  new vista foe local manufacture of solar panels, create jobs at manufacturing, distributorship and installation levels especially for technicians , as we have seen with cable TV, which would not have happened without privatization if all of us were still watching state owned television.

Fashola later indicated that if our on-going projects is completes, and they get land from the Governors in all states and the FCT to start what have been conceptualized using Lagos Homes model, then it will be possible to start 40 Blocks of Housing in each state and FCT.

To achieve this, Fashola said “ We expect the State Governors to play a critical role here, by providing land of between 5-10 hectares for a start, with the documents, and access roads or in lieu of access roads, a commitment that they will build the access roads by the time the houses are completed.

“We see this leading to potentials delivery of 12 flats (homes) per block and 480 flats per state, and 17,760 flats nationwide, for a start.

He added, “This will mean at a minimum of 4 doors and 2 windows per home; a demand for 71,040 Doors and 35,520 windows nationwide in year one, which we will encourage to be made in Nigeria. These figures are not only examples and not fixed in definition and they are subject first to budgetary approvals and availability of finance.

“The  demand for those who will make and fix the doors and windows, the hinges, the wood polish and the paint and tiles suggest the onset of the job and change for our artisans and workers who are the real builders of every economy,” he said.

The sector has also created job for many as the minister also claims that his experience in Lagos was that about every one hectare of land where it was possible to build 8-10 blocks of houses, at least One thousand people got employed.

The Minister lastly pointed, “If we achieve our goals, by transparent procurement process as we intend to, by focusing on good governance and getting value for money in government spending, incidents of corruption will become isolated and scandalous in a regime of laws and order; and we will have delivered on the anti-corruption leg of the change agenda.

Source: Housing News & Nigerian Pilot

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