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No New Project Until Old Ones Are Completed- Gov Bello

Gov Abubakar Bello of Niger says he will not initiate new projects until those initiated during his first tenure are completed.

Bello gave the assurance when he inspected ongoing projects at the state House of Assembly complex in Minna on Thursday.

John Healey on Grenfell, Boris Johnson and Labour Housing Policy

You’re becoming something of a Housing conference and exhibition veteran. Are there any years at the event that have particularly stuck in your memory?

My first CIH [Chartered Institute of Housing] conference was in 2009. It was my first week as the new housing minister and officials advised against me accepting, saying: “The CIH conference is full of the field’s experts. It’s too soon to do this.”

I told them: “That’s exactly why I should do it.”

I remember being cross-examined by Mark Easton on stage, several days into the job. The CIH members have rightly proved a tough crowd for me at conferences ever since.

You’ve been vocal in accusing the government of not acting fast enough on fire safety since Grenfell. What makes you think Labour would have done better?

We understood from day one that a national disaster of the scale of Grenfell requires a national response from government.

We’ve had to urge action from ministers on every front, as only government can tackle the problems that Grenfell exposed – from getting unsafe ACM [aluminium composite material] cladding removed, to testing other suspect cladding systems, to guaranteeing residents a stronger voice, to overhauling the building safety system.

More than two years on, Conservative ministers still haven’t taken these vital steps.

Boris Johnson looks set to become prime minister. How do you think this could affect housing policy?

Making predictions in politics is a fool’s game, especially in these Brexit-dominated days. I wouldn’t bank on Boris Johnson to win.

I certainly wouldn’t bank on him to fundamentally changing Conservative housing policy. His track record is full of promises made, then broken.

In London, he promised to end rough sleeping in three years, but it more than doubled while he was mayor.

What housing policy would you implement first if Labour wins office?

We’d set up a new, fully fledged housing department to recognise the scale of the housing crisis. We would knock heads together in Whitehall and lead a housing drive on all fronts, from an end to rough sleeping, to legislation for private renters, to building a million truly affordable homes.

Source: Insidehousing

2020 Democrats Offer Up Affordable Housing Plans Amid Surging Prices

If you listen carefully, you’ll hear something unusual on the presidential campaign trail this year. Democratic candidates are talking a lot about the lack of affordable housing, an issue that rarely, if ever, comes up in an election. They’re trying to tap into a growing national concern, as well as a potential voting bloc.

Several of the candidates have offered extensive plans that they say would address the housing shortage that is affecting millions of low and middle income voters. They’ve proposed everything from refundable tax credits for overburdened renters, to spending billions of dollars on new affordable housing. They’ve also raised the issue as a prime example of racial and income inequality, another focus of the Democratic campaigns.

“It is not acceptable that, in communities throughout the country, wealthy developers are gentrifying neighborhoods and forcing working families out of the homes and apartments where they have lived their entire lives,” Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent who’s running for the Democratic nomination, wrote recently in the Las Vegas Sun.

And California Sen. Kamala Harris was met with cheers at a gathering of housing advocates in Washington, D.C. earlier this year when she said, “The right to housing should be understood to be a fundamental right, a human right, a civil right.”

All of this is music to the ears of Diane Yentel, executive director of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

“We’ve seen candidates talking more about the crisis and the solutions than we have I think in entire presidential campaigns in history,” she says.

Yentel says in the past, she and other advocates would listen to presidential debates and town halls waiting for the candidates to say anything about the affordable housing shortage, “and just sort of hang on for any word even remotely related to housing. Like, oh, he said ‘community’ or he said ‘house.'”

But until this year, she says they never heard about housing policy or possible solutions.

An aerial view of homes under construction at a housing development on January 31, 2019 in Petaluma, Calif. As housing prices surge around the country, Democratic presidential candidates are offering plans to address the shortage of affordable homes and apartments.

Yentel thinks it’s a reflection of the severity of the problem. Rents around the country have been rising faster than wages and almost half of all renters now have to spend more than 30 percent of their incomes on housing. About 11 million of those households spend more than 50 percent of their incomes on rent. Low-income families feel the most pain, but the problem has also started to creep up into the middle class.

“For voters who are in the rental housing market, the cost of housing is as big an economic stressor as virtually anything else,” says Democratic pollster Geoff Garin, whose polling has found housing costs are an issue in every region of the country, as well as in cities, rural areas and suburbs.

And, he says, the concern is growing. When Garin asked voters in 2016 if they thought housing affordability was a problem where they lived, 39 percent said it was a fairly serious or very serious problem. This year, that number is 60 percent.

“That’s quite a change over the course of one election cycle,” he says.

Perhaps of more interest to candidates, 75 percent of all voters this year say they would be more likely to vote for someone who has a plan to make housing more affordable, which may explain why candidates are lining up to offer plans.

“People are experiencing an affordable housing crisis whether they’re Republican or Democrat, whether they live in a red community or a blue community, and whether they’re middle class or they’re working poor, whether they’re white or black,” says Julian Castro, who was the secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Obama and announced his housing plan this week. He says it would not only address the lack of affordable housing, but would effectively eliminate homelessness in eight years.

Castro would provide housing vouchers to all families who need help. Right now, only one in four families eligible for housing assistance gets it. He would also increase government spending on new affordable housing by tens of billions of dollars a year and provide a refundable tax credit to the millions of low- and moderate-income renters who have to spend more than 30 percent of their incomes on housing.

Among the other proposals:

  • Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren would also provide a refundable tax credit for overburdened renters. She also calls for a $500 billion federal investment over the next ten years in new affordable housing. She says her plan would create three million new units and lower rents by ten percent. Warren would also give grants to first-time homebuyers who live in areas where black families were once excluded. “Everybody who lives or lived in a formerly red-lined district can get some housing assistance now to be able to buy a home,” Warren told attendees at the She the People Presidential Forum in Houston this spring.
  • New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker would provide financial incentives to encourage local governments to get rid of zoning laws that limit the construction of affordable housing. He would also provide a renter’s tax credit, legal assistance for tenants facing eviction and protect against housing discrimination, something he’s made part of his personal appeal. “When I was a baby, my parents tried to move us into a neighborhood with great public schools, but realtors wouldn’t sell us a home because of the color of our skin,” Booker recounts in an online campaign video.
  • Sen. Kamala Harris has also introduce a plan for a renters’ tax credit of up to $6,000 for families making $100,000 or less.
  • New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has signed on to both the Harris and Warren plans, which have been introduced as legislation.

One challenge for Democrats is finding a way to pay for their ambitious and costly plans. Warren and Castro have both said they would repeal some of the tax breaks enacted two years ago for corporations and higher-income individuals.

President Trump has argued that those tax cuts are helping the economy, which in turn helps all Americans. The administration has said it hopes to increase the supply of affordable housing by providing tax incentives for construction in economically distressed areas, called Opportunity Zones, and by eliminating restrictive zoning laws.

Another challenge for Democrats is getting low-income renters out to vote. They’re generally younger and more transient, and tend not to turn out as much as wealthier homeowners.

That’s a concern for Charise Genas of Boston, who was at a candidate forum in Washington, DC this week sponsored by the Poor People’s Campaign.

“I even pulled my kids by their ears saying, ‘You’re voting,’ and they tell me ‘Ma, my vote don’t count.’ I say ‘That’s a lie, Every vote counts,” says Genas.

She thinks the lack of affordable housing is the number one issue for many voters this year, including herself. Genas says her grown children currently have their own places to live, but “they’re saying, ‘Ma, I might have to come home because the rent is so high.'”

Source: NPR

Bank chiefs to go tougher on bad debtors

The Committee of Banks’ Chief Executive Officers in Nigeria has said that there is an urgent need for all banks to cooperate and collaborate to identify and go tougher on chronic debt defaulters.

The committee said this would go beyond publishing names of such defaulters in national media (which is inevitable), but involved all banks speaking with one voice, sharing information about those entities, and refusing to do further business with them until they settled their obligations.

The bank CEOs condemned the actions of bad debtors who now resorted to smear campaigns against banks and their chief executives in order to either delay repaying loans or avoid meeting their debt obligations completely.

During a meeting in Lagos to review what it called the “harassment and criminalisation of banks’ CEOs by law enforcement agencies,” the body noted that chronic bank debtors were now in the habit of enlisting law enforcement agencies including police, judiciary and state securities to harass and criminalise banks’ CEO, which was unacceptable.

The committee noted that the loan defaulters were known to have abused court processes as well as using social media to propagate their smear campaign against the banks.

A communiqué issued after the meeting noted that the activities by the law enforcement agencies and the bank debt defaulters were capable of adversely affecting the banking system through the CEOs’ reputation among international banks as well as destroy the economy.

They, therefore, called for the issue to be checked and managed.

In order to tackle what the body saw as an emerging threat to the banking business in Nigeria, the Committee of Banks’ CEOs outlined a five-step resolution of actions that banks would need to take.

The resolutions and planned actions were arrived at after members discussed and considered different options for dealing with the issue.

To avoid the kind of crisis that rocked the banking sector 10 years ago, the CEOs urged all agencies and stakeholders to step up and help fight the inherent menace of chronic loan defaulters.

According to the CEOs, the banking industry is the backbone of the Nigerian economy; therefore, it was the responsibility of all stakeholders, regulators, police, judiciary, corporate organisations and media to help save it from activities of delinquent debtors.

The group resolved that all cases of defaults would be presented and passed through the Bankers’ Committee Ethics Committee just as it intended to work with legal councils and come up with ways and strategies to manage related cases effectively without disrupting businesses and the system.

Nigerian bank’s non-performing loans stood at N2.245tn as of the end of September 2018, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

The NBS revealed that in the period under review, the country’s gross loans stood at N15.861tn, while loans (after specific provisions) stood at N13.332tn.

According to the NBS, as of the end of June, non-performing loans stood at N1.939tn while gross loans and loans (after specific provisions) were N15.50tn and N13.587tn respectively.

The Asset Management Corporation had recently published a list of defaulters that it termed as delinquent debtors. They allegedly owed about N906.1bn.

Zimbabwe to initiate new rural housing policy

Johannesburg, South Africa (ADV) – Zimbabwe is set to roll a project that will see the building of better houses that are strong and durable in rural areas, African Daily Voice has learnt.

According to The Herald, this was revealed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa during his recent tour of Chimanimani to assess the damage inflicted by Cyclone Idai, which has claimed more than 100 people, displaced thousands and left hundreds of houses destroyed.

Mnangagwa said there was need to have properly constructed houses, as haphazardly constructed ones had contributed to the significant loss of lives in the area.

“We have lost lives due to sub-standard construction of houses,” he said. “Our housing construction should change forthwith and Government will also assist in this regard. We want stronger structures to save lives.”

Most of the houses that were destroyed failed to withstand the strong rains and winds, a situation attributed to the building material used that made them weak.

Until now, Government had little input in the building of houses in rural areas, resulting in people constructing their homes using poor materials that cannot withstand harsh weather conditions.

Some of the houses in rural areas are built using pole and dagga or bricks and dagga, without other reinforcement building materials like cement.

Houses in the rural areas are also built in dangerous places like mountain slopes, valleys and river banks, a situation that make their occupants vulnerable to natural disasters like floods and mudslides.

This was because rural housing has been on the periphery of planning and President Mnangagwa’s pronouncement yesterday is expected to change the status quo.

The situation in the rural areas is in sharp contrast with the strict supervision of house construction in urban areas, where city engineers have to approve every stage of construction.

Certain specifications are set for urban houses and the strict monitoring has resulted in strong structures that last longer.

Source: Africandailyvoice

Why property markets slow before elections

With election dates set and machinery put in motion, it is possible that activity in the property market may improve in the months to follow. It is not unheard of for the property market to reach a bit of a standstill leading up to a national election.

Owing to the uncertainty that builds around this time, many investors prefer to keep their finances liquid until the future of the economy becomes more stable. Sellers will have to keep this in mind when putting their property on the market over this period.

However, having the election date set should help the market become slightly more active. Without a specific date around which to work, many buyers choose to wait until they know when to expect more political certainty in our country. With the date set, we might begin to see a slight uptake of buyers who are comfortable to begin the process of shopping for a suitable property in the hopes of finding one by the time elections have come and gone.

Nevertheless, sellers should not expect an instant turn around in market conditions until a few months after the elections. The uncertainty that plagues investors over this period is not the results of the election themselves as much as it is the behaviour of the political parties leading up to and following the election. It is widely perceived that policy decisions tend to be more favourable leading up to an election and can change post-election. Investors, both foreign and local, are therefore likely to wait a few months both leading up to and following an election period to see if any policy changes come into effect that might affect their return on investment.

Foreign investment
Foreign investor confidence is another factor during an election period which tends to slow down activity in the property market. Unsure of how citizens will react to election campaigns and election results, foreign investors tend to adopt a ‘wait-and-see’ approach when it comes to investing until they can be more certain of political stability in the country. This is why we also tend to have fewer foreign buyers and a drop in number of sales within the luxury market over this time.

All things considered, those who are even slightly optimistic about our future should take the plunge and invest now. Given that we are in a buyer’s market, it is likely that investors can pick up properties at lower prices now than if they wait for the election apprehension to subside. Provided that all continues to run smoothly with these elections, as I predict it will, there truly has not been a better time to invest in South African real estate than right now.

Source: BizCommunity.com
godwin-emefiele-cbn

Emefiele Still CBN Governor

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has dismissed claims that the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele has been sacked.

Responding to enquiries from The Nation on Monday, the Director Corporate Communications of the CBN Mr. Isaac Okorafor told The Nation that “the governor is in his office working. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Another official of the CBN also told The Nation Correspondent that “there is nothing like that, the governor is here, his tenure expires in June.

In fact he has functions to attend to tomorrow, one of which is to meet with stakeholders in the cotton value chain on Tuesday March 5, 2019.”

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An online medium had reported on Monday afternoon that the CBN governor has been sacked by the presidency and given two weeks to clear his table and “handover to an unnamed successor.“

Source: NationOnline

election-2019

How Buhari won Atiku in Lagos

President Muhammadu Buhari has won the Presidential election in Lagos State, by defeating his rival, Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, with a 132,798 vote margin.

Buhari and Atiku The margin was lower than the 160,143 votes with which Buhari defeated Jonathan in 2015 in the megapolis. Buhari then polled 792,460 votes, while Jonathan got 632,327.

In the latest results announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in Yaba area of Lagos, Southwest Nigeria on Monday afternoon, Buhari polled 580,814 votes to beat Atiku, who got 448,016 votes in keenly contested election.

 

While Buhari won in 15 Local Government Areas of Lagos, Atiku won in five councils, heavily populated by South East residents.

The full result:

Ibeju/Lekki LG

APC: 12,179

PDP: 9,222

Lagos lsland LG

APC: 27,452

PDP: 7,396

Apapa LG

APC-18,170

PDP-11,295

Ikorodu LG

APC: 40,719

PDP: 21,252

ceo

Epe LG

APC: 17,710

PDP: 13,305

Ikeja LGA

APC: 23,638

PDP: 21,518

Badagry LG

APC: 21,417

PDP: 17,936

Agege LG

APC: 36,443

PDP: 16,497

ETI-OSA LG

APC: 20,963

PDP: 25,216

Ifako Ijaiye LG

APC: 33,419

PDP: 18,100

AAC: 674

Mushin LG

APC: 43,543

PDP: 20,277

Oshodi/lsolo LG

APC: 29,860

PDP: 28,806

Lagos Mainland

LG APC: 22,684

PDP: 15,137

Ojo LG

APC: 24,333

PDP: 29,019

Surulere LG

APC: 30,621

PDP: 31,603

Somolu LG

APC: 28,418

PDP: 21,978

Kosofe LG

APC : 39,216

PDP: 28,715

Amuwo-Odofin

APC: 16,670

PDP : 34,312

Ajeromi Ifelodun

PDP: 31, 971

APC: 28,153

Alimosho

PDP: 44461

APC: 65,206

2019 Elections: The Implications Of Feb 16 Election Postponement

It was certainly a surprising development when the news broke out at 2:45AM, that the general elections earlier scheduled for today, 16th February, 2019, was no longer feasible.

A lot Nigerians, both at home and abroad, did not take this news happily. The development has sparked up a lot of conversations worldwide, with most expressing their disappointment in the Nigerian government and their increased disbelief in the Mahmood Yakubu-led Independent National Electoral commission.

A lot has been said regarding the postponement. Some say it is a plot by the ruling party to rig the elections or an avenue to buy more time in their election preparations, others say its INEC’s lack of adequate preparations that is playing out here. However way we look at it, the postponement will have some effect on the whole electoral process when it finally happens.

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

As we all know, not everyone lives where they are registered to vote. Some might have migrated to other parts of the country and would have to travel back to vote. With the original date in mind, some of these people might have travelled back to vote only to realise it has been postponed. Such people may not bother to go back when the time comes to vote. Apart from people who have migrated, some others might have plans for that day which they feel is more important than the election and will make them unavailable for the exercise.

 

INEC’s budget for the election year is roughly 189 billion. It is safe to say that a large chunk of that budget that has already been expended on logistics in preparation for elections on February 16 has gone to waste, never to be recouped.

INEC will also need to make adjustments to already incurred costs, almost doubling costs.

Individual spending has increased in the last two days. Many have gone to filling stations and supermarkets to stock up for the election weekend, while some have travelled out of their places of residence to their constituencies where they are registered to vote.

A lot of people believe that INEC’s independence has been undermined, it is believed in some quarters that INEC succumbed to pressure put on them by the ruling party to postpone the elections. The whole drama has put doubts in the minds of Nigerians over the indifference of INEC, as International and local observers now question how credible the forthcoming elections will be.

This is very dangerous for our democracy, considering the fact that if the opposition party loses, many wouldn’t be satisfied and will start pointing accusing fingers which may result into serious violence, loss of lives and property.

With the postponement, some international media houses would see Nigeria as an unserious nation and wouldn’t bother sending reps and journalists to cover the polls. The negative impact of this is that the international community wouldn’t follow the events as they unfold and this is sad to know.

More time for mischievous politicians to execute their evil plans: The postponement of the polls gives bad politicians more time to perform some distasteful act. Now we hear of already thumb printed Permanent Voters Cards (PVC), paying people to sell their (PVC), printing fake materials and so on. This postponement would give room for more plots and tricks towards rigging the upcoming polls to be concocted.

So many sectors in Nigeria are still counting their losses. Businesses closed at least 3-4hours early yesterday because of election and there are several events scheduled for Feb 23 & March 9.

Some businesses would be on hold, as lot of people have left their business places to travel for the election. It will affect the flow of money in the economy.

The responsibility for the postponement of this election goes to the government and INEC, for this global embarrassment to our nation. It has portrayed us in the eyes of the international community as unserious.

The postponement has unwittingly eroded the credibility of the elections and the capacity of INEC, in spite of the huge resources committed to it and the length of time available for planning and logistics.

The chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu, earlier announced the postponement on Saturday, February 16, at a press briefing held at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja.

INEC postponed the general elections, with the presidential and National Assembly elections scheduled to hold on February 16 moved to February 23. The governorship/State House of Assembly are also shifted from March 2, to March 9. Yakubu attributed the postponement to lack of adequate logistics and some other challenges. He said that the postponement would give the commission room to address the identified challenges to give credible elections.

The INEC boss said: “Following a careful review of the implementation of its logistics and operational plan, and the determination to conduct free, fair, and credible elections, the commission came to the conclusion that proceeding with the elections as scheduled is no longer feasible.”

Source: Affa Acho

Let Nigeria Win Today

Congress (APC) and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), agreed to accept the final outcome of the election if it is “free, fair and credible.”

The Accord signing exercise, initiated by the National Peace Committee chaired by former Head of State General Abdulsalami Abubakar, sought to dispel fears in many quarters that the presidential election could end in hot disputes that could set the country ablaze, if the result does not go the way some candidates expect. The fact that the accord was signed before a cloud of witnesses both local and international including traditional and religious leaders, African and European Union Observer Missions as well as  Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Patricia Scotland, shows the depth of commitment of the presidential candidates to the deal.

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

President Buhari said at the event, “Let us use this opportunity to strengthen our beliefs in a united country. Our elections are important only to the extent that they make our country peaceful and prepare us for development.” PDP candidate Atiku Abubakar also said, “Every candidate must remember that this election is about the future of Nigeria. Therefore, we must abide by the will of the people as freely expressed through elections under the terms of our constitution.”

Noticeably, the candidates said they will accept results that are “free, fair and credible.” This might sound like a giant loophole but it also throws the ball into the court of INEC and its Chairman Professor Mahmood Yakubu, as the electoral umpire, to do all in their power to deliver an election that is seen by most citizens and election observers as free, fair and credible. Bias, partiality or sloppy logistics could imperil  the spirit of the peace accord and allow election losers to repudiate it.

Also key to the success of these elections are the security agencies, especially the Police, Department of State Security, Civil Defence and the military. They must not act in a manner that demonstrates support for any party or candidate or that suppresses any other parties or candidates. At all times their loyalty and commitment should be to the Federal Republic of Nigeria. In past elections, there were allegations that security agents visited opposition candidates with less than even-handedness. This is unacceptable.

Security agencies must be unbiased, non-partisan, non-discriminatory and dispassionate in the elections that commence tomorrow.  They should carry out their duties in a manner that fosters the integrity of the polls and forestalls the activities of thugs, miscreants and desperate elements who want the world to be in the shape that pleases them.  We, therefore, call on Acting Inspector General of Police Mohammed Adamu and other security chiefs to write their names in gold by ensuring that their officers and men keep to their codes of professional ethics before, during and after these elections.

Contestants in the elections, their agents and associates from ward to national levels must play by the rules. In the run up to the elections, there were instances of political violence leading to loss of lives and the burning of electoral materials or even INEC offices and political parties’ campaign offices. We, in unreserved terms, condemn these undemocratic acts of cowardice. There can be no democracy in an atmosphere of threats, fear and violence. Politicians must warn their supporters against engaging in desperate measures in their desperation to deliver their wards or zones to their candidates.  Such selfish dispositions should not have a place in the 2019 elections.

We implore all actors in this year’s election to desist from engaging in demeaning and criminal acts like vote trading. The outcome of some recent elections was tainted by vote buying, which cheapened the will of the people from being golden to the value of a loaf of bread. Electoral Officers and security personnel should be on the watch out for those who tempt voters with peanuts in order to steal their precious votes. Also, journalists should be protected against the barbaric acts of thugs and security men who consider the presence of journalists at polling stations and collation centres as threats to their evil manipulations. The free and unfettered participation of journalists and election observers, domestic and foreign, is a key to free and fair elections.

We wish all the contestants good luck in tomorrow’s presidential and National Assembly elections but above all, we pray that the exercise strengthens rather than weaken our democracy.

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