By Kingsley Adegboye
Built environment professionals have asked the new Minister of Works & Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, who served as Minister of Power, Works and Housing in the first tenure of President Muhammadu Buhari administration, to be more focused to ensure the delivery of uncompleted works and housing projects he started across the country when he was Minister, Power, Works and Housing now that his workload has been reduced. The President, Nigerian Institute of Building NIOB, Mr Kunle Awobodu, who lauded the reduction in Fashola’s workload to Works and Housing, said Fashola couldn’t really perform to Nigerians’ satisfaction as Minister of Power, Works and Housing because he was saddled with so many responsibilities handling three-in-one ministry.
Awobodu said, “Now that Fashola is to handle Works and Housing alone, and based on the experience he garnered in his first time as minister, he will do better because he will better focus. This second coming will give him the opportunity to complete works and housing projects he started across the country that he couldn’t complete before the expiration of Buhari’s first tenure.
“The housing projects he started across the country were not completed. Those projects will be completed now. This is an opportunity for him to complete those projects now. Having completed the housing units, he should ensure the houses get to end-users and not speculators.
“He should try to introduce mortgage system in the allocation of housing units so that those who genuinely need houses, but don’t have the cash to pay for them, can be allocated the housing units and pay through the mortgage system. This will prevent speculators who have the cash from hijacking the houses”.
Also commenting on Fashola’s second coming, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Propertygate Development and Investment Plc, Mr. Adetokunbo Ajayi, said “To undertake a fair assessment of his first term in office, my view is that his performance must be measured without losing sight of the state of the nation and the responsibilities are given to him during the period of assessment.
“To be honest, Nigeria was in extremely bad shape at the first advent of the administration. I believe they were overwhelmed by the enormity of the situation, especially by factors they could not control. I am however not suggesting that the administration and the minister could not have done better.
“I also think his situation was compounded by his taking on perhaps three of the most challenging areas of national life – power, works and housing. In my view, considering the monumental difficulties of the power sector, handling that alone is a daunting task for anyone.
“It appears the administration has noted this point and has tried to address it with the current allocation of portfolios. With the minister now responsible for only the works and housing portfolios, this should naturally allow for better focus and prevent dissipation of energies in too many directions. “Though the minister was once the chief executive of Lagos state, operating as a minister at the federal level was obviously a new experience. The last four years should, however, have provided him with useful knowledge and experience to help his second term.
“Furthermore, the minister appears to me, judging by his works in public life, as a person who desires to leave a reputation of performance. I believe he should be spurred by this to produce a creditable performance to justify such a rating. “He is currently assigned portfolios in priority areas that are interestingly interrelated. His performance will, therefore, be of major interest to Nigerians. It is in his interest to deliver a very strong performance. The real estate sector where I operate has been haemorrhaging in the last four years.
“Stakeholders will, therefore, be looking expectantly at the minister to see how he will help turn around the fortunes of the sector. With the massive pressure of the power portfolio off his plate, we hope more attention will be given to our sector to better its lot. I will be disappointed if the minister fails to live up to this hope”.
On his part, past Chairman, Nigerian Institute of Town Planners, NITP, Lagos State Branch, Mr Moses Ogunleye, said “The schedule of Fashola has been reduced with the removal of the power sector from his portfolios. This will make him be better focused. ”.