It was Matthew Desmond who postulated some years ago that” Housing is absolutely essential human flourishing. Without stable shelter it all fall apart. The pathway to housing should be fair and equitable for everyone, and access to affordable housing is the infrastructure people in our community need to elevate families into the working class and the middle class. Without any circumlocution, it is on this philosophy that the 20,000 Housing Units initiated by Governor Sim Fubara at Mbodo Aluu in Ikwere local government area of Rivers State is anchored.
This is a quantum leap of this administration for creating millionaires that are credible to push the State into the orbit of affordable houses. Economically, this legacy will empower and create jobs opportunities and sub-contracts in the current one city state so to speak especially now that the employment security index accordingly to statistics for Rivers State is despite our oil and gas income. This all important decision by the governor shows the enormity of his passion to alleviate poverty in the State and promote the culture of ownership of house while eliminating the scenario of houseless situation among the citizenry.
According to Rick Renzi, “House ownership is the cornerstone of a strong community and Governor Fubara understand this sorry situation.
Since the beginning of political era in Rivers State in 1999, it is on record that former Governor Peter Odili embarked on massive housing units in some local government areas to decentralised Port Harcourt and breached the gap in the housing sector in the State. Since then the housing deficit have been humongous and challenging.
Upon this seemingly laxity, the private sector have invested and invaded the housing scene with a view to reduce it bottleneck and nearness to lack of housing policy in Rivers State to the detriment of the public, with the exception of few whose dealings are transparent without questionable character. However, this does not preclude the sad situation of fraud in some cases and high cost of living in Port Harcourt the Rivers State capital, where oil firms and banks are ready to pay any among as against the unemployed and low class income earners.
Many think that the lack of government intervention in the housing sector is a deliberate act to continually allow tenants to suffer in the hands of shylock landlords. Sadly, many landlords have intimidated their tenants through, arbitrary increment of their house rent, locked up houses on flimsy excuses or even evict them without respecting their fundamental human rights.
Here in Rivers State, some past administration have also worsening the situation through unnecessary evictions of citizens origin home, like the demolition of Njemanze and Abonema wharf water front without the consideration of rehabilitating them. The housing law makes it mandatory that it is only in the case of overriding public interest that a government can actually demolish or dismantle the habitats of its citizens without any compensation or providing an alternative accommodation for them. It is based on this unhealthy situation that created the lack of proper housing projects in Rivers State.
Subsequently, the different administrations in the past have done only lip service in relation to building low cost housing for its people. The question now is how do the past admissions manage our budget in the area of provision of housing in Rivers State? In the past sixteen years, how many housing estates do we have as a State?
A flash back will collaborate with the fact that the first military administrator of Rivers State, Papa Priye Diete-Spiff had a tremendous plan to decongest Rivers State by planning for the city of Degema, Ahoada, Bori among others. Unfortunately, non-implementation of the projected cities over the years have caused chronic housing deficiency.
Notwithstanding, we must commend and applaud Governor Sim Fubara who for just few months in office to have done outstanding research to know the leakages and lapses in the housing sector in Rivers State.
This is a clear manifestation of what is called a purposeful leadership. Interestingly, this onerous task of providing affordable houses in Rivers State is also in tandem will the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The obvious skyrocketed house rent in Rivers State is anti-people and dehumanising but by the implications of this Governor Fubara housing ideology, lack of houses will succumb to decent houses and affordable prices. Furthermore, this 20,000 thousand housing units will create job opportunities for different categories of skills and unskilled labour. The African proverb stated that a good dancer start with a good dancing step.
Therefore, it is necessary and imperative for all Rivers citizenry and non indigenes to support the governor beyond measures irrespective of their political inclinations for him to materialise this Lauderdale dream.
To comprehend this housing project, it is crystal clear that the government does not need any political altercation or hullabaloo that will distract his attention from achieving this and other lofty ideas in the offing.
One may ask our housing budget in the past sixteen years in Rivers State, while Lagos State and Abuja keep expanding reducing the number of destitute found on our streets and those sleeping under the flyovers.
Apparently, by the time the administration of Governor Sim Fubara completes this particular housing units, Rivers people will live in comfortable houses than the popular “batcher” that degrades our environment without any proper landscaping.