By Kingsley Adegboye
Built environment professionals who gathered at the just-concluded 57th Annual General Assembly & Conference of the Nigerian Institute of Architects, NIA, tagged BGM 2017, have called for concerted efforts from relevant stakeholders in addressing affordable housing provision in the country, against the backdrop of the huge housing deficit of the nation.
The theme of the BGM which took place in Abuja was Affordable Housing: Rhetoric, Tectonic & Architecture, which according to NIA, was conceived to reflect the institute’s desire to evaluate housing affordability in Nigeria.
In his welcome address,the president-elect of the Nigerian Institute of Architects, Festus Adibe Njoku, called on the Federal Government, professionals in the built environment especially the architects, to take holistic view at solving housing problem and champion appropriate policies to address the housing deficit in the country.
He said housing is one of the three basic needs of man and it is the most important for the physical survival of man after the provision of food which has a profound influence on health,efficiency,social behaviour, satisfaction and general welfare of the nation.
Njoku said: “There is a big difference between affordable housing and housing that is affordable. Affordable is the government-subsidized kind. The latter on the other hand,describes the ways architects have to reduce cost of owning a house.
According to him, there is need for the government to revitalize the ailing economy by providing primary infrastructure or creating enabling environment for private sector and charge a predetermined price that is affordable to those who will use the infrastructure.
Njoku noted that for housing to be affordable to Nigerians, advanced construction technology should be made available to enable architects and allied professionals to curb and fill up the gap in the housing deficit of 17million housing units.
Also speaking at the week-long event which witnessed the attendance of Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr. Chris Ngige, Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir El- Rufai, the immediate past president of NIA, Tonye Braide, told architects that it is absolutely necessary for architects to up their game in order to deliver on clear mandate on production of quality buildings.
According to Braide, there is need for all architects in the country to revitalize the ailing economy and fight corruption which can be used to reform the building industry with needed package to increase GDP, employment generation and affordable housing through a mixture of building materials technology.
He noted that it entails architects in country being focused despite the present economic challenges confronting the nation, adding that: “Affordable low cost housing might prove to be a lasting solution that the housing problem needs. The phrase, affordable housing, is often difficult to achieve because the cost of building with materials used in Nigeria has steadily risen over the years.”
The Honorary General Secretary of the institute, Sani Sauluwa, stated that the institute has adopted a major resolution which includes committed leadership, synergy between the professional bodies and deliberate policies on institutional training and capacity-building in the building information modeling.
He said architects should utilise available materials in order to truly make housing affordable to low income earners, while maximizing small space and choosing the right construction materials that are essential factors that must thoroughly be considered in order to make housing affordable.