By Yinka Kolawole
Shelter is one of the basic human needs. It protects people from the physical elements and provides security and a sense of belonging. Against this background, a call has gone to governments at different levels in Nigeria to initiate legislation that will guarantee citizens right to housing.
Chief Executive and Senior Partner of Biodun Olapade and Co., a firm of estate surveyors, Chief Biodun Olapade, recently made the call in a media chat. According to him, the bane of housing in Nigeria is the lack of political will by leader to make housing a right rather than a priviledge.
He called for an overhaul of the nation’s mortgage system, noting that housing actualisation indices, such as land, finance, labour and building materials should be critically appraised by the government with a view to ensuring that the right policies are formulated to make them germane for mass housing production.
“Our leaders do not have the political will to make housing a right. The various Houses of Assembly and the National Assembly should enact a law that makes housing a right and not just privilege. There are so many policies on ground, but they have not been approved.
Housing as rental or as owner-occupier is not a right; it is a privilege, so the people are subjected to the sentiment of those in government. But if it is a law, the policy of government will follow the law; the other things which are indices of housing will be in place.
“For instance, land is not accessible; neither is it affordable irrespective of the enactment of the Land Use Act of No 6 of 1978 which vests all land on state governors – it is just on paper.
The governors are not in control of it. There are some land allocation you get from the government – you pay to the government and at the same time they tell you to go and settle the ‘Omo-oniles’ (natives).
“Again the various sites acquired, there is no sincerity of purpose on the part of those that acquired them. They just rob Peter to pay Paul without giving Peter anything. So, when they acquire from the people who own the land from ancestral times, they allocate it to those in the corridors of power.
The poor and commoners are neglected. The low income earners are not considered. So, land should not only be accessible, it should be affordable.
“The kind of money people pay as rents to landlords can be used to amortize the mortgage loan; you know that at the end of the day the house belongs to you. So until there is an effective mortgage system on a single digit, home ownership will not be achieved by a majority of the people.
“The same thing applies to the issue of building materials. Building materials are so expensive and there is so much over dependence on imported building materials, when our Naira is so weak. So it ends up in people’s hands at exorbitant prices.
So, let us encourage the use of locally produced materials, like burnt bricks that can be easily produced from the raw materials in abundance. A lot of things are wrong in the building materials sector,” he said.