The Senate President, Mr. David Mark, has tasked the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) on the need to embark on social housing schemes in order to accommodate the housing needs of the masses.
At the recent commissioning of a housing estate project under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) initiative between FHA and Locke International Limited, a private developer, in Lagos, Mark called for appropriate policies that would enable government provide houses for the poor under a social housing scheme.
He faulted the practice of concentrating the development of government housing in urban centres, noting that a government agency like the FHA must be able to forge the delicate balance between meeting the tough demands of the high end with the less privileged, warning that it may degenerate to social turbulence if the poor are not adequately taken care of.
â€œOne has noticed that much of the efforts in recent years have been concentrated on providing houses in the few urban centres like Abuja, Lagos, Kano, Port Harcourt and other places where there appears to be ready markets.
The logic that informs such choices is to say the least, faulty. Housing needs exist all over the country, both in the urban centres and in the most remote communities. Our duty as government is to evolve policies that best satisfy the yearnings of our people wherever they may reside or whatever may be their social status.
â€œThe completion of this estate on schedule is evidence that the public private partnership option may yet be the way forward for our nation in the revival of our decayed infrastructure.
We make no mistake about it-the private sectorâ€™s efficiency in the management of time and resources as well as its quick access to funds are advantages that we must leverage to hasten the pace of our development efforts,â€ he stated.
The Senate President also remarked that the mortgage sector, as it presently operates in the country, does not enable easy access.
â€œIf we must make progress in the direction of providing housing for all our people, then, of course, we must strengthen and liberalise the mortgage sector.
The advantage is that many of those living in rental houses today would still pay as much as they are paying as rent with the only difference being that they would be paying towards the eventual ownership of their houses,â€ he asserted.
He, however, pledged to facilitate the acceleration of the draft bill, currently pending before the National Assembly, to amend the enabling law of FHA with a view to removing all encumbrances to the fulfillment of its mandate, in addition to a commitment by the federal government to review the current land tenure system noting that lack of access to land has been a major obstacle to those seeking to build their houses.