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Housing is one of the most important human needs. The sector, according to experts could be a prime driver of socio-economic development in terms of employment creation if its potentials are fully harnessed.
In Nigeria, the federal government is saddled with the provision of housing for over 160 million Nigerians. The country is estimated to have a housing deficit that ranges between 16 to 17 million. The huge deficit exist because of challenges plaguing the sector such as high cost of buying land and houses; the low and no-income earners are the highest hit by this factor, poor mortgage system, non availability of lands, double taxation, difficulty in getting titles, cost of cement, lack of trained artisans, to mention a few.
Some developers over the years have constantly cried over the non availability of land and lack of fund to carry out a desired project. Most times getting mortgages is cumbersome so some resort to personal funding which may not be much. Other means fund were raised where through Joint Venture Partnership (JVP). Joint venture partnership is collaboration between real estate firms and land owners. In the process the land is given to the developer by the JVP as their equity contribution to mass housing development. As such the cost is pushed to the end user making it difficult for the low and no-income earner to own a house. Others that sort operate the joint venture partnership are left with no option than to buy land at very high rate making the end cost very unrealistic for the average Nigerian.
Reaffirming the difficulty presently experienced in the provision of affordable housing, the minister of housing Mrs, Akon Eyakenyi recently stated that to build a house in Nigeria is a very expensive task due to the high cost of building materials, prevalence of unskilled labour, unnecessary bureaucratic bottlenecks and high cost of provision of enabling infrastructure. She noted that affordable housing cannot be achieved without a drastic reduction in the cost of housing construction and other associated costs which invariably determine the selling price. “Consequently, for affordability to thrive, emphasis must shift to reducing the cost of housing construction in order to promote access to affordable homes to the vulnerable segment of our national population,” She added.
Eyakenyi also noted that providing affordable housing for the low and middle income earners cannot be achieved without the support of government and the provision of incentives to encourage the participation of the private sector. She therefore said that, “ This has brought to the fore the call in many quarters for the intervention of Government in the forms of concessions and waivers, especially on building materials as well as the establishment of factories for the production of building materials by offering incentives to investors and building materials manufacturers. This is even more compelling in view of the reality that that the provision of affordable homes for 167 million Nigerians is an arduous task that cannot be left for the Government alone, especially now that the Government’s revenue is dwindling. It is, therefore, important for all stakeholders to partner with the Government for the realization of the vision of Mr. President that all Nigerians deserve to be adequately housed.”
The federal government in a bid to ensure that housing is available to both the low and no-income earners set up the Nigeria Mortgage Refinancing Company (NMRC). The NMRC is working to enhance the enabling environment for mortgage market growth and increase home ownership by partnering with state governments through a pilot state scheme.
However, Nigerians through union associations have argued that fund from the NMRC should not be placed in the hands of private developers who are profit driven if affordable housing is to be achieved but instead should be given to the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) which has the mandate of delivering housing to Nigerians.
The Senior Staff Association of Communications, Transport and Corporations (SSACTAC) observed with dismay subtle moves by some highly placed people to take over the Federal Housing Authority. The association noted that FHA is saddled with the dual role of providing social and commercial housing and therefore strongly disapprove the privatization of the authority.
SSACTAC president comrade Mohammed Yinusa explained that the FHA has the statutory duty of providing affordable housing but with the constraint of fund has not been able to deliver on its mandate.

(Culled from http://leadership.ng/)

December 15, 2014

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