Conversations are raging over how to finally establish a lasting and realistic solution to Nigeria’s age-long housing deficit. Nigeria’s housing deficit of up to about 17 million is a constant cause for concern and even embarrassment for housing sector stakeholders, especially those who are committed to making a difference.
There are a lot of stakeholders’ forums in Nigeria. Prominent among them is the Affordable Housing Development Group, established by FESADEB Media, a company with significant impact on the Nigerian housing sector, including the annual Abuja International Housing Show, Housing Development Programs on major TVs and radio stations. On these platforms, stakeholders engage in passionate discussions about the way forward for housing in Nigeria and Africa.
But beyond these discussions, some members have tasked the group and other stakeholders’ groups in the country to move from advocacy to action. There is a new emphasis for the stakeholders to entrench their own ‘Next Level’ of ideas and implementation.
While speaking with Housing News, Fola Alade, CEO of Rapid Shelter Nigeria, charged all stakeholders to not only begin an agenda setting campaign for the government, but to also convert their passion to a portfolio of housing projects across Nigeria.
‘’Through housing, we must change the narrative of Nigeria being the poverty capital of the world. Organisations like FESADEB have over 12 years’ experience in addressing the problem of housing through their recognizable platforms, but we need a collaborative effort to hasten the pace. Housing can be a great catalyst to ending poverty in Nigeria. 75% of Nigeria’s total population live in poverty. Any policy tailored to addressing the problems of these set of people which are the majority will go a long way to tackle poverty. 75% of our budget should go into solving the problems of low income people and those living in extreme poverty,’’ he said.
Speaking further, he stated that president Buhari needs to redeem his commitment to the poor by making them the focus of his administration. But Mr Alade was quick to add that the whole buck doesn’t stop at the president’s table.
‘’He is only one man. We need to support with our own policies and projects to compliment whatever he is doing or going to do with regards to the NEXT LEVEL agenda. The only NEXT LEVEL we should clamour for is the one that will lift the poor people from their current level of poverty to a better position where they can have access to basic needs like housing, healthcare, food and education.’’
According to him, if housing is what brings humans their dignity, then it is time for Nigeria to truly step up as the giant of Africa she professes to be and provide adequate and affordable housing for its huge population.
Critical Options for Providing Affordable Housing in Nigeria
According to Alade, there are two key strategies in meeting the housing demand in Nigeria. ‘’We either decide to build for people in their poverty or create a ladder through which they can climb out of poverty into relative prosperity. So, we choose to do the later. We are going to create employment, business and industrial opportunities that will enable the poorest people in our country be productively engaged, where they will use their sweat equity to get a house. We have to be realistic and think out of the box at this critical time,’’ he stated.
For him, the unemployment and poverty situation in Nigeria can be converted into an amazing opportunity. Through their sweat equity, poor people can use what they have to get what they want.
‘’That is why we are proffering a cashless housing solution, where you don’t need to pay to get the house, but you’d rather work to get it. You can work on the farm, construction site or whatever kind of legal labour to get a house. Site labourers earn minimum of N1500 daily. In 30 days, they will earn at least N40, 000 – N45, 000. So if you are deducting N15, 000 or N20, 000 monthly, at the end of the year, they can save up to N200, 000 to N24, 0000. And that is already 20 – 25% equity contribution to a N1million house.
Corroborating his views, Festus Adebayo, the promoter of Housing Television Programs in Nigeria, also stressed that every stakeholder should recognise their areas of comparative advantage, and offer self for project enrolment.
‘’There are options of what they can do. From land contributions to providing an off-takers network, to mortgages, to building materials at wholesale prices, there are a lot of ways everyone can come in. It is not enough to complain about the government’s inefficiency. As a people we can decide to take actions. When we mobilise ourselves en masse and see our efforts begin to yield, then government can follow suit and give the necessary support. As at today, we have sample houses of 1 bedroom at N1.6m to 2 bedroom for N3m by Hydraform. With more hands on deck, we can achieve more of this,’’ he said.
According to him, Individual and collective effort is what will set the agenda even for the new government before they come-in in May
Exploiting the Minimum Wage for Housing
According to Mr Alade, the real question now is how workers can get a house from the new 30, 000 minimum wage. He said that with a monthly deduction of N10 000, which is one-third of the N30, 000, it is possible to achieve.
‘’We can deduct N300 per day, which adds up to become N10, 000 per month. In one year, a worker can save up to N120 000. This can be called a ‘per day billing’ mortgage system. Even a couple can have a combine daily payment of N750 per day,’’ he said.
Cooperatives Strategy to Generate Off-takers
Another key strategy is unlocking the off-takers option through cooperatives and unions. Once these cooperatives can come together, rally themselves to fund a mass housing project, Alade said it will be easy for the building stakeholders to act on their demands and provide more houses.
‘’We cannot continue to wait for the Federal Mortgage Bank or Family Homes Fund because it will take a lot more time before their efforts are appreciable, especially with regards to the amount of deficit that needs to be bridged.’’
To make this work, he also harped on the need for accountability and transparency in the whole processes involved in ensuring that everyone including the poorest of the poor in Nigeria have their own home. If everyone can realise their place in changing Nigeria, it is his believe that a lot can be done in the shortest time.
By Ojonugwa Felix Ugboja