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Obasanjo attacks Buhari, asks president not to run in 2019

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Tuesday, in a blistering and excoriating 13-page statement has called on President Muhammadu Buhari not to seek re-election in 2019.

Mr. Obasanjo, in a special press statement entitled, “The Wat Out: A Clarion Call for Coalition for Nigeria Movement” said Mr Buhari has performed far below expectation and should honourably “dismount from the horse” to join the league of the country’s former leaders whose “experience, influence, wisdom and outreach can be deployed on the side line for the good of the country.”

Mr Obasanjo, a two-term president on the platform of People Democratic Party (PDP), said he feels disappointed by Mr Buhari, whom he supported during the 2015 election over then incumbent and candidate of his former party, Goodluck Jonathan.

Mr Obasanjo had written a condemnatory open letter in December 2013 titled “Before it is Too Late” where he highlighted the numerous failings of the Mr Jonathan administration.

Mr Obasanjo argued that his decision to go against Mr Jonathan, at the time was the right one as events in the last three years have since proved, was for the good of the nation and nothing personal.

“Even the horse rider then, with whom I maintain very cordial, happy and social relationship today has come to realise his mistakes and regretted it publicly and I admire his courage and forthrightness in this regard,” Mr. Obasanjo said.

“He has a role to play on the side line for the good of Nigeria, Africa and humanity and I will see him as a partner in playing such a role nationally and internationally, but not as a horse rider in Nigeria again.”

Likening the state of the nation to lice-invested clothes, he said the country’s fingernails is stained with blood as it tries to kill the lice by pressing them in-between two fingernails. According to him, in other to make sure that our fingernails remains blood-free we must do what it takes rid our clothes of lice.

“The lice of poor performance in government – poverty, insecurity, poor economic management, nepotism, gross dereliction of duty, condonation of misdeed – if not outright encouragement of it, lack of progress and hope for the future, lack of national cohesion and poor management of internal political dynamics and widening inequality – are very much with us today,” he wrote.

“With such lice of general and specific poor performance and crying poverty with us, our fingers will not be dry of ‘blood’,” he added.

While thanking Mr Buhari for the effort of his administration in rolling back the Boko Haram insurgency and his fight against corruption, Mr Obasanjo said Mr Buhari has ultimately failed in other areas where he had thought he would be efficient.

The octogenarian, who bagged a PhD over the weekend, admitted he knew Mr Buhari was weak in handling the economy, he went ahead and voted for him because at the time “it was a matter of ‘any option but Jonathan’” and because he thought Mr Buhari would appoint qualified Nigerians to help out in that area.

He slammed Mr Buhari for turning a blind eye to corruption within his government saying it amounted to condonation and cover-up saying whoever is “going to justice must be with clean hands.”

He also berated Mr Buhari for allowing the clashes between herdsmen and farmers to go “sour” and messy saying the endorsement of the President by some governors to seek re-election barely 24 hours after 73 people who were killed by herdsmen in Benue State were given mass burial was “a sad symptom of insensitivity and callousness.”

But Mr Obasanjo reserved his harshest words for what he described as Mr Buhari’s clannishness, lack of understanding of the dynamics of politics, and his tendencies to pass the buck of his government’s inadequacies to the immediate past administration.

“But there are three other areas where President Buhari has come out more glaringly than most of us thought we knew about him.  One is nepotic deployment bordering on clannishness and inability to bring discipline to bear on errant members of his nepotic court.  This has grave consequences on performance of his government to the detriment of the nation.  It would appear that national interest was being sacrificed on the altar of nepotic interest.  What does one make of a case like that of Maina: collusion, condonation, ineptitude, incompetence, dereliction of responsibility or kinship and friendship on the part of those who should have taken visible and deterrent disciplinary action?  How many similar cases are buried, ignored or covered up and not yet in the glare of the media and the public?

“The second is his poor understanding of the dynamics of internal politics.  This has led to wittingly or unwittingly making the nation more divided and inequality has widened and become more pronounced.  It also has effect on general national security.

“The third is passing the buck.  For instance, blaming the Governor of the Central Bank for devaluation of the naira by 70% or so and blaming past governments for it, is to say the least, not accepting one’s own responsibility.  Let nobody deceive us, economy feeds on politics and because our politics is depressing, our economy is even more depressing today.  If things were good, President Buhari would not need to come in.  He was voted to fix things that were bad and not engage in the blame game.”

Buhari and the APC do not have the answer

Mr Obasanjo thus argued that neither Mr Buhari nor his party, the All Progressives Congress hold the solution to the country’s problems. He suggested that Mr Buhari was not healthy enough to withstand the rigour associated with running a country like Nigeria neither does his party capable of providing the answer needed to sail the country through its difficulties.

Mr Obasanjo said Buhari should step down at the end of his first term with honour and dignity and attend to his health and should not listen to the his “self-serving so-called adviserswho would claim that they love him more than God loves him and that without him, there would be no Nigeria say.”

“President Buhari needs a dignified and honourable dismount from the horse. He needs to have time to reflect, refurbish physically and recoup and after appropriate rest, once again, join the stock of Nigerian leaders whose experience, influence, wisdom and outreach can be deployed on the side line for the good of the country.  His place in history is already assured.  Without impaired health and strain of age, running the affairs of Nigeria is a 25/7 affair, not 24/7.

“I only appeal to brother Buhari to consider a deserved rest at this point in time and at this age.  I continue to wish him robust health to enjoy his retirement from active public service.  President Buhari does not necessarily need to heed my advice.  But whether or not he heeds it, Nigeria needs to move on and move forward,” he said.

“I have had occasion in the past to say that the two main political parties – APC and PDP – were wobbling.  I must reiterate that nothing has happened to convince me otherwise.  If anything, I am reinforced in my conviction.  The recent show of PDP must give grave and great concern to lovers of Nigeria.

“To claim, as has been credited to the chief kingmaker of PDP, that for procuring the Supreme Court judgement for his faction of the Party, he must dictate the tune all the way and this is indeed fraught with danger.

“If neither APC nor PDP is a worthy horse to ride to lead Nigeria at this crucial and critical time, what then do we do?  Remember Farooq Kperogi, an Associate Professor at the Kennesaw State University, Georgia, United States, calls it “a cruel Hobson’s choice; it’s like a choice between six and half a dozen, between evil and evil. Any selection or deflection would be a distinction without a difference.”  We cannot just sit down lamenting and wringing our hands desperately and hopelessly.

Coalition of Nigerians

Having ruled out the PDP and the ruling APC of possessing the panacea to the malaise that ails the country, Mr Obasanjo therefore called for a movement he termed Coalition of Nigeria, which he offered to be a part of, to wrest power from the present ruling class and lead the country into the path of rebirth.

“We can collectively save ourselves from the position we find ourselves.  It will not come through self-pity, fruitless complaint or protest but through constructive and positive engagement and collective action for the good of our nation and ourselves and our children and their children. We need moral re-armament and engaging togetherness of people of like-mind and goodwill to come solidly together to lift Nigeria up.  This is no time for trading blames or embarking on futile argument and neither should we accept untenable excuses for non-performance.

“Let us accept that the present administration has done what it can do to the limit of its ability, aptitude and understanding. Let the administration and its political party platform agree with the rest of us that what they have done and what they are capable of doing is not good enough for us.  They have given as best as they have and as best as they can give.  Nigeria deserves and urgently needs better than what they have given or what we know they are capable of giving.  To ask them to give more will be unrealistic and will only sentence Nigeria to a prison term of four years if not destroy it beyond the possibility of an early recovery and substantial growth.

“The development and modernization of our country and society must be anchored and sustained on dynamic Nigerian culture, enduring values and an enchanting Nigerian dream.  We must have abiding faith in our country and its role and place within the comity of nations.  Today, Nigeria needs all hands on deck.  All hands of men and women of goodwill must be on deck.  We need all hands to move our country forward.

“We need a Coalition for Nigeria, CN. Such a Movement at this juncture needs not be a political party but one to which all well-meaning Nigerians can belong.  That Movement must be a coalition for democracy, good governance, social and economic well-being and progress.  Coalition to salvage and redeem our country.  You can count me with such a Movement.  Last time, we asked, prayed and worked for change and God granted our request.  This time, we must ask, pray and work for change with unity, security and progress. And God will again grant us.  Of course, nothing should stop such a Movement from satisfying conditions for fielding candidates for elections.  But if at any stage the Movement wishes to metamorphose into candidate-sponsoring Movement for elections, I will bow out of the Movement because I will continue to maintain my non-partisan position.  Coalition for Nigeria must have its headquarters in Abuja.

“This Coalition for Nigeria will be a Movement that will drive Nigeria up and forward.  It must have a pride of place for all Nigerians, particularly for our youth and our women.  It is a coalition of hope for all Nigerians for speedy, quality and equal development, security, unity, prosperity and progress.  It is a coalition to banish poverty, insecurity and despair.  Our country must not be oblivious to concomitant danger around, outside and ahead.  Coalition for Nigeria must be a Movement to break new ground in building a united country, a socially-cohesive and moderately prosperous society with equity, equality of opportunity, justice and a dynamic and progressive economy that is self-reliant and takes active part in global division of labour and international decision-making.

“The Movement must work out the path of development and the trajectory of development in speed, quality and equality in the short- medium- and long-term for Nigeria on the basis of sustainability, stability, predictability, credibility, security, cooperation and prosperity with diminishing inequality.  What is called for is love, commitment and interest in our country, not in self, friends and kinship alone but particularly love, compassion and interest in the poor, underprivileged and downtrodden.  It is our human duty and responsibility so to do.  Failure to do this will amount to a sin against God and a crime against humanity.”

READ MORE: 13 Reasons Why you Should Exhibit at the 12th Abuja International Housing & Construction Show 2018

BELOW IS THE FULL STATEMENT

THE WAY OUT: A CLARION CALL FOR COALITION FOR NIGERIA MOVEMENT
Special Press Statement
By
President Olusegun Obasanjo
———————————————————————————————-
Since we are still in the month of January, it is appropriate to wish all Nigerians Happy 2018. I am constrained to issue this special statement at this time considering the situation of the country. Some of you may be asking, “What has brought about this special occasion of Obasanjo issuing a Special Statement?” You will be right to ask such a question. But there is a Yoruba saying that ‘when lice abound in your clothes, your fingernails will never be dried of blood’. When I was in the village, to make sure that lice die, you put them between two fingernails and press hard to ensure they die and they always leave blood stains on the fingernails. To ensure you do not have blood on your fingernails, you have to ensure that lice are not harboured anywhere within your vicinity.
The lice of poor performance in government – poverty, insecurity, poor economic management, nepotism, gross dereliction of duty, condonation of misdeed – if not outright encouragement of it, lack of progress and hope for the future, lack of national cohesion and poor management of internal political dynamics and widening inequality – are very much with us today. With such lice of general and specific poor performance and crying poverty with us, our fingers will not be dry of ‘blood’.
Four years ago when my PDP card was torn, I made it abundantly clear that I quit partisan politics for aye but my concern and interest in Nigeria, Africa and indeed in humanity would not wane. Ever since, I have adhered strictly to that position. Since that time, I have devoted quality time to the issue of zero hunger as contained in Goal No. 2 of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN. We have set the target that Nigeria with the participating States in the Zero Hunger Forum should reach Zero Hunger goal by 2025 – five years earlier than the UN target date. I am involved in the issue of education in some States and generally in the issue of youth empowerment and employment. I am involved in all these domestically and altruistically to give hope and future to the seemingly hopeless and those in despair. I believe strongly that God has endowed Nigeria so adequately that no Nigerian should be either in want or in despair.
I believe in team work and collaborative efforts. At the international level, we have worked with other world leaders to domicile the apparatus for monitoring and encouraging socio-economic progress in Africa in our Presidential Library. The purpose of Africa Progress Group, which is the new name assumed by Africa Progress Panel (APP), is to point out where, when and what works need to be done for the progress of Africa separately and collectively by African leaders and their development partners. I have also gladly accepted the invitation of the UN Secretary-General to be a member of his eighteen-member High-Level Board of Advisers on Mediation. There are other assignments I take up in other fora for Africa and for the international community. For Africa to move forward, Nigeria must be one of the anchor countries, if not the leading anchor country. It means that Nigeria must be good at home to be good outside. No doubt, our situation in the last decade or so had shown that we are not good enough at home; hence we are invariably absent at the table that we should be abroad.
All these led me to take the unusual step of going against my own political Party, PDP, in the last general election to support the opposite side. I saw that action as the best option for Nigeria. As it has been revealed in the last three years or so, that decision and the subsequent collective decision of Nigerians to vote for a change was the right decision for the nation. For me, there was nothing personal, it was all in the best interest of Nigeria and, indeed, in the best interest of Africa and humanity at large. Even the horse rider then, with whom I maintain very cordial, happy and social relationship today has come to realise his mistakes and regretted it publicly and I admire his courage and forthrightness in this regard. He has a role to play on the side line for the good of Nigeria, Africa and humanity and I will see him as a partner in playing such a role nationally and internationally, but not as a horse rider in Nigeria again.
The situation that made Nigerians to vote massively to get my brother Jonathan off the horse is playing itself out again. First, I thought I knew the point where President Buhari is weak and I spoke and wrote about it even before Nigerians voted for him and I also did vote for him because at that time it was a matter of “any option but Jonathan” (aobj). But my letter to President Jonathan titled: “Before It Is Too Late” was meant for him to act before it was too late. He ignored it and it was too late for him and those who goaded him into ignoring the voice of caution. I know that praise-singers and hired attackers may be raised up against me for verbal or even physical attack but if I can withstand undeserved imprisonment and was ready to shed my blood by standing for Nigeria, I will consider no sacrifice too great to make for the good of Nigeria at any time. No human leader is expected to be personally strong or self-sufficient in all aspects of governance.
I knew President Buhari before he became President and said that he is weak in the knowledge and understanding of the economy but I thought that he could make use of good Nigerians in that area that could help. Although, I know that you cannot give what you don’t have and that economy does not obey military order. You have to give it what it takes in the short-, medium- and long-term. Then, it would move. I know his weakness in understanding and playing in the foreign affairs sector and again, there are many Nigerians that could be used in that area as well. They have knowledge and experience that could be deployed for the good of Nigeria. There were serious allegations of round-tripping against some inner caucus of the Presidency which would seem to have been condoned. I wonder if such actions do not amount to corruption and financial crime, then what is it? Culture of condonation and turning blind eye will cover up rather than clean up. And going to justice must be with clean hands.
I thought President Buhari would fight corruption and insurgency and he must be given some credit for his achievement so far in these two areas although it is not yet uhuru!
The herdsmen/crop farmers issue is being wittingly or unwittingly allowed to turn sour and messy. It is no credit to the Federal Government that the herdsmen rampage continues with careless abandon and without finding an effective solution to it. And it is a sad symptom of insensitivity and callousness that some Governors, a day after 73 victims were being buried in a mass grave in Benue State without condolence, were jubilantly endorsing President Buhari for a second term! The timing was most unfortunate. The issue of herdsmen/crop farmers dichotomy should not be left on the political platform of blame game; the Federal Government must take the lead in bringing about solution that protects life and properties of herdsmen and crop farmers alike and for them to live amicably in the same community.
But there are three other areas where President Buhari has come out more glaringly than most of us thought we knew about him. One is nepotic deployment bordering on clannishness and inability to bring discipline to bear on errant members of his nepotic court. This has grave consequences on performance of his government to the detriment of the nation. It would appear that national interest was being sacrificed on the altar of nepotic interest. What does one make of a case like that of Maina: collusion, condonation, ineptitude, incompetence, dereliction of responsibility or kinship and friendship on the part of those who should have taken visible and deterrent disciplinary action? How many similar cases are buried, ignored or covered up and not yet in the glare of the media and the public? The second is his poor understanding of the dynamics of internal politics. This has led to wittingly or unwittingly making the nation more divided and inequality has widened and become more pronounced. It also has effect on general national security. The third is passing the buck. For instance, blaming the Governor of the Central Bank for devaluation of the naira by 70% or so and blaming past governments for it, is to say the least, not accepting one’s own responsibility. Let nobody deceive us, economy feeds on politics and because our politics is depressing, our economy is even more depressing today. If things were good, President Buhari would not need to come in. He was voted to fix things that were bad and not engage in the blame game. Our Constitution is very clear, one of the cardinal responsibilities of the President is the management of the economy of which the value of the naira forms an integral part. Kinship and friendship that place responsibility for governance in the hands of the unelected can only be deleterious to good government and to the nation.
President Buhari’s illness called for the sympathy, understanding, prayer and patience from every sane Nigerian. It is part of our culture. Most Nigerians prayed for him while he was away sick in London for over hundred days and he gave his Deputy sufficient leeway to carry on in his absence. We all thanked God for President Buhari for coming back reasonably hale and hearty and progressing well in his recovery. But whatever may be the state of President Buhari’s health today, he should neither over-push his luck nor over-tax the patience and tolerance of Nigerians for him, no matter what his self-serving, so-called advisers, who would claim that they love him more than God loves him and that without him, there would be no Nigeria say. President Buhari needs a dignified and honourable dismount from the horse. He needs to have time to reflect, refurbish physically and recoup and after appropriate rest, once again, join the stock of Nigerian leaders whose experience, influence, wisdom and outreach can be deployed on the side line for the good of the country. His place in history is already assured. Without impaired health and strain of age, running the affairs of Nigeria is a 25/7 affair, not 24/7.
I only appeal to brother Buhari to consider a deserved rest at this point in time and at this age. I continue to wish him robust health to enjoy his retirement from active public service. President Buhari does not necessarily need to heed my advice. But whether or not he heeds it, Nigeria needs to move on and move forward.
I have had occasion in the past to say that the two main political parties – APC and PDP – were wobbling. I must reiterate that nothing has happened to convince me otherwise. If anything, I am reinforced in my conviction. The recent show of PDP must give grave and great concern to lovers of Nigeria. To claim, as has been credited to the chief kingmaker of PDP, that for procuring the Supreme Court judgement for his faction of the Party, he must dictate the tune all the way and this is indeed fraught with danger. If neither APC nor PDP is a worthy horse to ride to lead Nigeria at this crucial and critical time, what then do we do? Remember Farooq Kperogi, an Associate Professor at the Kennesaw State University, Georgia, United States, calls it “a cruel Hobson’s choice; it’s like a choice between six and half a dozen, between evil and evil. Any selection or deflection would be a distinction without a difference.” We cannot just sit down lamenting and wringing our hands desperately and hopelessly.
I believe the situation we are in today is akin to what and where we were in at the beginning of this democratic dispensation in 1999. The nation was tottering. People became hopeless and saw no bright future in the horizon. It was all a dark cloud politically, economically and socially. The price of oil at that time was nine dollars per barrel and we had a debt overhang of about $35 billion. Most people were confused with lack of direction in the country. One of the factors that saved the situation was a near government of national unity that was put in place to navigate us through the dark cloud. We had almost all hands on deck. We used people at home and from the diaspora and we navigated through the dark cloud of those days. At that time, most people were hopelessly groping in the dark. They saw no choice, neither in the left nor in the right, and yet we were not bereft of people at home and from the diaspora that could come together to make Nigeria truly a land flowing with milk and honey. Where we are is a matter of choice but we can choose differently to make a necessary and desirable change, once again.
Wherever I go, I hear Nigerians complaining, murmuring in anguish and anger. But our anger should not be like the anger of the cripple. We can collectively save ourselves from the position we find ourselves. It will not come through self-pity, fruitless complaint or protest but through constructive and positive engagement and collective action for the good of our nation and ourselves and our children and their children. We need moral re-armament and engaging togetherness of people of like-mind and goodwill to come solidly together to lift Nigeria up. This is no time for trading blames or embarking on futile argument and neither should we accept untenable excuses for non-performance. Let us accept that the present administration has done what it can do to the limit of its ability, aptitude and understanding. Let the administration and its political party platform agree with the rest of us that what they have done and what they are capable of doing is not good enough for us. They have given as best as they have and as best as they can give. Nigeria deserves and urgently needs better than what they have given or what we know they are capable of giving. To ask them to give more will be unrealistic and will only sentence Nigeria to a prison term of four years if not destroy it beyond the possibility of an early recovery and substantial growth. Einstein made it clear to us that doing the same thing and expecting a different result is the height of folly. Already, Nigerians are committing suicide for the unbearable socio-economic situation they find themselves in. And yet Nigerians love life. We must not continue to reinforce failure and hope that all will be well. It is self-deceit and self-defeat and another aspect of folly.
What has emerged from the opposition has shown no better promise from their antecedents. As the leader of that Party for eight years as President of Nigeria, I can categorically say there is nothing to write home about in their new team. We have only one choice left to take us out of Egypt to the promised land. And that is the coalition of the concerned and the willing – ready for positive and drastic change, progress and involvement. Change that will give hope and future to all our youth and dignity and full participation to all our women. Our youth should be empowered to deploy their ability to learn, innovate and work energetically at ideas and concepts in which they can make their own original inputs. Youth must be part of the action today and not relegated to leadership of tomorrow which may never come. Change that will mean enhancement of living standard and progress for all. A situation where the elected will accountably govern and every Nigerian will have equal opportunity not based on kinship and friendship but based on free citizenship.
Democracy is sustained and measured not by leaders doing extra-ordinary things, (invariably, leaders fail to do ordinary things very well), but by citizens rising up to do ordinary things extra-ordinarily well. Our democracy, development and progress at this juncture require ordinary citizens of Nigeria to do the extra-ordinary things of changing the course and direction of our lackluster performance and development. If leadership fails, citizens must not fail and there lies the beauty and importance of democracy. We are challenged by the current situation; we must neither adopt spirit of cowardice nor timidity let alone impotence but must be sustained by courage, determination and commitment to say and do and to persist until we achieve upliftment for Nigeria. Nothing ventured, nothing gained and we believe that our venturing will not be in vain. God of Nigeria has endowed this country adequately and our non-performance cannot be blamed on God but on leadership. God, who has given us what we need and which is potentially there, will give us leadership enablement to actualize our potentiality.
The development and modernization of our country and society must be anchored and sustained on dynamic Nigerian culture, enduring values and an enchanting Nigerian dream. We must have abiding faith in our country and its role and place within the comity of nations. Today, Nigeria needs all hands on deck. All hands of men and women of goodwill must be on deck. We need all hands to move our country forward.
We need a Coalition for Nigeria, CN. Such a Movement at this juncture needs not be a political party but one to which all well-meaning Nigerians can belong. That Movement must be a coalition for democracy, good governance, social and economic well-being and progress. Coalition to salvage and redeem our country. You can count me with such a Movement. Last time, we asked, prayed and worked for change and God granted our request. This time, we must ask, pray and work for change with unity, security and progress. And God will again grant us. Of course, nothing should stop such a Movement from satisfying conditions for fielding candidates for elections. But if at any stage the Movement wishes to metamorphose into candidate-sponsoring Movement for elections, I will bow out of the Movement because I will continue to maintain my non-partisan position. Coalition for Nigeria must have its headquarters in Abuja.
This Coalition for Nigeria will be a Movement that will drive Nigeria up and forward. It must have a pride of place for all Nigerians, particularly for our youth and our women. It is a coalition of hope for all Nigerians for speedy, quality and equal development, security, unity, prosperity and progress. It is a coalition to banish poverty, insecurity and despair. Our country must not be oblivious to concomitant danger around, outside and ahead. Coalition for Nigeria must be a Movement to break new ground in building a united country, a socially-cohesive and moderately prosperous society with equity, equality of opportunity, justice and a dynamic and progressive economy that is self-reliant and takes active part in global division of labour and international decision-making.
The Movement must work out the path of development and the trajectory of development in speed, quality and equality in the short- medium- and long-term for Nigeria on the basis of sustainability, stability, predictability, credibility, security, cooperation and prosperity with diminishing inequality. What is called for is love, commitment and interest in our country, not in self, friends and kinship alone but particularly love, compassion and interest in the poor, underprivileged and downtrodden. It is our human duty and responsibility so to do. Failure to do this will amount to a sin against God and a crime against humanity.
Some may ask, what does Obasanjo want again? Obasanjo has wanted nothing other than the best for Nigeria and Nigerians and he will continue to want nothing less. And if we have the best, we will be contented whether where we live is described as palaces or huts by others and we will always give thanks to God.
I, therefore, will gladly join such a Movement when one is established as Coalition for Nigeria, CN, taking Nigeria to the height God has created it to be. From now on, the Nigeria eagle must continue to soar and fly high. CN, as a Movement, will be new, green, transparent and must remain clean and always active, selflessly so. Members must be ready to make sacrifice for the nation and pay the price of being pioneers and good Nigerians for our country to play the God-assigned role for itself, for its neighbours, for its sub-region of West Africa, for its continent and for humanity in general. For me, the strength and sustainable success of CN will derive largely from the strong commitment of a population that is constantly mobilized to the rallying platform of the fact that going forward together is our best option for building a nation that will occupy its deserved place in the global community. May God continue to lead, guide and protect us. Amen.

DOWNLOAD FULL STATEMENT HERE

SOURCE: Nicholas Ibekwe

Growing economic confidence translates to demand for real estate – analysts

The growing confidence in the Nigerian investment market and the wider economy will ultimately translate into increased demand for goods and services, including real estate space, analysts say.
The analysts note there are already ‘green shoots’ in the macro-economic environment. They explain that factors such as the import and export foreign exchange (IEFX) window introduced in Q2 2017, increased oil prices and stronger production numbers are gradually translating into improved business and consumer confidence.
Though real estate market normally lags changes in an economic cycle, sentiment is already positive in the market. Nnenna Alintah, head, Occupier Services at Broll Nigeria, lists factors such as improved access and affordability of forex, and sustained downward trend in inflation rate as major drivers.
As a result of the above, consumer and business confidence is looking up, particularly in commercial real estate. “In the office sector, activity in the first few weeks of 2018 has overshadowed what we experienced in the corresponding period in 2017. Demand is on the rise, with interest from sectors such as oil and gas, finance, professional services and the technology services sector,” Alintah says.
It is anticipated that the ongoing recovery in the economy will positively inform investment decisions in the commercial office market. Edward Osammor, director at EMC Real Estate, notes that interest in commercial real estate is growing once more with the domestic and international equity investors, once again, considering the development of commercial property in the Lagos.
Already, the market has seen significant interest from foreign investors, especially those from European, South African and Middle East countries. Recently, International Finance Corporation’s (IFC’s) acquired 1,500 square metres office space within the African Capital Alliance’s (ACA’s) flagship Alliance Place office building in Ikoyi, Lagos.
“Yes, there has been increased demand which has remained consistent in the area of land purchase in developing areas especially within Lekki corridor and strong enquires for mainland assets in Gbagada, Ojodu areas. This has led to an upward swing of about 10 percent-15 percent in land prices,” affirms Damola Akindolire in a telephone interview.
He notes that the hospitality sector is also gaining grounds with more hotel investment interest, stressing that hotel apartments are coming on stream, especially with the recent opening of Golden Tulip in Oniru and Radisson Blu in Ikeja. “We will continue to see a strong run in this space with delivery of additional 1000 rooms in 2018”.
But Alintah points out that the office market is still a tenants’ market and this trend is to persist until there is a significant reduction in the excess supply that currently characterizes the market. In the grade A office sector, vacancy levels are at 50 percent in Victoria Island and 75 percent in Ikoyi.
The retail market, according to her, took the hardest blow following the economic downturn. Purchasing power of
consumers declined significantly and as such there has been a shift in demand to more affordable brands. Retailers halted expansion plans and simultaneously consolidated operations to the best performing locations and malls in which they have presence.
She hopes that with increased purchasing power, consumers are expected to resume patronage, but not immediately. For retailers, downsizing and exits from existing malls is likely to stall in the medium term.
“However, we are not confident in any expedient expansion as retailers recover from the recession. We expect that developers who are keen to commence new projects will adapt their plans given the realities of oversupply, shallow tenant pool and slower leasing activity in the market,” she says.
By CHUKA UROKO

Renewed confidence in investment market seen attracting FDI into real estate

Renewed investor-confidence in Nigeria’s investment market will be attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) into the country’s real estate sector, particularly in the commercial segment, a Q3 2017 report by EMC-Real Estate on market research has shown.

This is expected to inject more life and create more opportunities for developers in a sector that is still smarting from the crippling impact of the country’s worst economic recession so far.

According to the report, Nigeria’s non-oil tax revenue in 2017-2018 is expected to increase in step with the recovering non-oil sectors represented chiefly by the agriculture and manufacturing. This expectation is also buoyed by government’s efforts at widening the tax base, though it will be from a relatively low base, as oil will continue to be the dominant revenue source for the government.

The report notes that, as a result of this positive development in the non-oil sector of the economy, the flow of FDI  into the country has increased marginally through 2017 above the low levels seen throughout 2015 and 2016.

“Interest in commercial real estate is growing once more with the domestic and international equity investors, once again, considering the development commercial property in the Lagos region”, says Edward Osammor, director at EMC Real Estate.

The hope of a consolidated, single foreign exchange system being in place once again by 2019-2020, according to him, supports the realistic belief that considerable volume of FDI will flow into the real estate sector once again.

In spite of the slow down which the economy has passed through in recent time, there remains significant interest in Nigeria from foreign investors, especially those from European, South African and Middle East countries.

This renewed confidence in the country’s investment market, Osammor says, is underscored by the International Finance Corporation’s (IFC’s) decision to acquire 1,500 square metres office space within the African Capital Alliance’s (ACA’s) flagship Alliance Place office building expected to be completed and delivered by the first quarter of this year on Kingsway Road, Ikoyi, Lagos.

“This deal is believed to be the first ‘condominium’ purchases structure of office space in the Nigerian market and was brokered by EMC-RE”, he enthused.

Read More: 13 Reasons Why you Should Exhibit at the 12th Abuja International Housing & Construction Show 2018

An innovative Grade A office building located in the prime commercial centre of Ikoyi, Alliance Place is a project promoted by Edimara Properties Limited—a joint venture between ACA Holdings Limited and Samges Investment Limited.

 The 12-floor office complex had already recorded 50 percent occupancy rate and Obi Nwogugu, a Principal at ACA, who confirmed the IFC deal to BusinessDay, had assured that they were working hard on the remaining 50 percent.  “A good number of people are coming to us about the building and we are excited about that”, he said.

On completion, the building will boast eight floors of flexible office space and meeting rooms; four floors of multi-level parking, a light and airy reception area and a ground floor café. Expectation is that contemporary and international elements along with select African accents will be incorporated into the style of the complex.

The acquisition of space in this building shows that there is always market for a good product, no matter the slowdown in the economy and the challenge in the real estate market. The commercial office segment of this has, in the past 18 months, seen some downsides reflected in oversupply and high vacancy rate.

But with the exit from recession, rising oil price, stability in the foreign exchange market, increased liquidity in the economy, among other factors, analysts say the real estate sector as a whole presents a bright outlook in the new year. 

Increase in foreign reserve on the back of a stable foreign exchange rate and increased oil production are supporting the naira and leading to naira appreciation at the import and export (I&E) window. It is expected that an appreciating naira will be attractive for international investors as it will give them the comfort that their dollar denominated investments will not be negatively impacted by falling assets values denominated in naira

The analysts also predict that in 2018, a stable foreign exchange rate and a gradual exit from recession will lead to an improvement in real estate growth. They expect this improvement to cut across the local market where stable and increased consumer income will lead to greater support for the market while stable foreign exchange and exit from recession will bring international investors back to the market.

Damola Akindolire, ED, Real Estate Development at Alpha Mead Group, says that, among other factors, increased government spending will also support growth of the real estate sector.

He explains that the  FG intends to borrow additional $5 billion to finance the budget deficit which would be a positive sign for the economy, leading to increase in economic activities and disposable income. “Hopefully they should have the budget approved for implementation by Q1 2018, otherwise this will put the fragile recovery in jeopardy”, he posits.

By CHUKA UROKO

Investment in mortgage will help reduce housing deficit – Ayere

Sonnie Ayere is the Founder of Dunn Loren Merrifield, an investment firm, and Chairman of Mortgage Warehouse Funding Limited. In this interview with MAUREEN IHUA-MADUENYI, he says stakeholders are doing everything possible to open up the mortgage market 

Why do you think Nigerians still buy houses with cash despite all the efforts put into the development of mortgage in the country?

It is the issue of interest rate on mortgage; it is very high and makes the process very expensive.  So that even with a tenor of about 20 to 25 years, people are reluctant and those who take mortgages pay it up as quickly as they can.

In other words, any little money they get, they put it into paying up their mortgage loan, because it is just so expensive at about 22 to 25 per cent interest rate. Secondly, when you calculate the payment with the income ratio, it is also very high; a lot of people cannot afford it.

When you look at the percentage you have to pay to the banks and the percentage of the income you have, it becomes difficult. Let’s say you earn N1, 000, under normal circumstance, your mortgage should not be more than N300; but when you calculate the interest rate of these mortgages, they take up about 60 to 65 per cent of your income, and you can’t use that much to repay mortgage loans.

So, that is one of the reasons why people still use cash; the real issue is the interest rate. But we are working on solving the problem now. For instance, the Nigerian Mortgage Refinance Company has been set up to provide long-term financing to mortgage banks with 20-year tenor.

The second is the setting up of the Mortgage Warehouse Funding Limited, which is there to provide short-term local currency, competitively-priced funding to mortgage banks in a bid to enhance their mortgage origination. Most people do not have mortgage bank accounts and therefore it is difficult for mortgage banks to sort out mortgage funds. In commercial banks, people always deposit money so it is easy to get funds, but mortgage banks do not have that kind of privilege to provide short-term funding to investors.

So, the MWFL goes to the market, raises money and gives to the mortgage banks to create mortgages, which will work for about six months before the NMRC will do a refinancing by then giving the mortgage bank 20-year money. We are also creating a very comprehensive mortgage and foreclosure law and some states are beginning to pass these laws. The Managing Director of the NMRC, Prof. Charles Inyangete and his team got Kaduna State to pass the law, so when people don’t pay their mortgages by defaulting, the bank can retrieve the property and put it back in the market to get back their funds.

What we intend to do with the mortgage warehouse is also to qualify developers and ensure that they can get off-take letters to enable them obtain financing from commercial or merchant banks to build houses. The MWFL now has eight mortgage bank members that are willing to provide mortgages to all buyers of the developers to give comfort to the commercial or merchants to provide construction finance.

The most important thing that will now help the market to open up is to get the interest rate down.

How can that be done?

It is difficult, in the sense that basically it is all based on economic realities. But, again the government is looking for offshore funding and this is now helping to drive down interest rates. It also depends on the Central Bank of Nigeria. These are some of the things that are being done but again, we have to look at some other ways to resolve the matter such as coming up with innovative ways of encouraging pension funds to support the sector on a win-win basis. That way, mortgage banks can get liquidity.

Stakeholders are doing everything possible to open up this market so that people can pay for houses on a pay-as-you-earn basis and not with cash because it is difficult to buy a house for N30m when you earn N7m a year. We are trying to move the country away from that. Mortgages should be able to help people to create wealth.

 There appears to be low awareness on how mortgage works. What are stakeholders doing about this?

Most people are aware of how it works; the thing is that just like the way banks are able to advertise regularly about their products, mortgage banks are not able to do the same thing. The reason for that is because the industry itself has not been boisterous. When mortgage banks start making good money and growing, I am sure there will be lots more educative messages because it is in their interest for people to know about mortgages.

It is because they don’t have the funding capacity to create mortgages and when people hear of the interest rate, they run away. We need to find a way to make it attractive to people. Imagine if someone advertises 20-year mortgages at 8.5 per cent in the newspaper, most people would jump at it. It is about having a package to sell to the people. It is not like people don’t want the mortgages but they have to have something that is attractive; 20 to 25 per cent interest rate is not exactly attractive.

Read More: The man behind Dubai’s affordable Housing boom

 How effective have the initiatives you talked about been in addressing these issues?

NMRC has done its first refinancing, it is about to do another refinancing and the whole idea is that once MWFL launches and begins to do its first funding, then it becomes a continuous thing. What will happen is that mortgages will then have a one-month funding period. For instance, mortgage generated in January will be funded at the end of the month or say first week of February and those mortgages will remain on the bank’s balance sheet for a minimum of a six-month period, or say till the end of June after which it will then be refinanced by the NMRC. Then the next batch again in February will be refinanced in July, March will be refinanced in August and so on. It will create a situation where mortgage banks will feel confident to go out and market their products knowing that they have the wherewithal to provide the funding.

It will be good to add that by the end of 2018, we will be able to say this is what we have been able to achieve and as interest rates go down, mortgages will grow even more.

Going by all the initiatives, have there been any significant increases in the volume of mortgage origination?

The NMRC is designed to provide long-term financing to mortgage banks, so the reason it hasn’t had much impact is that it is waiting for the mortgages to come through. So, what is being done through the MWFL is help to create the mortgages; that is what it is there for. The impact of the initiatives will begin to show with the strength of the MWFL. As MWFL begins to seal mortgage origination, it will create the pool for the NMRC to refinance.

So the NMRC has begun to do its bit by refinancing the legacy mortgages that existed in the member mortgage at the time. So what they need is really consistent funding for the banks to be able to continue to create those mortgages. MWFL will do its first funding in January (This month) and will on monthly basis provide money to mortgage banks.

Hopefully, whether on semi-annual or quarterly basis, the NMRC will then refinance the mortgages long-term. I think at the beginning of 2019, there will be a much stronger impact in the mortgage sector than we have ever seen before.

 What plans are in place to get back the trust of property buyers who have lost faith in the system?

Even if this government doesn’t bother to bring down the interest rates, stakeholders are looking for other ways to see that this happens and it will be a collaborative effort between the mortgage banks, CBN,  National Pension Commission, Mortgage Banking Association of Nigeria, the Ministry of Finance and others. Even though the economy may not be right, they could say let us use these pool of funds to create mortgages and begin to get Nigerians on the housing ladder and on the road to wealth creation.

I agree a lot still needs to be done on enlightenment. When the system takes off properly, there will be literacy campaigns for the people to properly understand how it works and the repayment responsibilities.

The system is one I would love to see change and that is why we stakeholders are working to create a system of pay-as-you-earn. Except we are able to create something like this, it will be difficult to help people out of the pressure that they feel and how expensive it is for people to buy their homes which is why we are not getting the mortgage-GDP ratio that we require.

With the housing deficit we talk about in Nigeria, even if we are building a million houses a year, it will take 20 years to reduce is. So, it gives an idea of how enormous the issue is and how it is important that we get people unto the mortgage ladder and I believe that the process will begin this year.

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Read: 13 Reasons Why you Should Exhibit at the 12th Abuja International Housing & Construction Show 2018

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by Kunle Faleti

Expert urges Nigerians to key into FG`s housing schemes

The Group Managing Director of Alphea Mead Group, Mr Femi Akintude has said it is only when the people key into government`s housing schemes that it would be able to provide funding for the housing sector.

Akintunde further said for the government to actualize the set target of any social housing programme, private sector developers must be infused into such arrangement with the government providing a sizable chunk of the funding, while private sector balances up the difference.

He stated this in a paper presentation entitled “perspective on social mass housing infrastructure.”

He said, “The upper income is not where we have a problem; unfortunately, that is where the return on investment seems to be more attractive and that`s where we also see oversupply and under demand because of affordability.

“The middle income can be defined as the housing in the range from N10 million to 15 million. These are housing for middle income professionals those who are gainfully employed but cannot afford the luxury of buying houses of N100 million, N200 million without a loan. So, they must rely on mortgage facilities

“There is also the lower level that`s where the bulk of the gap resides about 50 or 60 percent of the gap is at this level. Houses in this range cost between 5million to 10 million naira. The people in this range can’t simply pay for any house more than N2milion.”

READ : 13 Reasons Why you Should Exhibit at the 12th Abuja International Housing & Construction Show 2018

He noted that given the current economic situation, 2milion naira cannot conveniently build a quality house.  “This simply implies that something must give way or someone must pay the difference to enable the people in this category own houses and that is where the concept of social housing comes into play.”

Akintude said it is the responsibility of government to provide housing for people in this category.

He, however, said government`s approach to deliver housing should not be through government directly; else, it will not be  slow and inefficient.  He said The Federal Mortgage Bank, the Federal Housing Authority and National Housing Insurance must come to play here, and that is why government encourages people to participate in these schemes.

“It is only when the populace key into these schemes that government can provide funding that can support the counterpart funding from either the domestic or international finance market.

“But the critical question is when the people contribute to this course, how can the government guarantee the security of their contributions?”

by Mustapha Suleiman

CORBON, N-Power begin skills acquisition training

The Council of Registered Builders of Nigeria (CORBON) and N-Power have jointly commenced skills acquisition training for 100 Master Trainers in the ongoing ‘Train the Trainer Skills Acquisition Programme for Construction Artisans in Nigeria.’

At the end of the training, the master trainers will be sent to the 36 states to train other trainers who will in turn transfer skills to construction artisans.

Speaking to journalists at the training centre in Abuja, Vice Chairman of CORBON, Dr. Samson Opaluwah, explained that the training of master trainers included going to the states and zones across the federation to train other trainers who would in turn train construction industry artisans for the country.

He noted that the training progammme was “a major problem solver” because the artisanship level of the construction industry in this country was being taken over by foreigners while Nigerian youths remained unemployed.

He said, “The CORBON/N-Power initiative will equip Nigerian youths with the skills to win jobs and execute them competently and professionally in a competitive economy.”

He said no economy could be sustainable without home grown inputs and management specialists, adding that any nation which depended on foreign expertise would be disappointed because foreigners would migrate to locations of greener pastures as soon as they got better offers, but that citizens were likely to have residual interest that would make them stay in their country.

READ : 13 Reasons Why you Should Exhibit at the 12th Abuja International Housing & Construction Show 2018

“So, it is best to train an in-country man, and that is what we are doing, and we commend the Federal Government for the effort,” he said.

Speaking on the impact the training will have on the economy, he said: “Nigerians will be trained at the tactical level, meaning the artisanship level of the construction industry, and they will be jointly certified by CORBON and the Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB) so that they will be competent to deliver world class services in the construction industry, especially in building and the allied industries.

“The training is also remarkable for the huge jobs it will create across the federation. It aims to restore the dignity of man in working with his axe.

by Mustapha Suleiman

‘Demolition should be last option, accompanied by relocation, compensation’

Barnabas Atiyaye is the Managing Director of Envicons Team Consultants Limited, a town planning firm based in Abuja. In this interview, he speaks on how government can reduce slums without necessarily demolishing structures.

 

Rural-urban migration is over stretching infrastructure in Nigeria, especially in the Federal Capital Territory. What should government do to accommodate people without overstressing infrastructure?

The most important thing we need to ask is why are people coming down to Abuja? Why are people leaving a particular urban centre to another? There are so many factors; the first factor is security. People feel that Abuja is more secure than any other place in the country. For instance, Maiduguri in Borno State is still volatile and some people feel the best place they can run to is where the security situation is stable, and Abuja appears to be one.

The second factor is that most governments have abandoned the issue of urban planning. If you want to attract investment to your state and you neglect urban planning, you are invariably depriving or driving away investors.

So, even indigenous Nigerians find it difficult to operate in such environments, how much more of people that are coming from outside. Therefore, foreign direct investment (FDI) will be absent. What we are saying is that the political will must be there, but unfortunately too, most of our political leaders want a quick win, meaning that within their tenure, they want to see results. That does not really happen when you want to do something that is sustainable. It has to have a base and a subsequent leadership can come and build from what you have done

Many planners have been engaged in preparing master plans and at the end of the day such master plans are just left on the shelves. Subsequent administrations will not go back to them. Meanwhile, the cities are decaying, infrastructure is not just there, access to economic activities are blocked, crime is on the increase and there is nothing to attract people to such places. This has resulted in some people trying to create new cities within their own environments. We don’t need that, all you need is to come up with very good urban renewal strategies, come out with good master plans that can be undertaken even if they are going to be in phases, and at the end people will be willing to be where they are.

The next is the ability to know the direction of growth of cities: each city has a direction of growth, either to the East, West or South, and there must be a favoured direction. Government should pay attention to such places, provide the infrastructure and all the services, and people will remain where they are.

READ : 13 Reasons Why you Should Exhibit at the 12th Abuja International Housing & Construction Show 2018

I have seen areas where infrastructure and services have been provided and nobody is there. Meanwhile, areas where people are living are without any infrastructure. Therefore, the question is what happened? It is a misplaced priority as far as I am concerned. I have also discovered that those in executive positions don’t take advice from professional bodies. Assuming you want to establish something, you need to contact people that know about the terrain to professionally give you advice, but they will come with political correctness and they just think on their own and say “I want to do it here” even if you come with a superior argument.

Governments have said they always consulted and engaged professionals from the civil service before embarking on any project. Will this not make governments to easily emasculate them into their own political agenda?

There are two approaches to it: professionals in the civil service and also professionals outside have roles to play. There are certain things that professionals in the civil service don’t have the capacity to execute, and even if they do, the content of work is overwhelming that they may need to have people from outside to assist them. That apart, the truth is this, before government professionals are involved, in most cases, the authorities already determine what they want to do. In fact, people that dare to go against particular political decisions are either moved or sidelined or transferred. We have had so many instances. The Minister’s Hill for instance, that is being bastardised is supposed to be a green area. There was a reaction to it, and what happened? The executives eventually had their way and the civil servants had to cooperate. This is just one out of many.

What is the way out so that professionalism will reign supreme in project execution?

What always happens is that for professionals that know, they will put it into writing because there is a limit to which the professionals can go. If the minister or the governor decides to go the other way, that is left for him because the outcome of that can now be traced to the executives and not the professionals because the professionals must have given their professional advice.

Non civil service professionals have the capacity to tell the truth. However, unfortunately, because of the economy, professionals outside that are called by government to come and do a particular job become subservient in the sense that they feel it is an opportunity for them to get jobs, so they wouldn’t want to lose that opportunity because if they refuse to do it, another person is ready, so these are the critical issues we are being faced with and except we restore discipline we cannot get anything right. That is where I think institutions like Town Planners Registration Council of Nigeria (TOPREC) must come in.

Let’s go to the issue of demolition: what should lead to demolition in the first place?

Demolition can be done only on two to three environmental issues. Firstly, if the people are living in an area where it is dangerous to their lives, demolition can be carried out, government can go ahead. However, government should provide an alternative land because you cannot just go and throw them away just like that. If you know that where they are living is dangerous-such as river banks that are liable to flooding or areas prone to slides, they should be relocated.

Secondly, when they occupy a place that is meant for a project and government wants to use that place, government can remove them. The problem is that government allows people to stay in a place for too long without talking to them. Anybody who has stayed in a place for over 10 years has a right to that place and if you want to remove him, provide an alternative. That is why even demolished sites are still being inhabited. People have come back to stay there because the moment you leave it vacant they will surely come back.

I have come to realise that people that are living in slums, most of them don’t even own that place. The rich men in the city own the slums, and in fact it is like a business for them.

Even in Lugbe, a lot of them are not living in their own houses. Lugbe is a combination of indigenes and settlers. If government wants to demolish it, with the population it now has, it will really attract international outcry because a lot of people are going to be subjected to serious hardship.

by Malikatu Mukaila

Housing Sector: Reps Give Committee 8 Weeks To Investigate Anormalities

The House of Representatives has mandated its Committee on Housing to conduct an investigative public hearing on alleged fraudulent practices and activities in the housing sector.

The committee is expected to report back within eight weeks to enable the House take further legislative action.

The House urged the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing to put in place appropriate mechanism to ensure registration of all estate developers.

This, it said, was to ensure strict monitoring and regulation of the sector.

TheBay House’s decision was sequel to a unanimous adoption of a motion by Rep. Joseph Edionwele (Edo- APC) at plenary.

Moving the motion earlier, Edionwele said shelter remained a basic necessity of life and that it topped the list of a man’s needs.

He said in a bid to address the housing need, the Federal Government set up a Public-Private Partnership arrangement where government provided land for private firms to develop affordable real estate for public.

The lawmaker said in spite of the attractive and motivational incentives by successive governments, there was still a huge housing deficit for low-income earners.

He said the public-private partnership had become a veritable tool in the hands of people who masquerade as estate developers to dupe unsuspecting Nigerians.

Edionwele said fraudulent activities in the sector had resulted in the loss of billions of naira by innocent Nigerians and had hampered the housing development policy of the government.

He stressed the need to put a stop to the practice by putting in place strict measures in the sector for effective monitoring and regulation.

Also speaking, Rep. Sergious Ogun (Edo-PDP) said if food, shelter and clothes were taken care of, corruption would be reduced to the minimum in the country.

While supporting the motion, Ogun charged security agencies to monitor and make examples of those perpetrating fraud in the sector.

Contributing, Rep. Mohammed Abdu (APC-Bauchi) said the committee was already working on the issues.

He said the committee was already addressing the issue of sharp practices in the sector.

Source: PMnews

Addressing Nigeria’s housing challenge

Despite the Federal Government’s promise in 2016 to address the nation’s housing challenge through mass housing, not much has been done in that direction.  President Muhammadu Buhari had at the time said his government would build 5,000 housing units in every state, every year for the next three years, for the use of public sector workers. Nigerians are waiting for the fulfillment of that promise.

In August last year, the government announced that it had commenced mass housing projects in 33 states across the country. Since then, not much has been heard or seen of the houses. In the 2018 budget, the Federal Government earmarked N35.4 billion to address the housing needs of its workforce under the National Housing Programme. With the enormity of the nation’s housing problem, the 2018 budgetary allocation to housing is inadequate. Whatever the 36 state governments budget for the sector is also not likely to make much impact on the housing gap.

Statistics on housing show that Nigeria, with an estimated population of 170 million people, has housing deficit of 17 million units.  The World Bank, in 2016, projected that it would cost the country about N59.5 trillion to address the deficit. About 108 million Nigerians are estimated to be homeless, based on an average family of six people per housing unit.  While Nigeria needs to build about 700,000 housing units every year to bridge the housing gap, the country barely builds 100,000 such units per year.

Apart from being a basic need of life, housing is a right of every citizen. It is one of the three necessities of life. In fact, Article 25 (1) of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights to which Nigeria is a signatory clearly states, among others, that: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family, including food, clothing, housing, medical care and necessary social services.”

Read More: Why Government can’t regulate tenancy in Nigeria

Many Nigerians are denied this right to standard housing. A situation where some Nigerians live under bridges because they have no place to lay their heads is unacceptable. It is interesting that China, with a huge population of over 1.3 billion people, makes deliberate efforts to ensure that all its citizens are provided with adequate shelter. It is a sad commentary on governance in Nigeria that virtually all our successive governments made promises to solve the nation’s housing problem but failed to do so.  Good housing is necessary for good health and sanitation. It goes a long way in raising the living standard of the people.  Nigeria should borrow a leaf from other developed countries on how they tackled their housing deficits. Government should stop paying lip service to the problem.

One of the factors strongly militating against mass housing for Nigerians is the lack of an adequate mortgage finance system. Housing statistics show that Nigeria’s mortgage finance industry (as a share of Gross Domestic Product (GDP)) is gravely low at 0.5 per cent when compared with other countries such as UK (80 per cent), US (77 per cent), South Africa (31 per cent), and Ghana (2 per cent). Sadly enough, housing and construction sector accounted for only 3.1 per cent of Nigeria’s rebased GDP in May 2016.

Also, the rate of home ownership in Nigeria is reportedly the lowest in Africa at 25 per cent.  Available statistics show that Nigeria’s home ownership rate is much lower than those of countries such as Singapore (90 per cent), Indonesia (84 per cent), Kenya (73 per cent), US (70 per cent), Benin Republic (63 per cent) and South Africa (56 per cent). Interest rates charged by banks on real estate mortgage range from 20-30 per cent, with a short tenor. It is also reported that property developers can hardly access any loan from commercial banks at less than 28 per cent.

To resolve the nation’s housing challenge, bank loans for housing should be single digit, with longer tenors. Government should also prioritise the construction of affordable housing units for the masses. Most of the current housing schemes in the country are designed for affluent Nigerians who can pay deposits running into millions of naira. There is the need to embrace the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model in solving this problem.

Former Lagos State Governor, Lateef Jakande, left an indelible legacy in affordable mass housing that is worthy of emulation by today’s leaders. Government should overhaul the nation’s mortgage system to make it suitable for the funding of  massive housing projects.

Author: Uche Atuma

 

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