Local governments in the country need to be more proactive in the efforts towards housing provision in the country, the President, Association of Housing Corporations of Nigeria, Mohammed Adamu, has said.
Adamu noted that despite all efforts by stakeholders towards reducing the country’s housing deficit, local governments had not lived up to their responsibilities.
He stated that local government remained the closest level of government to the people, designed to play a key role in housing delivery but unfortunately this level of government had not contributed positively to housing provision in Nigeria.
He said that apart from market stalls project, most of which were substandard and makeshift, and were usually provided by some local governments, there were no noticeable contribution of local governments in housing delivery.
“It is not an over-statement to state that local governments have failed in their housing responsibilities. With the current global economic crisis, it is imperative for our local governments to be proactive and embark on profitable ventures through strategic partnership and collaborative efforts with other relevant government agencies and serious private investors to enhance efficiency, productivity and business-like attributes that would attract other investors for the development of the housing sector and the economy,” he said.
He explained that some proactive steps that local government administrators should adopt for effective partnership and development of the housing sector as agents of economic recovery included eliminating or reducing high political interference with project execution.
He stated that though it might be a difficult task in view of the country’s political system and money-oriented politics, a committed leader willing to leave a footprint and affect the lives of the people could actually separate politics from projects and performance.
According to him, to really attract true investment, local governments should be ready to depart from the attribute of business as usual and eliminate if not possibly reduce politicking in project execution which grossly in most cases affect on-going projects.
He said, “Local government administrators should give room for professionalism at the grassroots level and allow total independence in project execution. Contracts should be awarded to professionals and administrators should avoid usurping statutory responsibility of experts in developing grassroots to ensure policy compliance and accomplishment.
“To attract investors’ participation in housing delivery, local government administrators should be ready to support with the provision of infrastructural facilities in housing estates to be developed in the grassroots which will assist in making such housing units affordable to the people.
“Moreover, they should assist in the development and adoption of the use of local building materials to help popularise and enhance its acceptability by the populace. In addition, local government administrators should help to mobilise people at the grassroots to register and contribute to the National Housing Fund to enable them have access to housing loan for homeownership.”
Adamu, in a paper titled, ‘Housing the rural populace: The local government option’ noted that housing delivery should be institutionalised at the local government level with proper examination of the current responsibilities with a view to giving due attention to its provision at the third tier level.
He said more residential layouts should be developed and local government should be encouraged to partner with other agencies, rural electrification board, bureau of public utilities, and water board among others for infrastructural development.
He said, “The roles of local governments in housing delivery will continue to be on the increase as long as the population continues to rise and the supply of housing is unable to match the demand. Despite all the challenges prevailing in the housing sector, the housing market still has great-untapped potentials and local governments would continue to be tasked in view of protracted problem of solving the housing needs of the people, especially the low income group.
“For the housing sector to make meaningful contribution to economic development and transformation, there must be political will which will bring about discipline and commitment on the part of government and all major stakeholders in the sector.”