2019 Elections: Construction of Fourth Mainland Bridge Not Our Priority-Sanwo-Olu

Concerned with the seeming slow pace at which some critical road projects are being executed in Lagos State, the governorship candidate of All Progressive Congress (APC), Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu has said the construction of Fourth Mainland Bridge would not be his priority if elected.

He said this while fielding questions from respondents on a radio programme recently, assuring Lagos residents of their commitment to ensure early completion of the Lagos-Badagry expressway.

Sanwo-Olu, who was represented by his running mate, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, emphasised the need to ensure the completion of ongoing critical road projects that included the Lagos Badagry expressway.

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According to him, both Badagry and Lekki-Epe expressways are so critical to the economy of Lagos, that no effort must be spared to ensure their early completion. To this end, the issue of the proposed 4th Mainland Bridge may be delayed.

Specifically, the governorship candidate explained that the ongoing 60-kilometre Lagos-Badagry expressway project being executed by the state government should be completed as early as possible.

He noted that the project “has two major inter-modal transport schemes namely; the Lagos-Badagry Expressway and the Light Rail Mass Transit with their accompanying infrastructure- 10 lanes superhighway taking off from Eric Moore interchange and traverses westward through Orile Iganmu, Alaba Oro, Mile 2, Festac, Agboju, Iyana Iba, Okokomaiko, Iyana Era, Ijanikin, Agbara, Ibereko and terminated at Badagry.

“The goal is to connect Lagos with the ECOWAS countries. The initiative would no doubt, enhance the commercial and other business activities between the affected neighbouring countries.”

Besides, he acknowledged the importance of Lekki-Epe Expressway, which he said would be expanded and reconstructed, especially, from where it stopped now to the Lekki Free Trade Zone (LFTZ) in Akodo.

“Just like the Badagry Expressway, Lekki-Epe axis is also critical, in view of the ongoing enormous development taking place in the axis, there is need to review the issue of Fourth Mainland Bridge.

“For now, the project must be put in abeyance, because technical reports from experts revealed that the volume of traffic along the axis cannot cope with additional ones that the 4th Mainland bridge will engender.

“What we intend to do, if we form government is to begin the construction of Coastal Roads from Ajah axis to Ibeju-Lekki, and possibly compete the abandoned portion of the Expressway from Ibeju to Epe; linking it to Ijebu-Ode, where trucks and other articulated vehicles coming to LFTZ would avoid Ijebu-Ode-Itoikin road.”

Sanwo-Olu said he was not novice to government, having being in the system for quite a while. On the challenges of the ever growing population of Lagos, which its agreed that is currently over 20 million, with a projected figure of close to 30 million in the next decade, Hamzat emphasized the need to be proactive before the time comes.

“Lagos population is humongous, despite her being the smallest State in Nigeria with a land area of 3, 577 square kilometres. This translates that it occupies a paltry 0.4 per cent of total land area of Nigeria, which is 923,768 square kilometres”, he said, adding that Lagos has more than two million vehicles on her roads, out of about12 million vehicles on the Nigeria roads as a whole.

Drawing from statistical figures obtained from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Hamzat disclosed that about 260, 000 people come into the state daily, while only about 20-25 percent of this figure return to their original places of migration. This huge migration influx to the city, he noted, is overstretching the existing infrastructure and facilities, thereby making for an urgent need to be innovative in providing infrastructure in the state.

He assured that their plan will be to expand and improve on existing infrastructure project. ‘Government is a continuum and we will continue with existing projects to the benefit of Lagos. Our focus remains ‘Towards a Greater Lagos: A Collective Effort’, he added.

To this end, Lagos APC deputy gubernatorial candidate said their government will would work with an acronym: ‘THEME.’ “Our Promise to Lagosians is ‘THEME Lagos.” The pillar includes traffic management and transportation; health and environment; education and technology; making Lagos a 21st Century economy; entertainment and tourism.

He stated that efforts will also be geared up towards fixing various inner roads across the state. To achieve this, Hamzat revealed that the three Asphalt plants in the state will be turned around and made ready to put people to work in order to make the roads motorable throughout the year

2019 Elections: Presidential Candidates Lay Out Parties Blueprints For Housing

Following the lacklustre performance of previous administrations on the provision of housing, specialists, groups and institutions want it to be a top issue and bigger part of the Presidential candidates’ manifestos in the next month’s election.

Concern has grown over the years about how housing costs have increased faster than wages, leaving many people to relocate to the outskirts and some taking refuge in slums. According to statistics, there is a shortage of more than 17 million homes in the country.

Hence, the assemblage of candidates to release their proposals in a town hall meeting on the state of the nation’ housing market organised by the University of Lagos through its Centre for Housing and Sustainable Development in partnership with Rowland Igbinoba Foundation for Housing and Urban Development and FESADEB Media Group.

Five presidential candidates, namely, Prof. Kingsley Moghalu, Young Progressive Party (YPP), Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, Allied Congress party of Nigeria (ACPN), Fela Durotoye, Alliance for New Nigeria Party (ANNP) Omoyele Sowore African Action Congress (AAC) and Isaac Ositelu of the Accord Party attended the debate that attracted industry stakeholders. The major contenders – President Mohammadu Buhari of All Progressive Congress (APC) and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) shunned the debate.

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The candidates agreed that the Land Use Act should be repealed, as it has been a clog in the wheel of housing development in the country. They also took a swipe on the mortgage sub sector, and unveiled plans to grow refinancing as well as create  market incentives that will target lower mortgages.

They also plan the declaration of a state of emergency in housing as well as creating a N1 trillion National emergency fund, that will target new initiatives for shelter for all.

Earlier, the founding director of the Lagos Centre for Housing and Sustainable Development, Prof. Timothy Nubi said housing is indeed the foundation of industrialization with great potential to resolving  unemployment and poverty dilemma in the country. Nubi stressed that the multiplier effect of any programme that delivers housing in millions can never be estimated.

Also the Vice Chancellor, University of Lagos, Prof.  Oluwatoyin Ogundipe noted that with 100,000 housing units production annually,  Nigeria has  35 per cent home ownership, which is the lowest in Africa. Represented by the deputy Vice Chancellor, Academic and Research, Prof Wole Familoni, he expressed hope that the meeting will help to bring the nation out of the housing quagmire.

Kingsley Moghalu, YPP
“Clearly, my government as president of Nigeria will move for the repeal of the Land Use Act. The reason is that the Act might have been necessary at sometime but today, it has outlived its purpose. It has created a massive bureaucracy, conserve land titling and prevent investment with economic deficiency in the housing sector.

“The Act has trapped about N300billion doors of debt capitals in this country’s economy today because the owners of land by the state will only grant certificate of occupancy, reduces the economic scope of what individual can do with the land to raise capital if they were to hold their land.

“We will be replacing it by proposing an executive bill that makes land titling under private ownership much more efficient. That will be our approach to the Land Use Act. My government will pursue a very aggressive policy on social housing and that will be achieved by bringing innovations to housing. The Ministry of Science and Technology will be asked to develop technology that will provide social housing. We will have a serious policy on slums, we must improve our slums, create adequate water and sewage management for slums.

“The problem with mortgages in this country is that the only people who are benefiting from them are those who are already rich. The mortgage system is not addressing the need of the lower level class and the poor. We are going to add more capital for mortgage refinancing in Nigeria. I propose that the new Development Bank of Nigeria will have a N1trillion capital support to refinance projects, provide subsidised mortgage support for the poorer people in the society. I will take a more socially responsible approach to mortgage and home financing in Nigeria”.

Oby Ezekwesili, ACPN
“The core of the question on what to do with the Land Use Act. There is no doubt that it will be politically difficult to get everyone on board on the necessity to upturn that Act because of the barrier that it has created, not just for housing but every aspect of industrialisation in our country.

“The key thing is going to be to provide all the stakeholders the evidence of how this Act has limited the economy. That will be brings more people into the fold to do something about that. Having shown the evidence to the different stakeholders, the most important thing is going to be an acceleration process for actually evacuating that Act and putting in place a new system of access to land that is very transparent and very efficient.

“Housing is an important part of lifting people out of poverty. The major thing to do is to ensure that people has income that enables them to own houses on a long-term sustainable basis.

“To promote economy that enable people to earn income is fundamental. In the development of social housing, we must understand how the right policies trigger participation of the private sector in the provision of social housing. We must look at our slum environment from the perspective of income corridors to shift the way we treat the poor. We will not keep them in an environment that is detrimental to the achievement of sustainable development goals. Tackling poverty is according to research, hugely inclined to what we do in housing the poorer segment of our society.

“We need subsidization in the mortagage sector but it must be market efficient. We will shape policies that will encourage refinancing in the way that the market see the incentive for the volume of business that is supposed to target people at the bottom of the pyramid”.

Omoyele Sowore, AAC
“The Unitarism system that the military brought to Nigeria started when they smuggled the Land Use Act into the constitution in 1978. Since then this country has not witnessed any progress.

“What we need to do is to return to landownership but we must be careful not to return to the customary ownership of land that we had in Nigeria before independence in which just a few people own land to the extent that the majority are left without land.

“That Act will be expunged by the will of Nigerian people and will be replaced with a living document to the benefit of Nigerian people and that document must start through a referendum. In that document, Land Use Act will become a thing of the past and Nigerians will decide who owns lands”.

‘Government must invest to ensure that every Nigerians must be entitled to a home’.

“Our government will set side aside $3.6billion. What we should do is to turn this country into a construction site where we are building homes. We are in need of over 17 million homes. What we will do is to set the standard where a family should be entitled to a house.

“Our problem in Nigeria is that the rich which is one per cent of our population already has too many houses”.

“What we are going to do is to increase the salary of an average Nigerian worker to a minimum wage of N100, 000.00”, a minimum wage that is a living wage. I am going to make sure that an average Nigerian enjoy N2million mortgage loan every year.”

We will empower Nigerian people so that they can be able to take mortgage. We will have a policy that enables mortgages for low income workers”.

Fela Durotoye, ANNP
“My understanding of housing is best summarised in the philosophy that you either build homes or you build prisons”. For me, home ownership is one of the important things to having a sense of citizenship. In any nations where people don’t own homes, they don’t feel like being part of that country and so people relocate to other countries. One of the things that happen when people relocate is to first of all buy homes to have a sense of belonging.

“I will declare a state of emergency on housing and bring together all the stakeholders to develop a national housing vision in order to make sure that every Nigerian has access to cheap, affordable, safe, attractive and most importantly functional homes. “We will get it done by bringing together all the brilliant minds both home and in the Diasporas together and share the vision”.

“We will have a national emergency housing fund to a tune of N1trillion and we will ensure that we have what is called Collective Social Responsibility, which means that housing is not a government problem alone, but a society problem”. We will make the citizens and the private sector to work together”. If you are going to be part of our skill acquisition programme, we will provide a home for you”.

Isaac Osintelu , Accord Party
“In our four years programme, we have what is called operation access to Nigeria. Nigeria right now is not accessible because our lands are in the hands of few as cronies devised the Land Use Act. What we are going to do is through discussion and conversation with stakeholders.

We will repeal and probably replace the Act. The cost of materials for housing is one of our problems. If you are a civil servant between levels 1 to 5, you can only access less than N1million for home”.

“We will embrace social housing as well as regenerate the slums. We will not remove people and sell their houses. We will relocate people from slums and give them the right living. We will engage in serious technology and subsidize housing. Our government will earmark certain amount of money for housing and we will get the money from subsidies”.

“The mortgage system is very foreign to Nigeria and it does not work. We will incorporate housing cooperative societies into a mortgage system where the professionals in the building sector will work systematically and give the people the kind of homes they desire, in short time and with moderate prices”.

2019 Elections: Oby Ezekwesili vows to solve Nigeria’s housing problem if elected President

The presidential candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Dr Oby Ezekwesili, has vowed to solve Nigeria’s housing problem by tackling poverty.

While speaking at a town meeting with presidential candidates on the state of Nigeria’s housing market in Lagos.The former minister said housing is an important part of lifting people out of poverty.

“The major thing to do is to ensure that people have income that enables to them to be housed, or those who rent houses on a long term and sustainable basis,” she said.

The presidential candidate noted that an economy that enables improvement in income is fundamental to improving Nigeria’s housing situation.

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Ezekwesili, who has promised to lift at least 80 million Nigerians out of poverty if elected president, said the right government policies will trigger stronger participation of the private sector in the provision of social housing to the millions of homeless people in the country.

She also said slums in Nigeria are detrimental to the achievement of sustainable development goals and must be looked at from the perspective of economic corridors which will change the way poor people are treated.

“So, my final take on this is to say tackling poverty is hugely tied, according to research, to what we do with housing for the poorer segment of our society,” she concluded.

Ezekwesili also advocated for the digitisation of the procedures in the housing sector and reducing the stranglehold of bureaucracy in the housing value chain.

The former minister noted that while it might be politically-difficult to repeal Nigeria’s controversial Land Use Act of 1978 as president, she would ensure participation of all stakeholders to make them understand why the Act has limited the nation’s economy, acting as a barrier in every aspect of industrialisation.

“Having shown the evidence to the stakeholders, the most important thing is going to be an acceleration process for actually evacuating that Act and putting in place a new system of access to land that is very transparent and efficient,” she said.

The 1978 Land Use Act governs land regulation in the country and has long been criticised for vesting too much power in state governors who are responsible for allocation of land.

Attempts by previous governments to repeal the Act have failed to bear any fruits.

Other presidential candidates present at the event which took place at the University of Lagos in Yaba, are Kingsley Moghalu of the Young Progressive Party (YPP)Omoyele Sowore of the African Action Congress (AAC)Fela Durotoye of the Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN), and Isaac Ositelu of the Accord Party (AP).

Other presidential candidates that were billed to speak at the event but failed to show up are President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC)Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Jerry Gana of the Social Democratic Party (SDP).

Nigerians will go to the polls to elect a new president on February 16, 2019 with Buhari and Atiku considered to be favourites to win.

 

 

 

2019 Elections: Moghalu vows to pursue aggressive policy to bridge Nigeria’s housing deficit

The presidential candidate of the Young Progressive Party (YPP), Prof. Kingsley Moghalu, has vowed to pursue an aggressive policy to solve Nigeria’s housing problem if elected president.

While speaking at a town hall meeting with presidential candidates on the state of Nigeria’s housing market in Lagos. Moghalu promised to protect the lives of citizens by pursuing an aggressive policy of social housing.

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He said this will be achieved by bringing innovation to housing construction in the country.

“One of the challenges that always arise with the wishes of any government is costing. ‘How much does it cost to build a good social house.’

“We’re going to bring in technology. The Ministry of Science and Technology will be tasked to develop materials that’ll develop social housing at the one third of the cost of what it is today,”he said.

The former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) further disclosed his plans to improve Nigerian slums instead of tearing them down and making more poor people homeless.

He said, “We have to have a serious policy about slums. We must improve our slums, not seek to eradicate them so that they become posh new residences for the wealthy as we saw in Maroko.

“We need to bring adequate water and sewage management to slums.”

Moghalu also assured Nigerians that he would abolish the controversial Land Use Act of 1978 which he said has outlived its purpose and created economic inefficiency in the housing sector.

He said, “My government will move for the repeal of the Land Use Act. The reason is that I think the Land Use Act might have been necessary at some point; but today, has outlived its purpose.

“It has created a massive bureaucracy concerning land titling that prevents investment with economic inefficiency in the housing sector.”

He vowed to propose a more efficient method of land regulation in the country if he’s elected at the polls next month.

“We will propose an executive bill that makes land titling much more efficient,” he said.

The 1978 Land Use Act governs land regulation in the country and has long been criticised for vesting too much power in state governors who are responsible for allocation of land.

Attempts by previous governments to repeal the Act have failed to bear any fruits.

Other presidential candidates present at Saturday’s event, which took place at the University of Lagos in Yaba, are Omoyele Sowore of the African Action Congress (AAC)Obiageli Ezekwesili of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN)Fela Durotoye of the Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN), and Isaac Ositelu of the Accord Party (AP).

Other presidential candidates that were billed to speak at the event but failed to show up are President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC)Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Jerry Gana of the Social Democratic Party (SDP).

Nigerians will go to the polls to elect a new president on February 16, 2019 with Buhari and Atiku considered to be favourites to win.

2019 Elections: Fela Durotoye vows to build 3.75 million new homes if he wins Presidency

The presidential candidate of the Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN), Fela Durotoye, has vowed to build 3,750,000 new houses if elected president next month.

While speaking at a town hall meeting with presidential candidates on the state of Nigeria’s housing market on Saturday,Durotoye said he’ll build millions of new houses in the first four years of his presidency.

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He said, “At the core of every development must be a compelling vision. When people see the benefit of that vision, it’s easy to commit to it.

“A Fela Durotoye-led government will share the vision of doubling our building capacity in every year. Starting year one, 250,000 houses; year two with 500,000 houses; year three with 1 million houses and year four with 2 million houses.

“In the first four years of our administration, we’re committing to seeing the construction of 3.75 million houses.”

The business consultant and leadership coach said he would declare a state of emergency on housing if he’s elected and create a national emergency housing fund to the tune of N1 trillion.

He said every stakeholder from state and local governments, to the private sector, especially development agencies, have parts to play to actualise his housing goals for the nation.

“The second thing is to ensure that we have a policy framed around something called Collective Social Responsibility (CSR) meaning that we understand that housing is not just a government problem to be solved, it’s a societal problem that needs to be solved.

“So we’re going to see how we’re going to drive and inspire the private sector and ordinary citizens to work together,” he said.

He also disclosed his plan to create temporary shelters where homeless Nigerians can stay for a night as long as they accept to be part of a skills acquisition programme.

“If you’re willing to be part of a skills acquisition programme, you have a tent. You can go and stay in that place,” he said.

The presidential candidate said he’d ensure that his national housing vision would grant every Nigerian access to “cheap, affordable, safe, attractive and, most importantly, functional homes”.

He called on Nigerians to stop voting for the political class that has failed to develop the nation in many areas for decades.

“2019 is the year to decide whether you want an old Nigeria, that now has 108 million homeless people in the most blessed country on earth, or you want a new Nigeria where you have access to a safe, attractive, and affordable house and shelter.

“In the new Nigeria, every child above the age of six not only has a roof over their head but also a bed that is their own,” he said.

Other presidential candidates present at Saturday’s event, which took place at the University of Lagos in Yaba, are Kingsley Moghalu of the Young Progressive Party (YPP)Obiageli Ezekwesili of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN)Omoyele Sowore of the African Action Congress (AAC), and Isaac Ositelu of the Accord Party (AP).

Other presidential candidates that were billed to speak at the event but failed to show up are President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC)Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Jerry Gana of the Social Democratic Party (SDP).

Nigerians will go to the polls to elect a new president on February 16, 2019 with Buhari and Atiku considered to be favourites to win.

2019 Elections: Gbadamosi Urges Electorates To Shun Parties Without Concrete Plans For Housing

Real Estate Developer and Lagos Governorship Candidate of the Action Democratic Party (ADP), Babatunde Gbadamosi, has urged Nigerians to vote only for parties with concrete plans for housing projects in Nigeria

Gbadamosi said Nigerians must ask questions on manifestos and how they could be achieved from Presidential and Governorship candidates on housing plans before going to the polls.

Gbadamosi,who spoke against the backdrop of a town hall meeting with Presidential Candidates on the state of Nigeria’s housing market at the University of Lagos on Saturday, told newsmen on Sunday in Lagos that shelter remained a major challenge in Nigeria.

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He said there was no justification for civil servants in Nigeria not to be house owners considering the work they put in to create wealth for the country and the fact that their salaries would not carry such projects.

“As of today in major cities across the country especially Abuja and Lagos , cost of housing and rents remains very high which has left most families feeding from hand to mouth after paying very high amounts for rent.

“We had massive housing projects in the past. The late President Shehu Shagari estates, former Lagos State governor Lateef Jakande estates have remained referral points in Nigeria in terms of housing.

“These feats are not unachievable if governments make housing a priority and target the downtrodden in Nigeria.

“Building estates that are not affordable for average workers in Nigeria only puts the rich in control of housing and making provision of shelter which is one of the major functions of a government, to be inaccessible to majority of Nigerians,” the ADP candidate said.

He said that rather than political sentiments, Nigerians should begin to align with candidates that could provide their basic needs which included housing.

“Twenty five years ago, Alhaji Lateef Jakande built 20,000 affordable housing units in four years and three months in this same Lagos State. There has been massive improvement in construction technology over the years.

“Taking advantage of this, no government can justify its inability to provide massive housing projects for its people.

“Only when the people use their initiative to decide on what they truly need and focus on enforcing them will Nigeria and its states begin to grow in line with the people’s desires.

He said that the ADP has housing as one its cardinal policies and that if lected in Lagos State, his administration would provide 10, 000 housing units annually and at least 40, 000 houses for residents within four years.

 

2019 Elections: Sowore vows to invest $3.6bn on housing

The presidential candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC), Omoyele Sowore, has vowed to turn Nigeria into a construction site if elected in the February 16 presidential election.

While speaking at a town hall meeting with presidential candidates on the state of Nigeria’s housing market on Saturday,Sowore said the Nigerian government must invest in a housing drive that would provide shelter for all.

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He said, “Government must invest in shelter that every Nigerian citizen must be entitled to a place to lay their heads at night.

“What I propose is to put aside $3.6 billion and we’ll turn this country into a construction site. “We’re in need of 17 million homes, over 80 million Nigerians are without homes. We need to set the standard that an average of five Nigerians should be entitled to a house: a father, a mother, and at least three kids.”

Speaking further on how to ensure that Nigerians have access to affordable homes, Sowore said he’ll increase the national minimum wage to N100,000 so that workers are able to afford houses.

“What I’m going to do is to increase the salary of an average worker to N100,000. I’m going to make sure that the average Nigerian worker can get N2 million mortgage loan.

“We have to have a policy where we prioritise mortgage for low income workers and the best way to do it is to give them a minimum wage that’s a living wage,” he said.

He noted that parts of the problem with Nigeria’s housing sector is the lack of proper documentation and transparent land registry system that would expose the fact that only a few people own all the land in the country.

He promised that housing would be a fundamental human right under his administration, and urged Nigerians to stop voting for leaders who deny them of shelter.

“It’s very important to tell Nigerians that we can build Nigeria out of poverty,” he said.

Sowore also strongly objected to Nigeria’s controversial Land Use Act of 1978 and vowed to repeal it as soon as he’s president.

“What we need is to return to land ownership, but we must be careful not to return to the kind of customary ownership of land that we had in Nigeria before independence in which just a few people owned land to the extent that the majority are left without nothing,” he said.

He also called the 1999 constitution a “fraudulent document imposed on the Nigerian people by the Nigerian military men”.He promised to invalidate the document and replace it with “a living document” that’ll be put to a referendum to be voted on by the Nigerian people and completely eliminate the Land Use Act.

The 1978 Land Use Act governs land regulation in the country and has long been criticised for vesting too much power in state governors who are responsible for allocation of land.

Attempts by previous governments to repeal the Act have failed to bear any fruits.

Other presidential candidates present at Saturday’s event, which took place at the University of Lagos in Yaba, are Kingsley Moghalu of the Young Progressive Party (YPP)Obiageli Ezekwesili of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN)Fela Durotoye of the Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN), and Isaac Ositelu of the Accord Party (AP).

Other presidential candidates that were billed to speak at the event but failed to show up are President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC)Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Jerry Gana of the Social Democratic Party (SDP).

Nigerians will go to the polls to elect a new president on February 16, 2019 with Buhari and Atiku considered to be favourites to win.

 

Why 2019 Presidential Candidates Must Not Ignore Land Reforms

As the race for 2019 gathers momentum, especially among presidential candidates, one important area that should be a major concern for them is what to do with the country’s  land to catalyse economic growth.

Nigeria’s total land area is estimated at 91 million hectares and available record shows that only 3 percent of this land is documented.  Again, it has been discovered that of this number, 82 million hectares are arable but only 42 percent of the cultivable area is farmed.

This means that there is something wrong with the land system in Nigeria that needs to be corrected and given its centrality as a factor of production, it should be given a pride of place in the economic agenda of any intending president of this troubled country.

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Back in 2009, late President Musa Yar’Adua initiated a move for land reform in the country with the setting up of the Presidential Technical Committee on Land Reform (PTCLP) as a forerunner of the proposed National Land Commission.

Almost 10 years after, nothing has been said or done about this proposed reform; not until a couple of months ago when PTCLP organised a four-day National Stakeholders Dialogue on Land Reform in Abuja with the aim of addressing challenges in the land tenure system.

Land is so important in any economy that its reform should be the fulcrum around which other economic agenda of any serious leader should revolve and, as Peter Adeniyi, chairman of the PTCLR,  once said, “we owe it as a sacred duty to ourselves and the future generations to define and design our own land governance system”.

Land is the bedrock upon which the satisfaction of all human needs is built. Food, clothing and shelter are all human needs met from resources derived from land. Though land size is fixed, its price and value rise exponentially, more so when it is improved upon by way of development or value addition.

As a factor of production, Alfred Marshall in his ‘Principles of Economics’ written in 1890, says land is so important that the other factors would be redundant without it. The other factors are labour, capital and entrepreneurship.

Land reportedly accounts for 20 percent of the earth’s surface, and consequently, every economy requires comprehensive land regulations and policies to guarantee the effective usage of its land and the maximisation of resources attached to it. This underscores the need for its reform in Nigeria.

From traditional, economic and industrial perspectives, experts see land as being unique and strategic and its availability plays a pivotal role in the development of any economy as it increases investment inflow.  Industrialisation, housing development, agriculture, mining, oil exploration and other economic and productive activities that lead to improved standard of living, job creation, economic growth, among others, are possible only when land is available and harnessed for such purposes.

A World Bank report on ‘How Africa Can Transform Land Tenure, Revolutionise Agriculture and End Poverty’ says Sub-Saharan Africa  is home to nearly half of the world’s usable, uncultivated land but, so far, Africa as a whole has not been able to develop these unused tracts to dramatically reduce poverty and boost growth, jobs, and shared prosperity.

Another World Bank  report on ‘Securing Africa’s Land for Shared Prosperity’ argues that  if African countries and their communities could effectively end ‘land grabs’ and modernise the complex governance procedures that govern land ownership and management over the next decade, it would bring about improved well being and standard of living of their people.

These typically tell the Nigerian story, thus making the need for reform not only necessary, but also urgent. They also underpin the need for the country to reform property ownership by citizens.

Experts posit that the current land tenure system in Nigeria is reason for the dismal home ownership level and large stock of dead assets in the country. It is estimated that only five percent of the country’s housing stock, which is less than 20 million units in total, are in formal mortgage, meaning that 95 percent of these houses are dead assets because they are neither tradable nor bankable.

 Andrew Nevin, partner and chief economist for PwC, said in Lagos recently that it was only land and property ownership reforms that could unlock this huge stock of dead assets whose value he estimated at $307 billion or 81 percent of the country’s GDP.

Nigeria has a rigid traditional land tenure system coupled with the current land titling system which is onerous and excludes many people from formal land ownership, hampering full-scale economic activities, especially real estate.

Nevin emphasised that land and property ownership reforms were needed, especially for real estate which is one of the most critical sectors that, if reformed, would propel growth and alleviate poverty in Nigeria.  “Real estate makes up 60 percent of the world’s global assets and in developed countries, real estate buttresses the financial sector, enabling for the creation of asset-backed loans and securities”, he added.

Instead of the huge emphasis and over-dependence on oil revenue which is neither stable nor reliable because of the price volatility and fluctuations in the international market, whoever is coming in as president to manage the economy of the country in the next four years should be worrying more with what could and should be done on land to make it better and more viable than it is at the moment.

2019:Politicians sell-off properties to raise campaign funds

For home buyers and patient investors with long term view of the market, the time is now, to move cash to the property market. Investigation reveals that the market has, in recent time, received huge supply from sellers, mostly politicians, in need of cash to run for elections in 2019 and other things.

findings in the Abuja market show that, in a desperate bid to fund political campaigns and other activities leading to the elections, politicians have begun to offer houses, plots of land, etc at give-away prices. In some instances, the reduction in prices of some of these properties is as high as 30 percent.

Apart from the urgent need by political actors to fund their elections, it was also discovered that the uncertainty that hangs in the air, in the build-up to the elections, are also contributing to what now looks like an auction-drive in the market as some investors are also off-loading to raise cash.

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“There is, indeed, a sharp drop in property prices”, Ugochukwu Chime,  president of Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria (REDAN), confirmed to BusinessDay.  He explained that the development was also caused  by the rising quest to invest in more mobile investment outlets in order  to have liquidity access, more so with the economic downturn.

“A lot of people are off-loading their properties to enable them to finance the elections, or for other reasons. Concerning the election, you never know what anybody wants to do until he wins election. In the past, we had promises that never got actualized, “ he added.

Chime explained that those who have preference for mobile investments do so because  they see that the economy is looking South and this is one of the challenges in the economy. He noted that a lot of people were abandoning property market  for other more mobile investment outlets.

“That is what is to be seen going forward and when that occurs, it becomes a bias market and because we have a lot of products in the market looking for buyers,  the buyers have a lot of choice to make and can therefore determine some of the things including prices and that is how it is going to be for some times till after elections”, he said.

The air of uncertainty in the polity is another factor adding to the slowdown in the market. People are afraid, especially because of comments by some of the political actors, giving the impression that there is going to be a problem.

Chime reasoned that this also makes people withhold their investment till they are sure that there is a little bit of stability in the socio-political environment . It is only then that people can decide to invest.  Right now, some  people are thinking of investing in Ghana, Dubai and other parts of the world.

“These investors may go into agriculture or some other service industry which have higher return on investment and which can allow them to move away with their cash as an escape from the challenges in the economy, “ he said. 

As a result of these developments, the market has seen significant drop in property prices. Alomaga Olajide, an estate surveyor and valuer,  affirms, citing instance of a duplex valued at N250 million now  offered for  between N200 million and N150 million.

“As we speak, we have a huge supply of properties in the market and whenever it comes this way, because of the need for cash, it comes cheaper. Ordinarily , you can’t see a duplex valued at N250 million now going for N150million  or N200million. This is simply because the seller has need for cash to do something tangible

“If he or she does not bring it down like that, nobody will be ready to pay. So this is  just to attract  buyers so as to get the cash needed  for other things. Property market during election period is cheap and there is always a huge supply of property”, Olajide revealed.

According to him, politicians are all out to get cash to fund their campaign to be able to promote their political ambition and career. So, majority of them, because  there is no cash anywhere else, have to work very hard.

He noted that many politicians have invested in the past and they have quite a number of properties here and there  and often time  we experience a very huge supply of property in the market and high number of people are ready to sell their  property to raise cash to pursue other things.

“Whoever wants to invest or has the mind to invest in real estate should do it now because you will get property at a cheaper rate . Once the demand is low and supply is huge, price will definitely fall. That is what we are experiencing at the moment, “ Olajide observed.

 

Why Presidential Aspirants Must Address Issues of Affordable Housing

On the 19th of November 2018, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), gave political parties the go ahead to kick-off electioneering campaigns for the 2019 general elections.

The two major gladiators, the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressive Congress(APC), and his main challenger, Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), both unveiled policy documents, that will serve as a compass for how the country will be governed, if any of them emerges victorious in the 2019 elections.

Both candidates have outlined different issues to be tackled in their policy documents, but issues of affordable housing for the people they want to serve, has failed to work its way into the policy documents of the two major candidates on the road to Aso Rock.

In other climes, housing is usually a major issue of campaign in national elections, the last time that the issue of housing featured prominently in election campaign in Nigeria was during the second republic elections.

The candidate of the NPN then, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, did not put anybody in doubt about his programme for housing. The slogan of his campaign was “Food & Shelter”.

And true to his words, on assumption of office, he embarked on a very revolutionary housing scheme of building housing estates in all the local government headquarters of the country then. Even though the programme was messed up by corruption and partisan politics, it was a very good move.

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If successive governments thereafter had built on that foundation, perhaps our current housing deficit which has been put at seventeen million units, would have been less by now.

Affordable housing has remained elusive to the average Nigerian, in spite of numerous programmes put up by successive governments to tackle the issue.

Basically, affordable housing refers to housing that addresses the needs of the low-income earners in the society. This is the section of the society whose income is below the medium household earnings, and the majority of masses of Nigeria belong to this category.

The low and middle income earners especially are the most affected by this. Due to affordability, they live in densely populated or informal ‘slum’ areas. The high income earners, occupy a small percentage of the housing stock, thus, the problem of affordable housing remains a critical issue in the socio-economic wellbeing of Nigeria.

This is an issue that Presidential aspirants, have failed to address, ether by default or oversight. However, aspirants seeking to occupy, the highest office in the land must as a matter of urgency, come up with, or better still look into existing policies that are aimed at creating access to affordable housing.

Addressing the affordable housing challenge should be one of the most important items that any government at the centre, in 2019 should be tackling, because shelter goes a long way in impacting on the lives and general well-being of Nigerians.

It is imperative for presidential aspirants to study and assess the actual housing needs of the low income earners. These aspirants should also know that for low-income earners to be able to buy or rent houses, the price or rent must be low or subsidised by the government.

The development of affordable housing can boost local economic activity through temporary construction related employment and ongoing consumer purchase driven jobs in the local economy. Even more importantly, long after the homes are occupied, the ripple effect from residents of these new units can support new jobs in a wide array of industries, including retail, healthcare, and local government.

Affordable housing development will also boost educational activities in the host communities, because local schools will be flooded with children, and the demand for school facilities and educational services will go up significantly.

This is the time the electorates should demand answers from candidates, the onus is now on the electorates, to engage these aspirants on different platforms, including; town hall meetings, debates, and social media to find out how the candidates intend to address the issues of affordable housing.

It is when these questions are answered satisfactorily, that electorates will know which of  the presidential aspirants has a blue print and a workable plan to make the dream of affordable housing a reality, if and when they eventually secure the ‘top job’ in the land.

SOURCE: Affa Dickson Acho

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