Minister for Works, Housing and Power Babatunde Fashola (SAN), Tuesday dismissed insinuations that Nigeria has twenty million housing deficit.
He conceded that Nigeria has housing challenges, but added that housing challenges are universal phenomenal.
The minister told reporters in Ilorin, the Kwara state capital at the end of a capacity building workshop for Federal Controllers of lands and housing in the country.
The theme of the training is “learning and development for greater stature.”
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Mr. Fashola revealed that the ministry had removed the mandatory 10 percent equity contribution before accessing loan from the National Housing Funds (NHF).
He said: “First of all I don’t believe that 20 million housing deficit number. Nobody has owned up to it. It is a number of no origin, I say so. So the person who did that data should come up and take ownership of it.
“But that is not to say that there is no housing challenge. We have it, every country in the world has it. Its level and degree is a function of so many things. It is perhaps, more pronounced in the urban centres as it is in the rural areas. But even in the urban centres there are still empty houses even where there is a problem of shelter.
“What we are doing is to try and complete ongoing projects that we met. We have started our own national housing programme. The idea is to design a product that Nigerians accept and can afford. One of the reasons why we have a number of empty buildings and houses is that some of these buildings are acceptable or are not affordable or both.
So we are trying to create a model that will be acceptable for the people. “Some of the other thing we are doing is to grant funding for people who contribute to the National Housing Fund (NHF) by way of mortgage. That is happening. We are improving access by reducing the amount you have to contribute. Those who wanted to borrow up to five million naira for example, their equity contribution was about 10 percent.
“We know that some people will not have N500,000 to contribute and deposit, we have removed that. They can borrow and what they should have contributed is now capitalized into what they will pay.
“That opens the door of access. You are not denied because you did not have the fund to self-contribute. We have also reduced the amount of which you are borrowing five million Naira and above from 15 percent down to about 10 percent.”
On consents and title documentation, the minister said that “we are also dealing with backlogs of title documenting and transactions, such consent to transact land. This is also a barrier to access. If you cannot finish the documentation, you might probably not get the funding. If you don’t have the title you might also be denied access to funding.
“So we have those backlogs of consent and certificate of occupancy (C of Os). As at April 19th this year, we signed 2,400 certificates of occupancy, we issued 1,214 consents to transact business on land.
These are things, some of which have been pending since the 1990s. We are attacking housing challenge in many fronts.”
On the power to revoke the licenses of DISCOs, he said: “The power to regulate DISCOs rests with the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) not in the ministry. It is a power vested by law, so the ministry cannot interfere with that power. It is a statutory power. The ministry is only saddled with policy directive which I have given in documents, letters and all of that. Don’t forget that before the privatization, the ministry had well over 50,000 staff. The staff strength of the ministry is now 779.”
By Adekunle Jimoh