By Maduka Nweke
Former director of a London-based firm, Wilmont Chartered Surveyors, Mr. Victor Alonge, has blamed government policies and housing agencies for social housing failure in the country.
Reports had it that despite budgeting billions of naira for new housing schemes, the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing has no record of homes built and sold in six years under President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
A Nigerian property developer based in Kenya, Mr. Kennedy Uzoawulu, who visited the country recently said that he became handicapped when he found out that there is no data to support what he is doing.
“I don’t know why things are hard in Nigeria. Why is it that government officials find it difficult to document what they are doing. This means that they are not doing what they collected money to do and so if they should put what they did down, there will be probe and that is what they don’t want. It is very unfortunate,”he said.
Currently, stakeholders have been calling for the re-examining of the policy on privatisation of FHA with a view to commercialising the authority to compete with other players in the industry in the provision of mass housing, despite receiving funding support through budgetary allocation.
With its poor record keeping attitude and lack of accountability, the ministry may have fallen back to the old times, giving credence to industry players’ notion that the Federal Government should not engage in direct construction of houses, but provide enabling environment for the private sector to handle low-cost housing projects.
According to the National Housing Policy, a major drawback in past attempts at revamping the housing and urban development sectors to deliver sustainable housing systems and efficient urban development and management in the country, was the absence of clear focus in the pursuit of the mandate of the ministry.
“The multifaceted and multidisciplinary nature of the ministry coupled with the roles in regulation of standards, prescription codes and such other measures put the ministry on collision path with other Federal Government agencies. Also the non-involvement of stakeholders and near exclusion of the private sector investors in housing and service delivery robbed the sector of necessary competition and efficiency needed for stability.
“The inability of governments alone to fund the provision of housing and urban development therefore leaves a big vacuum and massive need, which cannot be met in the sector,” the policy stated.
Investigation revealed how the Ministry received over N250 billion as budget allocations between 2015 and 2020 from the budget. The six-year breakdown shows that in 2016, the Federal Ministry of Works, Power and Housing total budget of N433 billion, N268 billion, representing 62 per cent, was allotted to works, N99 billion, an equivalent of 23 per cent, to power, and N66 billion, representing 15 per cent, to housing.