The Federal Housing Authority (FHA) established in 1973 is charged with the preparation of proposals for national housing programmes as well as execution of such housing programmes. It also develops and manages real estate in all states of the federation.
The President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration had at many fora reiterated its commitment to the provision of affordable houses to Nigerians. Making good its promise, the government recently released N9 billion to the Federal Housing Authority for the construction of houses across the country.
FHA Managing Director Professor Mohammed Al-Amin said with the fund already domiciled in the authority’s account, it will go a long way in accelerating its housing programmes as well as providing infrastructure in its existing estates.
He said in line with the Federal Government’s directive, FHA has stated building 550 low-cost houses in Zuba, a suburb of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
He said the Zuba housing project is the pilot phase, adding that the low-cost houses would be built in all the state capitals across the country, assuring that upon completion, the houses would be specifically allocated to the low income earners.
He said the project began 15 weeks ago and is a mixture of one, two and three-bedroom flats.
He said: “A total of 550 houses are to be produced there. We are going to invest N9 billion in the project. Already, we have this money in our account and we are releasing it according to the dictates of the Public Procurement Act.”
He said the low cost houses would also be built in Kwali and Lugbe in the FCT.
Unlike in the past, the FHA MD said they have appropriately accommodated Nigerians in the informal sector in the housing programmes under the Federal Ministry of Finance, in conjunction with the Office of the Vice President.
Al Amin said of the project: “For low income earners or those in the informal sector, we have what is called the Family Home Fund.
“This fund is being administered by the Office of the Vice President and the Federal Ministry of Finance. In this fund, once you can afford to contribute N30,000 monthly, then you get into the process of owning one of the buildings as far as you meet the stipulated criteria. The Zuba housing scheme is one of such.”
He said the government is bothered about the high rate of rural–urban migration with its attendant social ills, adding that with the number of houses to be built, the menace would be greatly reduced.
The Chairman of the Board of Directors, FHA, Lawal Shuaibu, said the 550 Zuba housing project was a social intervention scheme of the Federal Government, adding that the agency was also involved in the construction of commercial houses for high income earners.
He said it has also built high-end houses at Apo district of Abuja for high income earners under its commercial housing scheme.
However, residents of Federal Housing estates in locations like Gwarinpa, Lugbe, Kubwa, Kado and Karu in Abuja have been complaining of lack of proper maintenance of infrastructures in the estates.
But Al-Amin said from the funds recently released, money would be set aside to upgrade and rehabilitation of infrastructure like roads, drainages and waste disposal in its various estates.
He said he held a town hall meeting, last week, with residents of Lugbe and that he was overwhelmed with complaints on infrastructure there which made him to invite the Minister of State II, Power, Works and Housing, Suleiman Zarma, to the estate to have a firsthand information of the condition of the estate.
“Over N100 billion is expended by the Federal Government for building new houses from 2015 to date through appropriation to reduce the housing deficit.
“FHA is working in collaboration with the FCDA to ensure that the developments are guided by what the master plan dictates but we are still having challenges of lack of cooperation from some groups of people who think they are above the law,” the FHA board chairman, Lawal Shuaibu, said
The chairman Lugbe Residents Association, Mr Odelana Adesina, said the estate is housing over 70,000 residents but faced the challenges of deplorable roads, lack of pipe-borne water and waste disposal system.
He said: “There is no government hospital; light is also a problem and the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company is not billing us appropriately.
“We also need more police outposts to help in securing the estate, among others. So, we want government to make its intervention as quickly as possible.”
The minister, in the course of the inspection, however, said the masterplan of the estate is being violated with the manner some people built on the water ways, blocking the drainage system which could lead to erosion.
He noted also that the estate was initially meant for 5,000 residents, but now has a population of over 60,000, overstretching the infrastructure. He also decried frequent violation of planning regulations of the estate by both residents and managers.
“We have our own part to play as residents and as managers of the estate because I have seen frequent abuse of the planning regulations.
“But as planning authority, we know periodically, we are supposed to look into our settlements, not only the ones we built but also the ones that are inherited by people.
“We have to look at them and do a structure plan and upgrade the facilities to be up to the standard of good living for all the citizenry of the country,” Zarma added.
He directed the FHA to ensure regulatory standard for facilities such as markets, hospitals and shopping complexes, among others, assuring that the authority would carry out a survey with a view to ascertaining the best ways to improve the road network as well as provide other services in the area.
The FHA Managing Director, Mohammed Al-Amin, stressed the need for quick intervention in the condition of the housing estate, saying the best way to do that was to bring in members of the Federal Executive Council.
“That is why the minister supervising the housing sector in the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing is here on this tour.
“We want government to know the quantum of the needs that are there, and we are starting with FHA Lugbe, on Airport road as our pilot programme.
“The first avenue is the major road leading into the FHA estate and it is a connection road but in a very deployable state. A lot of vehicles ply the road and it is almost obliterated due to erosion and illegal encroachment among others,” he said. He said that the FHA would be collaborating with the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) to enforce compliance with the master plan of the estate.