By Ben Agande
Abuja — PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, said the Federal Government was committed to revolutionalise the Housing sector by translating the National Housing Policy and National Urban Development Policy into a roadmap for housing development in the country.
Speaking at the Presidential Stakeholders Retreat on Housing and Urban Development at the Banquet Hall of State House, President Jonathan said reinvigorating as well as revitalizing the housing and urban development was a core priority of his administration.
According to the President,”these policies are to be translated into action through a roadmap for the Housing and Urban Development Sector. The roadmap will address the challenges of achieving a housing revolution in our nation, within the shortest possible time. It will also provide the pathway for transforming our cities into livable and functional human settlements.”
Emphasising the importance of cooperation of all stakeholders to achieve this objective, Jonathan called for concerted efforts at checking the national housing deficit which he said stood at between 16 and 17 million units.
He said: ”If this deficit is to be bridged, we must continue to seek ways to provide affordable housing, especially to the no-income, low-income, lower-medium income, and the informal, sector worker. A variety of housing delivery schemes, including social housing, rental schemes, regeneration and Housing cooperatives must be evaluated.
”We must also seriously concern ourselves with how we can meet the global benchmarks in housing building standards, proper land use and space standards and institutionalization of a vibrant mortgage system, based on long-term repayment terms.
”In the same manner, we must focus attention on how to overcome the issues of capacity gaps, poor quality of building materials, inappropriate technology and dearth of technological innovations, in support of mass housing delivery.”
Earlier in her presentation, Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Ms. Amal Pepple, said some of the challenges confronting the sector included lack of political will to unleash a housing revolution, policy inconsistencies, institutional inability, undue politicization, piece-meal strategy of housing delivery at the expense of mass housing development, and lack of ownership/title rights partly attributable to challenges associated with the implementation of the Land Use Act, 1978.
Others, she said, were poor land administration, little effort in computerizing state land registries, delay and high cost of processing land titles, cumbersome and slow foreclosure procedures, non-availability and high cost of constriction materials; low capacity of builders and developers and unprecedented urbanization, etc.
Also speaking, the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, noted that if the majority of Nigerians owned their home, it would considerably reduce the level of corruption in the country.
She said resolving issues in the housing sector did not depend on financing alone as Nigeria needed to add 23 million homes by 2020 to meet the supply gap or another 2.6 million homes a year.
The minister noted that delivering on this housing need would require more forceful action across four key areas, including simplifying the allocation of land title and the registration processes, identifying three to four bankable housing projects to deliver at least 1million houses next year
”Third, we cannot forget those who still will not be able to buy a house even if a mortgage facility is put in place.
The poor have a right to housing as well and the Minister of land and I are determined to come up with a low income housing solution for our country. Finally, let us consider what immediate regulatory actions are required from this government to underpin and facilitate Urban Development in Nigeria,” she added.