President Muhammadu Buhari has on Wednesday announced portfolios for his new ministers who will take charge of affairs as the government commences its Next Level phase fully.
For the Housing sector, there has been a lot of call for the unbundling of the ministry which was initially merged with power and works. A lot of stakeholders believe that given its crucial importance, housing should be standing on its own.
The latest announcement of Babatunde Raji Fashola as the minister of works and housing might not seem like a total answer to that call, but it is definitely an improvement. Fashola is retaining his seat as a minister, but with one burden less. The ministry of power has been removed from the equation, leaving works and housing.
As that is the current situation, the Housing Development Advocacy Network of Nigeria, which is an autonomous organization under Abuja International Housing Show (AIHS) comprising of various leading stakeholders in the sector are throwing in their support and are outlining important areas of urgent focus for the minister.
The suggestions includes the need to consolidate on previous achievements and the introduction of new projects that can substantially reduce the country’s nagging housing deficit.
Below are the top 7 critical things the Housing Development Advocacy Network say the minister must do to enhance affordable housing in Nigeria.
1. The first tenure of Babatunde Raji Fashola saw him undertake a pilot National Housing Programme which led to a nationwide housing construction in various states of the federation. According to the minister, while giving account of his service mentioned that construction works at these project sites are an ecosystem of human enterprise where artisans, vendors, suppliers and craftsmen are direct beneficiaries as well as contributors to nation building. It is therefore important that unlike previous housing programmes in Nigeria, this one should not be abandoned, but reinvigorated and adapted to prevailing challenges in a way that more results can be achieved and more houses built for the poor who needs them the most. According to Housing Development Advocacy Network, the projects that are ongoing should be completed and new ones initiated, and must be affordable for those that genuinely need the houses.
2. The Housing Development Advocacy Network have also advised the minister to review mistakes that were made in the past and make amends. In particular, the ministry should not in the Next Level regime be involved in the direct construction of housing projects, but rather as a policy initiator and supervisor, in order to ensure the kind of transparency needed for housing sector development in Nigeria.
3. The minister has also been charged to employ a more collaborative approach in understanding and solving the perennial housing problems in Nigeria. Many believe that it is very important for the minister to work more with stakeholders and professional institutions such as NSE, Foci, NIESV, NIOB, NITP, REDAN, NIQS, NIS, NIA and others to form a collaborative network that will make the goal of delivering affordable housing possible for all parties.
4. There are a number of outstanding bills either in need of a review or introduction to facilitate rapid investment in the real estate sector, which will in turn drive the economy. The new minister has been urged to partner with housing policy advocates like MBAN, AIHS, CBN and others to see that these critical bills including the NHF and FMBN review bills, Foreclosure act, Federal Government Housing Loans Board bill (FGHLB), Land Use Act, The Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) Act 1993, The Insurance Act 2002, The Investment and Security Act 1999, The Federal Housing Authority (FHA) Act 1990, Securitization Bill among others are pushed to the national assembly for immediate action.
5. Funding remains one of the most critical challenges for Nigeria’s housing sector. The Housing Development Advocacy Network have charged the minister to consider approaches that will ease access to funding low income housing in the country. Whether in terms of partnerships, policy developments or securing alternative finance models, many believe that if access to funding can be guaranteed, a lot can be achieved in record time in the sector, as mortgages and project constructions are currently stalled by limited access to funding.
6. Another critical mandate for the minister is to partner with relevant stakeholders in the sector to create standard data system in Nigeria that can be universally accepted to collate data, identify data gaps, integrate, optimise and expand knowledge set to meet current demands. This should also include the adoption of high impact training that supports research and data generation by major stakeholders within the industry. Any plan or investment in the sector ought to be based on dependable data, stakeholders say.
7. While the minister had in his previous term tried to tackle the backlog of issuance of Consent and Certificates of Occupancy on Federal Government lands, there is the need to do more in terms of creating enabling policies around land title documentations, with government playing a larger role in assisting investors and supporting local building industries and materials.