By Chris Ochayi
The Federal Government has reassured Nigerians on its commitment to deliver a better urban future despite the prevailing challenges within the housing sector.
Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola, stated this at the virtual commemoration of the 2020 World Habitat Day, WHD, celebration at the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja with the theme:”Housing for all: A better Urban Future.”
Mr. Fashola acknowledged the adverse effect the Coronavirus pandemic had made on an already difficult situation, but he reeled out activities set out to improve access to affordable housing, mobility, sanitation, jobs and socio economic opportunities despite the challenges posed by the pandemic.
He said the approach for implementing this was multifaceted “from house refurbishment loans to mortgages with reduced service conditions, direct housing construction, improved speed of titling and Issuance of documents with plans underway to unlock unused properties as well as accelerate advocacy for reduced rent demands”.
He also emphasized that a people-centred approach was key to addressing housing issues which would be the basis for character shape and socio-economic vibrancy of cities, as it is in all the urban centres around the world.
The Minister said the Federal Government was committed to delivering “Housing that is obtainable, healthy, inclusive and adequate, safe and affordable as this was the key to sustainable and transformation of societies and communities.”
He further disclosed that to relieve citizens from economic challenges, President Muhammadu Buhari has initiated the development of an Economic Sustainability Plan of 2.3 Trillion naira to improve payroll support, Micro Small and Medium Enterprises, MSMEs, Collateral Fund, Loan re-strengthening for businesses, industries support and agricultural support to mention but a few.
He gave assurances of his obligation to the realisation of the Nigerian Economic Sustainability Plan and hoped to strengthen partnership with the private sector and other government agencies at all levels to effectively deliver on the mandate.
Speaking earlier the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, Mr. Ernest Umakhihe in his welcome address said the World Habitat Day was established in 1985 by the United Nations General Assembly through Resolution 40/202 of 17th December, 1985 and was first celebrated in 1986.
He said first Monday of every October was recognised as World Habitat Day, a day set aside to focus on the state of human settlements and the basic rights for all for adequate shelter and to remind all that we are responsible for the habitat of the present and future generations.
Mr. Umakhihe said the celebration would wrap up with the observance of the World Cities Day on 31st of October 2020 with the Focal Theme: Better Cities, Better Life and a Sub-Theme: Valuing Our Communities and Cities. The central celebration was going on in Surabaya, Indonesia, he added.
He was certain that during the dialogue session, the well selected resource persons would deal extensively on affordable housing delivery and urban development as economic revival strategies in the COVID19 era in Nigeria, initiate innovative and transformative actions to seek pragmatic solutions to overcome them. He was optimistic that we could build a better life and a better future for all Nigerians.
The high points were the different presentations on: Towards A Sustainable Housing Delivery: Optimizing The Opportunities; Providing Affordable Housing In Cities; The Role Of Partnerships, Advocacy And Community Mobilization; And Financing Options For Affordable Housing Delivery In Africa among others.