by Kingsley Adegboye
The Minister of Power,Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has said that the federal government would liaise with state governments to construct its mass housing estates in suitable locations that would be acceptable to residents of each state.
Fashola who made this known during the inspection of road projects in Lagos state last weekend, noted that the federal government would rely on the state governments to provide land for the schemes in locations acceptable to the residents of the states who would be the end users.
According to him, “Our housing scheme has to pass through test and acceptability, to determine if the people like what we we have done and whether their locations are acceptable by the people. If it passes that test, the next step is that, can they afford it? Because even if they can afford it but we put it in a place they don’t like, they won’t live there”, the Minister said.
He cited some housing estates on the way to Jalingo, Taraba state, as one of the examples of abandoned housing projects because people did not like the location, pointing out that acceptability can only be tested where there is local content and a collaboration between the Federal Controllers of Housing in each state with the governors.
Citing two different scenarios where in Ekiti, the residents were not interested in living on the outskirts of the city and Oyo where the residents didn’t mind living in a similar location, Fashola said “What is sauce for one state, is honey for the other. That is the diversity we talk about in terms of acceptability, and that is why we have to rethink our situation in Ekiti and the governor has said he will relocate us”, he said.
He stated that although, the federal government had spent money to begin the housing estate which needed relocation in Ekiti, the gains were immeasurable when houses were cited in locations pleasing to end users. He condemned media reports against a Federal Controller of Housing in Ekiti who was innocent of the choice of an initial location not acceptable to residents.
“I want to use this opportunity to talk about this issue that arose about the location of the land. It was not the fault of the Controller. He didn’t choose where they located it, only the governor has the responsibility for that. I read a report saying that I berated the Controller. I think that was unkind. The Controller involved was not the Controller for Works.
“The Controller for Works, Engr. Hezekiah Kehinde, whom they said I berated is one of the most outstanding Controllers we have and I think it was an unkind cut not only to have mis-stated the story but to have published it in such a way to suggest that a public officer was incompetent”, he said.
According to the Minister, the media house involved should retract the false publication and tender a public apology to Kehinde, adding that the housing programme was going to speed up development in all states across the federation.
“Every state understands the value of housing to its domestic economy. The dignity that it gives to its residents, the shelter, the sense of belonging that it gives them when it is finally done. Then the taxes that it generates for the state in terms of property tax and the employment it generates. In every state we construct residential estate, it is the residents of the state who get employed”, Fashola said.