Socially-relevant and right advocate organisation, SPACES FOR CHANGE, has applauded the reported revocation lands alleged to have been illegally acquired by the immediate past administration of Governor Rochas Okorocha in Imo State.
The group said the revocation of unlawful land allocation through the Imo State Housing Corporation , especially the 49 plots of land allegedly belonging to one Geraldine Obinali—the sister to the former governor is a welcome development.
Space for Change in a statement signed by Olusola Oluwafemi (research/Communications Officer), made available to Daily Sun noted that “The revocation is not only a step in the right direction, but further exposes how prime land in choice locations, as well as public properties are parceled out to relatives and political cronies of state executives, at the expense of millions of citizens living in under housed and inadequate housing”.
According to the release “The recent revocation of lands illegally acquired by individuals or organizations in the state has given life to the findings in S4C’s 2019 research, titled “MOVING FROM MULTI-BILLION NAIRA BUDGET TO IMPROVED HOUSING DELIVERY IN IMO STATE.
“The research tracked government spending on housing delivery in Imo State and found evidence of chronic opacity in the award and execution of housing and infrastructure development contracts. Likewise, the procedures for tendering contracts, contract bidding and contractor selection were shrouded in secrecy, making it difficult to establish the financing arrangements and the actual ownership of certain housing estates springing up in the city.
“An example is the fully-completed luxury housing estate on Akachi Road, popularly known as Akachi Estate, near Naze, Owerri. Akachi Estate sits on over 80 plots of land, and comprises fully-serviced duplexes, flats and bungalows now used as service apartments.
“Substantiated media reports have recently attributed ownership of the estate to the former governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha.
“Although, the revocation of the illegal allocation to Ms. Obinalli is a step in the right direction, it has not fully addressed the issue of the lopsided housing system where the rich and mighty, with ties to the government, have preferential access to lands and housing infrastructures in Imo State at the expense of the citizens.
“In other to correct this uneven access to housing which has deprived millions of citizens of Imo State of shelter, we urge Imo State Government to give effect to the recommendations in the 2019 Research report referenced above. Among other things, the study advocated for the development of a sound policy on affordable housing policy and the revitalization of the Imo State Housing Corporation as a vehicle for improving housing delivery to the different income groups, including the most vulnerable groups”.
The statement noted further that “Nigeria’s exploding population growth, uncontrolled rural-urban migration and spikes in forced displacement have combined to inflame the demand for housing especially in major cities of the country including Owerri, Imo State”.