A News Analysis by Jacinta Nwachukwu and Uche Bibilari, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)
Stakeholders in the built industry observe that Nigeria’s housing problem is due to unaddressed previous lack of focus on housing development.
They argue that although a good housing programme can create better society, development, health and ease of governance, previous administrations in the country have not done much in that regard.
According to them, viable housing development has ever been a major component of creating stable, wealth and healthy communities that the country has not been able to key in.
They, nonetheless, indentify lack of expertise, up to date and knowledgeable industry leaders, especially in the policy making arms and lack of funding for relevant housing development agencies, as the cause of the problem.
But the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria admits that although there might have been such observed lapses previously, the bank has been working to bridge housing deficit in the country.
Further to this, Mr Ahmed Dangiwa, the Managing Director of the bank, said the institution would evolve a mortgage financing regulatory system to provide solid foundation for housing finance in the country.
At an event in Abuja recently, he noted that the management team would ensure that the regulatory system was effective to protect interests of existing and prospective home owners.
“Meeting the affordable mass housing needs of Nigeria remains a major challenge; with estimated 17 million housing deficits in the country anticipated to cost almost N60 trillion, solutions must be put in place to bridge this large gap,’’ he said.
Dangiwa also admitted that there had been several challenges facing the sector, especially on mortgage financing.
According to him, existence of a viable mortgage system which will strengthen home ownership for low-income earners is imperative for tackling the challenges facing the housing sector.
He said the bank would develop a mortgage financing change agenda that would also serve as guiding compass to the housing reform agenda of the government.
He promised that the management of the institution would build a firm foundation for the future of the housing sector in Nigeria by repositioning the bank, appealing to stakeholders to think on how to proffer financial solutions to the challenges.
In his remarks, Dr Yemi Adelakun, a former Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, advised that developers should always put into consideration annual income of civil servants to provide them with affordable houses.
He said the affordable housing ought to be within the cost accessible for both low and medium income earners.
“Affordable housing is defined as housing deemed affordable to those households within their income, it means whether rented or owned, it must be affordable at different income brackets.
“Therefore, the aim of any affordable housing programmes is to provide through special arrangements sustainable housing to the low and medium income earners in the society,’’ Adelakun said.
He, therefore, urged the government to play a leading role in providing affordable housing for people in formal sector and informal sector.
“The reason for this is very clear, politicians talk about delivering the dividends of democracy, housing will not only provide shelter; it will improve the quality of lives and standards of living for Nigerians.
“An affordable housing also supports government war against corrupt practices, create avenue for skills acquisition and employment generation,’’ he noted.
Sharing similar sentiments, Mr Francis Okumagba, a stakeholder in the built industry, said government at all levels should do the needful to enable Nigerians to own houses.
Okumagba complained that the type of houses being built by developers were not the types average Nigerians could afford.
However, Ms. Beatrice Ezeocha, Sales Representative, Nigeria Pipes Ltd., attributed the high cost of housing in Nigeria to non-use of locally manufactured building materials, accusing developers of using expensive foreign products in construction.
According to her, there are lots of qualities and durable locally manufactured building materials in Nigeria that can reduce the cost of building houses in the country.
She called on developers to patronise locally manufactured product, observing that it would help in making the prices of houses affordable for the masses.
Similarly, a mortgage consultant, Mrs Adenike Fasanya-Osilaja, advised that estate developers should ensure building within their resources instead of relying on loans repayment to execute housing projects which he said could lead to unfinished housing projects.
“It is not government’s responsibility to provide funds or teach the developers how to make money, but it is government’s duty to facilitate an enabling environment for its citizens to own homes.
“The problem in the housing sector is not funding, legal framework, lack of land, but mismatch of housing supply to housing demand.
“In housing transaction, there should be peace of mind for both the buyer and the supplier; the builder no longer needs guesswork; the fact is that you build for a ready, willing and able buyer,’’ she observed.
She also advised developers to always consider the capabilities of their clients in terms of resources.
Fasanya-Osilaja, therefore, underscored the need for developers to stop funding unmatched construction but endeavour to facilitate government efforts to develop the built industry.