The Nigerian government has begun a national housing scheme in 33 states under which it plans to build 2,736 housing units across the country, Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, said on Thursday.
According to a statement by his media aide, Hakeem Bello, the minister said this in Abuja at the Sixth National Council Meeting on Lands, Housing and Urban Development themed; “Building for Inclusion, Growth and Prosperity.”
The former Lagos state governor said the scheme is also creating employment opportunities for Nigerians. Apart from artisans, 653 contractors were engaged in the pilot scheme and a total of 54,680 people were employed in the process, he said.
“This must give a lot of hope to our people that this Government will do what it says, and I want to thank all the states who gave us land, the staff of the Ministry who have worked hard to drive the programme, and the Honourable Minister of State, Mustapha Baba Shehuri, who has been visiting and inspecting project sites,” Mr. Fashola said.
“I have myself made whistle stop visits to our sites in Taraba, Gombe, Ekiti, Oyo and what I saw demonstrates to me very clearly how impactful the National Housing Programme has been, even at the pilot and inception stage.
“The bricklayers I met in Taraba, Gombe and Ekiti, Rilwanu Adamu and Abubakar Umar, who asked me to thank President Buhari, for putting them back to work, the owners of the cement mixer in Oyo who said that his equipment has been idle for two years but was now earning N20,000 daily on our site in Oyo.
“And of course, Mr. and Mrs. Emmanuel, a builder and caterer respectively who live in Lagos, but who now find dignity, labour and employment…” he added.
Commenting on Nigeria’s housing deficit, Mr. Fashola maintained that rather than complain about the size of the deficit, the government was putting efforts in place to address the deficit.
“Yes, I understand the need to get value for money and the processes that have been put in place by previous administrations to guide procurement,” he said.
“The question we must ask ourselves then is whether we have truly saved money and whether we have developed?
“On the evidence that is available, the country has clearly made more money from oil sales in the last decade that cannot be accounted for by way of project delivery and infrastructure development.
“But if this was not enough problem, the procurement requirements then limits the amount of advance payment Government can pay to 15% and sets conditions that overlook the level of literacy of the vast majority of our people and the nature of small businesses that they run.”
The minister, however, explained that the bigger the size of the population, growth rate and urbanization rate, the bigger the size of the deficit.
Speaking further, Mr. Fashola described the housing programme as the first of its kind on a national scale in many decades, stressing that other agencies of government have been positioned to facilitate the ministry’s efforts.
“While our National Housing Programme, is the first of its type on a National scale in many decades that seeks to respond to the deficit, government agencies such as the Federal Mortgage Bank, Federal Housing Authority are being repositioned to play their role more effectively to address the housing problem,” he said.
“For example, the Federal Housing Authority has been mandated by the ministry to reposition herself to be one of our champions of housing delivery based on her previous track record.
“Similarly, the Federal Mortgage Bank continues to deepen participation in the National Housing Fund which forms a reliable pool of funding from which she lends money to contributors by way of mortgage loans to acquire houses.
“In addition, the bank has granted loans to estate developers to build houses; and from their recent report to me, they currently have 3,823 housing units available for sale in various states of the Federation,” he said.