By Mike Effiong
The Federal Government has defended property developers over the high cost of housing in Nigeria.
Ms Ama Pepple, Minister of Land, Housing and Urban Development, stated that housing could not come cheap as a result of high cost of land acquisition.
She said the high cost of housing in the country was due to huge funds that were involved in land purchase.
She spoke at the official commissioning of 106 housing units built by Crown Realities Plc.
The cost of the unit housing at the estate, christened Crown Court, ranges from N52.5 milion to N85 million, depending on the type.
Pepple said “I know they paid N300 million for land in the estate so we would not be surprised if the prices of the unit of house are high.”
She defended the right of every individual in the country to own any house provided such individual could afford it.
“Though we are pressing for the low income earners, we will not stop people building houses for the higher income group. We will continue to press for low income earners. Those who also buy expensive houses are Nigerians, if they can afford the money, I cannot stop them from buying houses.”
The minister re-emphasised the administration’s focus on housing sector as contained in the Vision 20:2020 programme and the transformation agenda.
Mr. Dan Ozu, who is the executive officer of Crown Realities Plc, blamed government for unwholesome practices in land allocation, a situation he linked with the high cost of housing. He said that the set of building in the estate was not built for low income earners. Noting that there was no way housing could be cheap in the country in view of the high cost of land.
He said, “There are three layers in housing delivery sector, the low, the middle and the high income earners, all over the world. The highest population is the low income people and if you want to make houses for them, as it is being done across the world, you need some kind of subsidy.
“This may not be in form of money; it could be in form of giving lands. The subsidy can also come in from building of access roads and provision of portable water if you have those things you could now work out how to manage other cost to bring the cost of building you are producing down.”
He however, regretted that the county had not gotten it right in the area of coming up with desirable housing policy, stressing that the only opportunity offered through National Housing Policy (NHP) scheme was burgled and tainted by structural defect.
“We have not got it right in the housing sector in the country. The opportunity we missed especially is the National Housing Fund. What I had advocated at that time was that the NHF should not have banking relationship between government and individual it should have been bankers with individual, Primary Mortgage Institutions(PMI) would have been able to chose and relate with their customers in a mutually beneficial manner,” he said.