2019 election is barely a few months away and political aspirants have started strategizing how either to be elected or re-elected to serve. Political campaign posters are now beautifully decorating the walkways and streets with beautifully crafted promises that we have only being seeing in writing and far from actualization.
Elected office holders at the federal and state levels eyeing political posts in the forthcoming elections will soon parading press releases of their public services to the electorate; some of which we have already started seeing.
Keen observers will notice that politicians have started collaborating and cooperating with their godfathers, forming alliances, making deals, moving camp from one party to the other, fashioning new political parties and courting political rivals. Not forgetting to mention last minute political aspiration declarations notwithstanding the mind blowing price of political nomination fees. Less I forget, it was said that even state governments who have not been able to pay the salaries of civil servants in their states are single handedly buying presidential nomination forms for others.
Contrary to expectations that a democratically elected government will engender development, this cannot be said to be so for many Nigerians. Unfortunately, events have proved that democracy does not bring about socio-economic development by default. Socio-economic development would only play an important role in sustaining democracy.
Over the years, lawmakers and those in authority have recoiled from talking about one major increasing difficulty Nigerians have been dabbling with; the saddening issue of not being able to afford a decent roof over their head which they can proudly call theirs.
Affordable Housing is essentially necessary to the extent that, in some countries it is equated with human right. This is because habitable housing discourage anti-social behavior, promotes healthy living, efficiency, and general well-being of the populace. Housing does not only serve as an asset to the individual and Nation, it also provides man with cover and security. Therefore, the provision of affordable housing at a large scale remains a challenge to most countries particularly those in developing country like Nigeria. It has become increasingly glaring that most urban population live in dehumanizing housing environment, while those that have access to average housing do so at abnormal cost.
Sad to say majority of Nigerian Civil Servants after toiling and putting in their vibrant years in service cannot boast of a home to call theirs when it’s time for them to retire. Parents battling with school fees, ensuring adequate feeding and clothing of their immediate families and in some cases meeting the needs of extended families; despite all these, they still have to think and strategize on ways to pay for house rents. Even youths who are usually the centre of manipulations during this election period cannot even boast of future strategic plans to own a home of their own no matter how small.
Notwithstanding, worthy to note are the recent initiatives of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) on the Rent to Own Scheme and the uprising of affordable housing and mortgage policy formulation being put in place by joint efforts of private investors in the built environment and the Federal Government. Even the “Not Too Young to own a Home” initiative which is a homeownership initiative for youths amongst many other initiatives are still struggling to come alive.
Just as stated earlier, it is pertinent to note that it is only a democracy flavored with good governance that will accelerate economic development.
It is on this premise that certain extra effort be made and we ensure its not business as usual for these aspirants, there is need to stir up agitations on why housing issues and housing policy are not on Nigeria’s political radar screen, and what we can do to put them there.
Majority of these politicians seeking the votes of electorate have mansions to their names and cozy beds to lie on while the electorates whose votes are to bring them to power are struggling with house rents, high cost of lands and properties. Recently a FCT Housing Committee has been set up to investigate the issue of illegal land allocations in the FCT. Is it only in the FCT that such investigations be made? Aren’t there similar cases of such across the federation?
It is high time the electorate take their stands and demand from these aspirants what they intend to do to ensure that affordable housing is achieved in Nigeria. Enough of “I will”, Enough of intelligent guesses, detailed mapped out strategies that shows a promising future for affordable housing in Nigeria with the relevant platforms already in place should be shown to the electorate not the usual promises of “Poverty will be eradicated when voted into power” and that “there would be a full stop to corruption.”
The nation is in an election season, and glittering generalizations should not be allowed without demanding for specifics. As politicians make flowery promises, the electorate must as a matter of utmost necessity demand for specifics from politicians to enable them determine those who have ideas about the roles they intend to play in government in 2019.
The citizens must be courageous to ask questions from any political aspirant as to how he or she intends to solve the problems bedeviling the nation in all sectors of the economy especially on affordable housing. Nigerians are fed up with any politician who says “I’ll achieve restructuring of Nigeria in 6 months, if elected President”. Such a politician should be challenged by the electorate to say in concrete terms what he or she means by restructuring, why it is necessary and how he or she intends to go about actualizing such a campaign promise.
The media and civil societies have a duty to set agenda for public debate and create issues bordering on national development in this election season. Any politician that makes a promise must be courageous to let the electorate subject his campaign promises to thorough debate before elections to avoid blaming his or her predecessors when elected.
Wilson Ifeoma Nonye – HousingNews, Abuja