• Says source of figure unknown • As FMBN commissions 77 housing units in FCT
THE Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, on Monday, faulted the current 22million housing deficit figure.
Fashola, who showed displeasure at the statistics being widely quoted, said the source of the figure cannot be credited to any agency or organization.
He spoke at the commissioning of Woodhill Estate financed under the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) cooperative housing development loan, located in Kuje, Abuja.
According to him, the initial 17million deficit figure was credited to an undisclosed international agency, which the agency had in turn denied.
His words: “I have told myself that I am going to resist the temptation into the number of deficits but I think that it is important as a nation that if we do not have a common understanding of our problems, we will find it more difficult to develop a common solution.
” When I first heard that there was a 17million deficit, it was credited to an international organisation and every time I have asked them, they have denied ever saying so. But while we were struggling with the source of the number, which is not proven, the number has suddenly jumped and so who is behind this?”
Although he noted the presence of deficits in the housing sector, he stated that this is more prevalent in the urban centres.
However, he argued that with the deficits, are also an increasing number of empty houses.
” For me, the reason why we exist is that there are problems, without a doubt, there are housing deficits but it seems to me that the problems are more pronounced in the urban centres than in the rural areas.
” Even in the urban centers where there are deficits, there are empty houses, all over the major urban city centers in the country. If you are counting the number of deficits, have you counted the number of empty houses? There is a problem, undoubtedly and that is why we are here.
“How big the problem is, I disagree with the estimates and I ask those who alleged that number to prove it by evidence,” he added.
While speaking on the need for affordable housing for low and middle-income earners, he said: “Those empty houses speak eloquently to the problems the FMBN, cooperatives have shown here. They speak to the question of affordability. Do we consult the homeowners before we build for them? Do you know what they want?
” In most instances, you find out that most of the empty houses are either too big or too small or a combination of both or too expensive to meet the wallet of the off-takers. Today, the Federal Government is addressing the challenge of affordability.”
Earlier, the Managing Director (MD) FMBN, Arch. Ahmed Dangiwa in his address said the bank had partnered with a cooperative society to facilitate homeownership of members who are also contributors to the National Housing Fund(NHF) scheme.
He explained that the housing Estate which was Commissioned, is the first phase of the project with delivery of 77 housing units comprised of 40 units of 2-bedroom semi-detached bungalows and 37 units of 3-bedroom detached bungalows.
“The Estate is fully serviced with basic infrastructure including an internal road network, electricity and waterworks to create a conducive and livable environment. Five of the already completed units are already occupied by subscribing members of Akacare Multipurpose Cooperative Society,” he added.
However, he disclosed that the second phase of the project has already commenced and is expected to deliver an additional 77 units to make a total of 154 houses.
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