By Jude Njoku & Caleb Ayansina
Thirty-three years after Alhaji Shehu Shagari and Lateef Jakande were ousted from office in a military coup led by incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari, the Federal Government may have decided to take a fresh look at the housing models adopted by the duo while they were in office.
The housing models adopted by former President Shehu Shagari in all the states and local government areas in Nigeria helped to boost the housing stock in the country. Similarly, Jakande’s housing programme in Lagos is still the talk of the town 34 years after he bowed out of office as the first civilian governor of Lagos State.
Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola who spoke in Abuja recently, said the government would understudy ‘Jakande and Shagari’s housing estates model to develop affordable housing units for the masses. This would involve building 40 blocks in each state.
The minister explained that there would be changes in the policy direction of the Buhari administration in the settlement sector.
This, he said, would commence with the 2016 budget implementation when the Federal government would spend N10b to build low income housing estates in each of the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.
It will be recalled that the Obasanjo’s administration upturned the policy of the Shehu Shagari administration by declaring that government would no longer build houses for people to occupy, hence he sold off all government houses built during the Shagari era.
Under Obasanjo, the Federal government through the Ministry of Land, Housing and Urban Development, collaborated with developers by provide lands for them to build ‘affordable’ housing estates. This policy direction that was pursued by both Ya’Adua and Jonathan governments.
Unveiling Buhari’s housing, Fashola said there is need for the government to review the existing policy in the housing sector to address the huge housing deficit in the country.
He said; “The housing sector presents an enormous opportunity for positively impacting the economy to promote not only growth but inclusion.
There have been a couple of National Housing policies and we intend to appraise the most current one to make changes only if necessary.
Government will lead the aggressive intervention to increase supply, by undertaking construction of public housing and formulate policies that will invariably lead to private sector participation and ownership to reduce our housing deficit.”
He noted that the immediate past administration budgeted less in the housing sector of the economy, promising to reverse the trend.
“So for us, consistency is key, annual spending is an imperative. We must change the budget for national housing from N1.8 billion in 2015 to something in the hundreds of billions of Naira that matches our ambition. If we can spend N10 billion in each state and the FCT on housing alone every year subject to the capacity to raise the money and the capacity to utilise the funds having regards to our current construction methods and the time it takes to complete construction, which our ministry intends to change by research and industrialization of housing,” he said.
The Minister explained that the government would embark on seminars and conferences to ensure proper capacity building for stakeholders in the sector to drive the new agenda.
“If we achieve this, we will move from where we are now, start construction in all 36 States and the FCT and sustain this as we go along. In the housing sector, if we complete our on-going projects, and we get land from the Governors in all states and the FCT to start what we know, using the Lagos Home model, we should start 40 blocks of housing in each state and FCT.
“We expect State Governors to play a critical role here, by providing land of between 5-10 hectares for a start, with title documents, and access roads or in lieu of access roads, a commitment that they will build the access roads by the time the houses are completed.
“We see this leading to potential delivery of 12 flats (homes) per block and 480 Flats (homes) per state, and 17,760 Flats (Homes) nationwide, for a start. This will mean at a minimum of four doors and two windows very conservatively per home; a demand for 71,040 doors and 35,520 windows nationwide in year one, which we will encourage to be made in Nigeria. These figures are only examples and not fixed in definition and they are subject first to budgetary approvals and availability of finance,” Fashola said.
“The demand for those who will make and fix the doors and window, the hinges, the wood polish and the paint and tiles suggest the onset of jobs and change for our artisans and workers who are the real builders of every economy. Our experience in Lagos was that about on every one hectare of land where it was possible to build 8-10 blocks of houses, at least 1000 (One thousand) people got employed.”