• Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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BusinessDay

Nigeria’s housing minister explains why Nigeria’s housing problem persists

Nigeria’s power, works and housing minister, Babatunde Fashola, has given reasons Nigeria’s housing problem has persisted for years after government whittled down its direct involvement in housing deliver in the country.

Besides the Land Use Act of 1978, the long and tortuous titling and documentation processes which are major impediments to housing development, Fashola said there were also problems of knowing the number and type of houses that should be built, the places they were needed and the expectations of those who need housing.

Fashola, whose ministry has been criticized for not doing much in advancing the cause of housing in the last four years of the Buhari administration, does not subscribe to the figure being bandied as the value of housing deficit in Nigeria.

Nigeria has a crippling housing deficit estimated at 17 million units. Roland Igbinoba, CEO, Pison Housing Company, noted in the State of Lagos Housing Market report compiled by the company, that the deficit is both quantitative and qualitative, meaning that apart from the deficit being large in number, many of the available houses are substandard.

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The minister explained that Nigeria’s housing problem would persist for as long as an accurate number of houses needed in the country remains unknown and the kind of houses to be built to suit different tastes, geographical locations, cultural biases and income levels are yet to be determined.

He added that housing industry stakeholders needed to come together to determine what were really Nigeria’s housing problems and dimension them as has been done in the power sector.

He argued that the country shouldn’t be talking about housing deficit when there were so many empty houses scattered all over the country looking for buyers or tenants. “People always talk of a particular figure as the value of the deficit in the housing sector; who did the counting; how did they arrive at the number?”, asked Fashola who spoke at a real estate forum in Lagos recently.

The minister therefore tasked real estate professionals, especially estate surveyors and valuers, to come up with an accurate figure as regards housing deficit in Nigeria, noting, “a figure has been repeated and validated by estate surveyors and valuers without asking how it was generated; as professionals they should assist government in carrying out audit of the empty and occupied houses as there is no city in the country without empty and unoccupied houses”.

Erejuwa Gbadebo, CEO, Alpha Mead Estate Services, had in an interview with BusinessDay, highlighted the need for housing data collection, pointing out that it would help both urban planners and housing developers to know what is available and what is not.

“One of the biggest problems that we have in the housing sector is lack of data. People still quote 17 million units because there is no other data to prove or disprove it. We talk of homes demolished, burnt or new ones built, but the question is who is taking record of the number of houses that are being built and the ones we are losing?

“The first thing the industry should do is to start taking stock of what is available—what house-types are they; what do they change hand for? There should be a central system either online or from bodies such as Nigerian institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers. There must be a way of capturing this data so that we can have accurate number and stop fighting a battle we may have won or will never win”, he advised.

Analysts say it is a sad commentary on Nigeria, touted as the largest economy in Africa, that while South  Africa has  2-3 million housing units deficit and Ghana has 1.5 million units, Nigeria is burdened with 17 million units which, the analysts insist, is no longer tenable because of population growth and lack of verifiable data.

The Nigerian building and roads research institute (NBRRI), quoting findings by Worldometer 2017, says “the 17 million units deficit is no longer tenable”, explaining that, from 2012 to date, Nigeria’s population has increased from 168,240,403 to 191,835,936, showing a significant addition of  23,595,533  people to the population.

“The housing deficiency has, therefore,  climbed and is likely to worsen in the nearest future if urgent steps are not taken by the government in conjunction with all stakeholders to address the problem”, Danladi Matawal, DG/CEO of the institute, said noted.

 

CHUKA UROKO