The Federal Government says it is building 6,000 housing units in 35 states of the federation and the federal capital territory (FCT) Abuja under the National Housing Programme (NHP) which it started in 2016. This has raised concerns among home seekers and stakeholders in the housing sector.
Out of this number, only 2,700 units have been completed, according to Mu’azu Sambo, the minister of state for works and housing, who explained that the completed units make up the first phase of the programme while work was ongoing on the second and third phases.
Though the NHP is just one of the government’s housing programmes as revealed by Sambo, 6000 housing units are a far cry from the one million the All Progressives Congress (APC) promised in 2015 that its government would deliver on yearly basis.
Experts say the NHP output, so far, is not good enough in a country where the housing demand-supply gap is put variously at 17 million, 20 million and 22 million, depending on who is speaking.
“This dismal outing proves us right that the government should not get involved in direct construction of housing. What we see now is a situation where the government is crowding out the private sector. It is overtly in competition with them, instead of providing the right environment for them to perform,” an expert who did not want to be named, stressed.
The expert noted that the government’s lack of finance and expertise has also manifested in its Economic Sustainability (ESP) social housing programme where it says it has built only 19,478 out of the targeted 300,000 units originally planned to be delivered annually.
At the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic which brought the global economy on its knees, including that of Nigeria, the Federal Government came up with a N2.3 trillion Economic Sustainability Plan, part of which was the N200 billion National Social Housing aimed at delivering 300,000 homes annually for Nigerians on low-income, as well as providing jobs for the local industry.
Almost two years, the programme has delivered only 19,478 housing units, leaving it with a 280,522 shortfall. At this rate, it will take 14 more years to meet the 300,000 units target and that is what was targeted to be done in 12 months.
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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who gave the hint on the number of units that have been completed, disclosed that the 19,478 units include 582 purchased from the Millard Fuller Foundation (MFF), a real estate investment and development firm that builds homes and communities.
“We are negotiating another 400 homes with them,” Osinbajo said, explaining that their one-bedroom self-contained costs N2 million and N3.2 million for the two-bedroom. “We negotiated with Dangote, BUA and Lafarge to give the Family Homes Fund cement at a 30 percent discount. So, we now have low-cost cement,” he said.
Highlighting the MFF’s housing units in Nasarawa State as an example of private sector partnership with the government in reducing the social housing supply gap, Osinbajo hoped that “it can serve as a model for many others to follow, with the potential for creating homes that are affordable to Nigerians on a modest income, particularly our young people as they start out in life.”
The 300,000-mass housing was hailed by housing industry stakeholders who described it as a good economic recovery strategy post-Covid-19. In order to avoid the pitfalls of similar initiatives in the past, the government was reported to have set aside funding and put modalities in place for its implementation.
“Government will be building the 300,000 houses over 12 months using existing institutions. Implementation is expected to be carried out by the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) and the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN),” Ayo Ibaru, director of real estate at Northcourt, confirmed to BusinessDay.
Nigerians were told that as part of modalities to make this project successful, the office of the vice-president would provide the leadership and this, Ibaru explained, was based on the understanding that most initiatives chaired by the VP’s office tended to achieve some level of success.
Damola Akindolire, former managing director of Alpha Mead Construction Company, noted that 300,000 housing units would provide, at least, six million direct and indirect jobs. “Although far from making any major dent to the high unemployment figures, it will certainly make an impact,” he said.
The residential housing market, he noted, was one of the most labor-intensive sub-sectors and would generate a lot of economic activity and reduce unemployment.
Though the project appears small when compared to the country’s housing deficit, Oluwakemi Adeyemo, CEO, Future Perfect Properties, said setting up this economic recovery project with as little bias and bottlenecks as possible would add its own quota to reviving the economy.
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Business Day, established in 2001, is a daily business newspaper based in Lagos. It is the only Nigerian newspaper with a bureau in Accra, Ghana. It has both daily and Sunday titles. It circulates in Nigeria and Ghana
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