David

Transforming Nigerian’s urban agenda: Fashola speaks in London

I would like to thank the London School of Economics and Political Science for hosting me once again, and in particular my friend Professor Ricky Burdett, not only for inviting me, but also for the flexibility he demonstrated with his scheduling of this event to accommodate me. That said, I would also like to place on record my personal commendation to Prof. Burdett for his untiring devotion to the issue of urbanisation, and his commitment towards helping to proffer solutions and promote fresh thinking around the issue. I have refused to address urbanisation as either a challenge or a problem. This is deliberate because I see it as the new reality of the human civilization. It is expressed in numbers, often in the hundreds of millions, and I choose to approach it simply as the issue of our existence; and by this, I seek to stress the point that we must see human beings more, and numbers less.

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Therefore if this is about us, what does it portend, and what should we do? First, it is about a growing global population all seeking a better life and in need of access to resources. The issue then manifests itself as a matter of concern to Government and non-Governmental actors, around how to ensure fair and equitable access to food, shelter, energy, transport and employment, to mention a few. The issue of urbanisation also reveals an almost uni-directional migration of us, from rural, semi-urban (and certainly less developed areas of our various communities), to more urban, semi-urban, and comparatively better developed areas. Overcrowding, homelessness, lack of sanitation, traffic jams, unemployment, social disruption, and crime are the problems that follow the issue of urbanisation.

This takes me to what we must do. On a global scale, we must come to one consensus that the size of our human family on the planet is growing at a rate that threatens all of us. If any proof is needed about the global footprint of this threat, recent reports of catastrophic consequences of attempted migrations and very chilling reports of refugee status and 21st Century enslavement of immigrants provide the proof. Those people were migrating to urban centres. Largely they are in pursuit of a better quality of life. Therefore, each family, each local community, state, and nation must act locally to manage the rate of population growth. Indeed, most of the things that need to be addressed as matters of global agreement, such as more food, more water, better mobility, shelter, and access to healthcare and clean energy impose compelling local solutions and actions at family, local, state and national levels. Of course, what each can do is now a function of ability, quality of resource, both human and material, and the complexity of the problem. This takes me to the subject of my speech ‘Transforming Nigeria’s Urban Agenda’ and then perhaps the question that readily comes to mind is: What is Nigeria doing?

In terms of defining the Global Urban Agenda, we have recently been more active and involved than in the last Four decades when the previous global urban agenda were formulated and adopted, first in Canada in 1976 and later in Turkey in 1996. In February 2016, Nigeria hosted the HABITAT III UN Summit in Abuja, Nigeria, which led to the formulation of a common African position which was in Surabaya, Indonesia in July of the same year, and ultimately the accommodation of critical parts of that agenda in Quito, Ecuador in 2017. The commitments captured in the World Urban Forum agenda at Ecuador, under the Aegis of the UN Habitat, with Governmental and Non-Governmental collaboration, speak of course only to global actions. As I have said, results will be defined by local action at family, local, state and national levels. But I say very emphatically that our active participation and Continental leadership roles are positive signs that move the needle of commitment and consciousness further up from what they were four decades ago. One of the critical solutions we identified as a response to making the experience of urbanisation more pleasant was to improve the quality of life, inclusion, and opportunities in the rural areas. President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to local Agriculture development capacity has certainly provided the anchor to ground this objective and bring it to reality.

Today, Nigeria is producing more food than in the past, especially food crops like rice and wheat, and in under 36 months, we have a record of 6.3 Milion new rice farmers, mostly living and working in rural areas. Many rural dwellers who used to lease out their land to others to farm have taken to farming it themselves. Government, through other Ministries and Departments, such as Education, Water Resources, Power, Works and Housing, is now intervening with:

1.Provision of water supply schemes and facilities for irrigation and other uses.

2.School feeding and other incentives to get children to school.
3.Identification and reconstruction of roads that lead to, and connect prolific agricultural strongholds in the country, to support the economic aspiration of farmers.

4.Completion of about 2,000 long neglected rural electrification schemes.
5.Formulation of policy and regulation to accelerate deployment of electricity mini grids to stimulate rural access to electricity.

Some emerging results show:
1.90% reduction in rice importation.
2.2 million previously out-of-school children now back in school.

Similarly, the Nigerian Government’s commitment to infrastructure is impacting the rural areas through work creation, economic inclusion, and participation in the construction value chain. In the first instance, most of the materials employed in construction, such as laterite, sand, gravel, limestone, are mined in rural communities, and this is creating economic activities in these areas. Most of the National Road Network Reconstruction now being undertaken in all the 36 States pass through or connect one urban or rural community. During construction, employment opportunities come close to these communities, instead of them travelling to look for work, and on completion, they facilitate mobility. Similarly, the National Housing Project, which is being executed first in a pilot phase to test for acceptability and affordability, as a proof of concept in 33 States, not only responds to the shelter component of urbanisation on a local level, it responds to the economic inclusion component as well. At each of these construction sites, there are not less than 1,000 people engaged as skilled and unskilled labour, complemented by vendors and suppliers. While these actions that I have spoken of address the first strategy of managing the reality of urbanisation by improving the quality of life in the rural areas, there are also interventions that seek to expand the quality of service and opportunities in the urban centres, which are in various stages of implementation. A grand and audacious commitment to connect Nigeria’s major cities by rail is already under implementation with the commencement of work on the Lagos-Ibadan-Kano rail project. As I mentioned earlier, Road Construction and Rehabilitation work is going on in all 36 states. In terms of access to energy, the country had developed its first public energy mix statement that seeks to achieve 30% of renewable energy by 2030. Major hydro-electricity projects are either being aggressively pursued towards completion or imminent commencement, like the 700MW Zungeru, 40MW Kashimbilla, 30MW Gurara, 29 MW Dadin Kowa, all approaching completion, and the 3050 MW Mambilla, whose financing is now under consideration. Government policy and action is stimulating consensus and action towards other sources of cleaner energy like solar. Electric energy production capacity has increased from 5,000 MW to 7,000 MW and Distribution has increased from under 3,000 Mw to 5,000 Mw and work continues to expand these capacities and results are imminent. A revised National Building Code in 2017 also addresses efficient building methods to conserve water, energy, and provide access to services for the most vulnerable members of our urban family. For those who seek housing finance that is not in excess ofN5 million ($13,700), Government policy has been put in place to ease access by removing the requirement for a 10% contribution and instead capitalising this into the periodic re-payment at 6% per annum, through the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria. Ladies and Gentlemen, this is perhaps as much as the time limited for me allows me to share about our commitment towards the urban agenda.

Therefore, I will conclude by answering the question posed about what Nigeria is doing with regard to the urban agenda, by saying that:

1.There is a new consciousness and increased participation in the formulation of the global urban agenda policies by Nigeria.
2.On the continental stage, Nigeria has stood up to be counted and to take leadership by providing the platform to hold policy discussions in Abuja.
3.On the global stage, Nigeria has made her voice audible in Surabaya and in Quito.
4.On the local, state and national stages, Nigeria has followed commitment with policy and action, and remains committed to doing so.

Therefore I feel confident to predict a better future and to visualize better quality of Urbanization realities for the Nigerian people when the fruits of these new consciousness, commitments and action come to the season. I can only imagine how bountiful that harvest will be in terms of the improvements in quality of life. Thank you for listening. REMARKS BY H.E, BABATUNDE RAJI FASHOLA, SAN, MINISTER OF POWER, WORKS AND HOUSING AT THE LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS PUBLIC LECTURE ON THE THEME, ‘TRANSFORMING NIGERIA’S URBAN AGENDA’ AT THE LSE’S HONG KONG THEATRE , LONDON ON TUESDAY 17TH APRIL, 2018.

How to crash cost of property in Nigeria

Maduka Nweke

Latest indications have shown that the cost of properties in Nigeria may continue to rise amid calls by stakeholders for government to legislate on the sector. Already the laws made to regulate the real estate sector and the entire built environment have remained ineffective. In civilised societies, law guide the practice of real estate. But in Nigeria it is as if the poor is always the target of every law.

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Government has as a tradition of including the housing sector in the yearly budget but once the budget is passed and allocations made, nothing is heard about the sector again until the next budget. Ordinarily, government ought to put in place the means of checking the veracity or otherwise of the budget proposition on the real estate sector. This will spell out what remained to be implemented and what needed to complete it. But this is not the way because the budget has always not been implemented for reasons best known to the authorities.

If government and Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) utilise the windows they have to aid housing sector, at least civil servants will have their own apartments. If they have their own accommodation, then the efforts of private sectors in providing shelter to the rest of the population through the real estate sector would have made great impact. However, because government failed to execute its roles, it finds it difficult to regulate the sector. A non-regulated programme is like an unorganised party where everyone sits anywhere and does anything he likes. Government’s interference only in promulgating laws in the property sector has remained the greatest handicap of the sector.

Another aspect that has been worsening the cost of properties in Nigeria is lack of infrastructure. If a developer created road that leads to his estate, provided electricity, water, security, recreational facilities, earmarked a large chunk of space for market, waste maintenance space and possibly religious institutions from the land he bought, then it will be impossible for the buyer of the apartment to buy it cheap. The developer will have to factor the cost of all these facilities he put in place into the final selling cost. This definitely would add extensively to the cost of the property. If government creates roads that lead to the estate, provides all those amenities listed above, not only will government regulate it, the developer will have no reason to raise the cost of the buildings.

Government should also release its hold on land because since the major factor in property development is land, the cost of properties will not be low as long as cost of procuring land is high. An instance is the Land Use Charge (LUC). Whether in Lagos State or anywhere in Nigeria, the cost of procuring land for development is always high. Aside land on its own, documents upon documents, which the developer is expected to collect, certification of this and that, provision of this and that by various government authorities are capital intensive. What of Omoniles’ charges that start with clearing of the area, laying the foundation, casting of pillars and decking. The Omoniles charge the cost of decking by the number of floors, yet government cannot protect the developer who has paid all the various charges from the activities of illegal authorities. What of a situation where a plot of land is bought more than three times? Is it possible that Omoniles are stronger than government security that they do not obey government rules or that government connives with them to swindle the public? These are riddles that baffle the public.

READ:ABUJA INTERNATIONAL HOUSING SHOW – THE LARGEST HOUSING AND CONSTRUCTION EXPO IN WEST AFRICA

The National Housing Funds (NHF) scheme was designed to assist public servants own homes while saving a percentage of their income. The private sector employees were also captured under the Act. Similarly, the government, through mortgage institutions, is expected to provide loans to real estate developers to build low cost houses for the people. Unfortunately, both programmes have not yielded the desired results as houses are still not within the reach of the generality of Nigerians. Indeed, the provisions of the National Housing Fund Act and Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria Act are observed more in breach by most stakeholders mandated to perform one responsibility or the other under the laws. The proposed amendments capture virtually everybody including self-employed persons.

The other aspect is the cost of building materials and labour in the country. Most people go to China to import industrial roofing sheets so when they add cost of importation, excise duties and other port charges, the cost of the materials get tripled. Other people who manufacture these materials locally have monopolised the system such that they peg the prices as it suits them. If there are other manufacturers who manufacture some of the building materials, competition will force some of them to drop their prices and that will trickle down to the eventual cost of the property.
For the prices of building materials to crash, government must liberalise the production of building materials and jettison monopoly. As long as monopoly is still in place, there will be no regulation. Cement production has remained a monopoly in Nigeria, iron production is monopolised, wood is open but it is not regulated. Even those that import these materials are severely treated. While some are treated with kid gloves, others are treated as dangerous species. This does not work well in an open market economy.

The Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) commenced operations in 1978 following the promulgation of the FMBN Decree No. 7 of January 1977 as a direct Federal Government intervention to accelerate its housing delivery programme. The FMBN is expected to expand and coordinate mortgage lending on a nation-wide basis, using resources from deposits mobilised and equity contributions by the Federal Government and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) at rates of interest below the market rates.

In the past years, FMBN said it has financed the construction of the following estates among others: Suntrust Housing Estate, Lugbe, Abuja; Trademore Mega City Housing Estate, Lugbe, Abuja; Aper Aku Housing Estate, Makurdi, Benue State; Ata-isi Supplies and Services Company Ltd Housing Estate, Cross River State; TMA Integrated Services Ltd Housing Estate, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State; and Honey Fill Construction Company Ltd Housing Estate, Asaba, Delta State.

Others are Ogun State Housing Corporation Housing Estate, Abeokuta; Tola Tos Housing Estate, Odonis Elewa, Bota Village, Ibadan; Liberation Housing Estate, Awka, Anambra State; Unity Garden Estate, Osisioma, Abia State; SY Global Business Links Ltd Housing Estate, Lafiyawo, Tunfure Area, Akko, Gombe State; Adasolid Property Limited, Yola, Adamawa State; Benue Investment and Property Co. Ltd, Nyiman, North Bank Tse-Ayu, Makurdi, Benue State; Delrot Nigeria Ltd Housing Estate, Kulende-Sobi Road, IIorin, Kwara State; and Taraba Investment and Properties Ltd, Jalingo, Taraba State.

The rest are Mamako Investment Ltd, behind Federal Housing, Dong New Layout, Jos, Plateau State; Terraquest Dev. Co. Ltd Housing Estate, KM 13, Banchi-Jos Road, Dungai Village, Bauchi; Lape Construction Company, Juwapye, Ado-Kasa, Karu LGA, Nassarawa State; Ebonyi State Housing Dev. Corporation, Abakaliki, Ebonyi State; El-Tabera Housing Estate, Nsukka, Enugu State; Copen Services Limited (Goshen Housing Estate), Independence Layout Annex, Enugu; and Jubilee Housing Estate, Independence Layout Annex, Enugu. Many of these housing estates are said to have been completed and sold to NHF contributors or are currently under construction. Although the FMBN probably did all the construction, it has not helped to reduce the housing deficits in the country. If it has done, fewer people would be chasing building materials and apartments.

For a lot of these shortcomings, stakeholders in the recent past called for the repeal of the laws establishing the mortgage bank and the creation of another institution that can complement the job of the bank.

Mosquito village: Inside Lagos slum where land is allocated at N2000

Life at Mosquito village, a slum in Lagos state, is disgusting, brutal, weird, ephemeral, yet entertaining. The residents live in the cozy embrace of the filth surrounding them like the walls of Jericho — but life must go on. Their reality is gloomy but with daily doses of jest, they wade through the murky waters of their world. TAIWO ADEBULU, who visited the small community, reports.

That foggy evening, the cloud of filthy smoke enveloped the alley of the sprawling shanties on the swampy piece of land stretching along the shores of a tributary of the Lagos lagoon. As an unknown figure sauntered into their community, the women frying assorted snacks stared frigidly, with curiosity plastered on their faces. With one hand, a restless young woman scooped the buns from the simmering vegetable oil; with the other hand, she wiped the stream of sweats zigzagging across her cleavage.

READ:ABUJA INTERNATIONAL HOUSING SHOW – THE LARGEST HOUSING AND CONSTRUCTION EXPO IN WEST AFRICA

Narrow is the path, they say, leads to heaven. The road to Mosquito village, a slum in the suburb of Ajegunle in Ajeromi Ifelodun local government area of Lagos state is narrower — but the village is no heaven.

Meandering through the tiny labyrinths, one often comes across little children running helter-skelter across the marshy ground littered with plastics and all kinds of disposables. The houses built with wooden planks are lumped up providing little or no space for ventilation and passage, yet it offered a perfect stage for a hide-and-seek game for the scarcely-clad children.

Surrounded with heaps of refuse, the community of fewer than 2000 residents seems indifferent to the dingy environment they call home. After all, they have shelter and they do not have to pay annual rents to the impatient Lagos landlords. Hence, the land reclaimed from the dark river separating them from Tincan Island Port, Nigeria’s second busiest Port, is indeed a promise land.

SPRANG FROM A RECLAIMED LAND
Sixty-two-year-old Zachariah Mowojaye, chairman of Mosquito Village, gingerly relayed with graphic details how the settlement came to be. His genteel voice was punctuated by frequent pauses as he adjusted his glasses to speak.

“This place was initially swampy and waterlogged. When Tincan Island Port was being constructed in the late 70s, they filled this place with the soil reclaimed from the lagoon. The federal government probably reserved this place for customs officials to thwart the activities of smugglers in the waterways. After they filled the land, they didn’t use it. They just built a house on it,” he said.

“When Lateef Jakande became the governor of Lagos in 1979 under the Unity Party of Nigeria, he initiated elaborate educational reforms for the poor and he started building neighbouring schools. That was because schools were not enough and the population was increasing.

“So, he came to Tolu a few metres from here and realised that the land was vast and vacant. Then, he jumped on the land at Tolu complex and built about 20 schools. That exposed this area to people. Soon, people who couldn’t afford to pay house rents started moving to the base of this river to build makeshift houses with planks. Later, low-income workers from the port and civil service joined the residents to abate the burden of renting an apartment in town.”

MOSQUITOES WERE THE EARLY SETTLERS
Stating why the settlement was called Mosquito village, Zachariah said the place was bushy when people started moving there.

“So, when outsiders come to visit us, they complain about the high presence of mosquitoes. Really, the mosquitoes were very fat. Even in the afternoon, the mosquitoes go about their business unperturbed. So, when those visitors go out there and people ask them where they were coming from, they tell them that they visited that slum where mosquitoes predominate. That was how the name stuck.

“Now, the mosquitoes do not prevail again because we have fewer bushes and the population has increased. But in some seasons, they troop here like they’ve come for their festival.”
Folorunsho Asogbon, who corroborated Zachariah’s statement, said he was the first person to settle in the area in 1989.

“I only met the mosquitoes here, after which I built my house at the bank of the river. When I came here, the mosquitoes were in their highest population. But now, we no longer feel their impact because they have shared themselves among the growing population,” he said.

Taye Kasali, 50-year-old fruit seller who had been living in the settlement since 2009, said “white men” used to shoot movies at the waterfront.

“We were afraid when we started living here. Some people used to call this place trinity because it was a favourite site for burying the dead. Since the mosquitoes reduced, we’ve been battling with flies.”

THE POPULATION INCREASES BY THE DAY
According to the United Nations Habitat, 30 percent of the world’s urban population resides in slums, with deplorable conditions where people suffer from several deficiencies. At the 2016 World Habitat Day organised by the Lagos state ministry of physical planning and urban development, Akinwunmi Ambode, governor of the state, said there was the need for additional 187,500 new houses in the next five years to reduce the housing deficit estimated at 2.5 million in the state.

As the cost of house rent is fast increasing in most Lagos metropolis, residents who cannot afford the prices are moving to the slum. Just pay N2000 to miscreants popularly called area boys, who have constituted themselves as omo onile (landowners), then you will be apportioned a space where you can build your house. Failure to ‘settle’ the so-called landowners will result in your house being demolished.

However, with the rising population and the wobbly wooden houses muddled with reckless abandon, an untreated infection can lead to a huge outbreak of diseases, even as the closest hospital is several kilometres away.

Residents of the village practise open defecation, while access to potable water is practically nonexistent.

“WE PREFER TO USE WATER”
Some humanitarian agencies, including UNICEF, came to the aid of inhabitants of the community by providing some social amenities. UNICEF provided an eco-friendly toilet which was launched on May 18, 2015. The restroom was built at the base of a mountain of refuse popularly called Bolar. Housing News gathered that the residents didn’t use it for two months before abandoning it. They reverted to defecating in makeshift toilets built at the tip of the lagoon.

Thirty-seven-year-old Sharafa Salami, who has been living in the settlement for eight years, said they stopped using the toilet because it doesn’t give them the luxury of using water.

“We stopped using it because it wasn’t convenient for us. While the toilet doesn’t allow us to use water, we still prefer it to tissue papers. A tissue paper doesn’t clean ‘it’ as much as water. Worse still, you must not throw the paper in the toilet after use. You’ll drop it inside a wastepaper bin and the person in charge of the toilet gets rid of it. We used to pay N20 for a session,” Salami told Housing News.
“This new toilet technology is alien to us. So, we prefer to defecate on this heap of refuse, while those whose houses are closer to the lagoon use the wooden toilets.”

But at night, no one dares climb the refuse to relieve himself, lest he is disposed of his valuables by the lords of the night who take charge of Bolar at night. So, when nature calls, one does it in nylon, keeps it somewhere and waits till morning to discard it.

A damning joint report from UNICEF and World Health Organisation (WHO), released to mark the World Toilet Day in 2012, revealed that estimated 34 million Nigerians have no toilet and practice open defecation. It ranked Nigeria among the top five countries in the world with the largest number of people defecating in the open, a good majority of which comes from Lagos owing to its large population.

In March 2018, another report from WaterAid Nigeria, an international non-governmental charity organisation, said while about 60 million Nigerians do not have adequate access to water, 120 million lack decent toilets and 47 million practise open defecation.

NO POTABLE WATER

In addition, UNICEF provided a water facility for the residents; this also is no longer in use as the people patronise local water sellers. In the absence of potable water supply, they buy sachet water for drinking.

Badmus Isiaka, a 36-year-old commercial driver, said they couldn’t pump the water because residents were not contributing towards it, hence everyone patronises the services of local water vendors.
“The vendors sell water for us from the water tank in their boats. We don’t know where they get it from, but we have no choice. We do not drink it because it’s not hygienic, but it’s good for domestic use. A keg of water is N10,” he said.

“I have two wives and two children. Sometimes, we use sachet water for bathing. Three kegs hardly last for a day.”

Chichi Aniagolu-Okoye, country director of WaterAid Nigeria, said, “We know that if everyone, everywhere was able to access clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene, then we could help end the scourge of extreme poverty and create a more sustainable future.

“WE ARE POOR PEOPLE, BUT WE ENJOY OUR LIVES”
While the UNICEF statistics, in Nigeria, estimated that diarrhoea kills about 194,000 children under five every year and in addition, respiratory infections kill another 240,000, which are largely preventable with improvements in water, sanitation and hygiene, most residents of Mosquito village say it is not a source of worry since they hardly fall sick.

“We hardly get sick. Our skins have grown thick to the environment. We know we are poor people, but we enjoy our lives and freedom here,” Zachariah quipped with an aura of resignation.

Yet, the residents have to cope with the noisy activities from the ever-busy port every day as though the clatters of containers and banging cranes were sonorous chirping of nocturnal birds. In the morning, the workers cross the river to the port, while the fishermen delve into the faeces-infested lagoon to catch fishes, which they sell to their neighbours.

“Once in a while, I fish in the lagoon with one of my uncles and we used to catch big fishes, but it depends on the season. We also swim in the water,” Godwin Mowo, a 15-year-old boy, told Housing News.

Residents of the slum cut across different tribes in Nigeria. Prominent among them are the Ilajes, an ethnic group from Ondo state, the Eguns from Badagry in Lagos, Ijaws from the Niger Delta region, Igbo from the south-east region and a handful of Hausas. In the evening, the men gather at the beer parlour to discuss politics and trendy news, while they gently quaff the boozy liquid from the green bottles. Some gather to play drafts, while the lily-livered ones count the scores. The women chat away; some attend to house chores.

However, the many-cornered scenery of clustered houses with the backdrop of tattered clothes provides a sensational adventure for night lovers. As small as the settlement is, sandwiched in-between buildings are churches of different denominations.

“This place used to be the most beautiful place in Ajegunle, until they started dumping refuse here,” Folorunsho recalled with nostalgia.”

FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN
Kasali puts it succinctly, “We know our stay here is temporary because it is not our land. We only came here to settle because of our condition. No one really desires a home made of planks.”

According to Folorunsho, they are aware that the land belongs to the government; that’s why none of the residents has a certificate of occupancy.

He said, “Now that they want to turn Lagos to a megacity, we are afraid they might eject us from here and level our homes. I don’t know when it will happen, but I know it will definitely happen.”

While the residents nurse the fear of the unknown, they wouldn’t let the life that fate has plunged them into get the better of them. Hence, they live every day in conscious denial of their world.

FG hasn’t done enough on infrastructure maintenance – Fashola

Okechukwu Nnodim, Abuja

The Federal Government has not done enough in the area of maintenance of infrastructure across the country, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has said.

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Fashola stated this while receiving an award of recognition from the Association of Indigenous Construction Contractors of Nigeria as a result of the regular payment of the Federal Government’s contractors in the last one and a half years.
The minister, in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Communications, Hakeem Bello, told his guests that another area where massive scope existed for partnership was in the maintenance sector, adding that the ministry was already working on setting up an infrastructure maintenance framework.

Fashola was quoted as saying, “Whatever we build is built to a design life, subject to certain types of maintenance, and that is an area that we haven’t really done enough.”

He said the ministry was working to develop a pilot maintenance framework, starting with government’s buildings.

“Hopefully, maybe in the 2019 budget, if we are lucky, we will be able to put a sizeable global maintenance budget for the first time and see how to engage labour and contracting companies to help grow the economy,” he explained.

The minister called for improvement within the framework of the indigenous construction companies, as he told his visitors that “you have to compete and you have to improve your capacity.”

In his remarks, the President, AICCON, Lekan Osifeso, commended Fashola for the regular payment of contractors, as he noted that the annual size of the construction industry in Nigeria was N1tn, while the contribution of the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing was in excess of N200bn.

Osifeso, however, noted that unfortunately the bulk of the funds was lost to capital flight as a result of the non-patronage of local contractors over the years.
He said if indigenous contractors were adequately patronised and made to participate increasingly in the industry, capital flight cases would drop by as much as 60 per cent.

READ:ABUJA INTERNATIONAL HOUSING SHOW – THE LARGEST HOUSING AND CONSTRUCTION EXPO IN WEST AFRICA

“Our mission is in line with Mr. President’s Executive Order 5 that clearly supports the participation of indigenous construction contractors by the government by way of commitment to patronage,” Osifeso was quoted as saying.

Housing Deficit: NMRC to provide liquidity for Mortgage Creation

Funmilayo Adeyemi

The Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC) has promised to provide liquidity to the housing market of the economy to ease housing deficits in the country.
Mr Kehinde Ogundimu, Acting Chief Executive Officer, NMRC made this known in an interview with Housing News in Abuja.

READ:ABUJA INTERNATIONAL HOUSING SHOW – THE LARGEST HOUSING AND CONSTRUCTION EXPO IN WEST AFRICA
Ogundimu who was speaking at the sideline of the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between it and Kohart Housing Corporation, a housing developer, said housing was made difficult for Nigerian in the past because of lack of access to housing,high interest rates and lack of mortgage products.
According to him, if the liquidity rate which is a major force to acquiring housing by Nigerians could be brought down, then the economy will be better for it.


“ We are liquidity providers but there are so many challenges in making homes affordable to Nigerians.
“We have the issues with titles; we have issues with cost of construction and a host of other problems.
“ In the past, people used to get mortgages at a very high rate but now, with the Federal Government guarantee, we will achieve our dreams and that of Nigerians.

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“But what we are doing essentially is to bring that liquidity down which is also very critical and this rate will continue to go down as the micro economic condition of the country improve.’’
Ogundimu added that the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) was one of the most expensive housing markets in the country, hence the need to reduce the liquidity rate for civil servants to acquire houses.
According to him, the minimum annual salary required to purchase a median priced home is more than 30,000 dollars.


He said that this price range excludes many hardworking people including the civil servants from being able to rent or even own a two-bedroom apartment for their families.
He therefore called on housing developers to collaborate with the government to ensure that housing programmes were made affordable to Nigerians.
Housing News reports that NMRC is a Central Bank of Nigeria licensed mortgage liquidity facility with the core mandate of developing the primary and secondary mortgage markets.
NMRC raises long-term funds from the capital market for mortgage refinancing and by extension promotes affordable housing development and home ownership in Nigeria.

250 EXHIBITORS,13 INTERNATIONAL SPEAKERS, 85 POLICY MAKERS FOR AIHS 2018

The 12th Abuja International Housing Show is being designed to feature innovations that will make it a remarkable improvement of past housing shows in Nigeria, says Barrister Festus Adebayo, Chief Executive Officer of the corporate convener of the annual housing show – Fesadeb Communications Limited.

READ:ABUJA INTERNATIONAL HOUSING SHOW – THE LARGEST HOUSING AND CONSTRUCTION EXPO IN WEST AFRICA

The Chairman, who spoke to our correspondent recently in Abuja, said: ‘The twelfth Abuja Housing Show will allow for full participation of domestic and international public institutions as well as the organized private sector, adding that all the professional businesses that constitute the building construction industry are encouraged to key into the trade and development opportunities that will be afforded by the 12th Abuja International Housing Show.

While saying that it is important for local and international policy makers in the housing industry to interphase with the organised private sector, he assured that the 12th Exhibition will bring together professional businesses in the industry as a way of affording them the opportunity to showcase the peculiarity of their respective expertise.

While saying that housing and real estate development is capital intensive, he encouraged banks and lending houses to take advantage of the Show by showcasing their housing loan plans to investors and individuals who will come to shop for housing loans, adding that housing is the second most important need of man, after food.

All professionals in the built environment should participate, he said adding that they include Quantity Surveyors, Estate Surveyors and valuers, Town Planners, Architectural organizations and institutions, professional Builders, building equipment manufacturers, civil engineering construction firms and all other professional groups in the built industry.

“Manufacturers and various service providers in the built environment will be afforded opportunity to discuss their products and services with clients from all over the world toward forging new development partnerships for growth of the industry, a development he said will engender mutual cooperation and economic development.

Adebayo who is a multiple award-winning media industry leader with focus on the housing sector said: “Nigeria stands a good chance to realise its aspiration of large scale jobs creation through the building construction sector saying that “hope is not lost, I see a bright light at the end of the tunnel.”

According to him, Abuja International Housing Show is not for only policy makers and businesses; it is also for researchers who are working to trigger innovations in the sector. “Therefore we look forward to the participation of academics from relevant departments in the universities, polytechnics, building research centers, housing finance institutions in Nigeria and diaspora and colleges of education among others,” he said.

We look forward to the participation of all institutions that teach courses related to housing and the building industry, he said adding that the participation of researchers and operators will lead to the much-needed synergy required for excellence in the sector.

“We want to ensure that knowledge provided via research in universities is adopted and used by operators across the various professionals in the built environment,” he said, adding that there must be constant exchange of information between the academics, construction finance experts and the operators in order to ensure continuous improvement of products and services in the housing/building construction industry.

He said one of the positive results of the Abuja Housing Show and the Nigeria Housing Awards is the fact that most state governments are actively competing for the title of the country’s affordable housing top innovator.

“Ogun State is using pragmatic public-private partnerships involving multi-tier levels of government to redevelop city land and create space for affordable housing in Abeokuta and Sagamu while Lagos State is succeeding at providing subsidies and is now re-calibrating its policies to promote rent-to-own affordable housing.”

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He went further to note that the Federal Capital Territory is striving to increase the supply of low-cost housing for the poor by leveraging on private sector support to keep prices reasonable.

He commended the Obaseki administration of Edo state for the pragmatic effort it has made to design and implement a modern housing policy from the scratch.

While he said that the organisers of the show have factored-in the discussed above, he however observed that there are still some challenges militating against the provision of affordable housing to Nigeria’s growing urban population. “The organizers of Abuja Housing Show believe that there are areas that could unleash additional innovation across the country and deliver more results to the urban poor.”

The CEO hinted that criteria the organisers have made more stringent, the criteria for qualification of various categories of awards, adding that some states have shown remarkable signs of promise for growth and development of the housing sectors.

Discussing the benchmarks for selection of winner-states or organisations, Adebayo said: “Some of the criteria considered in determining award winners include the extent to which respective state governments are able to engage the organised private sector in housing development.

“Affordability is a key criterion for selection of the winner,” he said and emphasised the importance of putting in place policies that make housing affordable to low income earners.

The CEO tasked state governments to formulate policies that will lead to a private-sector driven development of the building construction industry in Nigeria, adding that the sector wields huge potentials for job creation.

He further noted that the organisers will be very disposed to state governments that are able to encourage the private sector to “embrace more efficient, resilient and environmentally friendly technologies while also exposing them to new trends in housing finance.”

While he noted that real estate development is capital intensive, Adebayo tasked state governors to constitute teams of housing finance professionals who will evolve new trends in housing finance in order to fund viable re-development projects in Nigerian cities.

The award winning CEO said: “After four days of interaction, policy makers, operators, housing finance experts and intellectuals pledged commitment to providing affordable housing for urban families during the upcoming 12th Abuja International Housing Show.”

He said the stakeholders are very optimistic about the future of innovative urban housing policies in Nigeria.

Lagos Warns Against Conversion Of Residential Buildings To Religious Centres

Lagos State Government on Monday accused some property owners of converting their residential buildings into religious centres in order to avoid paying the Land Use Charge (LUC).

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The state’s Commissioner for Home Affairs, Dr Abdulhakeem Abdullateef who stated this at the annual Ministerial Press Briefing to mark the third year in office of Governor Ambode’s administration warned those indulging in such to desist from it and operate within the ambit of the law. He said: “Do not convert your residential premises to religious premises. Many do that for the sake of being protected from paying their Land Use Charge and that will not be tolerated.

Whatever we want to do, let us keep ourselves within the ambit of the law. “As for those who are combining their residences with mosque or church, we are not going to demolish but what we said is that all residential premises are subject to Land Use Charge and so when officials of government come, don’t claim there is a mosque on the grand floor. ‘’Always know that as soon as your property is declared a residential block, you will pay Land Use Charge.”

The Commissioner said the State Government, through the Ministries of Home Affairs and Physical Planning, had also commenced moves to address the conversion of residential buildings to religious centres via engagement. “It is a violation of the State regulations for residential buildings to be converted into religious centres. When a building is approved for a purpose, it is an aberration for you to now convert it into something else without the approval of the Ministry of Physical Planning.

READ:ABUJA INTERNATIONAL HOUSING SHOW – THE LARGEST HOUSING AND CONSTRUCTION EXPO IN WEST AFRICA

He said the state government has saved a total of N4.5billion in the last three years as a result of the decision of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to stop the sponsorship of people for religious pilgrimages to Israel and Saudi Arabia, has said. Accordng to him, funds saved from the development had been diverted into the construction of roads and other amenities to make life easier for residents.

By GEORGE OKOJIE

Kohath Partners With NMRC To Provide 15,000 Housing Units In Nigeria

Kohath Housing Corporation and the Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company on Wednesday signed a deal to provide over 15,000 housing nationwide to low income earners.

Mr Teni Eleoramo, the Executive Chairman, Kohath Housing Corporation, said in Abuja that the partnership would help bridge housing gap in Africa, especially in Nigeria.

The Kohath is a promoter and developer of the “Land of Honey’’ (LoH) City Development and a leading player in the municipality development space in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Eleoramo said that 1,767 hectares of land had been acquired to provide affordable housing units to Nigerians.

He added that 180 hectares of this would be for the Federal Integrated Staff Housing (FISH) project for the provision of affordable housing for civil servants in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

“This project has successfully weathered the storm of title and legal challenges, survived the arduous business environment of Nigeria.

“It is now ready to deliver its mandate of providing qualitative and affordable housing to Nigerians.

“We have decided to collaborate to deliver on the aspirations of ensuring that over 500 civil servants move into their houses within the next 12 to 18 months.’’

He said that the LoH building types would include a handful of single-family homes and a large majority of affordable housing development portfolios.

Responding, Mr Kehinde Ogundimu, Acting Chief Executive Officer, NMRC said the collaboration presents a huge opportunity to make a difference in home ownership in the nation’s capital due to challenges that the LoH development would help to solve.

Ogundimu said the partnership with Kohath would provide an opportunity for NMRC to support the Federal Government’s housing programmes in providing affordable housing backed by affordable mortgages.

This, he said, was in consideration of the fact that of all the challenges currently facing our nation today, very few are more urgent than the deficit of decent housing.

“Housing and economic analysts have all noted that without a stable and affordable home, low income families in Nigeria have little hope of a better livelihood.

READ:ABUJA INTERNATIONAL HOUSING SHOW – THE LARGEST HOUSING AND CONSTRUCTION EXPO IN WEST AFRICA

“Hence, the availability of housing plays a key role in determining whether they can find well-paying jobs, send their children to school, get quality health services and access to reliable utilities.’’

The proposed building for the housing units is located at the Gude district, Apo, FCT, Abuja.

The signing of agreement between the two parties was witnessed by Directors and staff of FISH in the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation.

Reduction in vacancy rate across cities underpins opportunities for investors

In the last 10 months, from mid-2017 to the last quarter of 2018, there has been a positive shift in the property market in Nigeria with marginal reduction in residential vacancy rates across the country’s major cities of Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt, close market watchers have said.

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The market watchers, however, add that the reduction applies to properties in the low to mid-income markets where supply is not only low, but also sparse, while demand is high and growing in multiples.

The upper-middle to the high end markets are still struggling with over supply, low demand, high vacancy rate, falling rents, high rents payment default rate, and falling investment projections.

Northcourt Real Estate in its half-year 2017 market report notes that as at the last quarter of that year, vacancy rates in Lagos averaged 11 percent, down from 15.5 percent in H1 2017 and 32.87 percent at the end of 2016. In Abuja, it stood at a 7 percent average, down from mid-year’s 9.5 percent and 27.57 percent a year ago.

Analysts say that this reduction in vacancy rate can only explain the positive shift in the market, meaning that demand has moved from where it was 12 to 24 months ago and, by implication, underpins growing opportunities for investors, particularly for those playing at the mid-income market.

Tayo Odunsi, Northcourt CEO, points out in the report that, in a bid to maximize the value of their property, landowners looked more favourable to joint ventures with developers. He notes that Port Harcourt had the highest vacancy rates compared to Lagos and Abuja, averaging 12 percent. Like Lagos and Abuja, this rate climbed down from 13.75 percent at mid-2017 and 13 percent at the end of 2016.

This reduction in the vacancy rate, the analysts point out, is not only a function of growing demand for residences, but also a result of rising cases of conversion of residential properties in response to a growing demand for business promises and other commercial activities.

Ikeja GRA, a mid-income neighbourhood in Lagos, is a typical example of where the stock of residential houses has reduced due, in part, to conversions to office use while many others have either been sold or leased out. Isaac John Street, in that neighbourhood, stands out as one location where businesses have pushed out residents and taken over their homes on rent or lease.

Many other locations have been similarly affected. Following Lagos State government’s directive to transport companies to vacate the Jibowu area of the state for what it termed unwholesome activities, including obstructing traffic flow, these companies have swooped on the suburbs including Okota, Isolo, Ojota and Ejigbo axis to continue their business.

“Many of the residential properties along the stretch of road from the popular Cele Bus Terminal to Ejigbo have been bought over and converted to bus terminals by these companies including big names like God is Good Motors, Libra Motors and GUO Motors which, ordinarily, would not have come there”, said Enyinnaya Okezie, a resident whose house was converted to an office on Okota road.

According to him, this development has pushed many of the affected residents of these areas further down the suburbs such as Ikotun, Igando, Okokomaiko and Badagry, piling pressure on the existing inadequate infrastructure and pushing up house rents on otherwise uninhabitable houses.

“On daily basis, we get enquiries from prospective tenants who have been displaced by businesses that have taken over their residences. Empty houses are now hard to find and rents have gone up significantly. Right now, we demand N200, 000 to N250,000 per annum for 2-bedroom apartments and between N300,000 and N4500,000 per annum for a 3-bedroom apartment”, confirmed Yemi Madamidola, an estate manager in Ejigbo.

Before now, he continued, a 2-bedroom flat was going for between N150,000 and N180,000 per annum while 3-bedroom apartment was renting for between N250,000 and N350,000, depending on the age of the house and the facilities available. “More and more people are now moving into this side of town”, he said.

Many locations on the island have also been torched by this development. Lekki Phase 1 tops the list. Admiralty Way, a long stretch of road beginning from the first gate of that highbrow estate, could better be called ‘Commercial Avenue’ now with well over 90 percent of the houses used as offices or shops.

Though this is good for investors and landlords because of the opportunities it comes with, it has some drawback. This is worsening the country’s housing situation. Due to lack of dependable data and the opaque nature of the property market, it is difficult to say with certainty whether Nigeria’s housing stock has increased or decreased from the estimated 13 million units. But the rising cases of property conversion to office use indicate that residential housing stock is being depleted.

READ:ABUJA INTERNATIONAL HOUSING SHOW – THE LARGEST HOUSING AND CONSTRUCTION EXPO IN WEST AFRICA

The conversion cuts across the major cities. Already, housing situation in these cities has been bad. Lagos alone has 3 million housing units deficit which authorities of the state say requires about N8 trillion to close. The on-going conversion is making the situation worse as residents have to pay more on house rents with increased travel time.

CHUKA UROKO

Nigerian Police Commence Construction Of Post-Retirement Homes For Officers

The Inspector- General of Police (I-G), Mr Ibrahim Idris, said the Force had commenced the construction of post-retirement housing units for its personnel across the country.

Idris made the disclosure at the inauguration of the Nigeria Police Force housing estate in Mbora district of Abuja on Tuesday.

READ:ABUJA INTERNATIONAL HOUSING SHOW – THE LARGEST HOUSING AND CONSTRUCTION EXPO IN WEST AFRICA

The project was carried out in conjunction with CORPAN International Ltd.

“When these houses are completed, the challenges of accommodation for police officers both in and out of retirement would have been taken care of,“he said.

He said that the housing scheme was a motivating factor for police officers to perform their duties and help in resisting corrupt tendencies.

“If a police officer knows that he is assured of a house during and after service, he will be committed to his duties and resist corrupt tendencies,“he said.

The police boss said that provision of affordable housing for officers was one of the cardinal objectives of the current police management team.

He enjoined police officers to subscribe to houses in the estate and other states constructed by the force across the country.

The Chairman, Board of Nigeria Police Force Mortgage Bank, retired DIG Uba Ringim, said that the estate was partly financed, marketed and supervised by the bank.

“It was conceived to cater for the housing needs of very senior police officers and other interested members of the public,“he said.

Ringim said that the bank had become a veritable platform for providing police officers and men access to the National Housing Fund (NHF) scheme.

Ringim said that the force was the highest contributor with over N10 billion in remittances to the scheme since inception.

He said that the bank had provided housing loans to about 500 police officers under the NHF scheme with over 3000 applications at various stages of processing.

The chairman disclosed that the bank had developed and commissioned 400 low cost housing units in Benin, Enugu, Katsina and Yola.

He solicited for more collaboration between the bank and critical stakeholders to ensure a mutually beneficial relationship for all.

The Managing Director, CORPAN International Ltd., Mr Andy Chime, said the company in line with the I-G`s directive, had constructed four other housing estates for the police in the FCT.

“I therefore call on officers to begin to subscribe to these houses on time as these estates have fully been subscribed except few terraces in the second phase,“he said.

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