Thirty-five years after Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande left office as the first civilian governor of Lagos State, his legacies in the housing sector are still speaking for him. Although most of the houses built by Jakande are today in distressed conditions due mainly to lack of maintenance culture, they are still housing many Lagosians.
With the coming of his administration in 1979, significant policy changes involving a more radical and integrated approach were adopted, in alleviating the housing problems in the state.
The major strategies adopted were: (i) Direct construction of housing on a massive scale, which was anticipated, would reduce the perennial shortage of housing, particularly for low-income groups.
(ii) Establishment of the New Towns Development Authority (NTDA), in 1981, to provide an enabling environment for private initiative in housing provision, and open up new towns to accommodate the growing population.
(iii) Establishment of Lagos Building Investment Corporation, (later renamed Lagos Building Investment Company, LBIC), to encourage savings for building or purchasing of houses, and granting loans to prospective, qualified homeowners. These, along with the LSDPC and the State Department of Lands and Housing, were the main institutions involved in the development of housing policies and projects in the State during this era.
A relatively higher quantitative contribution came in only four years under the first civilian administration (1979-1983), which emphasized public housing. This period represents to date, the most dynamic in the history of public housing in Lagos State.
The housing programme in this era derived from a housing policy, based on a political ideology which recognized the right of every citizen to adequate shelter. As the implementation agency of the 1979-1983 housing programmes, LSDPC embarked on massive construction of low-cost housing estates.
The administration envisioned a programme of 50,000 housing units, out of which by 1983 when the military terminated the civilian regime, about 16,000 units (32 %) had been completed and allocated. Though the number was far below the target and grossly inadequate relative to the high demand for housing in Lagos, when compared to the combined efforts of its predecessors and successors, it made more contribution to the provision of 12 housing Estates in Lagos State.
To further the cause of its housing policy, the administration extended the staff housing loan scheme previously enjoyed by senior staff only, to low-income workers in Lagos State Public Service, who had worked for a minimum of ten years. The loans granted under liberalized terms of payment, enabled low-income employees to purchase housing units. Most of the existing public housing estates in Lagos, particularly in the low-income category, were implemented during this era.
These can be considered as the most representative legacy of the notion of public housing in Lagos and they constitute substantial interventions in the urban context.
The Jakande Estates in various parts of Lagos brought succour to many families when they were built in the early 80s
The estates were conceived as a solution to the perennial housing and accommodation problems in the acclaimed Centre of Excellence.
With this political masterstroke, the former governor’s name was etched in gold in the hearts of residents of the state, and he became a reference point among his peers on how to address the housing needs of the people.
There was euphoria following the allotment of the estates in 1983, flats were got through lucky dips and lotteries and paid for at relatively low prices with the highest then going for N3, 000.
The initiative saved many families from relocating from Lagos and afforded them the opportunity of becoming landlords.
The estates were beautiful and the environments serene, well planned with internal access roads well tarred, to complement the luxuriating colours of paints on the blocks of flats, each owned by different landlords.
The prototype of the low-cost housing was replicated in different parts of the state, such as Oke-Afa, Isolo, Adeniji Adele, Abesan, Iyana-Ipaja,Iponri, Lekki, Ketu-Alapere, Amuwo-Odofin and other places had one form of the scheme or the other.
The implementation of the housing policy in Lagos, under Jakande offer a number of lessons that can help inform future choices. It is needful to develop alternative future scenarios for public housing in the next few decades to challenge the status quo and assist long term strategic planning.
Scenarios are not predictions of the future, but descriptions of alternative possible futures, which are used to stimulate thinking about the future and to test long-term strategic plans.
Source: Affa Dickson Acho with various sources