According to the National Housing Policy 2012, Housing has been universally accepted as the second most important essential human need. The right to adequate housing is considered a core human right. Housing rights were first universally codified on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted and proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1948.
Housing, in all its ramifications, is more than mere shelter, since it embraces all the social services and utilities that go to make a community or neighbourhood a liveable environment. The problems of housing in Nigeria are enormous and complex, exhibiting marked regional differences. Furthermore, the challenges faced by the rapid rate of uncontrolled and unplanned urban growth are immense. Millions of people live in sub-standard and sub-human environment characterized by slum, squalor and grossly inadequate social amenities.
The Policy further made it clear that, the provision of adequate housing that is safe, secure, accessible, affordable and sanitary is a fundamental human right, as enshrined in the United Nations Habitat Agenda – the global call on human settlements. Housing has been universally accepted as the second most important human need. It is a basic need for human survival and an essential component to the advancement of the quality of life of the citizenry. This universally accepted fact has been acknowledged by successive Nigerian Governments, as evident from the pockets of uncoordinated initiatives and programmes in mass housing development over the years. Despite these efforts, housing delivery remains a major challenge.
Housing is defined as the process of providing safe, comfortable, attractive, functional affordable and identifiable shelter in a proper setting within a neighbourhood, supported by continuous maintenance of the built environment for the daily living activities of individuals/families within the community while reflecting their socio-economic, cultural aspirations and preferences. In addition, housing includes the sustainability attributes of energy efficiency and resource conservation for improved quality of life. This definition is more applicable and acceptable to piecemeal housing. National Housing problems cannot be solved through piecemeal housing. This definition however remains valid as long as individuals continue to build their own houses.
The housing sector is the bedrock of the economy of developed nations. In the more advanced economies like the United States of America, Great Britain and Canada, this sector contributes between 30% and 70% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Investment in housing accounts for 15% to 35% of aggregate investment worldwide. This sector employs approximately 10% of Labour Force worldwide. The housing sector in Nigeria contributes an insignificant 0.38% to its GDP. The rise to become the greatest of the advanced economies was on the tide of housing development.
To further drive its point the National Housing Policy states that, homeownership is a measure of household wealth and GDP. It is generally accepted that the standard of housing in a nation indexes its effective economic development; standard of living and its height of civilization.
The housing sector has the potential to generate employment, increase productivity, raise standard of living and alleviate poverty. It also has the capacity to reduce crime rate, insurrections, militancyand terrorism, and substantially address wealth distribution as well as security concerns. It is able to achieve this because investment in housing affects all facets of our life through its multiplier effect on economic development through forward linkages to the financial markets and backward linkages to land, building materials, tools, furniture and labour markets. An example is that the construction of a medium sized (2/3 bedrooms) bungalow is capable of directly creating employment for an average of 76 workers. The number goes up significantly when the forward and backward linkages are factored into the process. Therefore for a 1000 housing units scheme of two bedroom bungalows, 76,000 workers will be engaged for a period of between 12-18 months.
Accordingly, if in a year we build a 1000-housing unit estate in each of the 36 States of the Federation and FCT, we would create a workforce of 2,815,000 per annum. This labour force consists of all professionals in the built environment as well as skilled and unskilled labour, namely: Bricklayers, Plumbers, Carpenters, Tilers, Iron benders, Painters, Diggers, Excavators, Electricians, Suppliers of materials, Furniture makers, Food vendors, Block moulders, Security men, Drivers, Horticulturists, Gardeners, etc. These are the group that the 2016 budget mentioned as its target in its provision for social services and job creation, and which as much as 500 Billion Naira is provided.
At the Presidential Job Creation Submit held on 12th April 2011, the National Economic Management Team (NEMT) declared that through the construction of 5,000 housing units in each State of the Federation, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), 14,000,000 Jobs will be created in 12 to 18 months.
The above submissions are from no other, but the content of the National Housing Policy 2012.
Meanwhile, in its Change Agenda, the All Progressives Congress (APC) presented its manifesto to Nigerians in 2013. The manifesto stated that, it is presently officially accepted that the housing deficit in the country is in the neighbourhood of 17 million units, and the population is growing at about 3.5 percent. It also stated that, immediate steps must be taken to tackle the problem and give Nigerians appropriate affordable housing.
What it pledged to accomplish to Nigerians if voted into power was that, APC will see to the emergence of one million housing units per annum, both by direct social housing programmes and through support to private sector developers. To enhance this programme, land allocation, infrastructure support and cheaper credit will be pursued. The manifesto further stated that it is believed that this programme will bring into place about 30 million jobs nationwide annually. The implementation will extend beyond residential homesteads to university hostels and barracks for uniform services.
The manifesto emphatically stated that APC will conceive this programme to bring relief and comfort to individuals and families facing severe difficulties in their effort to meet challenges of ever increasing rents and the pressure of some shylock landlords.
Having attained the first year anniversary of coming to power of the APC Government of Change, there is the need for stock taking.In order to achieve the goals and objectives of the National Housing Policy 2012 and the APC manifesto 2013, going by their contents,the housing sector in Nigeria deserve to be given a full pledged Federal Ministry.
The current situation where Housing is merged with Power and Works which each also has its herculean demand calls for a serious review. Based on the precarious situation we now face, with epileptic power supply and very poor roads and other infrastructure all over the country, each of these sister sectors of Power, Works and Housing, deserve their individual and special attention.The housing sector is not receiving, and will not receive the desired attention as conceived by both the National Housing Policy and the APC Manifesto, until these very important sectors go their separate ways.
Apart from the above, the need to separate ministry of Housing from Power have to do with the number of agencies and departments under the watch of 1 senior minister. If you compare other ministries that were merged like interior, all the paramilitary institutions like immigration, Prison, Police, Fire service, Road safety etc provide similar role: Internal security and statutory agencies with their heads having statutory powers to act without interference from the minister.
On power, Works and Housing, there are many agencies with basic but diverse goals. The Agencies wait for the Ministry to give them direction. More so those agencies need a drive to do things diffrently if government want to deliver on “CHANGE AGENDA”.
As the preparation for the largest Stakeholders forum – Abuja Housing Show take place in July 18th – 20th 2016, It is our hope that deliberations (not talkshow) among stakeholders – Profesionals, Government officials, Businness men, Legislators will come up with a way forward to put Housing into the priority of Government.
BY: Tpl Umar Shuaib & Bar. Festus Adebayo