By Yinka Kolawole
In a bid to boost housing delivery in Nigeria, the federal government has been called upon to benchmark its land administration with countries that have succeeded in land reforms and liberalisation.
Executive Director, Estate Services, Federal Housing Authority (FHA), Mr. Bello Issa, made the call at the recently concluded 11th Lagos Housing Fair, in Lagos. “As applicable in other southern and northern African countries, a major breakthrough in housing development and delivery will require the federal and state land authorities to relax the conditions for land acquisition and an amendment to the FHA’s enabling laws to give it powers to acquire land from communities and, based on agreements reached, little or no compensation may be required to pay; design the layout and bring in private developers to do the infrastructure,” he stated.
Issa laid the challenges of efficient housing provision in the country on the process of land acquisition. “Land, which is the primary ingredient in any housing development, is currently difficult to access. Insecurity of rights, lengthy and expensive land transactions coupled with the lack of serviced lands increase the cost of construction, which in turn makes affordable housing difficult,” he added.
In a paper titled, “Access to Land and Housing Delivery: FHA’s Thinking”, Issa listed other challenges affecting housing provision to include poor implementation of government policies and intervention strategies, absence of finance and mortgage systems, and poor mode of construction and technical issues. He also cited the absence of the right technology in mass housing delivery as another hindrance to effective housing delivery, adding that lack of an enabling environment for construction materials industries to thrive has resulted in mass importation of building materials, which affects the cost of housing delivery and affordability.
The FHA director agreed with other stakeholders that the Land Use Act needed to be reviewed to introduce more flexibility in land acquisition and administration. Speaking in the same vein, Mr. Segun Ajanlekoko, President, Association of Professional Bodies of Nigeria (APBN), said there was need to develop a new blue print for the construction sector in order to tackle the challenges in housing delivery.
According to him, four major changes are required – review of Land Use Act of 1978; easy access to title documentation; establishment of construction bank and; establishment of construction industry board. “Eminent Nigerians have been advocating for the review of Land Use Act. The land policy has been one of the greatest impediments to functional housing provisions,” he said.
He also noted that re-orientation of Nigeria’s architectural flair that could design a functional housing rather than elitists’ designs would go a long way in solving accommodation problem. According to him, “a new design concept is needed. What we need is a house that has bathroom, toilet and bedroom for the common man. With this at the back of our mind, we can provide one million housing units yearly.”
Ajanlekoko also noted that professionals in the building industry have been advocating for the establishment of the bank for a long time, adding that its existence would go a long way in making funds available for the people “since the current mortgage facilities are out of reach of the masses.” He added that establishing a construction industry board would enhance the activities of the stakeholders in Nigeria. “That was what happened in Malaysia that made them to export their skills to other countries today. We need to create specialised fund for construction companies,” he noted.