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Journeys on Nigerian Highways Now ‘Rocket Science’

In Nigeria, politicians have the penchant of promising the electorate ‘dividends of democracy’ and to a very large extent, what these politicians mean by dividend of democracy is resurfacing, reconstruction and patching of existing roads and highways most of which are in terrible conditions.

In the last 20 years of the country’s return to democratic governance, many of the highways have seen considerable improvement coming after several years of budgetary allocations such that some roads, like Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Lagos-Benin-Ore Road, Enugu-Onitsha Expressway, etc have been under reconstruction in the past 10-15 years.

Now, at a time when the people should be celebrating the improvement on the state of these highways with pleasurable rides, less accidents, reduction in journey time, and safety of lives and property, they are contending with insecurity on these highways, making life miserable for them.

With what is happening on the highways today, it has become pretty difficult to understand what political office holders mean when they talk about dividends of democracy, more so, if this is all Nigerians can get from 20 uninterrupted years of democratic governance in the country.

In the last four years, the experiences on the highways have been, to say the least, horrible. Until most recently, especially since ‘change’ made a bold entry into governance, travellers on the country’s numerous highways dreaded only two major things- accident and highway robbers.

Unarguably, Nigeria had lost many souls owing to bad roads, reckless driving and armed robbery activities. Some years back, it was usual to see portfolio and itinerant pastors and prayer warriors at various motor parks in the morning rendering prayers and giving travellers assurances of safety on the roads.

The story appears worse today. Nigerians have returned to an era when journeys, whether in the day or at night, on any Nigerian highway, is a huge risk akin to what King David, in his book of Psalms, describes as “walking through the valley of shadow of death”. Kidnapping, killing and raping have become everyday occurrences despite the ubiquitous police and army checkpoints on the highways.

Nigerians so dread travelling by road now that, many days to a planned journey, prayer and fasting sessions are mounted, and pastors are contacted for special intercession. It is sad that, though Nigeria is not in a defined war situation, life is so unsafe that it seems as if there was a civil war going on.

From what has happened and keeps happening, it now seems that inter-state journeys have become rocket science while the roads themselves have been turned into ‘highways to hell’.

Many Nigerians are at a loss as to how these highways which criss-cross the entire country came to this sorry passé. Though some people attribute the on-going kidnapping, killing and rape to collapse of values and rise in cult activities, others blame it on leadership failure reflected in the action and inaction of government.

“Yes, I agree with you that values have collapsed in this country. People, especially the younger generation of Nigerians, neither believe in the dignity of labour nor do they believe in the virtues of hard work. Again, the society no longer interrogates people’s source of wealth but celebrates them,” Cyril Gbadebo, a social commentator, confirmed to BDSUNDAY on phone.

Gbadebo explained that most of the people who are engaged in these activities, which are acts against God and humanity, are young men who are not ready to work, but want to get rich quick. “They know that their activities are bad and even risky, yet they do it because they are driven by uncontrolled and inordinate ambition to dare the devil,” he noted.

But Ernest Makinde, a political scientist and convener, Good Governance for People’s Welfare, an NGO, thinks differently. He blames these social vices on what he described as “failings in governance fueled by leadership errors.”

Makinde explained to BDSUNDAY that the failure of government to create jobs is the reason for the high unemployment level in the country that has left many young people idle, pushing many of them into crime and criminality. “But that is the social and economic dimension to it,” he noted.

“There is the political dimension to it,” he continued, adding, “This is where the leadership errors comes in. If somebody from a particular section of the country wins a election and becomes the president of the country, it is expected that he becomes the president of the entire country; but that is not the case in Nigeria today which, to me, is the cause of our present travails.”

He said that many Nigerians believe, wrongly or rightly, that the insecurity in Nigeria that is holding the entire country hostage today is because government seems to be looking the other way as fellow Nigerians are killed, kidnapped and raped by criminals now dubbed ‘bandits’.

“We have succeeded, as a people and even as a government, in emboldening criminals because none of them has been arrested, prosecuted and jailed to serve as a deterrent to others. Social misfits are now lording it over the rest of honest Nigerians who can no longer move about freely in their own country for fear of being killed or kidnapped and several millions of naira demanded for their freedom,” Makinde lamented.

Increasingly, criminality, especially kidnapping, is becoming big business and those engaged in it are not only bold, but also daring as reflected in a recent kidnap incident in the Ode-Omi, Ogun Waterside Local Government Area of of Ogun State where kidnappers abducted three people, collected N3.5 million, a carton of schnapps, 30 liters of palm oil and 10 tubers of yam as ransom before releasing their hostages.

Social life, inter-state transport business, others shrink

Currently, families are rescheduling engagements, students are scared of traveling, and motorists lack courage to hit the road as the killers are increasingly laying siege to preys on highways, with hefty casualties every day. Moreover, businesses such as transportation, haulage, and logistics are at the verge of suffocation.

“When you hear someone was killed by these terrorists, you will hardly feel it until someone you know falls victim. My business associate lost his brother in an attack along the Abuja-Kaduna highway in March. The dead has not been buried because they are from Taraba State and insecurity is high in that area. It is sad seeing what Nigeria has degenerated to”, Luke Janah, an Abuja-based business man, said.

In same vein, Mbamara, an Aba-based business man, decried that the ugly development would disrupt business flow, decline transaction volume and also run many out of business if security is not restored soon along the highways.

“I know online payment is the in-thing, but I need to be at Tin Can Port Apapa to do some paper works in order to clear my goods. So, if I cannot travel again, that will delay the clearing, cause scarcity of the product, and increase cost if I have to pay extra to get someone to clear it. At the end, I will push the avoidable expenses to customers”, Mbamara decried.

Following the worsening situation, some transport companies are considering engaging police escorts to lead their busses across the country, but are deterred by the cost.

“We have over 100 buses that leave and enter Lagos every day, if you engage police escorts, it means over 100 police per day. If you multiple the cost per week and month, transport fares will rise from N7,000 now to about N15,000 from Lagos to Aba”, Lawrence Ezuma, a staff of a popular transport company with headquarters in Lagos, said.

Harry Isu, a passenger at Libra Park Okota, said that it is better to pay more for safety than to ply the ill-fated highways unescorted. But a driver with over 10 years experience with Young Shall Grow Motors, said what he has been seeing on the highways in recent times are beyond police escort. “If you have a police escort with one riffle and your bus breaks down along the dreaded highway, he cannot face five gunmen. The Army should flush them out”, he said.

Isu said that government can always tackle the challenge if they want to and also leave politics out of it.

As many people call off their trips by road, it presents good business opportunity to domestic airlines. Michael Ocheme, a business strategist with the Lagos Chamber of Commerce, said if flights are cheap, a lot more people would fly because we have good safety record in the air for now.

“To get more passengers to fly, domestic airlines need to deploy low-cost aircraft like in Europe, charge competitive fares and people will hit the airports for as low as N12,000-N15,000,” Ocheme said.

He noted that the airline business is about volume and frequencies of flight; hence airlines can get many flights a day at cheap fares to make up for the high fares small flight frequencies they have now.

But a domestic airline executive, who craved to be anonymous, said the tax paid to government agencies form 70 percent of air fares, and if government reduces such taxes, flights can go as cheap as N10,000 from Lagos to Kano or Maiduguri.

Safe journeys now pure miracle

Gone are the days when it was taken for granted that a traveller from one part of the country to the other would get to his or her destination in one piece. Today, as soon as a Nigerian takes off on a journey, all his/her relations and friends go into intercessory mode. They only heave a sigh of relief when there is a call from the traveller that he/she has arrived the destination in peace.

Killings and kidnapping of innocent Nigerians on the nation’s highways were treated with mere rumour until Friday, July 12, 2019, when the 58-year old Funke Olakunrin, second daughter of Afenifere leader, Reuben Fasoranti, was murdered by suspected Fulani herdsmen.

Olakunrin, was travelling from Akure to Ore in Ondo State.

Long before this deadly incident, there had been series of reports that virtually all the highways in Nigeria have been taken over by alleged killer herdsmen.

These herdsmen have been accused of extreme violence in these parts of Nigeria. They have also been accused of masterminding series of killings, forceful abduction, rape of victims and extortion of monies worth millions of naira for the release of their kidnapped victims.

Formerly, it was Boko Haram insurgency, which thrived in the northeastern part of the country, but today, the game has changed from insurgency to kidnapping and banditry as many have been reported dead due to the reckless activities of these hoodlums in Nigeria.

A middle-aged lady, who gave her name as Joy, narrated her recent ordeal in the hands of killer herdsmen along the Benin-Ore Road on her way from Lagos to her country-home in Akwa Ibom State.

Joy told BDSUNDAY that she was abducted alongside five other passengers for over 5hours before only four of them were released.

“On approaching the popular Okada Junction, 5-hefty men with guns suddenly emerged from the bush and ordered all the passengers to come down and lie down flat with their hands on their heads. People were also asked to submit their phones and monies in their position without hesitation.”

“After that, five of us including were taken into the bush where we were brutally assaulted by our abductors and we sustained various degrees of injuries and in my case, my left foot was badly injured after it was hit with the head of the gun. I saw so many other captives, who were mostly travellers abducted on that route as well. People were also forced to tell them how much they think their families can pay as ransom for their release,” she added.

According to her, “They collected our phones and access codes, ATM cards with our pin numbers as well as our monies. It was after we were released that I realised that about four other 18-seater buses were captured by the hoodlums and their passengers also abducted.”

Another pathetic incident happened recently when the passengers of a Toyota Sienna car travelling from Lagos to Owerri was also shot at and the passengers were herded into the bush from where their family members were contacted by the kidnappers.

A mother of three children, who gave her name as Chioma, was travelling to her village in Imo State with her elder brother for the burial of their mother, when both of them fell into the kidnappers’ net.

They were taken to the bush from where her husband was contacted by their abductors. The husband was asked to pay the sum of N10 million for the release of his wife and brother-in-law. The husband of the victim ended up paying the sum of N3 million and the wife was released after being raped and brother-in-law brutally wounded before his release by the abductors.

Tales of escapes by a whisker

The social media is awash with stories of miraculous escapes of some people, whose vehicles were shot at, but they managed to evade being kidnapped. The Lagos-Ore-Benin road is the most notorious.

Ubiquitous check points, increasing menace

In its effort to arrest the unfortunate situation, the Federal Government, through the Army authorities appears to have flooded the highways with soldiers. As commendable as this is, some victims have also alleged that they were intimidated, molested and extorted by some of the uniform men on the road. Some Nigerians also do not feel comfortable whenever they run into these check points because, the kidnappers also are known to mount road blocks to confuse and deceive unsuspecting Nigerians.

“I travelled to my village recently from Lagos. I was scared at the number of check points we passed on the road. It dawned on me that Nigeria is in a serious trouble. From Lagos to Uyo, everywhere was militarised. At some points, whenever they stopped our vehicle, passengers would be edgy because anything could happen. When I got home, everybody was asking if I really came by road. It is a serious matter. What I don’t know is how serious government is taking the matter,” a civil servant, said, craving anonymity.

Source: businessdayng

FCT Undeveloped Plots

Preparatory to the planned revocation of lands in the serviced areas of the Phases I, II & III of the Federal Capital City, Abuja, the FCT Administration has taken inventory of undeveloped plots of land.

The FCT Director of Land Administration, Adamu Hussaini, said this in his office, while receiving Masters students of the Federal University of Technology, Minna,  that were in Abuja for a study tour.

Hussaini, received the group led by the Director of the Centre, Prof Mohammed Nuhu.

He said, “The affected allottees have been reminded that failure to carry out improvement or development of such plot (s) contravenes the terms of Rights of Occupancy accepted by such allottees.”

Source: Punchng

Urban Planning Can Make the Middle East More Resilient to Outside Forces

Cities in the Middle East and North Africa are centres of innovation and investment, pivotal to economic growth and development across the region. At the same time, they are vulnerable to severe impact from a range of challenges, shocks and stresses that can be both natural and man-made. The growth of sustainable cities needs to be disaster-proofed.

From emergency planning to infrastructure investment, from adaptations in urban planning to risk financing: resilience and sustainability are two complementary paradigms of urban development in the Mena region. One cannot exist without the other. We should go beyond conventional approaches to risk reduction and advocate a forward-looking approach to urban development, encompassing the spatial, physical, functional and organisational dimensions of any inhabited settlement. A resilient city assesses, plans and acts in preparation for all kinds of hazards to enhance lives, foster an environment for investment and drive positive change.

 

Urbanisation trends continue to transform cities into unique hubs for services and housing, and to fulfil the promise of social inclusion and better social and economic opportunities for all citizens. However, if not properly managed and planned, these same trends can put a severe strain on urban water, waste, housing, energy and utility systems, unleashing long-term stresses on their efficiency and exposing their weaknesses, particularly when impacted by internal or external forces.

Most Mena cities are increasingly exposed to natural disasters such as flood, extreme heat or drought and climate-related shocks. What we have been observing in the region is that while the number of natural disasters around the world has almost doubled since the 1980s, it has almost tripled in Mena countries, with more than 370 natural disasters affecting 40 million people over the last 30 years, costing $20 billion.

The impact of these disasters on cities has been aggravated by a number of factors, including the rise in population density. In total, 62 per cent of Mena population live in cities while the urban population is expected to double by 2040. Water scarcity, migration to cities from rural areas and from neighbouring countries, flawed policies affecting cities, and climate change all have a lasting impact on Middle Eastern cities.

Last year there were more than 70 million people forcibly displaced around the world, according to the UN Refugee Agency. Syria accounted for most of the 13.6m newly displaced people worldwide. More than 80 per cent of forcibly displaced people from the region (primarily from Syria, Iraq and Yemen) now live in towns and cities. The urbanisation of forced displacement means the displaced are no longer in isolated areas but merged into existing urban populations. Their move to cities is often based on a perception that cities offer better economic opportunities, increased security, a degree of anonymity, greater access to services and closer proximity to markets.

In fact, the urban spatial footprint can increase rapidly as a result of an influx from displacement, as seen in Beirut or Amman. A large influx of displaced people arriving in cities and towns can double or triple population growth rates in months or weeks. While the impact on cities such as Amman will be somewhat noticeable, expansion is most visible in smaller municipalities such as Mizyara and Zahle in Lebanon, and Mafraq, Zaatari and Ramtha in northern Jordan, where populations have doubled in some cases and new settlement development drives rapid expansion of the urban footprint.

“Urbanisation trends continue to transform cities into unique hubs for services and housing, and to fulfil the promise of social inclusion and better social and economic opportunities for all citizens”

Most Mena governments have embarked on resilience and development in response – from setting up early-warning systems, building institutions and infrastructure to better handle disasters and gathering an accurate picture of the risks they face.

The city of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, which was affected by flooding in 2009 and 2011, has undertaken significant steps towards flood-risk reduction by improving drainage infrastructure and land use planning. Dubai has implemented development for urban search and rescue, contingency planning, firefighting and emergency response.

The Jordanian port city of Aqaba has instigated a variety of initiatives regarding earthquake risk reduction, including risk assessment, public awareness, urban search and rescue, and community voluntary teams. Meanwhile Fez in Morocco has community-level disaster risk management initiatives and the coastal city of Byblos in Lebanon, known to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, has an action plan to mitigate risks, including identifying opportunities that the city can take to improve its resilience.

These good practices display the importance that concerned city authorities attach to disaster risk reduction for the safety of their populations. There is a need to replicate such good practices on a wider scale in the region.

But to implement these plans successfully and manage increasingly large and complex urban systems, there is a need for better co-ordination at a central and local level, increased participation of the private sector in urban development and a devolution of responsibilities and budgets to local authorities.

We also need to make sure fast-growing cities do not lock in high rates of carbon emission or put people at further risk of disaster. It will take a combined effort from the public and private sector to build resilience in all Mena cities.

Source: thenational

Home to Over Half the Population, Nigeria’s Cities Continue to Boom

In an article for Bloomberg, Judd Devremont and Todd Moss highlight the rapid urbanization of Africa, arguing that the success or failure of Africa in the global economy will depend on its cities. In Nigeria, this can be seen most clearly in Lagos.

At independence in 1960, Lagos had an estimated population of 763,000; today it is about 13 million. Together with Lagos state, the population reaches 21 million. While Lagos is by far the largest city in Nigeria, security concerns, rural poverty, and hopes for greater economic opportunity are driving people to cities all over the country. In the decade between 2007 and 2017, Nigeria’s urban dwellers increased from 41 percent of the population to about 50 percent. In 2019, there were 7 cities with a population of one million or more, 80 with a population ranging between one hundred thousand and one million, and 248 with a population between ten thousand and one hundred thousand.

But much of this urbanization is unplanned and chaotic. According to a World Bank report about African cities, “Africa’s cities feel crowded precisely because they are not dense with economic activity, infrastructure, or housing and commercial structures.” They lack “formal housing in reach of jobs, and without transport systems to connect people living farther away,” forcing residents to “forgo services and amenities to live in cramped quarters near their work.”

The realities of life in Nigerian cities are hard. In Lagos, about two of every three people live in a slum. Less than 10 percent of residents have access to piped water (for those that do, it is often riddled with sediment and unsafe to drink), forcing urban households to purchase water from vendors at up to three times the normal price charged by Lagos state. Only six percent of urban households have a flushing toilet that is connected to a sewage system.

But life goes on. For all its shortcomings, Lagos is the center of much of what is dynamic and vibrant about Nigeria, a point Judd and Todd stress about African cities in general. The informal economy provides employment incompletely captured by statistics. In Lagos, there are few beggars; everyone has a hustle. Vendors working the city’s ubiquitous traffic jams (“go slows”) sell everything from mops and buckets to juju materials to the complete works of Shakespeare.

Others provide services, such as washing the feet of market ladies several times a day. It is the home of Nollywood, a home-grown film industry that is widely influential in Africa and spreading around the world. It is the center of Nigerian telecommunications, and cell phone use is ubiquitous. The Nigerian Communications Commission stated that Internet users in Nigeria numbered 116 million in March 2019—well over half of the country’s estimated population.

The most modern of financial and other services are available to clients in the Lagos-Ibadan corridor, the capital Abuja, and sporadically elsewhere. Information technology and sophisticated financial services are starting to power the modern sectors of the economy, though not to the same extent as in South Africa or Kenya, though the economy of Lagos state is larger than that of Kenya. Hence, as Judd and Todd argue, they require attention for their enormous potential, both good and bad.

Source: cfr

Feeding Nigeria’s 200m People Impossible without security, Electricity, Roads

The first time Best Foods Fresh Farms Limited used rail to bring a consignment of tomatoes to Lagos from Kaduna, the owners found out on arrival that it was put in a wagon that had no window.

“In the heat, it took three days to arrive here by which time the tomato had cooked itself. This was 1,400 crates of tomato,” said Emmanuel Ijewere, the company’s CEO.

At the next attempt, through Naija Pride Agribusiness Limited, another company Ijewere controls, the company requested the tomatoes be put in a wagon with ventilation, but just outside Lokoja, Kogi State, there was an incident that caused a 48-hour delay. By the time it arrived in Lagos, Ijewere recalled they were able to retrieve not more than 30 percent to sell.
If the company returns to road transport, where it would face bad, unpredictable roads, there would be other issues to contend with.

“With the worsening security situation, it means there are more checkpoints on the road, from 28-30 to now about 40,” Ijewere said, implying more delays and extortions from truck drivers.

Without physical security, there can be no food security, and in Nigeria, this concept reverberates with even more emphasis. BusinessDay’s interaction with some stakeholders, experts, and investors in the agric sector has shown security ranks as the top priority, which has to be fixed in order for the country to maximise its agricultural potentials, and invariably achieve food security. Other factors, considered important but not as much as security are electricity and roads.

“If there is no security, our people cannot go to their farms,” said Kabiru Ibrahim, national president, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), in a phone interview. “I even wrote a letter to the president on it, and that is why I think they are putting more efforts now to make sure they restore security.”

Ibrahim did not divulge details of the letter he says was sent to President Buhari in July, but stated, “There is consensus that insecurity is limiting (agricultural) productivity in the country.”

“From a business cost perspective, the cost of engaging security to protect business operations in certain areas adds to operational costs,” buttressed Mezuo Nwuneli, managing partner, Sahel Capital Agribusiness Managers Ltd.

The cost of moving goods across the country is impacted by kidnapping, armed robbery, and limits the ability to operate in some parts of the country.

In other climes, one can move at any time of the day, and even late at night, but in Nigeria, it is often already risky even during the day, and the risk goes up exponentially at night.

“That in itself reduces economic activities, and ability to operate,” Nwuneli said. “Roads and power may be ranked equally, but security ranks top.”

For Ibrahim, any emphasis on electricity (or even roads) is not necessary now.
“These are salient issues around agriculture. They are worth mentioning,” he said, but emphasising his preference, added, “We can harp on insecurity.”

The AFAN president, however, also acknowledged, “If you don’t do well in transport, you are certainly going to do something very bad to agriculture.”

Post-harvest losses (in Nigeria) have been estimated to range between 5 and 20 percent for grains; 20 percent for fish and as high as between 50 and 60 percent for tubers, fruits and vegetables, and without electricity not much can be done in storage or even processing for value addition. Good roads also play a role in ensuring agricultural produce would not only be saved from losses, but in fact, get to the market and enable farmers get the best returns.

Post-harvest loss is not just a crop thing, it affects even dairy where if one milks a cow and it is not properly preserved within three hours, it will go completely bad. As some researchers have noted, increased food production is not the final solution to food security. It has to be complemented by good harvest and post-harvest practices to reduce the amount of food loss. A 50 percent reduction in post-harvest food loss in Nigeria will also reduce the need for food importation.

Augustine Okoruwa, senior project manager, Post-harvest Loss Alliance at the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), told BusinessDay that all factors (security, electricity, and road) are important and need to be addressed simultaneously.

“We need to reduce post-harvest losses in order to achieve food security,” he said. “In order to reduce post-harvest losses, infrastructure has to be on ground. There has to be security, because if you have to move produce from one place to the other, the farmers’ security is important.”

As he noted, if farmers cannot go to the farm to plant, they cannot go to the farm to harvest and, invariably, the country will not achieve food security.

Even as the country is incentivising farmers to produce more food, as stakeholders have noted, there is a need to ensure they are secured enough to produce food, and that the road infrastructure is good enough for them to access the market. It is also imperative that there is power for proper storage and processing, which will reduce post-harvest losses and increase value addition, respectively.

Source: businessdayng

7 Things New Minister of Works and Housing Must Do

President Muhammadu Buhari has on Wednesday announced portfolios for his new ministers who will take charge of affairs as the government commences its Next Level phase fully.

For the Housing sector, there has been a lot of call for the unbundling of the ministry which was initially merged with power and works. A lot of stakeholders believe that given its crucial importance, housing should be standing on its own.

The latest announcement of Babatunde Raji Fashola as the minister of works and housing might not seem like a total answer to that call, but it is definitely an improvement. Fashola is retaining his seat as a minister, but with one burden less. The ministry of power has been removed from the equation, leaving works and housing.

As that is the current situation, the Housing Development Advocacy Network of Nigeria, which is an autonomous organization under Abuja International Housing Show (AIHS) comprising of various leading stakeholders in the sector are throwing in their support and are outlining important areas of urgent focus for the minister.

The suggestions includes the need to consolidate on previous achievements and the introduction of new projects that can substantially reduce the country’s nagging housing deficit.

Below are the top 7 critical things the Housing Development Advocacy Network say the minister must do to enhance affordable housing in Nigeria.

1. The first tenure of Babatunde Raji Fashola saw him undertake a pilot National Housing Programme which led to a nationwide housing construction in various states of the federation. According to the minister, while giving account of his service mentioned that construction works at these project sites are an ecosystem of human enterprise where artisans, vendors, suppliers and craftsmen are direct beneficiaries as well as contributors to nation building. It is therefore important that unlike previous housing programmes in Nigeria, this one should not be abandoned, but reinvigorated and adapted to prevailing challenges in a way that more results can be achieved and more houses built for the poor who needs them the most. According to Housing Development Advocacy Network, the projects that are ongoing should be completed and new ones initiated, and must be affordable for those that genuinely need the houses.

2. The Housing Development Advocacy Network have also advised the minister to review mistakes that were made in the past and make amends. In particular, the ministry should not in the Next Level regime be involved in the direct construction of housing projects, but rather as a policy initiator and supervisor, in order to ensure the kind of transparency needed for housing sector development in Nigeria.

3. The minister has also been charged to employ a more collaborative approach in understanding and solving the perennial housing problems in Nigeria. Many believe that it is very important for the minister to work more with stakeholders and professional institutions such as NSE, Foci, NIESV, NIOB, NITP, REDAN, NIQS, NIS, NIA and others to form a collaborative network that will make the goal of delivering affordable housing possible for all parties.


4. There are a number of outstanding bills either in need of a review or introduction to facilitate rapid investment in the real estate sector, which will in turn drive the economy. The new minister has been urged to partner with housing policy advocates like MBAN, AIHS, CBN and others to see that these critical bills including the NHF and FMBN review bills, Foreclosure act, Federal Government Housing Loans Board bill (FGHLB), Land Use Act, The Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) Act 1993, The Insurance Act 2002, The Investment and Security Act 1999, The Federal Housing Authority (FHA) Act 1990, Securitization Bill among others are pushed to the national assembly for immediate action.

5. Funding remains one of the most critical challenges for Nigeria’s housing sector. The Housing Development Advocacy Network have charged the minister to consider approaches that will ease access to funding low income housing in the country. Whether in terms of partnerships, policy developments or securing alternative finance models, many believe that if access to funding can be guaranteed, a lot can be achieved in record time in the sector, as mortgages and project constructions are currently stalled by limited access to funding.

6. Another critical mandate for the minister is to partner with relevant stakeholders in the sector to create standard data system in Nigeria that can be universally accepted to collate data, identify data gaps, integrate, optimise and expand knowledge set to meet current demands. This should also include the adoption of high impact training that supports research and data generation by major stakeholders within the industry. Any plan or investment in the sector ought to be based on dependable data, stakeholders say.

7. While the minister had in his previous term tried to tackle the backlog of issuance of Consent and Certificates of Occupancy on Federal Government lands, there is the need to do more in terms of creating enabling policies around land title documentations, with government playing a larger role in assisting investors and supporting local building industries and materials.

 

Know the Ministers

Babatunde Fashola

Fashola born June 28, 1963 in Lagos State is a lawyer and a politician. He won the governorship election of Lagos State in 2007 and 2011 on the platform of the defunct All Progressives Congress (APC). He was appointed the Minister of Power, Works and Housing by President Buhari in 2015 and has been re-nominated as minister.

Olorunnibe Mamora

Mamora, a medical doctor, is a former speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly. He was elected senator for the Lagos East constituency in 2007. He was appointed Managing Director of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) in 2018.

Mohammed Abdullahi

Abdullahi was born on December 11, 1956. He began his career in the civil service and rose to become the Bauchi State Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice. He won election as governor of Bauchi in 2015 but could not secure a second tenure in 2019.

Godswill Obot Akpabio

Akpabio served two terms as governor of Akwa Ibom State between 2007 and 2015, after which he was elected to the Senate to represent Akwa Ibom North West (Ikot Ekpene) Senatorial District; he served as the Senate Minority Leader of the until he resigned in August 2018 when he defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Earlier in his political career, he had also served as Commissioner for Petroleum and Natural Resources; Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, as well as Lands and Housing between 2002 and 2006 during the administration of Obong Victor Attah.

Akpabio was born on December 9, 1962 and attended Methodist Primary School, Ukana, Essien Udim LGA, Akwa Ibom State, the Federal Government College, Port Harcourt, Rivers State; and the University of Calabar, Cross River State, where he obtained a Degree in Law.

Chris Ngige 

Ngige was born on August 8, 1952. He graduated as a medical doctor from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) in 1979 and joined the civil service, serving at the National Assembly and State House clinics at different times before he retired in 1998 as a Deputy Director in the Federal Ministry of Health.

He contested the governorship election in Anambra State in 2003 and won. In August 2005, the Election Petition Tribunal nullified his victory. He challenged the verdict of the tribunal at the Court of Appeal. In March 2006, the appellate court upheld the tribunal’s verdict. In 2010, he contested for governor again and lost. In April 2011, he won senatorial election to represent Anambra Central, on the platform of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). Ngige lost his re-election bid in April 2015 and was appointed minister of Labour and Employment in November same year.

Sharon Ikeazor

Ikeazor obtained an LLB Hons in 1984 and was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1985. In her career, she worked with international oil companies, international consulting and engineering firms, and rose to become the senior vice president of an international consulting firm. She joined politics in January 2011, contested and won the post of the national women leader of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC). On the formation of the APC in 2013, she emerged the interim national woman leader of the party.

Adamu Adamu

Adamu was born on May 25, 1956 in Katagum, Bauchi State. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Ahmadu Bello University and a master’s degree in Journalism from Columbia University. He is the immediate past Minister of Education. Before his appointment in November 2015, he was a backpage columnist with Media Trust’s titles.

  Timipre Sylvia

Sylva, former governor of Bayelsa State from May 27, 2008 to January 27, 2012 was born July 7, 1964. Before, he was a member of the Rivers State House of Assembly in the 1990s. He served as a Political Adviser to former Bayesla State governor, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha and resigned in 2002. He attended the University of Port Harcourt in Choba, Rivers State where he studied English and Linguistics.

George Akume

He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a Master’s degree in Labour Relations from the University of Ibadan. He became a career civil servant and rose to become a permanent secretary. He became governor of Benue State in 1999 and was re-elected in 2003. In 2007, he won election to represent Benue North-West senatorial zone and was re-elected in 2011 and served as the Minority Leader of the Senate from June 2011 to June 2015. He won a third consecutive term in the 2015 election before he lost in 2019.

Mustapha Baba Shehuri

Shehuri was the immediate past minister of state Power, Works and Housing. He graduated from the University of Maiduguri in 2007 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Sociology and Anthropology. Between 1996 and 1997, he served as a Councillor representing the Lamisula/ Jabbamari Ward of Maiduguri Metropolitan under the old non-party electoral system. He was born on July 4th , 1961.

Goddi Jeddi Agba

Agba was born on August 20, 1958. He bagged his first degree in International Studies from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna State in 1983 and a Master’s Degree in International Law and Diplomacy from the University of Lagos, Akoka. He joined the Federal civil service in September 1984 as an Assistant Secretary II. He has worked in various capacities including personal assistant to the minister of special duties under the presidency, and personal assistant to the minister of state on foreign affairs, personal assistant to the secretary of the state. He joined the Nigerian national Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in 1995 where he rose to the position of head market research, crude oil marketing department and later became the head gas/gas liquids/condensate sales, GGLU Crude Oil Marketing Department. In 2014, he left NNPC to join politics.

Festus Keyamo 

Keyamo was born January 21, 1970 in Ughelli, Delta State. He attended Model Primary School and Government College, Ughelli, where he obtained the West African School Certificate in 1986. He later proceeded to Ambrose Alli University at Ekpoma, Edo State where he received a Bachelor of Law degree in 1992 and was called to the Nigerian Bar on December 1993.

He began his legal career in 1993 at Gani Fawehinmi’s Chambers before establishing Festus Keyamo Chambers. He was counsel to the leader of the Niger-Delta Peoples’ Volunteer Force, Mujahid Dokubo-Asari in his trial for treasonable felony and lead counsel in the treason trial of Ralph Uwazuruike, the leader of the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB). He was also a counsel in the murder of Bola Ige. Keyamo was elevated to Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) in July 2017. In April 2018, he was appointed as the Director of Strategic Communications (Official Spokesperson) of the 2019 re-election bid of President Buhari.

Ogbonnaya Onu

Onu was born December 1, 1951. He obtained grade one with distinction in his West African School Certificate Examination. He also sat for the High School Examination at College of Immaculate Conception (C.I.C) Enugu, graduating as the overall best student. He proceeded to the University of Lagos and graduated with a first class degree in Chemical Engineering in 1976. He went for his doctoral studies at the University of California, Berkeley and obtained a PhD in Chemical engineering in 1980.

He started his political career as an aspirant for a Senatorial seat in the old Imo State on the platform of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN). He also contested for the governorship seat of Abia State in 1991 under the umbrella of the National Republican Convention and won. In 1999, he was the Presidential flag bearer for the All People’s Party (APP) but relinquished the position to Chief Olu Falae after a merger of his party with the Alliance for Democracy (AD). He became the national chairman of the All Nigerian People’s Party (ANPP) in 2010. In November 2015, he was appointed Minister of Science and Technology.

Osagie Ehanire

Born November 4, 1946, Ehanire attended Government College Ibadan, Oyo state and Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany where he studied medicine. He went on to the Teaching Hospital of the University of Duisburg and Essen and to the BG Accident Hospital in Duisburg, Germany for his post-graduate education.  In 1976, he attended the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland where he obtained postgraduate Diploma in Anaesthetics. He got his Board Certification in both General Surgery and Orthopaedic Trauma Surgery at the Medical Board of North Rhine Westphalia in Duesseldorf, Germany. In 1984, he became a Fellow of West African College of Surgeons.

Clement Agba

Agba attended the then Bendel State University, now Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma and graduated with a B.Sc Economics degree in 1985. He also holds two Masters Degrees in Business Administration, one from the University of Benin, Benin-City with specialization in Management and the other from Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, USA with specialization in Supply Chain Management.

Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo

Adebayo is a former governor of Ekiti State May 29, 1999 to May 29, 2003. Born February 4, 1958, he attended University of Lagos where he studied Law and obtained (LL.B Hons). He is a member of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and the International Bar Association (IBA).

Geoffrey Onyema

Onyeama is the immediate past Minister of Foreign Affairs. Born February 2, 1956. He holds a Bachelor of Arts (B.A) degree in Political Science from Columbia University, New York in 1977 and a Bachelor of Arts (B.A) degree in Law from St John’s College, Cambridge in 1980. He holds a Masters of Law (LL.M) from the London School of Economics and Political Science in 1982 and a Masters of Arts (M.A) in Law from St John’s College, Cambridge in 1984. Onyeama was admitted as a Barrister-at-Law of the Supreme Court of Nigeria in 1983 and was also called to the English Bar of the Grey’s Inn in 1981.

Isa Ibrahim Patami

Pantami was October 20, 1972. He attended Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi from where he obtained BTech and MSc degrees. He is a fellow of both British Computer Society (FBCS) and Nigeria Computer Society (FNCS). He was the Director General and CEO of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) in Nigeria before his appointment.

Emeka Nwajiuba

Nwajiuba was born on August 20, 1967. He holds an LLM from University of Lagos and PhD University of Jos. He was elected into the House of Representatives in 1999 and served as chairman, House committee on Land, Housing and Works from 1999 to 2003 before contesting for the Imo governorship seat on the platform of APP/ANPP in 2003, 2007 and as CPC candidate in 2011.

Suleiman Adamu

Adamu is the immediate past Minister of Water Resources. He holds a Bachelor of Engineering (B.Eng.) from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria Kaduna state

Zainab Ahmed

Ahmed, an accountant is the immediate past Minister of State for Budget and National Planning.  She attended Queen Amina College, Kaduna, and later proceeded to have her A’Level in Zaria. She obtained a degree in Accounting from the Ahmadu Bello University in 1981 and an MBA from Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye in 2004.

Ahmed has served the Nigerian public in various high ranking positions, including as managing director of the Kaduna State of Nigeria’s investment company, and also the Chief Finance Officer of the Nigeria mobile telecommunications company.

Mariam Kategu

Katagun is Nigeria’s Permanent Delegate to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

Mohammed Mahmud

Mahmud is a former member of the Kaduna House of Assembly and the current chairman of the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC ). He is also the chairman of the Buhari Support Organisation.

Sabo Nanono

Nanono was born in April 11, 1946 and he comes from Tafai-Zakiria district, Kano. He attended Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and later began his career as a clerk in the Central Bank of Nigeria. He worked at the African International Bank for many years but at present, he is retired.

Major Bashir Sani

Sani was appointed governor of Sokoto from August 1990 to January 1992 during the regime of General Ibrahim Babangida but he was retired along with other military chiefs in 1999. He was a legal adviser for the defunct All Nigeria’s People Party (ANPP) and governorship candidate of Democratic People’s Party (DPP) in Kano.

Hadi Sirika

Sirika is from Katsina. He is a former pilot, former member of the House of Representatives and former Senator who represented Katsina North Senatorial district on the platform of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in 2011. He assumed office as the Minister of State on Aviation in November 11, 2015.

Abubakar Malami

Malami was born on April 17, 1967 in Birnin Kebbi, the capital of Kebbi State. He studied law at the Uthman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto and was called to the bar in 1992. He was the legal adviser of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and assumed office as the Minister for Justice and Attorney General of the Federation in 2015.

Ramatu Tijani

Tijani was born June 12, 1970 and hails from Kogi State.  She graduated from the Ahmadu Bello University and later worked at the Federal Ministry of Housing. She was the national woman leader of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) but later emerged the national women leader of the APC, a position she held from 2014 to 2018.

Lai Mohammed

Mohammed was born in 1952 and is a native of Oro in Kwara State. He studied French at the Obafemi Awolowo University but later got a degree in law from the University of Lagos. He later co-founded Edu and Mohammed law firm in 1989. In 2003, he contested for governorship of Kwara on the platform of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) and lost. He then went on to serve as chief of staff to former Lagos governor, Bola Tinubu. He was the national publicity secretary of the All Progressives Congress but was later appointed as the minister for information in 2015.

Gbemisola Saraki

Saraki represented Kwara Central Senatorial district on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from 2003 to 2011 but was succeeded by her brother, the immediate past Senate President, Bukola Saraki. She defected to the APC in 2015 and in February 2016, she was appointed as the pro chancellor of the Federal University, Otuoke, Bayelsa State.

Zubairu Dada

Dada was born March 28, 1952 in Minna, Niger State and attended Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. He was the former Nigerian ambassador to Poland under former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Olamilekun Adegbite

Adegbite is the immediate past Ogun State Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure.

Omotayo Alaosuadura

Alaosuadura was born in 1949 in Akure, Ondo State. He was appointed the Commissioner for Finance and Planning from 2003 to 2009. In 2015, he won election to represent Ondo Central District at the Senate.

Rauf Aregbesola

Aregbesola born May 25, 1957, served  previously as the Lagos Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure. He also served as the governor of Osun State between 2010 and 2018.

Sunday Dare

Dare born May 29, 1966 is a veteran journalist. He hails from Ogbomosho in Oyo State. He was nominated by President Buhari as the executive commissioner at the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in August 2016.

Pauline Tallen

Tallen hails from Plateau State and was born January 8, 1959. In 1999, she was appointed Minister of State for science and technology by former President Olusegun Obasanjo. In 2007, she became the deputy governor of Plateau State. She is presently a member, Board of Trustees of the APC.

Chibuike Amaechi

Amaechi born May 27, 1965 served as the fifth governor of Rivers State from 2007 to 2015 on the platform of the PDP. Before then, he was the speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly on the platform of the PDP from 1999 to 2007.

Sale Mamman

Mamman is a long standing member of the APC in Taraba State but not much is known about him besides the fact that he is an engineer.

Abubakar Aliyu

Aliyu was appointed deputy governor of Yobe State in 2009 after the death of his elder brother, the late Governor Mamman Ali and he served as deputy governor for 10 years, making him the longest serving deputy in the country’s history.

Sadiya Umar Farouk

Farouk from Zamfara State graduated from the Ahmadu Bello University in 1998. She is the Federal Commissioner of the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons.

Uchechukwu Samson Ogah

Ogah was born on December 22, 1969. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Banking and Finance from Ogun State University and a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from University of Lagos. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN); Fellow, Institute of Brand Management of Nigeria; Fellow, Nigerian Institute of Shipping; Fellow, Employment & Career and member, Chartered Institute of Bankers.

Bello

Bello from Adamawa is the immediate past Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT)  and was born January 8, 1959. He holds a B.Sc. in Management with bias for Banking and Finance as well as an MBA in the same field from the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria. He was the officer in charge of credit and marketing at the ICON Merchant Bank Plc and later served as a Director at Habib Bank Plc, and Managing Director of the Bakabure Industrial Complex, Yola. He was Chairman of National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) from 2007 until May 2015 when President Buhari first appointed him a minister.

Source: sunnewsonline

 

The Need to Sanction Illegal Approvals in Estate Development

Every city or town is built on an established plan that must be strictly adhered to in order to ensure that the city or town runs smoothly without being affected by illegal developments that can alter its structure and order.

A master plan serves as a blueprint for the future expansion of any city or town and must be directly tied to the core developmental goals and planning. It will identify economic and other factors such as utility infrastructure development, planning, acquisition and sustainability.

When a city or town’s master plan is altered, it can lead to catastrophic scenarios like flooding, congestion, building collapse, fire outbreak, poor drainage, accidents and many more man-inflicted disasters.

Many Nigerian cities and towns have increasingly deteriorated because of the failure to comply with set down master plans and structural maps. Major cities like Abuja, Lagos, and Port-Harcourt have increasingly become prone to constant flooding, building collapse and congestion because of the violation of master plans and especially because those who violate these plans are not appropriately sanctioned.

In Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja, the violation of master plans by some real estate developers in connivance with some corrupt FCT officials have had a very negative impact in some parts of the city.

In Lokogoma area of the city for example, city authorities have commenced demolition of illegally approved structures which are adjudged to be built on waterways and drainages. The resultant effect of this has been incessant flooding over the years that have led to at least 10 deaths and loss of valuable properties.

In Lagos, innumerable number of buildings have collapsed because of multiple violation of the city master plans. In many cases, more storeys are built on buildings that had also reached their maximum storey levels. This usually have a negative toll on the foundation which cannot carry beyond its capacity. Hundreds of lives have been lost in Lagos as a result of this illegal and dangerous practice.

In a recent statement, the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) decried the ‘monumental’ distortion of the Abuja Masterplan, resulting in seemingly endless chaotic traffic, building mishaps and flooding situations bedevilling the city.

While this is true and obviously realisable for many, what is expected now is an era that brings an end to such impunity.

Speaking to Housing News, a seasoned housing sector expert, Francis Obidi mentioned the need for culprits to be brought to book in order to deter the preponderance of such practises that has left everyone the worst for it.

‘’Estate developers that disregard a city master plan whether in collusion with some officials or not should be prosecuted. This is the only way to show commitment to the development of a city,’’ he said.

 

5 things Buhari’s New Finance Minister Must Do Within 100 days

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari will likely assign portfolios to ministers this week. Among the most anticipated appointments will be the office of the Minister of Finance.

In Nigeria, the Minister of Finance oversees setting and implementing the economic policies of the government. Under Buharinomics, this portfolio has been characterized by controversies and (perhaps this sounds harsh) incompetence.

Whomever President Buhari decides to appoint to that portfolio this week will have his or her work cut, out and could be expected to remain in the portfolio for the next four years. Never before, in the democratic dispensation ushered in since 1999, has the portfolio of the next Minister of Finance been so important.

Thus, it is crucial that whoever is appointed sets the ball rolling immediately, making a mark in the first 100 days in office. Nairametrics surveyed opinions from economists and analysts on what their expectations are from the Minister. Unfortunately, most of the requests instructively laid down by our analysts may not be acceded to, nevertheless, it still is important to lay down the marker.

 

Fiscal Quagmire: According to Wale Okunrinboye, the Head of Research at Sigma Pensions, the Minister will need to produce a credible plan for improving Nigeria’s fiscal revenues. Nigeria is yet to recover fully from the 2014 crash of the price of oil, as the government has had to rely on increased borrowings to finance capital and recurrent expenditure.

  • Since President Buhari assumed office in 2015, the country’s debt profile has increased by almost 107% in naira value.
  • In the first quarter of 2015, Nigeria’s total public debt stood at N12.4 trillion or $64.2 billion, while it rose to N24.9 trillion or $81.27 billion in March 2019.
  • Analysis of data obtained from the Debt Management Office also shows that Nigeria has spent a total of N7.04 trillion to service both domestic and external debts under President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration alone.
  • Nigeria currently spends over 50% of its revenues on debt servicing.

Unfortunately, the government plans to fund the 2019 budget with even more borrowing. We do not expect the Finance Minister to go against this plan.

Relationship with CBN: According to Yomi Fawehinmi, an Oil and Gas expert and Economic commentator, the new Minister will have to secure better coordination with the Central Bank of Nigeria. During the last regime, Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, had a cordial relationship with the Governor of Central Bank in the eye of the media, but often differed on policy coordination.

  • While the government pursued economic expansion via monetary handout to the poor, the Central Bank towed the way of the hawkish monetary policy.
  • The Buhari government has spent billions on grants to farmers as it pushed through its agricultural policies.
  • While it favoured the way of grants and soft loans to farmers and other preferred sectors of the economy, the Central Bank often raised lending rates to discourage excessive borrowing, part of a grand plan to stifle demand for forex.
  • In the case where there was coordination, it was a disaster. Case in point, the way the government handled the exchange rate crisis and its synergy on pseudo banning of importation of 41 items.

 

Yomi believes that the government will have to focus more on policy coordination if it encourages private sector investments. He also believes that transparency in public finances is key in improving investor confidence in the management of economic coffers, especially the CBN.

Unfortunately, this too is unlikely to happen, as the president is more inclined towards interference. Just last week, the president declared that he had instructed the CBN Governor to stop providing forex to suppliers of food.

Budget ImplementationNigeria’s 2019 Budget has its fair share of positives, even if most critics of the government still highlight its shortcomings. Nevertheless, the new Minister will have to ensure that the budget implementation plan is robust and cash-backed.

  • Out of the N8.9 trillion earmarked for the 2019 Budget, N2 trillion was budgeted for Capital Expenditure.
  • Critical sectors such as Power, Works, and Housing are badly in need of funding to complete projects across the country and initiate new ones.
  • Massive infrastructural work across the country can help stimulate its economy.

Ighodaro Alonge, a Fund Manager, and Financial Analyst believe that the government should reduce its wage bill, particularly recurrent expenditure. It is however unlikely that the government will cut down on recurrent expenditure.

In fact, over the years, the government has achieved 100% spending on recurrent expenditures but far less on capital expenditure. It could also be beyond the purview of the Minister of Finance to implement budget across the economy.

CBN Ways and Means: In 2016, the Emir of Kano Sanusi Lamido Sanusi accused the CBN of contravening section 38.2 of the CBN act by borrowing more than the required threshold to the Federal Government. This has not deterred the CBN, as the apex bank has continued to lend money to the government.

  • As at May 2019, the CBN has lent a whopping N6.8 trillion to the FG in the form of “overdraft for Budgetary Expenses” as contained in its data.
  • The CBN Ways and Means, which the Emir of Kano alleged was being violated, is also drawn to the tune of about N277 billion only.
  • The government is likely to continue to rely on the CBN to fund its budgetary expenses, hoping to repay someday from oil receipts.

Dr. Nonso Obikili, an Economist, believes that the new Minister should rein in on the indirect financing of the FG by the CBN. With oil prices falling and the government increasingly failing to achieve its budgetary targets, it is unlikely that the new minister will have the balls to stop this ill-advised policy.

It is interesting to note how similar all the recommendations are including that of @Ugodre, the founder of Nairametrics.

See the table below:

Finance Minister, Buhari
What the new Finance Minister must do

Source: nairametrics

How Family Homes Funds is leading ‘Next Level’ Affordable Housing Delivery

Against all odds, Family Homes Funds has established itself as a reliable social housing scheme for low and medium income earners in Nigeria. At its conception, sceptics were unsure – and rightly so – about how a federal government plan to build at least 500, 000 homes and create up to 1.5 million jobs in the process within 5 years through Family Homes Funds can be achieved. This scepticism was based on how replete Nigeria’s history is with many failed attempts to address the country’s embarrassing housing deficit.

It has been barely a year since kick-off, but the Fund has so far developed at least 1050 homes with another 3000 at different stages of development. They have been able to create about 1400 jobs through these projects. Over 500 units have been completed in Nasarawa state, 750 in Kano, 650 in Delta and many more all over the country.

Giving Nigeria’s housing deficit, these numbers might indeed seem like a drop in the ocean, but if previous projects were this consistent and result oriented, the deficit which many believe stands at least 17 – 20 million today wouldn’t have been.

With nearly 200 million people, Nigeria has the largest population in Africa, and it is the 7th in world population ranking. In spite of this huge population, the country has struggled over decades to come up with a sustainable action plan that will reduce the incredible housing gap in the country.

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. And this is why China with a population of 1.3 billion people has a housing surplus yet Nigeria with a population of about 200 million has a housing deficit.

It is against this backdrop that the current administration under the leadership President Muhammadu Buhari and the Ministry of Works, Power and Housing, introduced new policy measures and initiatives to address the housing challenges in the country.

The Family Homes Fund Limited is one of such new initiatives. The Fund is a partnership between the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority as founding shareholders. The Fund is the largest affordable housing-focused fund in Sub-Sahara Africa, leveraging its significant capital (in excess of N500billion by 2023) to facilitate access to affordable housing for millions of Nigerians on low to medium income groups. Through strategic partnerships with various players in the sector and some of the world’s main Development Finance Institutions, the Fund has an ambitious commitment to facilitate and supply 500,000 homes and 1.5million jobs for the low income earners by 2023.

Through its Rental Housing and Help-to-Buy Schemes, beneficiaries of the project enjoy a deferred loan for up to 40% of the cost of their home. For the first 5 years of the loan, no payments need to be made. From the 6th year, monthly payments will be made to start repaying both interest and capital to assist the purchaser. The amount paid starts low and increases each year in gradual steps (average 6.5% per annum) in order for the Help-To-Buy loan to be fully repaid by the 20th year, the same year the mortgage is expected to be fully repaid.

To qualify, households will have earnings between N600k to N1.2m per annum and the Fund ensures that 1 bedroom unit should not be more than N3 million; 2 bedroom unit should not be more than N4.5 million, and 3 bedroom should not be more than N6.5 million. An exception is made in Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt and Kano where the cost of a new home can be as high as N9m. Households benefiting from Loan Assistance will not be owners of a suitable home and will include one income earner who is under 35 years of age and does not have to be one of the people applying for the scheme or the loan but must be available to help with repayments.

The Fund is in strategic partnership with housing stakeholders like the NMRC, with which it is currently working on affordable mortgages specifically through the Help-to-Own product where low income earners can enjoy the most affordable and flexible mortgage system in the country.

Family Homes Funds is most likely the only agency today in the country that is providing financing for affordable housing outside of the commercial banks where the interest rates, requirements, affordability and development costs are usually high. The fact that they are able to provide financing at no more than 10 percent per annum which is about one third of the market rate is a significant and novel intervention.

Most states that are in partnership with the Fund are now keying into the program to provide housing for their staff through the fund. In Borno state, the Fund is providing about 4700 homes, with 3000 of those being very low cost homes for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

Having signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Construction Skills Training and Empowerment Project Ltd/Gte C-STEMP, an organization with a vision to build a pool and database of certified artisans with the requisite skills to meet industry needs that translate to better quality of work and life for all stakeholders – Family Homes Funds has shown commitment to incorporate training, assessment and certification as a condition for beneficiaries to access its programs and to ensure that only skilled labour are utilized on its projects. Its laudable partnership with C-STEMP is to provide affordable and quality homes while creating jobs for highly qualified persons.

What makes Family Homes Funds stand out? The motivation behind the establishment of Family Homes Funds is based on the fact that it is not just enough to supply houses without taking care of the demand side. The Fund dedicates sufficient strategy to ensuring that the supply of houses meets the demand for it.

As calls for sustainable building rings loud in the air, Family Homes Funds already leads the way through its collaboration with other agencies in the development and application of building innovations that can be cost effective. Family Homes Funds is working with bodies like MBRI to commercialise innovative building systems that rely very little on concrete and cement, which is a significant step in not only advancing local content, but ensuring sustainability.

As a testament to their hard-work, Family Homes Funds won the Affordable Housing Promoter of the Year Award at the 2019 Nigeria Housing Awards. The prestigious award is in recognition of ongoing affordable housing projects being financed by the fund for low and middle income earners across the country.

While the excellent progress of Family Homes Funds excites stakeholders, there is the need for government to ensure that the kind of bureaucracy and political interference that have prevented previous and ongoing housing initiatives in the country from achieving their set aims do not affect Family Homes Funds. Its independence and all-round support from the government ought to be uninterrupted if set goals are to be reached in the allotted time frame of delivering the 500, 000 homes.

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