As the controversy over the Federal Government’s approval of N37 billion for the renovation of the National Assembly complex rages, housing industry experts have lent their voices, saying the huge sum can supply to the market approximately 5,000 two-bedroom bungalows at N7.5 million per unit.
This means the money has capacity to take 5,000 families off the housing market. Yemi Madamidola, an estate manager, says that given an average of four persons, comprising father, mother and two children per family, the cost of renovating that complex can provide homes for 20,000 Nigerians who will be out of the crowded housing market for good.
Nigeria has a crowded housing market where the demand-supply gap is estimated at 22 million units. For a country with a population of nearly 200 million people, it will require a minimum of an additional two million housing units per annum for 10 years to close that gap.
The country’s housing situation is dire. Whereas the government estimates $400 billion investment over the next 25-30 years to resolve the housing deficit, the World Bank says bridging the deficit would cost the country about N59.5 trillion, which is in agreement with Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria’s (FMBN) estimate which puts the value of the deficit at about N56 trillion.
“This is where we are; yet our priority is renovating a complex that nobody had told us before that it was no longer functional. Besides housing, this money can do a lot more in the economy. Nigeria has one of the worst roads network in Africa. If N37 billion is deployed to roads construction, it can build about 45 kilometres of standard roads at N800 million per kilometer,” Madamidola explained to BusinessDay.
Placing the N37 billion side by side with N60.87 billion allocation in 2020 budget for the housing sector, he described the action of the government as misplacement of priorities, wondering why the complex was to be renovated in the first place.
Not wanting to get emotional about the amount involved, MKO Balogun, the chief executive of PFI Global, queried the purpose of that budget. “Why do we have to renovate the complex? What are they doing in that place? Is the complex no longer functional? If it is, the renovation could be postponed because there are so many areas the money could be deployed to,” he counseled.
Using the N15 million National Housing Fund (NHF) as benchmark, Adedotun Bamigbola, chairman, Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV), Lagos branch, says about 9,000 low income earners including their wives and children could have shelter over their head.
He noted in a telephone interview that with N10 million, that huge amount could do much more in terms of housing provision.
Like Balogun, Bamigbola also wondered why the assembly complex was to be renovated. “Does the place require renovation? Who is the facility manager on the complex? Renovation of a facility should not be a project as we are being made to believe. If the complex has deteriorated to a point where it takes N37 billion to renovate, then, we should be considering being a new one,” he noted.
Nigerians generally are miffed that the National Assembly has decided to overlook the parlous state of the country’s economy and approved the renovation of the complex next year.
Originally, the NASS complex was constructed at a cost of N10.7 billion ahead of the return to democracy in 1999. This makes the approved N37 billion for the renovation outrageous, unjustifiable and excessive.
The same National Assembly allocated just N22.89 billion to the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) in the 2020 budget, despite the horrible state of the country’s road network.