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Nigerians Await ‘Next Level’ Intervention in Housing Sector

Prior to his first term which began in 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari promised a lot, including promises of addressing Nigeria’s housing deficit of about 17 million head-on.

While there were some actions taken in that direction, not so much impact was made, unfortunately.

Buhari’s party, the All Progressive Congress (APC) ‎had said it will build one million houses per annum if elected into power.

The party said it will review the ‎Land Use Act and provide infrastructures to realise the plan of addressing Nigeria’s housing deficit.

The then APC National Publicity ‎Secretary, and now Minister of Communications, Alhaji Lai Mohammed stated at an inter-party debate organised by the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) and Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) in 2015 titled, “The Challenges of Housing, Water and Power Supply in Nigeria: What is the Master Plan?” that “We will use the Land use Act to reform land in a manner that will encourage all states to computerise their lands.

“That’s why we said we will create a mortgage market that we can build one million houses per annum.”

He further stated then that PDP had committed 50 million Euro bond to finance the mortgage.

“We have also asked the relevant government ‎agencies, especially the Nigeria Mortgage Refinancing Company (NMRC) take active hold of the money.

“We have already partnered 18 states to provide affordable housing from rent to own approach,” he said.

But so far, not so much has been achieved in relation to the above stated promises.

Next Level: What Can Nigerians Expect?

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During his campaign for re-election this year, the new mantra was ‘Next Level,’ a supposed promise to advance whatever policies there were to a more appreciable height.

This has set the tone for expectation about what ‘Next Level’ will mean for Nigeria’s housing sector, which is in need of several policy interventions, policy repeals and passages.

One of the counter productive decisions made by the government according to Housing Sector experts was the merging of ministries of works, power and housing.

These ministries are so significant that it will be impossible to achieve needed results unless they are untangled and administered by individual ministers.

As the President is planning to constitute a new ‘Next Level’ cabinet, the expectation is that it will reflect a better outlook for Housing. Will the president unbundle these ministries? Will there be a new approach to housing? These are the questions dominating the discussion among industry enthusiasts.

According to some Housing sector stakeholders who spoke with Housing News, the President owes a duty to Nigerians, especially the low income earners who voted for him.

The expectation for Next Level is that even those in informal sectors like carpentry, bricks making, farming, drivers and all sorts of artisans will be able to enjoy a housing policy that gives them opportunity to own their own homes.

“Next Level should bring a solution to our housing crisis, where those low income earners who voted President Buhari will have a house of their own they can afford,” said Frank Aba, a real estate investor.

Speaking further, he said that with the right approach, housing can be used to reduce poverty of citizens. “The quality of life will significantly improve for those who are able to benefit from a well thought housing program by the government. They should also widely consult with industry stakeholders on how to provide not only houses that are affordable but also of high standard,” he advised.

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Other stakeholders also emphasis on the need for the amendment of the land use act, speedy work on the foreclosure bill, amendment of the NHF bill among others.

This has been suggested as actions that should be on the priority list of the 9th National Assembly.

To avoid mistakes of the past, housing industry experts harp on the need for wide sector consultations before final decisions are made with regard to these laws.

While the government has received some commendation for its efforts with regards to Family Homes Fund, Housing Loans etc, there is the unmistakable recognition of the fact that there is still a lot more to be done.

It is the hope of many that the government will match words with actions in order to realise the set housing objectives for Africa’s largest economy, in order to also attract more local and foreign investors.

By Ojonugbwa Felix Ugboja

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