By Kingsley Adegboye
Against the backdrop of housing shortfall estimated at over 16 million units, a former military President, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd), has called on the government to provide affordable shelter to the vulnerable and low-income group.
The government, he said, should directly build decent but affordable homes for low-income earners who may not be able to build their own houses with the meagre salaries. The former military ruler who was the special guest of honour at the just concluded 13th Lagos Housing Fair, noted that matters of housing are very important to the citizens of any country and the growth of its economy.
His words: “Although, it has been argued that governments need not be involved in direct construction of housing, while this may be true to some extent, I say it will be necessary for governments to intervene through direct construction of housing for the sake of the low income earners. This is a group of people that cannot meet the market value of houses constructed by developers”.
He added that apart from providing opportunity to meet physiological needs, housing depicts people’s culture and style as well as provides the people the much needed security.
“As Africans or Nigerians, owing a personal house signifies a special status. Such a person can then think of other matters concerning his life. It is however, unfortunate that not many Nigerians have access to a decent accommodation. The rapid growth rate of the nation’s population, which exacerbates the urbanization trend has worsened the housing situation. While our cities and towns experience quantitative housing problems, the scenario in the rural areas is qualitative.
“Inspte of these challenges, I still believe we can reduce the gap in quality and quantity of our housing situation. Indeed, we can use the huge population which we have to create wealth for the housing sector. I have since realized that housing development could have multiplier effects on many other sectors of the economy. For example, when a land is purchased, a deal is struck, money has exchanged hands. Similarly, when buildings are designed and later constructed, the professionals, as well as the artisans make money,” General Abubakar said.