Nigeria’s minister for housing and urban development, Ahmed Dangiwa, says he is troubled deeply that, as a country, Nigeria has no credible data on housing and the state of towns and communities.
Dangiwa, who is bringing about 30 years experience in the housing sector to bear on his work as minister, notes that lack of data is a huge obstacle to effective planning, budgeting, and investment in the sector.
He adds that he is worried because, for quite some time, industry experts have been citing varying numbers for Nigeria’s housing deficit—starting at 17 million and gradually escalating to 20 million, then 22 million and now around 28 million units, all of which lack substantiated evidence.
“Addressing this issue is a top priority for me. Firstly, I plan to ensure, as a ministry focused on policy formulation, that we establish a robust policy, research, and statistics framework within the ministry,” he said in an interview recently.
Continuing, he said, “this framework will vigilantly monitor developments, trends, and changes in the country’s housing mix. It will be staffed by qualified personnel. Additionally, I will engage data consultants to collaborate with them on conducting the first government-sponsored nationwide housing survey.”
Dangiwa explained that the survey would aim to scientifically determine the actual housing shortage in the country, noting that it was about time the government did its homework because, according to him, it was government’s responsibility to lead this effort and not rely on extrapolations from foreign bodies and institutions.
“Creating this knowledge base within the ministry will be a paramount objective. It will help institutionalise the data collation practice, “ he said, adding, “I plan to collaborate with the National Population Commission (NPC) as they prepare for the next nationwide census. I have already initiated discussions with the commission’s leadership with the aim of leveraging the census to gather data about housing in the country.”
On the 1978 Land Use Act which many stakeholders believe is a major impediment to housing sector growth, Dangiwa assured he would collaborate closely with the National Assembly to facilitate its review.
He described land as an essential requirement for sustainable housing delivery, listing challenges associated with land acquisition for housing as availability, accessibility, ownership rights, security of tenure, and the absence of land use plans. All these, he said, posed significant obstacles to development across both the public and private sectors of the economy.
The minister recalled that the Act was originally intended to streamline the availability of urban and rural land for development, lamenting that its inclusion in the Constitution has inadvertently constrained housing delivery.
Other major issues associated with the Act include its inflexibility which makes even minor amendments difficult; the vesting of all lands in the states in the governors and federal lands in the presidency.
There are also cumbersome and costly procedures for obtaining Certificates of Occupancy, consents to mortgage, assignments, and leases; and a restriction, as stated in section 34(8) of the Act, on private developers to acquire a maximum of half a hectare of urban land.
For these and other reasons, he noted, the objectives of the Act have not been fully realized since its enactment in 1978.