The issue of housing deficit has been growing from bad to worse and successive governments from the time of Nigeria’s independence 59 years ago have been grappling with this problem . But it seems that they have just been scratching at the surface , especially as the country ’ s population has been growing exponentially, making government ’s efforts in this regard seem ineffectual .
Today , the country ’s housing deficit is about 18 million units , and for a country with a population of nearly 200 million people , it is particularly disheartening . It has been stated that to meet the shortfall , the country will require a minimum of an additional two million housing units per annum for 10 years .
It is instructive to note that the challenge of providing adequate housing accommodation is not just a Nigerian problem . According to the United Nations Habitat , about 30 per cent of the world ’s population live in slums , under deplorable conditions or, worse still , in buildings that are structurally unsound and without security of tenure among others .
The report also stated that 35 per cent of the world ’s rural population live in unacceptable conditions , which means that over two billion people are in need of a better housing.
For Nigeria , the government estimates that the housing sector would need about $ 400 billion investment over the next 25 -30 years to resolve this deficit . The World Bank on the other hand said bridging the deficit will cost the country about N59 .5 trillion , which further tallies with the estimation of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria which puts it at about N56 trillion to be able to adequately meet the housing needs of Nigerians.
There are several barriers to achieving housing for all . They include the Land Use Act of 1975 , which resides the ownership of land in the state governments, the tedious property registration process , the high cost of building materials , the unabating rural -urban migration and the associated inadequate planning development policy which focuses on urban development to the detriment of the rural areas. There is also the failure of mortgage institutions to fulfil their core mandates .
As a way forward , the National Assembly needs to review the Land Use Act to ease the process of land acquisition and documentation in order to make land more easily available for investment. At the moment it is so cumbersome and fraught with corruption that many investors are frustrated in their attempt to contribute to alleviate the housing burden.
The research institutes should also be challenged and motivated to explore the possibility of coming up with cheaper but equally effective local building materials .
There is also the need to provide the necessary infrastructure and social amenities in the rural areas to improve living conditions there and check the rural -urban movement which helps to complicate the housing problem.
Also , the federal government needs to strengthen and challenge institutions like the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN ) , the Federal Mortgage Finance Ltd , the Federal Housing Authority (FHA ) and the Urban Development Bank to deliver on their core mandates .
It is our opinion that bridging the gap of housing deficit as well as providing adequate shelter for Nigerians remain a salient feature of the successes Nigeria hopes to achieve in its quest to become one of the top 20 economies in the world . Thus , creating the right environment for investment in this sector would serve as a lubricant to attaining the set target considering the sector’ s potential for growth . So , if this government and the stakeholders can work together in creating the right environment for local and foreign investment in the sector, the shortfall will be a thing of the past .
It goes without saying that solving the housing deficit is a capital intensive project . It must be backed effectively by a public -private partnership investment model . The public -private partnership should be synergized to turn around the dangerous trend , which in the long run will help to halt the growing numbers of homeless people. On the other hand, the real estate investment firms , which presently account for between four and five per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP ), need to change their business model for increased output, while the government -owned real estate outfits need to be privatised to reduce the deficit from a manageable level.