The House of Representatives Committee on Works on Wednesday constituted a Technical Advisory Committee with a view to developing templates for amending the existing Act establishing the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), 2004.
The advisory committee which also got an already conceptualised work plan handed to it by the Works Committee, is mandated to help sharpen the Engineers Registration Act and to make further recommendations that are necessary for the workability of the Act ahead of a public hearing on the amendment Bill.
According to the Chairman, Hon. Toby Okechukwu, who inaugurated the technical advisory committee, the TAC is to receive submissions from critical stakeholders in the engineering profession and any other professional group that can make necessary input into the workability of the Bill.
Toby Okechukwu said the mandate of the Committee was to review all submissions made to the House Committee at public hearings.
He further urged the Technical Advisory Committee to analyse global best practices and their adaptation to the Nigerian Environment.
Okechukwu also charged the committee to consider the provisions of the bill, make appropriate recommendations to retain, amend or expunge where necessary.
In his acceptance speech, Professor Muhammad Dauda, who stood in for the Chairman of the Technical Committee pledged that the Committee would hit the ground running in the task ahead of it.
The membership of the Committee, which is mainly composed of engineers from COREN and it’s sister body, NSE, also has representatives from the Federal Ministries of Power, Works and Housing as well as the Clerk of the House Committee on Works at the National Assembly.
Building construction experts from Lafarge Africa Plc, the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and others in the housing industry have said the engagement of non-professionals and artisans in the construction of buildings is responsible for building collapse.
They spoke in Abuja at a stakeholders’ forum organised by SON for the Northcentral Zone.
The Technical Services Manager of Lafarge Africa Plc, Bukola Adebisi, an engineer, said the quacks lack ed the training and expertise to execute building projects without supervision.
This reason, he explained, was why the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) partnered some stakeholders, including his firm, to produce a concrete mix manual that will serve as a guide in the production of concrete. The manual is the first of its kind in the industry.
SON’s Head of Product Authentication Usman Mohammed, who represented the director-general, said the use of sub-standard building materials was another major factor responsible for building collapse.
He called on stakeholders in the sector to eradicate sub-standard products.
To ensure that only building engineers work on construction projects, COREN has an Engineering Regulation and Monitoring Unit, which monitors construction project, its Registrar, Kamila Maliki, said.
He added that the five engineers involved in 27 buildings collapses between 2016 and last year had been sanctioned by the body.
The UN Development Programme, UNDP, Country Director, Samuel Bwalya, has said the agency will donate houses, school and health centre to the Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, in Ngwom, Borno.
Mr Bwalya said in Abuja that Ngwom, an agrarian community in Mafa Local Government Area, Borno, fell victim to violent attacks by Boko Haram insurgents in 2014.
He said that that UNDP would deliver completed 292 permanent houses out of proposed 300, a primary school and one health clinic to Ngwom indigents displaced by the insurgence on February 28.
According to him, UNDP has also completed 288 market stalls, 20 stores-shopping centre, and two boreholes, which would be delivered to the returnees.
Mr Bwalya said that UNDP piloted a comprehensive community stabilisation programme in Ngwom.
“Our intervention was aimed at four inter-related areas of livelihoods, security, basic services, and emerging local governance.
“Using Ngwom as pilot community for the programme, we have built some structures for them.
“Throughout the process we have engaged local labours and cash for work approaches and emergency employment were provided as alternative source of livelihood for already poor and vulnerable communities in the state,” he said.
According to him, UNDP has also distributed rainy-season agricultural inputs to over 550 farmers in the community.
“The community will be officially opened on February 28, 2018, when displaced families will formerly take delivery of these permanent shelters, better than their previous houses which were erased by Boko Haram.
“Until 2014, Ngwom had an enviable reputation of being the livestock and grains trading hub of Borno State and its neighbouring states.
“This include countries of the Chad Basin; Chad, Cameroon, Niger, Libya and as far as to the Central Africa Republic,” he said.
Mr Bwalya said that in Sept. 2014, the settlement was violently attacked and destroyed by Boko Haram insurgents.
The insurgents attacked the small settlement twice between 2014 and 2016 leaving behind unimaginable destruction of lives and property.
“It is estimated that about 100 people were killed during these attacks and the community was destroyed.
“Many public buildings, including the only primary school that served the community, the only healthcare clinic, market stalls, motor park (bus station) and public toilets with equipment were significantly destroyed.
Waste management is one of the biggest challenges confronting many African countries. The issue of collection, management and disposal of solid waste still features highly in major towns and cities across the region. Failure to correctly manage waste disposal has often led to flooding and the outbreak of diseases.
In Ethiopia, its largest rubbish dump Koshe was for almost 50 years, home to hundreds of people who collect and resell rubbish trucked in from around the capital Addis Ababa. It, however, made headlines last year when it killed about 114 people, compelling the government to rethink an alternative use for the site which is said to be the size of 36 football pitches.
Ethiopia has since turned the site into a new waste-to-energy plant via the Reppie Waste-to-Energy Project which is the first of its kind in Africa. This forms part of efforts to revolutionise waste management practices in the country.
The plant, which was expected to begin operation in January, will incinerate 1,400 tons of waste every day. This represents about 80 percent of the city’s waste generation. The plant will also supply the people with 30 percent of their household electricity needs.
“The Reppie project is just one component of Ethiopia’s broader strategy to address pollution and embrace renewable energy across all sectors of the economy. We hope that Reppie will serve as a model for other countries in the region, and around the world,” Zerubabel Getachew, Ethiopia’s deputy permanent representative to the United Nations said in Nairobi last year.
The waste-to-energy incineration plant will burn the rubbish in a combustion chamber. The heat produced will be used to boil water until it turns to steam, which drives a turbine generator that produces electricity.
Waste-to-energy incineration is also vital for cities where land is in short supply, as apart from generating electricity, space will be saved and there is a substantial prevention of the release of toxic chemicals into groundwater, and reduction in the release of the greenhouse gas – methane – into the atmosphere.
The Reppie plant operates within the emissions standards of the European Union, as it contributes towards alleviating air pollution.
Waste-to-energy plants are already popular in Europe, as nearly 25 percent of municipal waste is incinerated. In France alone, there are about 126 waste-to-energy plants, with Germany having 121 and Italy having 40.
The Reppie plant in Addis Ababa is the result of a partnership between the Government of Ethiopia and a consortium of international companies: Cambridge Industries Limited (Singapore), China National Electric Engineering and Ramboll, a Danish engineering firm. The consortium is hoping that the project will be a series of similar ones in major cities across Africa.
The famous Abraham Manslow’s Hierarchy of Needs places shelter as a basic need of every human. In other words without shelter man is less bothered about social activities, self-esteem or any other offerings of the society. If a man wanders all day, at some point in the dark hours nature would make a request for him to rest his body, except the man belongs in the association of chronic insomniac. Sadly, what should have been a basic provision has become a luxury in Nigeria. According to the 2011 housing survey there is a 17million housing deficit in Nigeria. Generally, housing has been a major challenge in Nigeria for decades and there seems to be a preponderance of ineffective or motionless housing policies that has led to the inability of government to address the housing challenge.
In 1991 the government of Ibrahim Babangida promulgated the National Housing Policy, which was aimed at making housing affordable for Nigerians. As a result of the ineffectiveness of the policy in completely addressing the issues, a committee was set up in 2001 to provide a new housing policy. The report of the committee culminated in the New National Housing Policy of 2006. Yet, that policy despite the breadth of its input did not solve Nigeria’s housing challenges. In 2012 the then Minister of Housing, Dr. Ama Pepple presented a new draft policy on housing to the Federal Executive Council. The policy sought to initiate a new paradigm to the existing housing policy. The new policy proposed the collaboration between federal government and the private sector in the provision of one million houses annually in order to address the housing deficit of the country. In other words, the new policy sought to promote Public-Private-Partnership in housing for all Nigerians. Although, the new direction encouraged the participation of the private sector in the housing sector, not much was implemented before the expiration of the Jonathan’s administration.
The current administration under the leadership of Babatunde Fashola as the Minister of Works, Power and Housing, has also introduced new policy measures to address the housing challenges in the country. The foregoing shows that Nigeria has never been starved of policies in the housing sector, yet we are confronted with a high housing deficit. To provide a comparative perspective to the challenges facing Nigeria it may be instructive to examine the situation in other climes. For instance, China with a population of 1.3billion people has a housing surplus yet Nigeria with a population of about 200million has a housing deficit. Governments in many countries take the responsibility for the provision of housing through a mortgage financing system that simplifies home ownership for employed citizens, and a social security system for the unemployed.
However, housing in Nigeria has been characterised by weak land administration system, lack of access to funds and absence of a well implemented and holistic policy. In most states of the country owning a land is a cumbersome process that discourages many. In Lagos, which is the commercial nerve centre of the nation and arguably the most populated State in the country, the menace of “Omo Onile” has become a headache for prospective home owners. Although the challenge created by these land grabbers has also led to the increase in the patronage of real estate firms as those who could afford the realtors prefer to avoid the land grabbers by buying ready homes.
Available data shows that there are currently about 35 Primary Mortgage Banks (PMBs), and 19 registered banks offering mortgage to customers at an interest rate of between 11 and 27 percent. Many of the commercial banks demand a down payment of 25 percent of the value of the mortgage with a repayment plan of between 10-20 years. When this is compared with China where interest rates are below 5% it is understandable why Nigeria has a housing deficit while China has a housing surplus. As a result of the high interest rate many Nigerians are compelled to own homes through personal savings or loans provided by employers. This scenario means that individuals that lack good employment cannot save for a house nor access loans to acquire a house. The weak social security system in the country also means there is currently no plan to provide homes for the poor in the society. Interestingly, housing units built for the poor in Nigeria cost between N5million and N20million. How many poor people can truly afford N500, 000 talk more of N5million to own a house in Nigeria?
The Nigerian Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC) established in 2013 was conceived to raise funds for housing in the country. The NMRC has been able to disburse funds to some mortgage institutions to finance the construction of housing units. However, the process of distribution and ownership of the relatively cheap housing units is still entrenched in some form of corruption. Apart from the high cost of owning the supposed low-cost homes, the distribution process does not completely ensure equity and fairness. In a country like Nigeria, whilst a powerful and well connected individual can obtain allocation of five units, the poor man on the street may not even be aware of the process needless to mention owning a unit.
According to the World Bank’s Doing Business 2016 Report, Nigeria ranks very low globally, positioned at number 169th out of 189 countries for registering property. This report is reflective of the process it takes to obtain a land title in Nigeria. In actual fact, many of the houses in Lagos and neighbouring states do not have titles not necessarily because the owners of the houses are not willing to obtain titles but because the process can be cumbersome and frustrating. In addition to the difficulty in land acquisition, building materials in the country are also expensive. Again, the high cost of building materials produced in the country such as cement is also representative of the prevailing business environment. For instance the cement manufacturing companies are also faced with issue of gas shortage to power their independent power plants; they are still faced with bad roads and a non-functional rail system, which increases the average transportation cost on every item produced. This is a pointer to the fact that the infrastructural deficit in the country affects virtually all sectors of the economy. Until there is a deliberate effort by the government to intervene in this regard, affordable homes may never be a reality for many Nigerians.
There is urgent need to review the Land Use Act to make it relevant in addressing the contemporary housing issues in Nigeria. The Senate President did indicate at the beginning of the 8th Assembly that the repeal of the Land Use Act will be prioritized in the current assembly. Sadly, the just concluded constitutional amendment fell below expectation for many in that regard. The Act needs to be repealed to alter the statutory ownership of land in the country. The current structure does not promote innovation and debilitates the growth of the housing sector in the country.
Beyond the promotion of collaboration between public and private sectors, the government also needs to ensure adherence to quality in the houses that are constructed. The 2012 housing policy that culminated in the introduction of measures aimed at promoting private sector participation has led to the upsurge in real estate firms across the country. The Lekki axis of Lagos is a testament to this increase. New estates are springing up on a daily basis. However, the weakness in our housing policy is also evident in the ill-regulated nature of some of the buildings that are daily sold to unsuspecting buyers. Many of the housing units are replete of plumbing and electrical defects. There have been cases of building collapse primarily owing to substandard materials that are being used in the construction of homes. For those buildings that make it to the finishing process with attractive exterior, not many will be aware of the possible defects of such houses. If the housing policy does not take into consideration the quality of the houses built, we may be preparing ourselves for unprecedented rate of building collapse in the years to come.
Finally, the country cannot leave housing in the hands of the private sector. Many sectors of the economy can be private sector driven but home ownership cannot be left completely in the hands of the private sector. This is because there is hardly any economy that can be completely free of the poor. Private investors cannot provide homes for the poor in the society; this is the government’s responsibility. In the same vein, Nigeria’s population has been projected to exceed 300million by 2050 making it the 3rd largest in the world, the question we should be asking is “what housing plans do we have as a nation for this huge population?” If the government fails in this regard, then we should expect to see increase in the rate of homeless people in Nigeria and especially urban cities such as Lagos.
“About 40% of the cost of every house is infrastructure. There must be good walkways, water pipes, electricity among others,” she said, adding that it is the responsibility of government to provide such infrastructure.
She stated that there have been times developers have attempted to take on the cost but could not bear with it.
“If these are done by the developer, it costs so much. So I can’t see how we can talk about affordability. Until the authorities take up this infrastructure costs we will still have this problem. It is a major challenge for us” she stressed.
Flexible pension laws to reduce high mortgage costs
In a related development, Banks want government to amend certain aspects of the housing law to allow collaboration between them and the National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA) to make mortgages cheaper.
According to the banks, various restrictions surrounding the tier one and tier two pension funds, hinder their ability to assist Ghanaians to access mortgages.
The call comes after President Akufo Addo in his State of the Nation Address disclosed that the NPRA and banks will design a system to make mortgages affordable.
Managing Director of HFC Bank, Anthony Jordan in an interview with Citi Business News insists this can only be realized if government amends the legislation.
Governor Nasir el Rufai of Kaduna State early this morning ordered the demolition of the secretariat of the factional All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state for suspending him from the party.
PMNEWS gathered that the building being used by the APC faction called Kaduna Restoration Group, led by Senator Suleiman Hukunyi, representing Kaduna north central, was pulled down under supervision by armed policemen and soldiers.
Senator Hunkuyi accused El-Rufai of ordering the demolition, adding that armed soldiers blocked both sides of the road during the exercise. Though Governor El-Rufai is yet to respond to inquiries on the demolition, a senior official of the Kaduna government who did not want his name in print confirmed that the building was demolished by the Kaduna State Urban and Property Development Agency (KASUPDA) for illegal activities.
According to him, the building was allocated for residential purposes and not for political activities.
The Senator Hunkuyi faction of the APC in the state on Thursday accused Governor of El-Rufai of anti-party activities and later suspended him for six months.
Perturbed by the high level of homelessness among Nigerians, the Federal Government has been urged to establish a housing microfinance fund or shelter fund to provide affordable houses for those in need of accommodation. Establishment of housing microfinance fund, according to Social Housing Activist and International Housing Finance Specialist, Mr. Adekunle Faleti, will enable low-income earners enjoy quality housing. Faleti said if the initiative is well implemented, it will help to slow down the mushrooming of slums.
He advised government that stakeholders in the low-cost housing value chain in Nigeria should be trained to be able to deliver more housing through housing microfinance solutions.
Faleti enjoined the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development and the Federal Housing Authority to play key roles in the initiative and strengthen it to provide the bulk of affordable housing for rent to salaried workers and others. He noted that amongst major challenges facing the country presently, housing remains one of the biggest problems, especially for people in the bottom of the pyramid.
“A key problem in Nigeria, and indeed Africa today is that a large percentage of the citizens are in the lower class bracket and are unable to afford to acquire their own homes, and as a result are forced to rent, live in slums, squat or remain homeless,” he said.
He recalled a study carried out by the World Bank that only three per cent of Africa’s population had income viable for a mortgage, adding: “Worse yet, according to the UN Habitat (2010), about 40.32 per cent of Africa’s population live in slums.”
Faleti emphasised that housing solutions in Nigeria addressed mostly the upper-middle to upper class, noting that financial institutions tend to ignore the lower class as they are deemed high-risk and are perceived not to offer any beneficial and consistent rate of return. He added that most microfinance institutions in Nigeria have not provided any specific solution that meet the need of lower to middle income class bracket. The mortgage banking sector in Nigeria has been confronted with numerous challenges that have impeded the attainment of its policy objective of acting as a catalyst for the development and provision of affordable housing in the country.
Some of the challenges include: Delay in accessing NHF funds/dearth of long term funds. Most of the PMBs continued to find it difficult to provide the required bank guarantee to access the NHF.
Only four out of the 42 PMBs in operations were listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange which meant that many others did not have access to long term funds through the Stock Exchange window. Another challenge is the Land Use Act, which has made the process of perfecting title to landed property burdensome, slow and costly. That had affected negatively the foreclosure procedures on the properties pledged as collateral. Delivering a keynote address at a workshop for judicial officers on mortgage recently in Abuja, the Central Bank Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, noted that the land tenure system as enshrined in the Land Use Act of 1978 has deterred proper development of a robust and sustainable housing sector in Nigeria.
Emefiele also disclosed that difficulties in delivering affordable housing to low and middle income households wherein lies the greatest demand for housing as another major drawback.
The governor acknowledged limited access to housing and mortgage financing, complications in enforcing mortgage contracts and foreclosure on properties in Nigerian courts, slow bureaucratic procedures in land administration and high cost of land registration as serious impediments to adequate housing delivery in Nigeria. He also identified high rate of population growth, high rate of rural-urban migration and exorbitant cost of construction materials as other problems militating against the robust development of housing and mortgage sectors in the country.
In the past, it was very difficult to steal the huge amounts of money we hear being stolen and swallowed today. Looting of public funds was minimal, and my guess is that this was because technology had not advanced to the extent that it has today. I remember back then that a notable politician once said that if he were to see just a million naira, he would froth at the mouth in a fainting fit.
The highest denomination in those days was a hundred or twenty naira note. If, therefore, there was any metaphorical snake then seeking to swallow as much as N34million, that snake would maybe have been an anaconda together with his kith and kin. After the swallow, it would have been easy to arrest them immediately because they wouldn’t disappear into thin air the way they do these days. But today, at the touch of a button, billions and billions of monies are stolen with relative ease.
First, the denomination is high. I am told that in some countries in the West, if you present a $500 bill, the cashier would take a record of your vital statistics and alert the FBI and the CIA. They would want to know who you are and how you got a hold of that amount. But here, you can stuff as much as a million in your jeans pocket. But today, technology has changed everything and made life easier to the extent that we do transfer of monies from one account to another while lying on the comfort of our beds. And because of the advancements in technology, you can even carry all of your life savings in a microchip aka ATM. The other method fast gaining grounds and which threatens the very fabric of our, sometimes, weak financial ecosystems is the Bitcoin or virtual money. If you have stolen money, there are three ways Nigerians and, in general, the kleptomania would stash their illegally acquired wealth: one is the Bitcoin method, safe havens and investments in the property /estate business. With the Panama Papers Leak, many illegally acquired monies and wealth stashed in offshore locations have been exposed. Just at the touch of a button, billions of dollars were wired from several locations around the world to an island (Panama) which does not even have a currency of its own. I remember then when the leak took place, a Barack Obama was said to have remarked that the tragedy was not that monies were being taken away from poor countries to rich ones but that the law and the instruments which technology bequeathed to us in the 21st Century seems to boost the swallowing of public monies by metaphorical snakes. Yet because attention is already on the Panama Papers Leak, we will try to focus on the other method through which kleptomaniacs hide their stolen wealth. After they have stolen the monies via wire, they take it out and then invest the monies in real estate in countries like Canada, Germany, the UK, Australia and Switzerland. Last year, a klepto bus ride through the highbrow streets of the UK identified some very powerful Nigerians as owners of these very expensive buildings. Now, it is proceeds from the rent accruing from these buildings which the kleptocrat brings back into the country as legitimate income. Even though the work of Nigeria’s financial anti-corruption commissions like the EFCC and the ICPC has checkmated the ease with which banks collude with politically exposed persons to swallow public funds, there are lacunae when it comes to the question of the investment of these now legitimate funds. If you take a walk around some of the streets in Maitama, Jabi and now the airport road, you see very many classy estates build with some of these dirty monies. Nobody but snakes and lizards occupy them. They are monies tied down, maybe untaxed and for which the federal government does not collect a tax. I believe that government can use technology to track ownership of these estates and take a census on them. Working with civil society, government can help CSOs track ownership of these estate and block leakages of our public finances. Monies accruing from the blockage in the system can be ploughed into critical areas of need such as health, education electricity, and other infrastructural projects. On our own in ANEEJ, a civil society organisation, we have developed a property tracker which seeks to map and share information on ownership of property in specific locations in Abuja and Nigeria. The idea is to identify ownership of what property and to determine whether such ownership meet their tax obligations to government. Corruption is a killer disease that must be fought with every known antibiotic and strategy.
For failing to comply with building construction processes and laws, Lagos State Building Control Agency, LASBCA, at the weekend sealed eight more houses at Ebute Metta and Surulere areas of the state. It was gathered that the agency also arrested nine people found on site during the enforcement exercise carried out in collaboration with task force officials. LABSCA had last week shutdown a Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG, and several buildings in Ajegunle area of the state. The houses were sealed off at the weekend for various offences, ranging from not obtaining building permit, breaking government seals, adding additional floor without approval, among others.
Some of the building shutdown were located at No.28 Adegbenro Street, Iwaya, Yaba for failing to obtain permit and breaking government’s seal; while another building on 2 Araoti Street was shutdown for adding additional floor to the existing three-storey building without approval and for breaking government’s seal. A Gas Plant being constructed in a residential area on Borno Way, Ebute Metta was also shut for not being approved, while another four-storey building at 9 Coates Street, Ebute Metta was shutdown for adding the fourth floor without approval. A house at No. 1, Rasak Balogun Street, Surulere was shutdown after it was illegally inhabited by squatters who paid money to live inside.
Over 40 people were evacuated from the building being used as a guest house. People evacuated from the buildings said they paid up to N20,000 monthly to live inside, even after the building was sealed in 2017 for being distressed. One of the tenants, Beneta Joseph said she paid N20,000 monthly to live in the house and that she did not known that it had been sealed by government. Commenting on the development, the General Manager, LASBCA, Engr. Olalekan Shodeinde said the law made it clear that before erecting a building, the developer must obtain a plan approval, which most of the buildings shutdown did not have. He said all the buildings had been previously sealed, but lamented that their owners broke government’s seals to continue development illegally, which he described as a criminal offence punishable under the law. Shodeinde, who was represented by Engr. Oyewole Ganiu, Head, Enforcement Department, LASBCA said the building at I Rasak Balogun Street was shut down last year because it was distressed and that government did not want to lose any life.