Government policies at providing accommodation for Nigerians had remained an illusion since independence with all the broken promises. DANIEL TYOKUA examines this embarrassing trend.
for All’ programme has been a recurrent slogan by almost every administration in Nigeria since independence. Investigation shows that not only is it a slogan, the idea had gulped several millions of naira owing to budgetary allocation to the sector.
Until 2015, there had always existed a substantive ministry with all the paraphernalia of office in terms of personnel and resources which superintended the sector but investigation by The AUTHORITY indicated that the ministry only existed for drawing master plans of housing schemes that never saw the lights of day.
Amazingly, not only are there few houses to accommodate the teeming population in the country in spite of the huge amount spent on the sector, the few available ones are priced out of the reach of many Nigerians.
This has, therefore, forced many people to ask if the provision of houses for the citizens is not the statutory responsibility of the government towards the citizens.
According to ordinary Nigerians on the streets of Lagos, Abuja, Enugu and other major cities in Nigeria, government’s policy on mass housing is an empty slogan devoid of mass action to back it up. To them, the private sector has hijacked government’s obligation towards the people at the expense of hapless Nigerians.
It is for this reason that most average Nigerians avoid major cities of Lagos, Abuja, Port- Harcourt and other places because of the exorbitant rents charged on properties located in those places.
It is even for this reason that low income earners go for poorly-built houses in many shanties and satellite towns in some of the capital cities with poor ventilation. Many, especially at the suburb, deviate from proper building patterns envisaged of a modern city centre.
Because of the sheer neglect by the government of its statutory responsibility in providing affordable houses, many private developers cash in on this to provide houses at prices that only a few can afford. As a result of this, there are so many estates in cities like Abuja but largely unoccupied. The same also goes for other cities in the country.
A civil servant in Abuja, Mr Noah Anzaku, said it is not a surprise that there are so many unoccupied estates in Abuja. He said the amount paid as salary to civil servants is not enough to afford the kind of houses let out for rent/sale.
“In my own case, what I earn per year is not enough to rent the kind of houses in Abuja. I also believe that no sincere civil servant in my category can afford these houses because of the costs.”
Again, he said, “Property owners and developers demand multiple years- rent down payment. This explains why in spite of houses dotting the municipal city centres, they are empty. People would rather prefer to put up any structure anywhere to call their own”, he said.
Engr Nicholas Ogbebo, a real estate developer, manager of ZVECAN Homes and Estate, Area 11, Abuja anchored the high cost of houses on government policies. He said this makes the issue of acquiring property so high. These policies, according to him, impose financial and material hardships on developers and by extension would-be tenants.
“The government has some policies that are not favourable. The policy of land allocation, in particular, is not favourable; therefore, the idea of constructing mass housing like duplexes is expensive because of all these”, he said.
The process of land allocation, he says, also affects the cost of building and construction of houses.
Engr. Ogbedo, said there is a need for Nigerians to look for other modern ways of constructing houses as practised in countries like China so that the high cost of production would be reduced.
He identified lack of arrangement for approval as another factor. “When you go into seeking for approval, you will almost spend half of the money for construction on that approval alone. Because of this, the cost of the house will go up when fully completed.”
According to him, the cost of materials in the market affects the cost of producing mass housing for people to occupy. This, he said, ultimately denies low income earners the opportunity to have a house.
Usman Daniel, Managing Director of Eco-city Excel Resources, Area 3 Abuja agrees with the submission of Ogbedo. According to him, “When one wants to acquire a land property in a city, the developer may not be the real owner of the land. May be the first allottee who got the allocation from government directly may be the real owner and may not have any idea about developing a property. There are so many parties involved in acquiring a property in cities which leads to inflation.
Owning a home is a keystone of wealth… both financial affluence and emotional security.