The minister of woks and housing, Babatunde Fashola has dismissed the often-qouted 17 million housing deficit statistics on Nigeria as baseless and with no verifiable basis.
Fashola, in a statement issued by the special adviser on communication, Hakeem Bello, stressed the importance of reliable data. He added that it will aid effective planning and decision making by those with the requisite skills and capacity to provide measurable results.
According to the minister, there has been a fixation and a binge on a supposed 17 million housing deficit, with no verifiable basis.
He said, “in my tenure of office as Lagos State Governor, between 2012-2015 we delivered 200 units of houses to members of the public every month, over a three-year period.
“At the same time other Governors launched and successfully executed housing projects across most of our 36 states, and so did members of the private sector.
“Regrettably, it seemed that nobody was ready to take account of the delivery of even 1 (ONE) unit of housing.
“The point I am making here, which needs to be repeated is that by logical and accountable use of data, if there was a need of 17 million and 1 unit was provided, one would expect that the need would reduce by 1 (ONE).
“Unfortunately, that was not the case. In a seeming desperation to race to the bottom, binge on the deficit and perhaps unleash a nuclear war on housing, the deficit grew to 19 million, later to 22 million and just a few days ago to 28 million according to announcers who cannot point to a source.”
He noted the impact of rapid urbanization, as people increasingly move towards cities, adding that more people have moved to the cities in the last 50 years than at any time before in human existence.
The minister submitted that the housing deficit in Nigeria and most parts of the continent and the world is more pronounced in urban centres than in rural areas.
He said: “While awaiting reliable census data, my approach has been to concentrate on housing supply and construction activities in the urban centres of our states, even as I am mindful of the existence of empty houses in the same urban centres.
“I know that many of those struggling for accommodation in the cities have left one form of shelter unused or under utilized in our rural areas.
“I also know that housing provision must look seriously at the rental side, while trying to increase ownership.
“I know that a lot more needs to be done to free up any obstacles that prevent people from renting or acquiring many empty houses that we see in our urban centres.”