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HOUSING AND EMPLOYMENT IN NIGERIA

If there is any problem the nation is facing today, it is how to gainfully employ her youth population; which are in the millions. The problem of unemployment, which has led to increase in social vices, is becoming monstrous. It is like sitting on a keg of gun powder. Unemployment was the root cause of Arab spring. When Mr President was asked a few weeks ago when his government will start the implementation of the promised N5,000.00 for unemployed graduates, he simply told them that, this was not his government priority; that he planned to concentrate on Power, Agriculture, Infrastructure development and Solid mineral. These areas had always been the area of concentration of successive governments at the expense of housing. There is urgent need for thinking outside the box. The democracy day garden meeting with the learned Vice-President and the road map for economic recovery and development he presented were not pragmatic enough considering the enormity of our challenges.

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Most governments for lack of understanding always put Housing at the end of their shopping list. They tend to believe that it can always be attended to after other needs had been met or when the state can afford it. What a big mistake! Housing is the “gbogbonse” of a depressed economy. A catalyst for growth! When housing is made a priority, other things will fall in line. It is the engine of economic growth. It is the surest basis for the nation’s industrial take off.

No other sector can generate massive employment as housing. An average 3 bedroom flat acquires 10 windows and 10 doors. 10,000 housing units will therefore require 100,000 windows, 100,000 doors and about 50 million blocks. Can anyone imagine the labour requirement to mould 50 million blocks and fabricate these doors and window, including painting, roofing and furnishing? No wonder David Cameron promised to build UK out of recession in 2010. He planned to embark on 270,000 housing units across UK per annum. Milton Keynes – a new town near London; is a living testimony of this radical approach. When there are many construction projects going on, local resources from near and far are mobilised and wealth is created: Infrastructural development will follow automatically. Men and women are busy, poverty and crime are alleviated.

Housing cannot and should not wait. It is now! It should therefore be part of the priority areas in the current budget. The projected 7 (seven) thousand units to be developed this year is very inadequate but a step in a right direction. Please ensure its delivery. It should not be empty promises or business as usual. At the end of this budget year, Government should tell us where these houses were built. Try these and we will begin to witness true recovery. I will equally encourage the Honorable Minister of Works, Power & Housing – Mr Babatunde Fashola to revisit the policy that our team put in place for the nation in 2007; when former President Obasanjo appointed seven of us into the Technical Board of Federal Housing Authority.

A continued neglect of housing sector is already manifesting in the emergence of the militant groups across the country. Nigeria should know that unemployment and poverty were the origin of the Arab Spring.

Source: Professor Timothy Nubi

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