By Caleb Ayansina

PRESIDEBNT Muhammadu Buhari has reiterated his administration’s commitment towards addressing housing problem in the country, just as the Shelter Afrique raised alarm over looming crisis in housing sector in Africa. The President stated that for the government to avert housing crisis in Nigeria by the year 2020, it had kicked start the process by earmarking N40b in this year’s capital budget for a comprehensive housing programme for the low income earners in the country, while still retaining housing standard.

Buhari, who declared open the 35th Annual General Meeting AGM, of Shelter Afrique tagged ‘Housing Africa’s Low Income Urban Population’, in Abuja, however, agreed that government alone could not solve the problem in the human settlement sector without the involvement of the private sector.

Represented by the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Muhammed Bello, the President said; “We are therefore very much convinced of the catalytic development potential of the housing sector and has accordingly earmarked N40 billion in the 2016 capital budget to implement a comprehensive housing programme in Nigeria.

“Nigeria with a population of about 170 million people and an annual population growth rate of 3.5 percent requires an additional one million housing units per annul to reduce much acclaimed national deficit of 17 million housing units in order to avert a housing crisis by the year 2020.”

Quality and affordable houses

In his remarks, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, SAN, identified planning as the first key to the roadmap of providing quality and affordable houses in the country, while outlining the roadmap of his Ministry to achieving a sustainable Housing delivery.

He said it was not only necessary but expedient to embark on proper planning to meet the real demand of the majority of Nigerians in housing, adding that it is the key to project completion, cost control and reduction in variation requests as well as financial calculations.

The Minister noted that Nigeria never had housing plan, as the country’s National Housing Policy was only a mere Policy Statement, not a plan, He adding that his Ministry was currently developing the needed plan to make the housing policy a reality.

“We must never tire to explain the necessity and importance of proper planning. It is the key to successful execution, it is the key to project completion, it is the key to cost control and reduction in variation requests and financial calculations. “I acknowledge that there is, for example, a National Housing Policy of 2012. Some have chosen to call it a plan. To the extent that it is a broad statement of intent about providing housing, it is a policy statement,” he said.

Fashola further explained that the plan requires “a clear understanding of who we want to provide housing for, and I recognize that there are people who want land to build for themselves, there are also people who want town houses and duplexes, whether detached or semi-detached”, pointing out that this category of people were not in the majority.

According to him, “The people who we must focus on are those in the majority and those who are most vulnerable; the people who are in the bracket of those who graduated from University about five years ago and more. People who are in the income bracket of grade level 9 to 15 in the public service and their counterparts, taxi drivers, market men and women, farmers, artisans who earn the same range of income.”

The Managing Director, Shelter Afriques, Dr. James Mugawa said the current situation in the African continent regarding housing problem calls for concern, which all leaders in the continent must give a priority to. “It is no secret that there are huge housing deficits across the continent, in Nigeria alone, it is estimated at a whopping 17 million units and could be more once current data is made available.

In nearby Ghana an estimated 170,000 housing units are required every year over the next 10 years. “In Kenya doesn’t fare any better with the deficit estimated at 2 million houses over the next 10 years. These estimates however assume that the population will remain static, and from what we can see, it will not.’

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