By Kingsley Adegboye
The Chief Executive Officer of Redbricks Nigeria Limited; owners of Amen Estate, Mr. Babatunde Olalere Gbadamosi has called on governments at various tiers to remove all policy frameworks that impede the provision of affordable housing in the country.
Listing such impediments to include the prevailing Land Use Act, mounting cost of financing home ownership, negative attitude of personnel in relevant government agencies to practitioners in the building industry, the Amen Estate boss who appraised the building sub-sector of the economy last week in Lagos urged governments to consider taking urgent steps to reduce the cost of building projects financing by financial institutions.
He noted that for the country to achieve improved housing delivery, interest rates on development loans and mortgages must be single digit.
Gbadamosi stated that the prevailing regime where interest on loans to the housing sector is charged in double digits is not good enough for affordable housing delivery in the country. The Redbricks boss who described the Land Use Act as a law that has outlived it usefulness, said a review that would allow for free holding and mineral rights is long overdue.
According to him, the Nigerian economy has matured beyond the martial character of the Land Use Act and its draconian provisions in the area of restrictions on ownership of land in Nigeria.
“An urgent review of the Land Use Act needs to take place. Its provisions always had the tendency to be abused, and the abuses have become more frequent with the advent of the fourth Republic. I think the atmosphere is right now for full land ownership rights to be restored to the peoples of Nigeria” Gbadamosi said.
“ The power of life and death that the governors wield over land must be removed from them. This privilege has been abused. We have former governors who own half of their states in land. They couldn’t have achieved that if the people had the right to ownership of their land.
“That law is an anachronism at best, and at worst, is at the root of most of the agitation we see going on in the country today. That is not to say it was not once useful. It has outlived its usefulness though, and the people now need to be set free’’, he explained.
Gbadamosi stated further that the Act in its present form infringes on the right of the people to own their land, pointing out that there will be ceaseless litigations but economic activities would be enhanced if the people are given the right to freehold on their landed property.
In spite of the identified hiccups, he however believes that the property industry is growing in the country as players in the sub-sector are now helping would-be home owners overcome problems associated with building homes of their own. Another area where he called for total review is the process of approving building plans, which he said governments have misplaced by laying more emphasis on revenue rather than on the durability and how functional such proposed buildings can be.
This he said, accounts for the endless collapses of buildings as abound all over the place. ‘’Government supervision is no longer happening because Physical Planning Approval has been over-centralised. Planning needs to be localized. Local governments ought to be given responsibility over Physical Planning issues. I know people will be up in arms over this, because of capacity issues, but that capacity can be built, just as soon as the constitution can be amended to ensure that the rights of local governments as listed under Schedule 4 of the constitution will not be usurped again under any circumstances,” he said.