During the 2015 campaigns, former Power, Works and Housing Minister Babatunde Fashola, while criticising the Jonathan administration, said six months was enough for any government to fix power and housing as infrastructure development is not rocket science.
Does he still hold the same view after his four-year experience as minister? Professionals, experts and stakeholders examine housing and infrastructural delivery under him. OKWY IROEGBU-CHIKEZIE writes
PROFESSIONALS in the built environment sector have a mixed bag of reactions on the performance of the immediate past Works and Housing Minister, Babatunde Fashola. While some said he performed within the limits of available resources given to him, others were of the opinion that his four years were inconsequential.
According to this school of thought, he performed below expectation and should probably not be returned or if he is returned, he should be made to preside over a ministry.
A former Chairman of Nigeria Institution of Estate Surveyors & Valuers (NIESV), Lagos Chapter, Mr. Sam Ukpong declared that the minister, Babatunde Fashola didn’t perform as a minister unlike when he was the governor of Lagos State He regretted that Lagos/Ibadan and Lagos-Badagry expressways were not completed in four years that he administered the ministry. According to him, Fashola scored zero in road construction and infrastructure upgrade.
On housing, he argued that he couldn’t confirm the number of houses the minister could claim to have built out of the 17 million housing gap in the country. He maintained that he didn’t expect a miracle from Fashola, a lawyer, that knows less to nothing about construction though have been a governor and performed creditably in different fronts.
He said to have given him three ministries to administer without a care for the millions of Nigerians who will be affected by that singular action called much to be desired.
Ukpong argued that Buhari shouldn’t have appointed a non-professional into a sensitive ministry such as Works and Housing and further criticised the collapse of three ministries under a man. He said: “We have a population of over 200 million, is it possible not to have identified a professional to administer the ministry and besides in a nation of millions of professionals is it possible that the president could not have found more eminently qualified professionals to take care of all the ministries as single units.
Unfortunately everything is politicised in this country. We can only hope and pray that they would have learnt their lessons and know that they contributed to Fashola under performance as a minister”.
He advised that the incoming minister must be chosen from the position of knowledge and strength so that he can be in a position to advise the president. The former NIESV boss said little wonder we have accidents on our roads almost on a daily basis as trailers fall on each other with most roads dotting craters and pot-holes.
He stressed that a non-professional will never succeed in a technical ministry such as Works & Housing due to its complexities.
A fellow of the Nigeria Society of Engineers and Facility Management Consultant, CEO of Ethical Business and Management Associates (EBAM), Afolabi Adedeji, advised President Buhari to unbundle the three ministries and assign individual professionals to administer them. He revealed that poor infrastructure delivery has added to the problems of most Nigerians leading to suicidal tendencies and increased security concerns.
While commending Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola for doing his best in the built environment- a technical area outside his professional calling, he asked that there should be securitised tenure for ministers so as to enable them concentrate and perform their duties.
He asked the new minister that may be appointed to target the lower rung of the ladder in terms of housing provision. He regretted that something is deficit about the nation’s housing policy or provision, noting that there is glut in the upper end of the real estate market.
Yet, major highways across the country have not received major attention as they have become abode of criminals such as kidnappers and other criminal elements as a result of the parlous state of the roads.
Adedeji further advised that the government should revisit Public Private Partnership (PPP), which will inject private funds into construction and housing provision. He called for the introduction of social and mass housing to cater for the poor, elderly and those incapacitated in one way or the other.
CEO Alpha Gate Builders Limited and a member of Nigeria Institute of Builders (NIOB), Mr. Adedeji Adebayo, said that combining three important and sensitive ministries was not a wise decision. He said it looked to him that there was too much responsibility without executive back up.
According to him, Fashola as a minister was not in full control compared to when he was a governor, a reason he said made the former Lagos governor not to achieve much in the housing sector as the public were yet to see the houses built across the federation.
Adedeji said the ministry didn’t achieve much apparently as a result of lack of policy direction. He said: “Fashola would have performed better under another president that is proactive but by and large he has tried his best but not good enough to show for that big office.
Lagos/Ibadan Express way is a project poorly executed for lack of coordination from Abuja. He should have sacked the Controller of Works but for politics. He probably would have achieved more but for his government lack of clear infrastructural direction”.
He canvassed for a seasoned Civil/Highway Engineer to be made to head the Works minister going forward while a chartered Builder should head the Housing ministry. According to him, this is to put round pegs in round holes.
He advised that the ministry must target housing for the less privileged not for the rich to close the housing gap. He suggested the government building Studio apartments as obtainable in advanced countries.
He further asked for home ownership scheme that assures that every family have roof over their heads. Adedeji advised the incoming minister to collaborate with NIOB to see that the National Building Code is signed into law while the price of cement a major component in building and construction is controlled and the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria reorganiSed to fulfill her mandate.