Nigerian govt will not use imported materials in housing schemes – Fashola

Minister of Works, Power & Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola Fashola inspecting ongoing building project

The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, on Tuesday said the Nigerian government would not use imported materials in its housing schemes.

Mr. Fashola said this at the Real Estate Investment Trust, REIT, Conference, held at the Exchange House in Lagos on Tuesday.

Represented by a former finance commissioner in Lagos State, Ayo Gbeleyi, the minister said the decision was part of the government’s efforts to help small businesses in the housing industry grow.

According to Mr. Fashola, the government’s plan for sustainable supply through its housing scheme is to standardise designs and industrialise production, noting that it would help diversify the economy.

“By standardizing fittings such as doors, windows, roofing sheets, tiles and other components, it allows us to use these standards to stimulate local mass production of fittings and finishing to meet the demands of mass housing,” the minister said.

“We have as such resolved not to use imported materials in our housing schemes, where there are local alternatives.

“In this way, we will be achieving one major objective of the President Muhammadu Buhari Administration’s vision and strategic goal of diversifying our economy,” he said.

Speaking further, the minister said, “For example, the smallest of houses will have at least a main door, a kitchen door, a room door and a bathroom door making a total of 4 (Four) doors.

“In order to build 250,000 units of that type of house, this market will need to produce 1,000,000 (One Million) doors.

“This does not include pipes, taps and sockets for electrical appliances. I leave you to imagine what this can do for our economy if we produce all these items locally.

“Our surveys indicate that electrical fittings such as sockets and door locks are still largely imported and we will use our demand capacity to stimulate local manufacturing or assembly, in order to keep the jobs in these areas at home.”

The minister disclosed that the government has resolved that the next step toward industrial production is to reduce the time it takes to build a block.

“Our recent experience shows that a block of 12 flats usually takes 12 – 18 months at the quickest,” he said, adding that, “We are looking at designing moulds that reduce this time to 6 (Six) months or less.”

Speaking on some of the challenges being faced by the ministry, Mr. Fashola disclosed that there are many Nigerians who have resorted to property development out of a survival necessity rather than out of any capacity or knowledge about the industry.

These people, whom he described as “emergency developers”, dominate the industry and pose a challenge for decision makers.

“We receive dozens of letters almost daily by people offering to build 10,000 housing units, (which seems to be the magical number for some of these emergency developers), without verifiable pedigree and track record of where they have built a simple 100 housing units,” he said.

“We also have offers from road construction companies who want to build houses.

“The skill sets and logistics are entirely different even though they both involve construction,” he added.

Meanwhile, Mr. Fashola argued that the government would not leave the housing sector in the hands of private individuals, as being championed by the some stakeholders in the industry.

He, however, disclosed that government would provide support through policy formulation, regulation, and empowerment of its stakeholders.

“There is the view that government should get out of housing and leave it only to the private sector,” the former Lagos state governor said.

“This was one of the issues debated at the summit. What the proponents failed to show us, was the proven capacity of the private sector on its own to meet the demand for housing and reduce the deficit considerably.

“The successful methods in countries I have referred to, show that government often leads the way, first by policy, later by regulation and finally by empowerment and enablement.
Our programme will not be different.”

The REIT conference was organised by the Nigerian Stock Exchange, NSE, in collaboration with other stakeholders in the housing sector and the capital market.

The programme, which had in attendance selected media organisations, including PREMIUM TIMES, also featured other key speakers like Ahmed Kuru, Chairman of Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, AMCON; Tunde Fowler, Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS; Munir Gwarzo, Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, among others.

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