I never rejected House offer for Borehole, says Jigawa Gateman

Musa Usman is a gateman who served his Indian boss for 25 years in Lagos and was celebrated for declining an offer of a house for a borehole in his community. In this interview with Daily Trust, he denied the report, and classified other issues.

Daily Trust: When did you head out to Lagos, considering the fact that you are from a rural community in Jigawa State?

Musa Usman: I started going to Lagos when I was young, probably at the age of 35. I was introduced to Lagos by some of my brothers who go there for seasonal menial jobs. I first went with them to take part and later became involved in gardening, where we farmed a variety of vegetables.

DT: How did you meet the Indian national for whom you’ve worked for 25 years?

Usman: At the area where we were living in Lagos, there used to be an Indian national whom I have asked to help me secure a job. He agreed to assist and gave me the address of one of his fellow Indians in Victoria Island. When we met, I told him of the person who asked me to see him and the purpose. It did not take long, and I started working for them. There were two Indians in the house. At a point, my two bosses had some misunderstanding and parted ways. My present boss therefore asked me to stop working for the other man. Hitherto, they jointly paid my salary, but since then he took sole responsibility.

DT: Why do you think you are so dear to your boss?

Usman: I have been working for my boss for the past 25 years. For the period under which I served him, honesty has been my watchword. My boss trusts me immensely. As a security man in his house, I ensured that I worked diligently. There was never a time where an item went missing under my watch for that 25-year period. So, dedication to duty and honesty earned me a lot of respect from my boss.

DT: A hand pump borehole was donated to your community by your boss. Can that gesture be attributed to your honesty and dedication to duty?

Usman: Yes. But my boss has a way of doing things. When he has a plan for you, he hardly tells you. In my own case, he only told me that we would be visiting my community, and for the fact that he has been visiting the state, I did not care to ask the purpose until my boss’s driver revealed that my boss wanted to do something there. I think my emphasis on the importance of a borehole in our community due to the water shortage in the area may have inspired him. When we arrived, I was asked to show the location where I wanted the borehole to be constructed. I volunteered a part of my farmland located at the centre of our community.

DT: During the commissioning of the borehole, encomiums were showered on you because of the information that you rejected a house offer for a borehole in your community. How did this happen?

Usman: Nobody talked to me about a house. It is only the issue of a borehole that is at hand for now. If there is any other thing that may be due for consideration, it could be for some other time.

DT: But people were made to believe you sacrificed an offer of a house for the welfare of your community…

Usman: This is because of my hard work and honesty. I am a source of pride to my people. What I have come to realize with my boss is, when he wants to render assistance to anyone, he does not make noise over it.

DT: Have you been prevailed upon not to talk about the house offer?

Usman: There is no such thing. The offer was for the borehole and it has been constructed.

DT: Now that your son has taken over from you as gateman for same boss, do you think he will be as committed as you have been?

Usman: My duty as a gateman is not only to man the gate, but to put on generators, and also some other duties. So, I will actually be going back to continue with my job.

Source: Dailytrustng

Housing Expert Speaks on How to Solve Housing Deficit in Nigeria

Lookman Oshodi is the Project Director, Arctic Infrastructure and member of the technical committee for 2018 Guangzhou International Award for Urban Innovation. In this interview with BERTRAM NWANNEKANMA, he gives an insight on the way out of the housing problems bedeviling the country.
What do you consider as the best approach in tackling the nation’s housing deficits? 
The first step is for the states to key into the existing housing policy of the Federal Government and make adjustments to reflect their own priorities in housing. Capacity building across the board is very important to understanding the dynamics of housing in Nigeria. For instance, while Gombe State may not necessarily set housing as its top most agenda, Ogun State needs the understanding that by virtue of its location, it stands to produce the most viable, accessible and large scale housing market not just in Nigeria but the entire West African sub region. Many states require the involvement of local governments to play active roles in housing delivery process.In the area of funding, a number of initiatives are coming up to make funding accessible, but currently they are disconnected from one another. There is also the need for that cohesive approach that will bring all funding initiatives together and sensitise them to housing providers in Nigeria on the ease of accessibility and the benefits.What roles can infrastructure play in addressing the nation’s housing deficits? 
The success of any housing system rests majorly on the supporting infrastructure. Housing will remain inadequate qualitatively and quantitatively, if infrastructure is absent. Over the years, the deficit quantum of housing in Nigeria has remained stagnated at between 17 to 20 million, depending on where you are getting the figure. This could be more because majority of housing available lacked critical adequate housing indicator and infrastructure.

A well-developed infrastructure, comprising good transportation system, water and sanitation, energy, healthcare, education and connecting technology among others will attract tremendous investments into the housing sector. It reduces the production cost of housing, increases supply of units, improves land value around housing, creates better physical and economic accessibility for the beneficiaries, improves social and environmental quality of Nigerians and improves the nation’s prosperity index. If well conceptualized, planned, executed and delivered, infrastructure is a backbone of reducing housing deficit in Nigeria.

According to a survey, Nigeria needs about N10.63tn ($67bn) to tackle infrastructure gap. What role should private sector play in meeting the huge financial outlay? 
The private sector has significant role to play in attracting funding for Nigerian infrastructure needs. In any infrastructure investment market, private sector possesses ability to navigate the complex market and rapid turnaround period. Whether on or off the investment road show, private sector has comparable advantage in attracting infrastructure funding, especially when funding partners are gradually realising that state led infrastructure in many cities in Sub Saharan Africa are not fully yielding the desired results.

In Nigeria, the private sector had made huge funding commitment to infrastructure development. Majority of housing in Nigeria are the products of private capital, the fledging energy sector currently relies on funding from the private sector while infrastructure for tax model is being introduced in the road sector. All these are considerable history of private sector financing of infrastructure and pointer of interest to make further contributions.

However, for private sector to make effective contributions, government must play substantial enabling role and create accountability platform that will draw private sector funding. At this stage, the Nigeria needs to be very clear on the type of economic model it wants to pursue, social, capitalism or clear hybrid system. A bit of social, welfare, capital and communal models without concrete loop end leading to the multiple mis-interpretation on the part of state actors, inconsistencies, policy somersaults, nepotism and obscured transparency in infrastructure procurement process are all inimical to private sector interests. They are doing substantial damage to the private sector contributions in bridging the infrastructure gap.

Do you think the present administration’s housing policy can bring about solution to homelessness in the country? 
To measure the sustainable solutions on housing of any country in the world, the first indicator is the housing situation in about five flagship cities. Observations in these five cities can give valid opinion on the success or otherwise of the housing delivery structure. In Nigeria, housing situation in Lagos and Abuja will readily come to mind. Then, situation in Port Harcourt, Enugu, Kano, Kaduna and Ibadan can provide answers to the assessment of the present administration’s housing policy.

The administration is doing its best within the complex housing environment, but there are still milestones for us to cover as a nation. However, housing question in Nigeria is a resolvable dilemma if we set our priorities right and address the fundamental issues.

Which areas would you want to see improvement? 
I am not sure if the merging of housing ministry with works and power ministry is translating to housing for many Nigerians. I am yet to see quality housing for people of Ajegunle or Okokomaiko in Lagos and residents of Dutse-Alhaji and Jikwoyi in Abuja. Land accessibility, as also acknowledged by the Minister, is a major obstacle that the administration needs to improve upon. A lot of reforms are being executed in the housing finance sector but they need to be cohesive from the present silos framework. Sustainable building materials require further attention while capacity improvement at all levels of manpower should be strengthened.

The new trend now in the housing industry is smart homes. How can developers embrace the new technology associated with it? 
The smart home concept is growing in Nigeria among new homes coming to the market. Although, the rate of retrofitting at individual’s level is not too clear, but the trend is largely common in high and medium income communities. Homes in the low -income communities are making sporadic investments in procuring one form of smart home equipment or the other.

Smart home is fast emerging in the country but scope of adoption is still being limited because of broader environment restriction. The concept of smart home becomes seamless and rewarding if there is interoperability with city smart response system such as security, emergency, utility and supplies. How many cities are smart enough to encourage internet of things with various homes?

Smart homes functioning relies on regular energy, internet connection and equipment batteries. Energy supplies in Nigerian cities are too low while it is a considerable challenge to access internet in many cities outside Lagos, Abuja and few other cities. Take notice that basic pre-paid electricity meters that measure households’ consumption on the utility is still intractable. The infrastructure gap in the housing sector is imposing limitations on the full -scale deployment of smart homes, but the market is optimistic with investment opportunities.

The Land Use Act amendment has been stalled. Is it possible to do away with the Act without its amendment? How? 
At present, we cannot do away with the Act since it is a substantive national law, which every citizen must comply with. The act has its both advantages and disadvantages but one thing that is clear is that the act has encouraged multiplication of slums and spread of informal settlements in Nigerian urban centres. Sometime, you may not need elaborate lobbying or conferences to highlight the deficiencies of certain system. The obvious outcomes of such system should be compelling for policy makers to initiate changes. Many citizens have been consciously confined to the realm of informalities because of the provisions and implementation of the Act.

In this case of Land Use Act, it is ideal for states to begin creative ways of working around the Act in making formal land accessible to their residents. Ogun State Home Charter programme is making progress in expanding access to formal land holding while some other states too are working under the framework of Presidential Technical Committee on Land Reform to expand formal accessibility. In any case, it must be noted that the revision and amendment of the Land Use Act is long overdue.

Rural to urban migration has continued to increase, do you think we need a National Urban and Regional Planning agency to give direction to the development process? 
A process without a direction will find it extremely difficult to achieve any meaningful success. Setting any urban agenda without a coordinating institution means clear direction is lacking for the agenda. Hence, the necessity to have agency to coordinate development services and strengthen resiliency in Nigerian urban centres. Lack of these institutions in many states in Nigeria is evidenced in the chaotic and unplanned situations we are seeing in many urban areas.

What role will such agency play in ensuring integrated housing programme?
Such agency, if established in a state can initiate and set housing agenda for the state. The agency will set policies, and standard for housing development and where possible provides a platform for multi-stakeholder, public, private and community to come together and deliver housing system that can reflect the aspirations of each state.

There have been calls for a virile physical development management institution to ensure proper urban development. How feasible is this? 
Setting up a development management agency could be challenging when a state looks at the initial cost outlay of the system. Cost in this case will include start-up cost for accommodation, equipment and other logistics. Also, the medium to long term operational costs play major roles. However, the cost outlay brings huge returns to the state because it facilitates both local and foreign investment opportunities, improves the livability index of the residents and becomes a bridge to bring many residents into formal economic structure of the state, including taxation.

In ensuring the feasibility of having the agency, the state needs to be creative in engaging partners. especially in the private sector and restructure some elements of cost recovery mechanism in the development services. For the agency to be sustainable and perform its functions effectively, the State leadership needs to shield it from undue political interference.


Adamu: Govt Intervention Required to Make Housing Accessible

The Chief Executive Officer, Hared Properties Limited in Abuja, Hassan Adamu, in this interview speaks on the opportunities and challenges in the real estate sector. Jonathan Eze brings the excerpts:

One thing we noticed is that most real estate operators do not have plan for low income earners. Is there any plan on ground to satisfy them?
Yes, there is. Like anywhere in the world where government is a major player in that kind of sector. For example, everyone wants to live close to where he or she is working. If you want to build in Abuja as a driver, secretary or civil servant working in the Central Area and live in Maitama without proper transportation or proximity, it is going to be an issue for you. That is why you see people struggling to get a piece of land around the town. And for the real estate developers who want to build low income houses around the town must firstly consider the cost of land, you have to buy the land.

Then, cost of construction, and the overheads which will equally add up to the cost of the unit. At the end of the day, you will see that it is not going to be as low income you want it to be. But if you go to the outskirts where the land is cheap, it may still be far from the buyers to get to their place of work. At the end of the day, even if he or she owns private mobility, by the time you calculate what he spends on transport, both service or others, it will also close to the total sum of a unit in the town. At the same time, if you have many units in the piece of land, the price can reduce as much as possible.



By the time you have a 10 -20 storey building without lift, maybe in the morning when you are going to work, you have the energy to come down, but by the time you come back from work around 6 or 8pm in the evening, you are tired and you have to climb the next ten storey building. No doubt, our environment does not support such buildings.

That is what is affecting lower income projects. Where you see that happening, there you see work being done shabbily because you just have to cut cost to do it. People are now wise. Before, they buy houses just like that, but now, if you tell them you have some square metres of house somewhere, you will see them coming with a tape to measure it and ensure that the house is complete. Now, people are now going for houses that have value. As it is, there will be natural segmentation. If you don’t do what is right, you will just find your place within the segment.

We have so many estate developers around Abuja here, what makes your company stand out?
We want to be known for quality. What we are doing most especially is that we are not building as if we are in Europe with a tiny room, where if you put a bed, you don’t have a space again. Our houses are big and very spacious. We build homes not just houses. A home where you will want to run to and relax. Within the areas we have our facility presently, we have places of relaxation, exercise and very good serenity, such that when you are home, you will relax and have the necessary space. We also work with people to finish their houses when it gets to finishing stages. By the time we hand over your keys to you, you will be sure that this is what you want.

Building collapse is becoming a trend now, especially in Lagos and other parts of the country. What do you think is responsible for this?

Building collapse is not only peculiar to Lagos alone. Abuja had its own share sometimes ago. I believe that what usually causes it are in tripod. One, the developers, materials and the authorities. Now, there are so many materials you find in town . Assuming you go to the market to buy iron rod and they give you 16mm, test the gauge, you will see that it is eight 14 or 14.5. The buildings are calculated with the strength of the iron rod. That will show you that the strength of the building is not commensurate with what is being used. Two, we don’t have good pricing mechanism. Anybody just wake up in the morning, increase or decrease what pleases him. For example, there was a project we started and when we started, a bag of cement was N1,000.


When we finished the project, a bag of cement was N1,850. We had already pegged the price of that house to a particular amount. If for whatever reasons, maybe the time frame of that project becomes elongated, if you don’t have good conscience, you may have to find ways to cut corners. Also, quarries will just wake up in one day and tell you that we have increased our product. The same with cement and other materials. We are at the receiving ends. You want to give people their houses, if you are not careful and have a good conscience, you will just do what you want to do and give people their houses, make your money and leave people at the mercy of death.

What role do you think the authority can play to forestall future occurrences of building collapses?
They are supposed to inspect these buildings at every stage. They are supposed to check your reinforcements whether you are using the right quantity, whether you are using the right workmanship and in the first place from the design, whether the design will hold. It is not only the aesthetics that matters, but really, whether the design can stand on its own. I have seen engineers complaining. They usually abuse the Architects that they will sit at the comfort of their offices and design very beautiful house without thinking whether it can be built or not.

What do you expect from the clients?
I think clients should know that Nigeria of yesterday is not the one of today. Money is hard to come by. It is not only about what you see around alone. They need to dig deep and see what they are buying. The value they are buying, the functionality. Because, buying a home is one of the emotional and hardest decisions one makes in life. There are many people that have bought houses especially here in Abuja during the real estate boom. They are now seeing the house as liability. It is their own house, but it is as if they in there paying rent because they are constantly repairing the house, constantly paying some certain charges. At the end of the day, you calculate how much you are spending; it will look as if you are still paying rent to another person.

For us, we are looking at those avenues. We are looking at modern day living and we are giving choices. We don’t just come and give package and corner you that you must pay for this. Our houses have internet server, DSTV and other packages. Although, we are not forcing people to own a smart home, but we are giving you the basic and whatever you need, we will upgrade you to the level you can afford.


What roles do you think government can play to help the sector?
In term of costing, although I don’t know how the government is going to do it, but they should find a way of getting genuine real estate developers and partner with them so that the developers can get lands almost free, so that it will also affect the cost of the houses. Because in doing that, they have eliminated a major cost in the process of building houses for the people. They can even work with the developers to determine certain design and the cost of the houses. That will also help the clients themselves.

At our present location now at Katampe, we have to construct a road. We are now working hard to bring electricity and water to the area. So, if you add all these cost to the cost of the building, you will see that it will jack up the price of the houses. Government should help in the area of infrastructure. If the authorities consider that, it will bring down the cost of houses so that people can have options. The cost of building houses in Maraba or Kuje may be the same, but the cost of lands will be different. That is what makes the difference where this one will be higher than another. So government needs to regulate land pricing and even intervene to make housing accessible.


Lagos Island Is Long Overdue For Total Regeneration – Jeje

Honourable Bosun Jeje is a lawyer and a former Commissioner for Housing in Lagos State. In this interview with Seyi Taiwo-Oguntuase he speaks on the recent building collapse and what can be done to avert future occurrences, among other issues. Excerpt:

What is your take on the recent building collapse in Lagos?

The recent building collapse is a sad thing; more so when people lost their lives in it. The state government has always been very concerned about the structures and government has always been on top of anything like that.

After the collapse in Itafaji, I really appreciate the role of the state government for being pro-active in the step taken. Many of those houses need to be removed. When you look at the structures in Lagos Island, having worked there in my banking days, I could remember that many of the buildings have packed up. The place is also overcrowded and if you want to remove a house, you must also provide alternatives.

When I listened to the state government asking them to move to a resettlement at Imota and Badagry, I could see that the government is really prepared to take the bull by the horns. The houses are there and the structures are very defective, they have to be moved and government is really prepared to take a political will to do it.

More Details to follow…

Source: Independentng

Nigeria: Why Buildings Keep Collapsing in Lagos and What Can Be Done About It

There’s been a spate of building collapses in Lagos, Nigeria. In some cases, people have died. In one instance a building had been marked for demolition at least three times. There are also concerns about hundreds of other buildings in the city. The Conversation Africa’s Moina Spooner spoke to Ndubisi Onwuanyi about this.

How common is this in Lagos? What causes these collapses?

Building collapses in Lagos have become common in recent years. Numbers are hard to come by but a Lagos state of inquiry found that there were at least 135 cases between 2007 and 2013. In my research I found that at least 50 of those happened during the construction phase.

Buildings collapse for various reasons; they can’t all be attributed to the same cause.

Some collapse after they’ve been completed and are in use; some collapse during the construction stage. Collapses during the construction phase are common because of the high rate of urban expansion, new construction and a lack of monitoring.

Most of the buildings that collapse are multi-storey, which suggests problems of soil structure – some buildings may have been built close to a swamp and so the soil is wet – and weak foundations.

Other reasons include the quality of building supervision by builders and officials, design of foundation and structure and poor materials. Developers will sometimes cut corners on the materials they use, refuse to follow due processes and use inadequately skilled and qualified personnel.

While these are all factors, I think the most critical issue is a lack of enforcement by officials. Effective enforcement would detect poor material and faulty designs.

Who is responsible for regulating construction and are they doing a decent job?

The Lagos State Building Control Agency, set up in 2010, is responsible for building regulation. Until 2010, the Development Control Department of the Ministry of Physical Planning was in charge of building regulation.

While failures are preventable, they cannot be entirely eliminated. But the persistence and frequency of collapses in Lagos means that not enough is being done.

In the recent building collapse, where the school was involved, officials say the building was one of many that had been marked as unsafe years before. But no action had been taken.

Among the causes of this delayed action were lawsuits by the building’s owners to prevent its demolition. But this shouldn’t distract from the fact that officials failed to carry out their duty. They are responsible for the identification and removal of distressed buildings to prevent collapse. Officials also failed to enforce building control regulations during the construction phase.

What else can be done?

Lagos has all the appropriate laws. But it needs to adopt the right procedures and see them through.

There’s also a serious governance issue that must be addressed. Building control should be a local government responsibility – but in Nigeria it falls under the state government.

Nigeria currently runs a three-tier federal system made up of federal, state and local governments. As a result of constitutional reforms made between the 1970s and 1990s some of these tiers’ responsibilities were arbitrarily altered. The building control function was transferred from local to state governments.

But state officials are handicapped in enforcing building regulations. They’re located far away, in Ikeja which lies to the north of the state. This means they’re not familiar with residents and local officials or the situation on the ground. And even though there is a representative in each of the various local government councils, they don’t have enough personnel to effectively cover the whole state.

For example in 2015 I found that the agency had fewer than 300 staff to cater to a population of 21 million. In 2017, 200 more were employed, but this is still not enough. Proper monitoring and enforcement becomes an impossible task, particularly when there’s rapid urbanisation.

Building control must be returned to the local governments and they must ensure that they have enough qualified, quality personnel.

In addition to this, regulators must strictly monitor changes in the use of buildings. It’s common to find buildings in Lagos being used for other purposes than that which they were built. This may increase stress on the foundation of buildings. In this recent collapse, the building was not designed as a school.

Lastly, officials must conduct themselves in an ethical and professional way and ensure there’s no political interference in building regulation. Corruption is a major reason for the agency’s ineffectiveness, because officials may be reluctant to arrest or persecute violators or people responsible for collapses.

Ndubisi Onwuanyi, Lecturer, University of Benin

Source: Allafrica

‘We need to institutionalise effective housing delivery system’ – Expert

Prof. Mustapha Zubairu is a renowned architect and town planner. He is the project manager, Niger State Urban Support Programme. In this interview he offered solutions to Nigeria’s lingering housing challenges, among other issues.

Providing housing for the low-income has remained a big task for governments. Do you think, we need a policy for such housing scheme? 
Federal Government has already made an elaborate plan to provide housing for the poor and low-income Nigerians. Specifically, chapter eight of the National Housing Policy (NHP) 2012, deals with the provision of social housing for Nigerians with low or no income.

Sadly, what has remained consistent about Nigeria is the seeming inability and will to implement the social housing component of the policy, among others. Nigeria is yet to develop requisite synergy and cooperation among the three tiers of government, to ensure that the states and local governments get the support, and capacity development they require to implement a credible programme of mass, affordable and sustainable social housing for Nigerians.

Federal Government agencies such as Federal Housing Authority, Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) that should have been able to provide the state technical advice and concessional finance have neither been effective nor compelled to do so by the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing supervising them. FMBN seems to be facing a large trust deficit from the workers who have contributed to the National Housing Fund (NHF), since its inception in 1986, due to their inability to access loans from the NHF or even offered any explanation as why most of them are left carrying only Passbooks of their contributions without any hope of ever securing loans from the FMBN.

Nigeria does not need a new policy, what we instead require is the creation of a robust institutional framework/arrangement where Federal Government through its ministry in charge of housing development, becomes an enabler to the state, local governments and the private sector (real estate developers); to build their capacity, knowledge, skills; make it possible for them to access concessional finance and technology; break the entrenched silo mentality between the federal agencies; and pave way for the provision of mass affordable housing for the poor and low-income families all over the country, in line with the provisions of the NHP, 2012.

What strategies do we need to improve effective demand for projects for low-income families in the urban areas of Nigeria?
Effective demand for housing by the low-income families translates into the provision of housing that they are willing and able to pay for. This can be achieved, if prudence and innovation are deployed in the planning and implementation of such projects.

A few examples of development options to ensure effective demand by the target population are: site and services to allow the family to develop their houses at their own pace. The infrastructure for such project may range from one water tap to one WC; site and services with a core house of between one room and one or two-bedroom bungalow or flat. The beneficiary will add more bedrooms and associated facilities at his/her own pace.

Others are deployment of concepts like sweat-equity with focus on the workers (unskilled to artisans); use of local building materials and renewable energy system and components to reduce their carbon footprint and enhance affordability; using biogas systems for individual houses or neighbourhood to generate methane gas to be used for cooking.

Similarly, it includes recycling of liquid waste from kitchens and showers to be used for watering flowers; architectural design of such houses should be based on zero/passive energy concepts and bioclimatic architecture. This will significantly reduce the cost of services such as electricity and enhance affordability; and above all, to design the houses in clusters or estates that are compact, connected, socially inclusive and resilient.

If the professionals in the built environment apply themselves correctly, the effective demand of the houses will be greatly enhanced by the target population. Similarly, if concepts such as subsidy and cross-subsidy are effectively applied in the implementation of such projects, they will not only greatly enhance affordability but will ensure effective participation of the communities in which the projects are located, thereby helping to build proprietary pride by the beneficiaries in the communities, state and country.
The federal and state governments seem to have abandoned sites and services housing development, do you think the scheme is necessary?

What should be done to revive it?
Acquiring large track of land and subdividing it into plots; and providing required infrastructure before allocation to target population is both time consuming and capital intensive. The demand for land tends to outstrip the ability of the governments to cope.

At state level, people find it easier to acquire land through other means, mostly of doubtful legality, to build their houses. This is why slums have taken over most of our cities, despite the fact that such areas lack basic infrastructure such as water supply and access roads. Land in the slums tends to be cheaper to acquire.

Another challenge of the site and services is that where the plots are available in government projects, they tend be much bigger than those sold in the slums. For example, in government site and services, minimum plot size tends to be 450 square metres (m2). In the slums, it is not uncommon to find plots of sizes ranging from 200m2 to 225 m2.

Sites and services is still a much better option to provide serviced plots for low- income families in particular. Our governments, especially at state and local government levels must acquire the capacity to work in through a bottom-up and stakeholder-driven approach. This way, more affordable plot sizes can be provided in compact and socially inclusive housing neighbourhoods that the target population will have a sense of ownership of and proprietary pride in.

An emerging trend is to constructively engage the private sector in the provision of sites and services and construction of the houses through a four P model –Public-Private-People-Partnership. A pilot project is currently being developed by Niger State Government with financial assistance from the German development agency- GIZ.

What will you consider as the major impediments to housing delivery in Nigeria?
Sadly, Nigeria is yet to develop a credible housing delivery system across the three tiers of government. All of them are in the field trying to build houses; leaving no body in charge of the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of the implementation of the NHP; assessing the Impact of the policy at the three tier of government; and developing synergy that is vital to harnessing the symbiotic relationship between housing and urban development.

There are numerous challenges within each of the five components of housing-land, finance, infrastructure, building materials; and labour. Federal Government, through its line Ministry, has to assist the states; councils and private sector to address these challenges to enable them embark on the development of affordable housing.

We have to rid the housing delivery system of the entrenched silo mentality among the agencies of Federal Government; and rebuild the trust of Nigerians in them, especially FMBN.

Examining various housing programmes of government, are we in the right part to bridge the housing gap? What should be the best approach?
No, we, as a nation, are not on the right path. The few housing projects initiated by both federal and state governments, across the country, do not appear to be based on the NHP. We need to develop and institutionalize an effective and sustainable housing delivery system in Nigeria.

What role do you think government should play in ensuring mass housing?
First and foremost, Federal government has to assume full responsibility of an enabler to provide the assistance required by the states, LGAs and private sector to eliminate the following challenges: Taking the Land Use Act out of the 1999 Constitution, to allow for redressing its shackling consent provision, among others. Ultimately, Nigeria must embark on a journey that will lead to the full commoditization of land for housing and related development;

• FGN has to enable the states, LGAs and private sector to have access to concessional finance for housing and associated infrastructure development. Here lie the potentials of the National Mortgage Refinancing Company (NMRC) to refinance mortgages of the states, LGAs and private sector to facilitate the construction of more houses. Insurance companies including national Social Insurance Trust Fund; and international Development Finance Institutions like the World Bank, African Development Bank can provide long-term finance for mass affordable housing across the country;

• Urban infrastructure is characterized by, among others, high capital-output ratio. Concessional sources of finance has to secured to enable the states provide required infrastructure for their housing projects;

• Emphasis must be placed on the extensive use of building materials with low carbon footprint; and selection of suitable technology to be used in their production. We must take advantage of the growing smart city technology such as Advanced Meter Infrastructure, Smart Street Lights, Smart Buildings with suitable IOTs and Open Data in the design of our buildings and management of the houses and estates; and

• FGN should facilitate the training and certification of artisans in the use of conventional building materials; and training of a new generation of workers in the use of smart systems and components.


The cities have been weakened by urbanization and lack of clear policy to make them livable? How do we manage cities and ensure better urban administration? 
The population of Nigeria was estimated by the United Nations as 195,190,643 as of May, 2018; with urbanization rate of about 50 per cent; and projection that the population will double within the next 30 years. An essential attribute of the demographic change is the equally high rate of slum formation, where up to 69per cent of the country’s urban dwellers live.
There is the necessity for the FGN to facilitate and fast track the reform of the cities and towns in the states to enable them to rearrange their financing, management and governance so as to be able to provide themselves modern infrastructure facilities and services on a self-sustaining basis.

As the former Managing Director, Federal Housing Authority, are you satisfied with the performance of the agency? What are the challenges and what steps should be taken to reposition it?
I really cannot say what is happening in FHA now. However, my experience when I served briefly as its MD/CEO was that the then Federal Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development was charged with the responsibility of supervising the activities of FHA. In reality, the Ministry turned out to be the biggest competitor to FHA, as it was involved in the direct construction of houses in, virtually the same sites as FHA and targeting the same market. I am still convinced that the viability of FHA is hinged on its ability to partner with the states, LGAs and private sector in each of the six geopolitical zones. The broadly peculiar culture, geography and socio-economic characteristics of each of the zones, will allow FHA to spearhead the provision of large scale affordable housing projects that are socially inclusive and acceptable to the target population in each of the zones.

Source: Chinedum Uwaegbulam

NSIA fund was created to help tackle Nigeria’s infrastructure challenges –Uche Orji, MD/CEO

Uche Orji is the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), an establishment founded in 2011 to manage the Nigeria sovereign wealth fund where the surplus income produced from Nigeria’s excess oil reserves is deposited.

He assumed duties in 2012 and has steered the establishment to the enviable position it is today.

Orji studied Chemical Engineering at the University of Port Harcourt in Nigeria’s oil capital and after graduating, he completed his mandatory year of National Youth Service at the Nigeria Industrial Development Bank (NIDB), today known as the Bank of Industry (BOI). His job here as Project Assessment Engineer was his first foray into development financing. Orji then joined Arthur Andersen (later KPMG) as an audit trainee, auditing financial services companies and working on a system implementation for Diamond Bank. He joined Diamond Bank’s Audit Group in 1993, rising to become Financial Controller.

In 1996, Orji left Nigeria for the Masters in Business Administration programme at Harvard University. In 1998, after graduating, he joined the Goldman Sachs Asset Management European Equity Team in London as an analyst, later rising to the position of portfolio manager. During this time he managed in excess of a billion pounds in assets across Europe. A move to the Goldman Sachs Technology Team saw him managing about $600 million in assets worldwide. In 2001, he joined JP Morgan in London, as a Vice President, swiftly rising to become a Managing Director at the firm. In 2006, he made his way back to New York, to the United Bank of Switzerland (UBS), where he took up a Managing Director post. Orji would spend the next six years at UBS, leading the global team of semiconductor analysts.

In this interview, he speaks about the projects being handled by NSIA.

The 2nd Niger bridge

The early work started in 2014 I believe and the main contract was signed in February by the Federal Ministry of Works. We remain the funding partner, for the main work, however, a new mechanism was introduced. It is called the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF), which the NSIA is managing.The PIDF alongside the NSIA are aimed at completing five major projects of importance. One of the is second Niger bridge, the second is the Abuja to Kano through Zaria highway; third one is the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, the fourth is the Mambilla power plant and then the East-West road. These five are projects covered under the PIDF.

In terms of the place we are now on the second Niger bridge, like I said the main works contract was signed and contractor was paid in advance in August, that is what is pushing us and giving us confident that from where we are, we are on track for the scheduled handover in 2022.

It is a toll bridge and a toll road, it is big project. You can already see from the size and scale of work that is on the site. The total project, the the part of it that we are responsible for, which is phase one is 11.5 km. It comprises 1.6 km water crossing, plus all these pillars you are going to see is about another 10 km and the idea as you can see it is how high the water level rises between the rainy and the dry season. When it gets to a certain point, this whole area turns into flood plain and you need to be able to elevate it for a very long stretch.

We are very comfortable with the new funding mechanism, which increases by way of support by the Federal Government but it also allow us when we get to the part of when we need private sector participation, which we are hoping fund will be raising sometime 2020 and it will not be a difficult stretch to raise that private sector portion of the funding.

So, as we see it so far, we are pleased. We have gone from early works to now main works. The commitment we have secured from the contractor is that you get to see what looks like invisible sign of the bridge; you are seeing it already, I mean a lot of work has gone on, for the slabs and the part of the bridge that is now coupling all these pillars and all tha is expected to start next year. It is a lot of progress made and it is not a cheap project, looking at it you know, so we are looking at N220 billion project for phase one. It comprises the bridge and the 11.9km road.

Economic benefits

First of all, it is an investment of the NSIA let’s start with that one. The business part of it is very simply, for us it is a toll bridge, we are going to toll it. Just from what you have seen in the traffic, and what we believe would be an additional traffic because there people want to drive but they defer. A lot of people reside here and we believe this will bring economic activities. We expect this to be tolled, we expect this to be profitable, we expect all the commercial benefits that will accrue as the bridge and road are done. It to lead to higher traffic, as a consequent, we expect that the toll revenue over 25 years of the concession will more than pay and earn the return.

Number two, you all saw the alignment. It goes round a little bit before you get to Asaba airport, it goes all the way round through the right side of the current bridge, pass the Owerri interchange heading towards Enugu interchange. It is a massive project.

Economically, the Chinese always say if you want to develop a country build good roads and they built many roads and you can see how many people it elevated out of from poverty.

With this bridge, those who found it difficult to take their goods to the market will be happy with it and transportation cost will come down.

Again, it is also a sign of physical integration. Someone was telling me a story of when there were no roads, it was so difficult back then.

So, this project will be be economically viable.

Again, from the industrial nature of this part of the country, this project is vital. I know many companies very well have moved out of here because of the inadequate infrastructure. So, the industrial concerns here will benefit from this and expect many of them to come back and restart because the skill set here is quite significant in terms of supporting those industrial concerns.

Thirdly, the preliminary traffic studies we’ve done show that the significant chunk of the traffic on this road isn’t just east and South-south, it is also from North Central, as far as people from Ogoja in Cross River north, Taraba and all that. Many of them taking their goods trying to come across here. I look at it as something that provides wide economic benefits. The initial design shows it is a project with significantly sized project, especially if you’re coming one lane coming, one lane going to three lanes going, three lanes coming.

It is massive. We are thinking about the future. When the first bridge was built, the story was that it was too much, but now it’s not enough. And that is how it ought to be with infrastructure,when you build it once you hope never need to go back to it again.

Private sector funding

There is both equity and bonds. We have the financial plan under control. There is a bond programme and we believe that by the time we go to the market to raise capital, we also raise a significant part of it alongside.

These five projects have a combination of a funding arrangement and the structure is very simple; we have the PIDF, NSIA, third party fund market, we will give you more details on that but for the moment we are very comfortable with what the plan is. PIDF first phase has injected $650 million for the five projects. We are expecting another $650m from PIDF, from here PIDF has invested N33 billion on the main project. The main works.

Politicizing the project

There is nothing like elections and whatever. I just know that we have funding and we are tracking the project. You heard us talk about plans to finish it in 2022. We are working and you can see things for yourselves. Piling is ongoing.

Those employed

This moment there are 820 people on direct jobs here.

NSIA funds

We have done most of the structuring. There is a lot of money we spent on project preparation. The sequencing of the fund is such that we started with PIDF. NSIA money will come, third party money will come. So, we want to make sure it is sequenced properly so you don’t want to burden the project with huge amount of cost. So, there is commitment of NSIA, there is an approval by NSIA to inject up to $300million for the entire projects not just only this one. It will be a remix for me to speak to you on each project, we are looking it in totality for the five projects.

There are three funds and three different mandates when people look at the NSIA mandate. Initially, we started with 20 per cent Stabilisation Fund; 40 per cent in Future Generation Fund; and 40 per cent in the Nigeria Infrastructure Fund, with different horizons. The Stabilisation Fund is actually short term and it’s not expected to generate a huge amount of return because is short term you couldn’t instrument. We are expected to liquidate within seven days and make any demand from the federal government. So, short-dated instrument, very liquid, is expected not to earn a huge amount of return. But in 2017, we did about six per cent return on that fund in dollars. The Future Generation Fund is really where we expect to see a lot of returns; that is about 10 years horizon, and it’s across the diversified private equity, public equity, global, local. Also we look at things like other devices like hedge fund asset, commodity investment, real estate investments, all in that fund. That fund returned 8.6 per cent last year in dollars. Now, we expect that fund to really be the engine of the NSIA in terms of generating returns because of the kind of assets invested in. So if you take private equity for example, we tend to double our money in every private equity business we make. So over a period of five, six years we are looking at another return of 15 to 20 per cent in private equity.

Other projects

In Mambila, we are still at the early stages, a lot of back and forth going on but we are very confident that this we be done.

For us, it is new unlike the second Niger bridge that has been on since 2014. There is a lot of catching up that we need to undertake before we start spending money. The East-West road is also new to us. We only just got involved in it. The one we have mobilized is the Abuja-Kano, Lagos-Ibadan, second Niger bridge. The East-West road, not yet but we will. But don’t forget it is from another ministry, the Ministry of Niger Delta. Unlike these three projects that are under the Ministry of Works. Look, we are finance people, in terms of negotiating this, we must make sure there is risk metrics for each of the contracts are properly mapped out.

Trust me, that takes time. We spend a lot on lawyers, on our own people, we actually sit down and make sure the projects are properly outlined, so we know what it takes. We also bring our own engineers on site in addition to the Ministry of Works officials, who also help us in certifying any payment. As you can tell, that is a good process that surpasses any form of audit. The general complain I hear is that we are slow and this why we are slow because we need to be very careful. At the end of the day, it is your money and we need to spend it judiciously.

That element of our work agnostic to politics because at the end of the day we are not elected we are appointed to do a certain piece of work and we make sure we do it properly.

NSIA fund status

In terms of asset contributed to the fund, so far we have asset to fund to the tune of $1.5 billion. We have had returns over the last past years, we have been profitable five years in a row but the returns are on top of what we have contributed to the government. So $1.5 billon is the actual size of the contributions to the fund. Now, there are also third party funds that we manage on behalf of various agencies of government and also on behalf of the government. There was $350 million that we manage for NBET, that mandate expired at the end of July 2018 and we returned the fund at the end of August 2018. Then, we also have $650 million which we manage as part of the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund, again, funds that are not really part of the NSIA shareholder funds. If you look at the NHIS Shareholder fund, all together it’s roughly about $1.5 billion of contributions. Last year, we made profit of $95 million, a year before we made over $130 million of profit. So, it’s been quite accreting. In terms of the status today, we are roughly at about $1.8 billion.

NSIA-LUTH Cancer Center

The NSIA-LUTH Cancer Center is the culmination of a journey that started in January 2016 when the NSIA announced its investment strategy in healthcare which was to partner with teaching hospitals and federal medical centers in a public private partnership to develop areas of excellence in healthcare. After the announcement of the strategy, we engaged with 14 federal medical institutions across all six geopolitical zones. The first three projects out of these collaborations are ready with the NSIA-Luth Cancer center being the first, NSIA-AKTH and NSIA-FMCU diagnostic centers are next and will be ready for commissioning at the end of March 2019.

Foray into healthcare

The NSIA strategy in healthcare is to focus on areas of need within tertiary healthcare that have led to medical tourism to countries in Europe, East Asia and the Middle East. We identified these areas as Oncology, Nephrology, Cardiology and Orthopedics. In a 2012 study by the Ministry of Health, Nigerians’ spend on outbound medical tourism was reported to be about $1bn a year, with cancer management accounting for more than 40% of this spend.

In the course of our research, we discovered that of the eight facilities in the country that had radiotherapy machines installed, at the time, only two were functional. More so, the two functional machines were frequently broken down causing interruptions to patient treatment. My first-hand observation at LUTH, during which I saw hundreds of patients waiting for up to two weeks to be treated, as LUTH staff frantically tried to source parts to get their old radiotherapy machine repaired, convinced us that the NSIA had to start with oncology immediately.

Following months of project development, the NSIA-LUTH Cancer center was built in a record time of nine months and at a cost of approximately US$11million. Once fully operational, this will be the largest outpatient cancer treatment centre in West Africa. Of note, the Halcyon linear accelerator installed within this Centre is only the second such machine to be installed in Africa. This PPP is executed as a Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT). The NSIA owns the center 100% today and we expect that after 10 years, the period over which we anticipate the NSIA will have recouped its investment, we shall transfer the center to LUTH. In the meantime, over the BOT period, LUTH will share 15% of the profits. We have contracted a private sector hospital operator, Healthshare of South Africa to operate the centre and facilitate skills and knowledge transfer to the LUTH Oncology Team. With this PPP structure, we will ensure that the center is maintained to the highest standards and LUTH benefits both financially as well as through training of its staff.

The center is expected to treat as many as 80 and perhaps up to 100 patients a day. It is small in the context of the needs we have in Nigeria, but it’s a start. We have progressed our engagement with LUTH and have commenced discussions to potentially invest more in other areas of the oncology service such as inpatient care and surgery. We will also give serious consideration to collaborating with LUTH on other specialties in line with our healthcare strategy and we have already secured investor interests to collaborate with the NSIA in this expanded engagement.

Next phase

We have commenced the construction of a training facility next door that will serve as a resource center, supported by Varian Medical Systems, not just for staff of the NSIA-LUTH cancer center, but for other cancer centers we plan to build in the country and for oncology professionals across Nigeria.

I want to thank President Muhammadu Buhari for encouraging us to make this investment. During our meeting with him in October to discuss our investment programme, he emphasized Agriculture, Healthcare and Infrastructure as key planks of growth. NSIA has responded to these areas of need. The NSIA is the financing and operating company that continues to drive the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative. The NSIA is the manager of the Presidential Infrastructure development fund which is currently driving the construction of Lagos Ibadan expressway, Second Niger Bridge, Abuja-Kano Expressway and the Mambila Power plant.

Source: Naija247news

HDAN Condemns Lagos Building Collapse, Blames authority for negligence

The president, Housing Development Advocacy Network, Barr Festus Adebayo, has  condemned the building collapse tragedy of a primary school located on the second floor of a three-storey building in the Itafaji area of Lagos Island.

As at the time of filing this report, at least 100 young children were trapped when the building collapsed in the densely-populated area and rescuers were trying to reach them through the damaged roof.

The children were attending a nursery and primary school on the top floor of the residential building when the structure collapsed. Police said they believed scores of people were trapped under the rubble.

Adebayo, who is also the owner of Housing Television, in an interview with housing news, said those in authority should be blamed for the incident which occurred as a result of negligence.

According to him, there was no verifiable upgrade of the collapsed building which is over 30 years old, adding that the Lagos State government failed in its statutory and primary duty of care to the children as its coordinating body  ought to have been providing oversight functions on all school facilities to ensure standards, safety, and security of the pupils and students.

He therefore called on professional bodies, heads of regulatory bodies in the construction industry, , development control departments, architects, Engineers, Builders, Surveyors, Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN),  and the Council of Registered Builders of Nigeria (CORBON) to unite against building collapse by working the talk and not just criticize the incident.

Adebayo further said it was worrisome that despite the high rate of building collapse in the country, the perpetrators had never being brought to book or sanctioned.

“What exactly are our law enforcement agency in the development control doing, when is the government of this country going to have political will to punish people that are found wanting in matters like this, from the case of Akwa Ibom Redeem Church, to the case of Synagogue Church and many others, Tell me who amongst the owners of these properties has been sent to jail, Adebayo asked.

Let the government tell us how many are in prison over building collapse, Let professional bodies tell us how many of their members have been sanctioned over incidents like this, we should stop creating problem for the next generation.

“How can a school be situated on  the third floor of a building in a residential area, who approved it? , Is government aware of this or are they  hearing of  this for the first time?  Was there any political influence on the regulatory body? how many dilapidated structures like these are still standing in Lagos? We must all unite against building collapse either you are a professional in the Construction Industry or not.

Asking to know who the developers, engineers in charge of the building is a waste of time, this is not a building that was constructed three or five years ago, am sure the person who handled the bill of quantity or supervised the building may not even remember he built the building,” he said.

Source: Priscilla Anaemena

By 2050 Lagos Population will be double –Makedonov

Mr. Assen Makedonov is a property professional from Bulgaria; he assumed office in May 2018 as the World President of the International Real Estate Federation (FIABCI). He was in Nigeria for a business forum and the Real Estate Excellence Awards. In this interview,he said FIABCI has been serving the global real estate industry since it was established in 1951

Why are you in Nigeria?

I am the president of FIABCI, the world organisation for Real Estate. I came to Nigeria for the first time in my life at the invitation of our FIABCI chapter in Nigeria. We organised a business forum and tonight there will be Real Estate excellence awards for the members of FIABCI in Nigeria. The Real Estate Excellence Awards is the best project in the country. The best development and the winners of the event, they have a chance to go for the minor stage at the Indonesia event which will hold end of May during our own congress in Moscow, Russia before May 27th.

Click here to watch weekly episodes of Housing Development Programme on AIT

What does FIABCI do as an organisation?

FIABCI is a Non-governmental organisation (NGO), it is the only one global organisation that covers the real estate business. We started the NGO with five countries in France in1951 and now we are represented in 70 countries around the world and 50 chapters, and one of these countries is Nigeria. We are not only for the Brokers, FIABCI include more than 40 professions that are in the business. Such as brokers, developers, property managers, appraisals amongst others that make up 40 professions that joined FIABCI. All the people that are working in the real estate business are enjoying FIABCI through the association or through the local chapter.

How long has FIABCI chapter been in existence in Nigeria?

I think we‘ve had this chapter more than 40years, because FIABCI was established in 1951, now we have few years to celebrate our 70th anniversary. Unfortunately, in Africa we don’t have many chapters. We are very well represented in Asia and all the countries in Asia we have all the chapters. In Europe we have 25 chapters, seven chapters in America, but in Africa we have only two and three in Nigeria. So our friends have to develop these regions in Africa because we have so many countries in Africa. We hope our friends in the existing chapters in Nigeria will help to contact the neighboring countries at least countries like Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana or North Africa, I hope in the next five years we would get 50 chapters in Africa.

Do you work in collaboration with the government of these countries?

We do not collaborate with the government, but we are working very closely with the United Nations. And the United Nations is working with the governments. So there is a connection, but it is not direct. So we are working with the UN in two directions; one is social and affordable housing and the second is, seeking prosperity initiative. So in the social and affordable housing, since we started in 2016, every year, we issue one book. Where we are showing the best examples of social and affordable housing in our chapter country, so that everybody can see how we can make the real estate product attractive. We also show people who don’t have enough income to go to the market to buy the property they like because there is a lot of poverties all over the world. By 2050, 70 per cent of the population will be living the cities which is a huge problem. I am sure that in Lagos you will have similar problems because in Lagos, there are more than 12 million people living in the city, so the population in 2050 will be doubled.

Some of the challenges affecting local developers were raised in the course of the discussion; how does the main body intend to assist them at least in a developing country like Nigeria?

Like I said about social and affordable housing, we are showing some of the best examples that needed to be done. We published a book in 2016 and the second book in 2017 and last edition was last year. We are hoping to publish the fourth edition this year in May where these books will enlighten how different countries will try and solve some of these problems. And I think it will be very good for the people of FIABCI in Nigeria to get these books so that it can be shown to the government and the respective ministries, they may find the books very useful. The examples of some of them can be implemented in Nigeria.

The second one is seeking prosperity initiative is the measuring of the development of the cities through the eyes of the citizens in the cities because they need to know about the areas that are water logged, green places in the city, about the atmosphere, air pollution, areas there is communicable diseases. So FIABCI has developed software about the habitat, the idea is to make the software in every three or five years; and after this project, we hope it will be implemented in the cities.

Why was FIABCI established and when did Bulgaria become a chapter?

FIABCI was established in France in 1951 and Bulgaria chapter was established 15 years ago.

How many countries started FIABCI?

Five countries came together to form the Association and these countries are Belgium, United States of America, Germany, Luxemburg and Austria founded FIABCI. It is a non-governmental organisation; the five countries saw the necessity to establish Real Estate Business. So after ten years their presence was registered in more than 20 countries on the continent. In fact, they saw the need to work together as a body and they went to the United Nations so that they can be influenced in the industries around the world. The United Nations saw the Association as a necessity to provide better conditions for the place in the Real Estate industry as well as helping the local industries with their governments to make a better law that will protect the industry.

What is your major challenge so far?

In one year, there can be many challenges, but it cannot be solved in one year. The major challenge at the moment for FIABCI is that we have not been able to get the rest of the world to come in as members. In getting countries as chapters, like I said in Africa we have two chapters, it is a big challenge that I cannot solve within one year in office…. A lot of volunteers are working for FIABCI, because we are working voluntarily.We hope that we get development in the city in the future. But with the help of other past presidents and a lot of volunteers that are working for FIABCI, we are working as volunteers, it will quicken development in the cities in the nearby future. And I hope that you will see some of the developments in the city

What have you been able to put in place within one year of being in office?

The president spends one year in office, he is president direct to oversee the affairs of the organisation for the one year in office. But after one year he steps down, he joins the member of the executive board of FIABCI, for three years to ensure continuity. Every past president puts their heads together to continue the work of the previous presidents which can last to 2050. Some of the past presidents are here. After only one year in office, if you start a project you may not be able to accomplish it.

Source: Flora Onwudiwe/New Telegraph

Fuller Housing Cooperative: We Want To See Every Nigerian Own Their House – Sam Odia

Mr Sam Odia is the C.E.O.of the Millard Fuller Foundation,In this interview with Housing news, he spoke on the Fuller Housing cooperative, low cost housing and other projects the foundation is involved in.

May we meet you?

My name is Sam Odia an architect by profession, I am the C.E.O. of the Millard Fuller Foundation. The Millard Fuller Foundation is the Nigerian affiliate of the Fuller centre for housing, headquartered in Georgia, USA.

It is an organization founded by Millard Fuller, who also founded Habitat for Humanity, the world’s largest NGO, operating in over a hundred countries around the world.

In Nigeria, what does Millard Fuller do?

The Millard Fuller foundation seeks to ensure that everybody has access to simple, decent and affordable housing. Our vision is to see a nation where everybody has at least a simple, decent and affordable roof over his head.

We have been working now since 2006, which makes it 13 years in Nigeria. The organisation itself is about 14 years old around the world, Millard Fuller who founded the organisation passed on 10 years ago, and we are commemorating his death and the impact he had on housing around the world.

Click here to watch weekly episodes of Housing Development Programme on AIT

Fuller Housing Cooperative, what is it all about?

Over the years, working with people of lower income, we have noticed that practically every Nigerian aspires to own their house, there’s no Nigerian who wants to die in a rented house. Everybody wishes to own their own house before the leave, and to be able to pass a house on to his children. Unfortunately, the environment that we live in does not have a very developed mortgage system. The mortgage industry is underdeveloped, house prices are way too high, far above the ability of most people to access.

One of the key things that we have been doing is to make sure that we bring down house prices, we have been trying over the years to crash the price of housing. We have houses, very simple basic units that are going for less than N1.5miilion, so we are doing all we can to ensure that access to housing is increased.

Our definition of affordable housing for instance, is that it should be affordable to the median income in any environment, so if we are talking about affordable housing here, our own belief is that 50 percent of the population should be able to afford it. And if they can’t, it isn’t truly affordable housing, are we able to achieve that right now? Perhaps not, so affordable housing is not just a definition, it is an aspiration, something that we are working towards, and we want to see every Nigerian in their own house.

Talking about housing cooperatives, a lot of Nigerians are used to different kinds of cooperatives, so housing cooperative sounds a bit new and alien to a lot of Nigerians, do you think this initiative will fly, and sort of catch on in  Nigeria?

The whole concept of housing cooperative is not new in the world, there are many countries that have been doing this for many years. In Africa,Kenya has become very advanced in housing cooperatives. They have a lot of housing cooperatives, and essentially a housing cooperative is a platform which brings people together to put aside money to make savings together, so that they are able to plug in to houses that they can afford.

We found out that one of the big challenges that people have in Nigeria, is coming up with the equity, normally when you go to a bank, they ask you for 10 or 20 percent of the total cost of the house. Most Nigerians have not put that sort of money aside, so the housing cooperative helps you to do that, it becomes a saving club of sorts, where you and other people who are also trying to plug into housing are able to put money aside, to be able to plug in and to pay for the equity required to access a mortgage. But that is not the only benefit that the housing cooperative will offer, there will also be access to small loans for personal needs from time to time.

Someone once asked me how easy it is to join, and I said, all you need to do is go on to our website, www.fullerhousingcooperative.com , download an application form for just N2, 000, and that’s it, and you need to pay your share capital of N200, 000 over a six month period, having done that, you will be able to access houses that are available on the market. There will also be opportunities for target savings and thrift savings, so that you can decide how much money you want to put aside apart from the share capital, which essentially gives you a share to that cooperative.

What other projects are you involved in?

We are working on a number of projects, the first project that we did was a very small project in this community, when we started building houses for as little as N360, 000 at the time, several years ago, people did not believe that houses could be going at this price, until they received their keys, and they were able to pay a zero interest mortgage over 5years.

This was completely funded by donor funds, and because of this, there was a limit to the number of house we could provide, the housing gap in Nigeria is huge, so obviously donor funds could not help us much if we are going to try to solve it. So we have now revised or model, we now obtain loans to be able to build, we taking on impact investments both from Nigeria and abroad, and we are building on a much larger scale.

We have a fairly large project called the Luvu Grand project in Masaka area of Nasarawa state, just 45 minutes away from Abuja city, where we are selling studio 1 bedroom and 2 bedroom apartments for as little as N1.5,N1.6million. This we expect to expand, we actually have a hope to build an entire town, housing thousands of people in the nearest future. We will also be starting projects on the Abuja-Keffi axis, we are looking at other pieces of land perhaps to start projects in other states, and our dream is to be in every state of the federation eventually.

So we are just starting in our own little Jerusalem as it were now, but we do intend to expand this work all over the country. Right now we have 600 units available for occupation, this is a partnership that we are doing with the Family Homes Funds, who have co-funded this project, together with our other partners. We work with another partner in the UK, called REA, who also co-funded the projects, together funding is coming to provide more and more houses for Nigerians.

Looking at the housing crisis generally in Nigeria, we know government alone cannot solve this housing crisis, as a private developer who has partnered with government, what advice do you have for other developers who are skeptical in partnering with government to help solve the deficit?

I don’t see why any developer will be skeptical about partnering with government, the conditions under which the Family Homes Funds is working are really quite encouraging, they will actually fund in advance projects that they have approved, I don’t which other financier in Nigeria that will do that, so I see no reason why any developer should shy away from that.

My own advice to them, is that they should look to much lower priced housing, we have discovered over the years that Nigerians are not asking for too much, all they want is basic shelter, in a decent environment which they can call their own. So the grandiose ideas, and visions of estates that we have had in the past, we need to take off those caps, and shift our paradigm completely in the direction of what Nigerians are able to afford, and that isn’t very much.

So we should be moving from the N15million, N20million, N25million or N30million,N40million house types, to the N1million,N2million or N3 million house types, this is more like the sort of thing we should be providing for Nigerians now.

Source: Affa Dickson Acho

Translate »