Stories by Maduka Nweke
Housing for all has remained a popular phrase, which successive governments deployed to show commitment to the plight of citizens in the area of shelter. The phrase, to the best of the knowledge of the same citizens, has been relegated to mere political statement.
This is so because no one has been able to live up to that billing of providing housing no matter how affordable and comfortable it could be. In the past, particularly in Lagos, especially under Lateef Kayode Jakande, as a few of these housing schemes were put up for the people. Also, during the 1977 African Festival of Arts and Culture in Lagos, the Federal Government provided housing for the teeming population of Africans and other expatriates that came for the festival.
Immediately after the festival was over, the houses were bought over by lucky members of the public and those connected to the Federal Government. The Nigerian public, through that, experienced life in estates while other estates began to spring up. If government, after the 1977 festival, had continued to construct two housing estates of say 2,000 units in each state for successive 10 years, by now the pattern of building houses without plan would have died out. Aside that, accommodation would have been more available and affordable to the public.
These days, what is popular is that the Federal Government is committed to providing the needed enabling environment for sustainable housing development in the country, said the Minister of Housing. The same goes for the Commissioners for Housing in the states who keep assuring that they are committed to providing houses for their citizens. These, however, are not forthcoming as private individuals have taken it upon themselves to build estates tagged “for the low income earners” whereas in reality, there has never been a clear cut definition to delineate the strata in the society to know who and who form the low income earners. Nonetheless, the few ones government tried to put up are always bought over by the same rich persons and resold to the low income earners at a higher price. Yet government fails to monitor the exercise to find out the modality of distribution. By this, the government aids in widening the gap between the rich and the poor because the rich would continue to amass more wealth whereas the poor would become poorer.
Recently, the Minister for Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, while fielding questions from newsmen on the Millard Fuller Foundation, an indigenous estates development company with emphasis on affordable housing development for low and middle income class at Masaka, a border town between Nasarawa State and the Federal Capital Territory, said, “what was needed now was to double the capacities of the partners and address the problem of sustainable housing programme, which includes creating the enabling environment.”
Experts posit that after such inspections, no more surveillances are exerted on the part of government to see how that project was executed. This puts a question mark on the commitment, which government sings like an anthem at every forum. By all intents and purposes, government has been reiterating its commitment to support efforts at developing a sustainable national housing programme but the issue is that immediately after such wishful statements, nothing is done in that direction to ensure that the objectives of such programmes are implemented to the letter.
Looking at the statistics of housing schemes in the country, we see that there are tremendous opportunities in the Nigerian housing sector waiting to be tapped. But government must note, however, that there are challenges to harnessing these potential inherent in the Nigerian housing sector and invariably providing affordable housing in the country. These challenges would be confronted if government’s commitment to providing housing is anything to go by.
The challenges include but not limited to legislation, registering property, risk sharing, absence of national credit database, stable macroeconomic environment and knowledge gap. Others are dealing with licenses, taxes, enforcing contracts, high cost of building materials as well as infrastructure. If the Federal Government handles the above challenges, there would be acceleration in solving the problems of housing in Nigeria. Policies are better articulated but there have been lack of political will to pursue such policies to logical conclusionsß to benefit the populace.
A roundtable was called in the past to address the issue of housing, the major outcome of which was the setting up of a Housing Finance Committee chaired by the then Federal Ministry of Finance and comprising the Federal Ministry of Lands Housing and Urban Development, the Central Bank, Nigerian mortgage and commercial banks, supported by the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC). The committee was mandated to take forward the work of developing a facility that would significantly scale up access to affordable mortgages for the Nigerian people. The outcome of the committee’s work led to the establishment of the Nigeria Mortgage Refinancing Company (NMRC) to significantly increase the liquidity available to mortgage organisations such as primary mortgage institutions (PMIs), banks, housing microfinance institutions and other financial actors.
In order to achieve the above, on January 16, 2014, President Goodluck Jonathan launched the NMRC signalling the beginning of a process that would finally increase opportunities for Nigerians to own homes at an affordable price. The process was also to involve the reinvigoration of mass housing initiatives, which would, along with the NMRC, give the housing sector the necessary stimulus to start realising its great potential for the good of the country. However, these fine policies have been put in place but the political will to implement them have been lacking.
But it is not only individual Nigerians who will benefit from the establishment of the NMRC and the Jonathan administration’s stronger focus on mass housing. The country as a whole will also gain significantly from the unleashing of a sector with the capacity to transform the entire economy through millions of direct and indirect jobs as well as many other ancillary benefits.
The governors of Abia, Anambra, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Delta, Gombe, Kano, Kaduna, Lagos, Edo, Enugu, Ondo and Ogun states and the FCT have signed on to work on the housing initiative. An important component to the launch of the NMRC, which is the development of mass housing schemes by private developers working with the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) and other institutions has not been given the vigour and vitality to grow. This also slowed the morale of the states that have already signed in to collaborate. When this is done, some of the mass housing schemes would be done on a rent-to-own model that would allow low-income participants to rent a home over 15-20 years and then own the property at the end of the period.
PMA tasks FG on disbursement of $1.3bn SMEs fund
By Sampson Unamka
Following the challenges facing the Paints Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (PMA), its Chairman, Rotimi Aluko, has called on the Federal Government to ensure that genuine businesses in the country, including manufacturers to access the $1.3 billion funding for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
Aluko made the call during the 28th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of PMA, which was held recently in Lagos, where he said the liquidity problems being experienced in the economy was as a result of the current recession stifling the businesses of manufacturers.
He said over 200 SMEs have closed down their businesses due to economic difficulties, adding that securing the funding agreement at this period of economic recession is a welcome development. He added that “in the paints industry, most of the companies are just here, thinking of what to do next, as many contemplate sacking workers or close down completely.
“The recent agreement between the Federal Government and the World Bank Group on $1.3 billion funding for SMEs is cheery news for SME operators in the country, especially majority of our members who fall into this category of manufacturers,” said Aluko.
He stated that, “the allocation of 60 per cent of total foreign exchange available to the central bank for sale each week to manufacturers to import essential inputs should be closely monitored to ensure that only genuine manufacturers access the foreign exchange to avoid a repeat of what happened during the import license era of the 80s when the system was abused by banks that connived with non-manufacturers to get licenses and resold.”
The association, on the other hand, allowed its executive council to serve PMA for the next tenure of two years.
Estate firm partners royal family on $300m Smart City
An estate development firm, Channeldrill Resources Limited, has concluded plans to build a smart city that would house all the economic, social and religious needs of residents within the estate.
The city called Imperial International Business City (IIBC), according to the promoters, would gulp $300 million at completion. The Smart City, as it is called, is a vision of a captain of a new generation and progressive royal father, HRM, Oba Saheed Ademola Elegushi, in partnership with Channeldrill Resources Limited.
Speaking during the press briefing at the Lagos Oriental Hotel, Lagos, the Managing Director/CEO, Channeldrill Resources Ltd, Mr. Femi Akioye, said the city was coming on the ground that there has not been enough cities in the country. He stated that Lagos State being the fourth largest economy in Africa with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $131 billion has over 18 million population with an unbelievable growing middle class of four to five million people that need a place to live.
Akioye said that with Lagos State accounting for 90 per cent of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Nigeria in the last year, the city to be domiciled at the Lekki axis of the state is projected to attract over $50 billion FDI in the next four years.
He said the promoters have come with a special Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) promo and awareness campaign for an average Nigerian to win a plot of land in a city that would become the most expensive in Africa in just a few years time for just N500 fee.
According to him, the promo is born out of the vision to make the IIBC an all-inclusive project where those referred to as average Nigerians can aspire to and obtain a piece of the future. “We want those on minimum wage, the working class men and women, your hard working social worker, the civil servant, the teacher and all other citizens who have been putting in their fair share into the commonwealth to be part of this future we talk about,” he said.
He said that for a seven-week period of the promo, seven plots of 650sqm worth N42 million each in the low density residential inner city area would be won by seven people; 19 people would win N1 million; 40 people would win N500,000 and 135 people would win N100,000 while 210 people would win N50,000 each.
Akioye stated that the company would be reclaiming a total of five kilometres into the sea to bring about the city. While describing the location, he said, “the IIBC is situated at Freedom Road through Lekki Phase 1; Kunsenla Road by 4th roundabout of Lekki Epe highway; Oba Saheed Ademola Elegushi Road by Spar Supermarket before Jakande while another access road to be constructed would be through Femi Okunu by Jakande Roundabout in the future.
“The city with consultants from Belgium, Netherlands and United Kingdom will boast of all the infrastructure you ought to have in a complete modern city,” he concluded.
Stakeholders lament poor documentation approval by govt
Stakeholders at the Provision of Affordable Housing event organised by Knightstone Properties Limited, over the weekend, have blamed government for the problems bedevilling entrepreneurs in the country.
The event held at the City Mall, Onikan, Lagos, saw speaker after speaker accusing government of not doing enough to alleviate the bureaucratic bottlenecks to facilitating approvals, stressing that in every 100 applications, you can have one or highest 10 approvals.
One of the dignitaries, Chief Olabode George, who unveiled the new brand stated that, “for the oncoming generation to still have trust in the economy gives me confidence.” He advised that whatever is capable of giving the youths hope for the economy should be sustained.
In his contribution, Mr. Chidi S. Ubosi, Principal Partner, Ubosi- Eleh & Co, Estate Surveyors & Valuers, noted that the problem confronting entrepreneurs will remain daunting if there are no roads, infrastructure, electricity and other facilities in the country.
According to him, approvals for Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) by government has remained a stumbling block to reducing housing deficit, pointing out that for every one approval, there are more that 10 others denied.
Adding that, “if government could give approvals as they come, I’m not saying they should not be investigated, the housing deficit we have been brandishing over the years would have been drastically reduced. If 100,000 housing units are presented for approvals, about 2,500 are approved in Lagos. This is not good for business to thrive.”
Fielding questions on the fate of real property if recession continues, Ubosi stated that there would be large housing stock unsold because there would be no money to buy. He reasoned that government policies should be friendly to business environment to enable investors contribute to growth of the economy.
Earlier in his opening speech, the Managing Director/CEO, Knightstone Properties Ltd, Mr. Adeniyi Adams, said the company was into real properties to bring about new development in the real estate sector, explaining that the company will ensure affordability, payment modality, durability and timely delivery of projects.
“Our intention is to bridge housing deficit hence the focus on residential housing. We have delivered close to 150 houses in different parts of Nigeria. We are in Abuja, Warri and have also started something in Lagos, especially in Abijo, GRA and many other areas.”
In his keynote address, Mr. Dele Martins, represented by Mr. Kingsley Olayiwola Omojola, Executive Director, Knightstone Properties Ltd, said the latest figure available from World Bank indicate that Nigeria has an estimated population of 170 million people which is growing by approximately 2.8 per annum.
“It is also estimated that there is an 18 million unit deficit in housing stock and Nigeria needs to build approximately 700,000 housing units annually if we are to make a noticeable impact on the deficit. Presently, we are barely building 100,000 housing units annually,” Martins said.