Mrs. Akon Eyakenyi, the Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, is one of the female politicians who can rise to the occasion when it matters most. At 54 her appointment was seen as a welcome development and a moment to celebrate a woman who has become accepted by many who look up to her as a role model in Akwa Ibom State.
In this interview, she stated that her Ministry has developed a roadmap that would address complexities of housing revolution in Nigeria within the shortest possible time. She added that it would provide the pathway for transforming our cities into functional human settlements.
The Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development was established to facilitate the building of homes and cities in secure, healthy and decent environment for wealth creation, people’s empowerment and improved well-being of the citizenry. We champion sustainable livelihoods and accelerated national development through effective land administration and management, provision of affordable homes and the development of productive and inclusive cities.
Our vision is to establish a sustainable housing delivery system that will ensure easy access to home ownership and rental schemes in an environment where basic physical and social amenities are available. By this, we shall facilitate the provision of adequate and affordable housing for Nigerians in both the urban and rural areas in secure, healthy and decent environment. We are not only home builders but also advocates of an empowered and caring society through the provision of affordable homes and the development of sustainable cities and engines of growth for rapid national development. We are drivers and institutional champions of one of the key sectors of the national economy – the Housing and Urban Development Sector –which universally is acknowledged as one of the key drivers of the national economy.
Nigerian Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC)
The company was officially launched by President Goodluck Jonathan on January 16, 2014 to increase mortgage penetration in the country and the Ministry is collaborating with the Coordinating Minister for the Economy/Minister of Finance to ensure its effective take off. While the Federal Ministry of Finance, through the NMRC is handling the demand side of the provision of 10,000 mortgages for new home-owners, the Federal Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development is facilitating action on the delivery of 10,000 housing units that the mortgage facility of the NMRC will support. A ministerial committee under my chairmanship is responsible for working out the modalities for the delivery of the 10,000 units over the next few months. An interim report detailing the priority actions for the realisation of this objective has been prepared and is to be considered and adopted in the next few days.
We encourage all competent developers and builders to participate in the process by responding to our advertisement for expression of interest which will soon be published in the media. All selected developers and builders will be evaluated under transparent and well articulated system of eligibility criteria in order to create a level playing field for all stakeholders. We are encouraged by the positive response from the state governments in respect of the provision of unencumbered land for the project. Already, we have identified availability of land in 14 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory for the take off of the project. We are positive that in the next few weeks, we shall secure more land for the take-off of the project in the remaining states of the federation. I wish to assure all Nigerians that we are cognizant of the need to ensure good standards and timely delivery.
We have developed a framework for conducting a national housing survey with the overriding goal of establishing whether Nigerians are adequately housed or not. The survey will also help us to establish the actual number of housing deficit in the country instead of relying on forecasts and the quantum of investment needed to meaningfully address the housing gap as well as the capacity requirements for transforming the housing and urban development sector on a sustainable basis. This work is being undertaken by a ministerial committee under my chairmanship with relevant stakeholders such as the National Population Commission (NPC), National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), National Planning Commission (NPC) and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as members. The next step is to develop a project document for undertaking the survey, which will be carried out nationwide in collaboration with all relevant internal and external stakeholders. In the short term, a pilot study will be carried out in the Federal Capital Territory, representing the best housing case scenario, and one other state that will symbolise the worst housing case scenario, to determine the magnitude of the housing deficit in Nigeria. From the trends we have seen so far, the problem of affordability is a key issue in housing deficit. I wish to stress that this is the first time for a long time that a housing survey is being undertaken in the country, specifically to address the concerns of the housing and urban development sector.
A Ministerial Committee has also been established under my chairmanship to undertake the inventory and auditing of all federal lands and landed properties. The objective is to update our database on the status of all federal lands and landed property in the country in order to free under-utilised lands for housing development and optimise the use of Federal Government landed properties. The report of the committee was to be considered on Thursday, August 20, 2014 for implementation.
Roadmap for housing development
A draft roadmap for the housing and urban development sector had been developed by the Ministry in consultation with all relevant stakeholders. It was reviewed at an enlarged meeting of the Ministerial Expert Group (MEG) which is charged with the responsibility of developing the document and the management of the Ministry last July. The draft roadmap has been further reviewed and consolidated.
The revalidated Draft Roadmap, once approved, will provide the pathway for navigating through the housing and urban development sector over the next 30 years, with a view to consolidating on the gains recorded under the Transformation Agenda and making sustained, goal-oriented and innovative interventions to optimise the contribution of the sector to accelerate national development. Through the instrumentality of the roadmap, the culture of focusing almost exclusively on low-hanging fruits will be replaced with a new paradigm of action orientation, meticulous planning and well-articulated programmes for enhanced performance and impactful results towards repositioning the housing and urban development sector effectively as one of the key sectors for advancing the agenda of sustainable national development and prosperity.
A revised National Building Code is being finalised as one of the enabling instruments for ensuring quality and enhancing standards in the housing and urban development sector. The Ministry will collaborate with all relevant stakeholders to ensure strict enforcement of the provision of the code after its approval by government. We are regulating the practice of real estate in Nigeria to check unwholesome practices and rapid deterioration of estates across the country.
On July 11, Vice President Mohammed Namadi Sambo, commissioned the FMBN-ELIM Housing Estate of about 324 units in Enugu, Enugu State on behalf of the President. The commissioning of other housing estates in different parts of the country would be undertaken in due course. We are intensifying action on the completion of all housing units within the purview of the Ministry and its parastatals including the prototype housing scheme, PPP Scheme, FMBN-funded housing scheme and the FHA housing scheme, all targeted at the low and middle income earners. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between Shelter Afrique and the Real Estate Development Association (REDAN) in June 2014 in support of the housing development in Nigeria. With the signing of the MoU, the capacity of REDAN to participate more effectively in the delivery of the 10,000 housing units under the NMRC housing programme has been greatly enhanced.
We are making efforts to restore Festac Town to its past glory. To this end, I paid a visit to the town recently where I met with key stakeholders with a view to addressing some of the outstanding issues militating against the restoration of the town as directed by the President. We shall not rest on our oars until the mission is accomplished.
(culled from www.sunnewsonline.com)