Over time, Nigeria’s housing stock has remained very low at an estimated 10.71 million units over 80 percent of which were built from personal savings. The low stock, which is the reason for the country’s housing deficit, has been attributed to a number of factors.
Top of these factors are fraud and corruption among implementers of various federal government housing schemes across the country. Ahmed Dangiwa, minister for housing and urban development, added faulty concept designs, and politically motivated schemes that do not consider implementation challenges to the factors.
Dangiwa, who spoke in a recent interview, cited some of the failed federal government’s housing projects that would have, if properly implemented, improved the country’s housing stock and ultimately narrowed the current deficit.
The minister is opposed to government’s involvement in direct construction of houses, noting that so far, this practice has never yielded the expected and projected results.
He recalled that in 1972, the Federal Government established the National Housing Programme (NHP) under the second National Development Plan period. Government’s plan with that initiative was to build 59,000 homes, with 15,000 in Lagos and 4,000 units in each of the other 11 state capitals at the time. In 1973, the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) was created to coordinate the programme.
Dangiwa added that between 1975 and 1980, during the Third National Development Plan, the Federal Government decided to actively participate in the provision of housing, rather than leaving it primarily to the private sector.
“A total of N2.6 billion was earmarked for the implementation of various projects. During this period, a total of 202,000 homes were planned for construction, consisting of 50,000 units in Lagos and 8,000 units in each of the other 19 States. However, by the end of the plan period, less than 15 per cent of the houses had been completed,” he said.
In 1980, he recalled further, the government embarked on another elaborate NHP. The target groups were low-income earners, whose yearly income could afford one-bedroom house, and the medium-income group with yearly income that could afford a three-bedroom house. A total of 40,000 units were to be constructed yearly nationwide, with 2,000 units designated for each state and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). At the end of the exercise, not much was achieved.
Although the Federal Government budgeted about N1.9 billion for housing in the Fourth National Development Plan, the minister also recalled that an estimated sum of N600 million was spent on implementing the National Low-Cost Housing Programme. “Given this level of investment, the programme had a negligible impact on the overall housing market,” he said.
He said that these were just a few examples of failed government interventions in housing construction, saying, “the reasons for this negative trend are easy to extrapolate. They include faulty concept designs, politically motivated schemes that do not consider implementation challenges and, of course, outright fraud and corruption.”
According to him, studies indicated that, in the earliest cases, a single design was adopted for the entire country, regardless of varying cultural and climatic differences, adding that the distribution and selection of sites had little to no relationship with the actual demand for housing.
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Most states, he said, politicised the programme, offering land in remote areas with poor terrain to the Federal Government while contractor-appointments were often based on party patronage rather than capability and experience. “Furthermore, houses were allocated to party members, who neither needed them nor qualified as low-income earners,” he said.
As the new man on the saddle, he said he would chart a fundamentally different course of action that was sustainable, adding that he would help unlock the potential of the housing sector. He promised to take bold initiatives, champion strategic housing reforms, and break systemic barriers to housing and urban development.
“We will collaborate closely with the National Assembly to review relevant laws, streamline land and housing administration, and create a conducive environment for investment in the housing sector,” he assured.