A Federal Government housing plan for women and artisans is also providing jobs, reports Olugbenga Adanikin
Dorothy Yinusa is a 20-year-old indigene of Nasarawa State. Like many unemployed youths, survival has been a daily challenge but relief came when she got the news of a housing project by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration. Without delay, she moved as fast as she could from her base to the project site of the Federal Government National Housing Project located along Shendam Road, Keffi.
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The motive was simple: she saw an opportunity and grabbed it. It was to sell food to skilled and unskilled workers at the project site.
“It is this project by Buhari that made me relocate to this town and open my shop,” she said. “Before now, I didn’t have a shop but this project has helped me own a shop where I sell food to the workers. It has really helped me because each day I make about N15,000.”
Miss Yinusa is making good money from the housing project. Beyond that, she found her true love, Andy Shuaib to whom she got married. She is now expecting their child.
“Before now, my mother was the one taking care of us. I don’t have children yet but working in this site helped me get married, now I have my husband and am pregnant as well.”
The story of Mrs. Salome Ahonye, a food vendor at NHP, Utuu community, Benue State was not different. Unlike before, she was jobless but currently makes daily sales of N12, 000 from the fast business.
She said, ”I sell food to the workers on daily basis, and I make between 10,000 and N12,000 daily. If sales are poor, I could make N7,000.”
The condition of 43-year-old Mr. Sunday Tchoji was not pleasant, having two wives and seven children with no resources to take care of their welfare. But respite also came when he got the offer to work at the Laminga, Jos project site as a labourer.
“This work has helped me to feed my family and enroll them at school based on my financial strength. That is the way I have benefitted from this work.”
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In Nasarawa, the state governor, Alhaji Tanko Al-Makura provided 100 hectares of land for the construction of the National Housing Programme (NHP). This is in addition to the already donated 10 hectares used for the phase one of the home projects.
The governor said at a media inspection of the projects in Lafia that the state has no policy on mass housing, necessitating the intervention by the federal government. Al-Makura, who was represented by Director of Public Building, State Ministry of Works, Mr. Aliyu Kuyanbana, said the allocation was part of existing 10 hectares already offered for the national housing project.
“10 times of what we are witnessing here is being earmarked for the federal government project. So we are ready at any time,” Al-Makura said.
The NHP in Nasarawa has about 78 units of flats consisting two and three bedrooms and it is about 90 per cent completed. The Benue project overall has 72 units of flats,40 per cent completed while Plateau project located in Lamingahas 80 units of flats, proximity to the road and 80 per cent completed.
Statistics have shown that about 17 million people are homeless nationwide. This is different from stunning statistics of those who live in slums across the country.Though, reliability of the data remained a thing of concern. The Minister of Power Works and Housing, BabatundeFasholaat his maiden media parley shared his plan to partner state governments in order to nip the situation.
“For your information, we are piloting a housing programme and currently constructing in 33 states of Nigeria. We do this to validate and test what type of housing design responds to Nigeria’s diverse cultural, climatic and religious needs, so as to ascertain what is acceptable and affordable.
“We are at different stages of construction in different states, and we have commended these designs to FHA, without imposing them. Our decision is informed by the evidence of previous housing initiatives that people did not take up and empty houses that still abound in almost every state of Nigeria.
“These untaken houses, and the deficit of Housing, suggests to us that the untaken houses are either unacceptable or unaffordable or both. We see housing as a product, and we take the view that before they can be delivered to market, we must know what the people want and what they can afford,” Fasola said recently at the inauguration of a new FHA and FMBN board in Abuja.
Beyond affordability, the cost of raw materials, land title, mortgage financing are other huge factors threatening the mass housing drive. However, to address the problem, the federal government came up with a special mode, though the pilot project built to reflect socio-cultural differences of the people.
“When our pilot is fully completed, these answers will become self-evident and this is when we can mass produce. There is certainly nothing that stops FHA from undertaking other designs of housing if she can find a market for it, and she can deploy the income to cross-subsidise and make mass housing more affordable.
“As for the financing side, this is critical to affordability and it is as much the function of FHA in cost management and delivery as it is that of FMBN in delivering mortgages of affordable tenures and costs. Since May 2015 to date FMBN has issued 2,724 mortgages worth N20.237BN to assist Nigerians buy their own homes; under the National Housing Fund.” The Minister added.
Host communities in some of the states are gradually taking ownership of the project, except for those insisting on compensations. Al-makura acknowledged that prior to the project, there were no housing programme in the state except for the recent partnership with the federal government and need to work on next phase of the programme.
About 78 units of 3 and 2 bedroom flats along Shendam Road, Lafia was part of the affordable housing projects piloted by the ministry in 2016which has gotten to 90 per cent completion.Nearby block industry owned by Mr. Adamu supplied 90 per cent of the bricks used for the construction project.
The Ministry Zonal Director, Engr. Julius Olurinola, during an inspection said the project was developed to address housing need and create jobs for the people. He explained that aside from the builders, carpenters, suppliers, painters among other artisans, food vendors benefitted from the project including other indirect jobs created.
Olurinola, who is also the ministry’s Director of Engineering, emphasised the importance of the projects to residents. Based on his position, it will largely benefit citizens in the state irrespective of the social class.
During the project inspection in the state, it was gathered that 19 contractors were involved in its implementation in Nasarawa State. Chairman of the contractors, Mr. Godwin Obiora, told our reporter how they have largely benefitted from the initiative while he lauded the federal Government for the gesture. ‘There is prompt payment of our outstanding benefits; the project is close to town, easily accessible, thus would be quickly acquired by the people”.