According to the President of Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV), Roland Abonta, the efforts by President Buhari’s administration in its first four years didn’t meet the targets in housing mostly because of the merging of Power, Works and Housing as one ministry.
While speaking with Housing News, the Estate Surveyor said that, ‘’what has happened in the last four years are ad hoc interventions; and the issue of housing is beyond ad hoc arrangement.
It requires well planned program that could run from year to year and from time to time, and of course until we get it right to have a planned housing development and delivery system in place, we will continue to scratch the surface of housing challenges in Nigeria.’’
According to him, most of the efforts like FISH housing for workers are predominant only in Abuja and are not targeted at those who need housing the most. As an operator in the housing market, he said that he is aware that the demands are there but are not being met. These demands, according to him, are not met because of the ad hoc nature of the interventions.
Speaking on the way forward, especially as the government has commenced its ‘Next Level’ agenda, Abonta said that the first thing should be the unbundling of the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing.
He said: ‘’you can’t merge the second most important need of man with other sectors. In that marriage, you will realise that housing is given the least priority. Works is a major issue, and so is power. Lumping them with housing which is also a very critical sector is counterproductive. The merging can only produce failure. Housing must stand on its own in order to meet that important need of shelter for man.’’
The Federal Government according to him should also address the issue of politicizing housing as we see it today which only favour a select class of people without taking into consideration the need of the entire nation. ‘’It is very important to provide housing for the majority of people because most criminal elements in the society are bred in areas with poor housing such as slums. Another way of tackling insecurity is to provide not only for the rich but the poor who constitute the majority,’’ he said.
Another area of focus according to him should be that housing is prioritized and put in the hands of the most appropriate professionals. ‘’FESTAC Town in Lagos – the biggest housing estate that was developed and managed in Nigeria through the Federal Housing Authority was under the leadership of a professional Fortune Ebieh, an Estate surveyor and valuer.
Ever since then, that is the nearest a professional has gotten to the top of housing leadership in Nigeria. Non-professionals whom have been offered leadership positions in housing – as has always been the case – cannot give what they don’t have. So we are calling on the president to appoint professionals to take responsibility for housing administration in Nigeria,’’ he said.
‘’I am also calling for a robust housing agenda for Nigeria. An agenda that will cater for all categories of Nigerians. Most initiatives in the sector are only ad hoc ones not based on permanent motives. The new minister should first take stock of what is needed in order to be guided accurately.
Housing needs vary from state to state. So, unless there is an empirical evidence derived from a housing survey, it will be difficult to know what to do. Most houses are not built based on the actual needs of people but based on speculation, and this is why most of these housing initiatives fail.
‘’Another is the issue of mortgage financing in Nigeria. We need to reorganise our mortgage system and make it effective. Today, most Nigerians do not know where to start when it comes to accessing mortgage. Our mortgage finance institutions have gone into big time lending to developers who provide for the buyers.
While that is good, who monitors the process to ensure compliance in a way that will benefit the masses? How can we ensure that those who take these loans abide by the guidelines if FMBN? We need to overhaul the mortgage system and make it work, and create access to mortgage finance for everyone. There need to be more sources of funding for FMBN and the federal government should consider this an issue of special intervention.
‘’Another issue that needs to be addressed is that of land titling. Even when mortgages are available, most people who own lands in cities and villages cannot access the mortgages because they don’t have title to their lands.
So ensuring that the presidential committee on land reform that have started a project they call systematic titling is implemented in all the states should be a priority in order to increase land titling.
‘’Lastly, I think there should also be innovation in the sector because the application of brick and mortar in the housing industry cannot achieve what we need. There should be more initiatives to enhance skills and expertise. We need the skill and technology that can deliver more houses in record time.’’
By Ojonugwa Felix Ugboja