By Jude Njoku
The move by the Federal Government to revitalise the housing and urban development sector through the development of social housing schemes, has received the backing of estate surveyors and valuers.
The land professionals who were at the public hearing organised by the Senate on May 28, lent their weight behind the move which they said, is overdue if housing for all by the year 2020 would be actualised.
Giving further insight into why estate surveyors who have always held the view that the private sector is better equipped to provide housing, are backing the social housing scheme, the President of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers, NIESV, Mr. Emeka Eleh explained that it will guarantee equitable distribution of housing and ensure that every Nigerian is properly housed.
His words: “We submitted a memo to the National Assembly and were at the public hearing to support that move. We believe that if you are talking of housing for all in this country, there is no way there won’t be a social housing component. The Federal Housing Authority, FHA was meant to provide social housing. That is not the case anymore because most of the houses are overpriced.
“You cannot have an equitable society without providing for those who don’t have and that is where social housing comes in. All the government needs is to follow what they have done before. If FHA was meant to provide social housing, then it should allow FHA or grant them the enablement to provide housing at a cost that is manageable”.
Continuing, Mr. Eleh noted that although estate surveyors and valuers believe that housing is better driven by the private sector, “we also appreciate the fact that to enable equitable distribution of these housing to ensure that everybody is housed, there must be an element of social housing that would be encouraged by the government”.
The NIESV boss further buttressed his arguments with examples which he called on the 774 local government areas in the country to toe. “It is like that all over the world. In England, we have the Council flats, every where, you have all manner of social housing component. If all the local government areas which are nearer to the people can say, every year, we will add 100 units, if that had been done in the past ten years, it means that these LGAs would have added 1,000 housing units to their LGAs.
“Because these LGAs are closer to the people, they would be in a better position to allocate the houses to those who need them on a social basis So, we believe in social housing because it will ultimately lead to a more equitable society where everybody has a home and nobody is under the bridge,” he said.
Asked what he considered appropriate pricing for social housing, the NIESV President said: “The price of a property has many components -there is the component of infrastructural cost, interest cost, land cost, construction cost and cost of raw materials. What the government needs to do is to create an enabling environment that can make some of these things easier. If you are doing an estate in Ajah for instance, by the time you do the roads and do the drains and get power line to Ajah, that’s about 30 percent of the cost of the house.”