By Yinka Kolawole
About 129 million Nigerians, representing 86 percent of the estimated 150 million populace, cannot afford to own their own houses based on their regular income.
Minister of Land, Housing and Urban Development, Mr. Nduese Essien, who pointed this out recently, noted that the task of providing decent and affordable housing, planned development of cities and towns and the management of the nationâ€™s land resource is not easy, and that it is impossible for government alone to achieve.
â€œThe UN Human Development index shows that over 86 percent of Nigerians live on $2 or less per day. This translates to less than N10,000 a month. The implication of this is that over 86 percent of Nigerians cannot afford a house valued at N1.5 million even if they invested 100 percent of their earnings over a period of ten years. Obviously, this is a very unlikely scenario as no one can save 100 percent of their earnings,â€ he stated.
Essien also justified the separation of the Housing ministry from that of Works, saying: â€œIt is in consonance with the National Policy on Housing which explicitly states that housing is manâ€™s second most important need, next only to food. The same policy on housing also acknowledges that 90 percent Nigerians are of the poor and low income bracket.â€
He said that the apparent view of most Nigerians that the ministry had not done enough in housing delivery, urban renewal, slum-upgrading and land management may have prompted its earlier attachment to the Works ministry.
â€œThis may have led to the gradual loss of relevance as the ministry faded from a full-fledged to an appendage of the Works, Housing and Urban Development Ministry.
â€œWe should therefore commend the Acting President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, for showing so much foresight in restoring the ministry to its former status and use this opportunity to build houses for our people, create opportunities for our cities to grow and flourish and provide the basic opportunities for Nigerians to access land based on the provisions of the enabling laws,â€ he said.
On the incessant incidents of collapsed building in the country, Essien declared: â€œThe Federal Government will no longer tolerate a situation were innocent lives are lost due to the carelessness of developers. We have already dispatched a fact-finding team to Auchi, Edo State to ascertain what happened and recommend appropriate measures to deal with the problem. We would not hesitate to punish anybody found to have compromised the provisions of the National Building Code in the construction of public and private property.
â€œWe must also sound a note of warning to those charged with the supervision of construction work in the country to desist from approving structures and infrastructure that do not comply with the minimum standard in the industry.
â€œWe have the mandate to deliver quality and affordable houses to our people and we must not compromise the standard for any reason whatsoever. I challenge you to come up with a position that would help us deliver the dividends of democracy to our people.â€