Like every other aspect of the massive infrastructure renewal and expansion programme of the Muhammadu Buhari administration, its housing programme has made a visible and undeniable impact in the overall development of the country in the last six years, says Special Adviser on Communications to the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Hakeem Bello.
He said: “Be it in terms of provision of houses, facilitating housing delivery, real estate transactions or generation of employment, the housing sector, through the National Housing Programme (NHP) of the Ministry of Works and Housing, the activities of the agencies of the ministry like the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) and the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN), has rapidly witnessed new dimensions of growth in housing delivery in the country through the public and private sectors.”
Bello claimed that within the period of six years for a start, the NHP, by all standards, surpasses any housing programme ever carried out by any administration in this country, not only in terms of its novelty but also its inclusivity.
First, it is founded on the premise of acceptability and affordability, whose objectives included ensuring that the end-users and off-takers would both accept and afford the resulting houses. Explaining this novel idea way back in 2016, the then Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, said the aim was to “evolve nationally acceptable designs that respond to and accommodate our diversity”. And when that idea took on reality based on intensive research across the country, six designs were born to reflect the socio-cultural diversities of the citizens.
They included one, two and three-bedroom bungalows with courtyards that respond to the climate situation and cultural leanings of the North, to be built in states in the North East, North West and North Central parts of Nigeria and blocks of 16 and 24 flats (condominiums) of one, two and three-bedrooms and bungalows of one and two bedrooms to be built in the South-South, South East and South West and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Today, 34 out of the 36 states of the federation and the FCT, which provided land to the ministry in the first Phase, are beneficiaries of the programme. Currently, no less than 4,652 housing units had been completed or ongoing across the six geopolitical zones.
Indications that the houses would soon be put out for sale to the Nigerian public were already rife by January last year, when Fashola, now Minister of Works and Housing, told the Federal Executive Council (FEC) that modalities for the disposal of the houses and the prices had been finalised, awaiting final approval while the advertisement of the sale of the houses via online platform would soon be published.
It is, however, not only through the NHP that the Federal Government is tackling the apparent housing challenges in the country. Speaking recently as a guest on national television, Fashola threw more light on what he described as a “multi-pronged approach” in addressing the challenges of housing in the country.
Asked to give an overview of the objectives of the Federal Government’s housing programme, Fashola, who explained that the programme was only one of the multiple housing interventions of the government in the housing sector, also listed sites and service scheme as another aspect whereby government only construct roads, provide electricity and water while the allottees build their houses.
The minister listed, in addition, mortgage support schemes where FMBN provides mortgages to citizens, who are contributors to the National Housing Fund (NHF). Through policies such as the reduction of equity contribution from five per cent to zero per cent for those seeking mortgage loans of up to N5 million, and reduction from 15 per cent to 10 per cent for those seeking loans over N5 million the FMBN is helping to ease access to housing.
To date, according to him, FMBN has disbursed about N51.23 billion so far as an intervention in the sector. There is also a Rent to Own Scheme and the Home Renovation Loan Scheme, under the NHF.
Other forms of intervention, he said, include the Issuance of Certificates of Occupancy (C of O’s) on Federal Government lands. The objective of which, according to him, is “to facilitate those who want to buy already existing lands or who want to sell already existing lands in order to acquire houses”, granting consent to transactions on sale and purchase of existing buildings and finally the programme whereby government gives some of its lands to the private sector to build on a profit-sharing basis.
In tackling the backlog of issuance of consent and C of Os to Federal Government land a total of 2,230 application for consent to transfer interests in land application and 4,587 CofOs have been approved and signed respectively till date.
He said: “In the last one year, the ministry through the FMBN has launched the cooperatives housing scheme, whereby it aims to use cooperatives “as the vehicle to achieve more construction in many states to expand the scale of construction, and therefore maximise the scale of opportunities.
“The objective is anchored on the fact that states own lands and are in a better position to work with the cooperatives to drive that aspect of the initiative and the conviction that cooperatives could be successful in delivering large scale affordable housing if they could acquire their own land, design what they want to build, get state urban planning approval, and the federal government gives them loans, through the FMBN, to construct and loans to members to buy.”
According to Bello, a scorecard on this presented by Fashola through the Minister of State, Abubakar Aliyu, an engineer at the 9th Council on Land, Housing and Urban Development on the theme, “Housing Delivery in the Covid-19 Era and Beyond: The Strategies for Affordability and Accessibility,” showed the level of progress already achieved in this direction.
He reported thus: “Another matter for consideration of Council is the rapid deployment of co-operative housing which I presented to Council at the last meeting. I am in a position to update the Council that the FMBN has been the driver of the initiative at the federal level and they have: 86 co-operatives engaged in projects; N35,784 billion cumulatively approved; N10.95billion cumulatively disbursed; 57 co-operative housing development Loans under processing as of January 2021.
The potential for accessibility and affordability is that: “Co-operative members can choose what they want and therefore design and build to fit their own individual and group budget; co-operatives can leverage their members to get group discount for purchase of building materials and the engagement of contractors to build.”
The FHA on its part has undertaken five key projects, among others, within the last five years and delivered within the same period 778 housing units in Oshogbo, Owerri, Gombe, Kaduna, Lagos and Port Harcourt. Also, over 2,200 housing units are currently being completed in Apo, Abuja, Odukpani in Calabar and Yenagoa in Bayelsa State and Awka, Anambra State targeting the end of this year as the completion date. Also, a total of 764 housing units are been constructed in the Zuba Mass Housing Project site, which is at about 80 per cent completion.
The authority is also currently carrying out direct development of 330 units of various house types with complementary infrastructure in six states across the country namely: Awka – Anambra State, Gombe – Gombe State, Makurdi – Benue State and Osogbo – Osun State, among others.
In terms of the generation of jobs, both direct and indirect, the NHP has proved to be a veritable tool for wealth distribution. Reports garnered from the various construction sites through various means, including site inspection by the minister or his representatives, no less than 1,000 people are employed on each side, apart from the staff of the successful contractors. These sites are an ecosystem of human enterprise, where artisans, vendors, suppliers, and craftsmen converge to partake of opportunities and contribute to nation-building.
Bello said: “In addition to the redistribution of wealth, NHP is also addressing urbanisation by the policy. The minister has testified to this severally. In one of such testimonies, Fashola was quoted as saying: “From my trips across the states, I can tell you categorically that President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to infrastructure, which is driving mining and the agricultural focus, is already impacting on our urbanisation challenge in a positive way. Work at quarries and on cash crop farms, which are situated in the rural areas, are now getting to the people; instead of them coming to urban areas.
“All told, the NHP has proved to one of the veritable means of achieving president Buhari’s vision of lifting 100 million people out of poverty in 10 years. With a combination of employment, access to opportunities, value asset renewal, increase in income for those already employed, access to nutrition, freedom from disease, access to shelter and many more life-enhancing opportunities that move people from want and poverty to access and prosperity, which this programme has provided in the last six years, the president’s vision is achievable.
“Quite excited by that vision, Fashola, who has since christened it “The June 12 Charter of Prosperity”, declared, “Whenever I visit the sites of the pilot national housing project being undertaken across the 34 states (which) provided land, I see an eco-system of commerce, employment and entrepreneurship.
“From the contractor/construction company who wins the bid to the labourers on-site who earn N3,000 a day, (N18, 000 a week (for six days) and approximately N72,000 a month); to the owner of the concrete mixer I met in Oyo State who charges N20,000 a day: to suppliers and vendors of building materials, and employees of companies that manufacture paint, tiles, roofing materials, the Federal Government, and state government collaboration provided a step up towards the ladder of prosperity.”
However, as also reported during the 9th Council Meeting, the additional good news is that citizens would have the benefit of applying and subscribing to those homes across the country soon as a dedicated portal for this purpose would be unveiled.