The Federal Government has been urged to adopt the model used by former civilian governor of Lagos State, Late Lateef Jakande, to provide housing for low-income earners in the country.
The call is coming on the back of rising cost of living which is making it almost impossible for low-income earners to buy or rent houses in the country. House prices in the country are on rooftop and rents are not any better. Even government houses are no longer easy to come by.
On account of galloping inflation in the country, commodity prices, including those of building materials, have gone up significantly. This has in turn made the cost of construction, input materials and labour, which are largely imported, to go beyond control.
The situation has reached a point where a lot of Nigerians, particular the poor and vulnerable, can no longer have shelter over their heads without help, a situation that analysts say require urgent government’s intervention.
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But the government has always argued that their inability to deliver low-cost housing to Nigerians is because the cost of construction, especially on the building materials side, is too high.
Babatunde Fashola, minister of works and housing, explains that the government cannot deliver low-cost housing because it goes to the same market to buy building materials.
However, experts in the building industry think differently, insisting that there are ways government can deliver housing cheaply even in the midst of galloping inflation.
Unlike Olawunmi Awosedo, the director/CEO of Lagos-based Grant Properties, who says he cannot deliver low-cost houses unless he is given free land and free title documents, government has free access to land and it is the one giving title documents. So, it has less excuses.
Olumide Emmanuel, a wealth creation coach and pastor of Calvary Bible Church, Lagos, believes that adopting the model used by Shehu Shagari and Jakande for their low- cost housing programmes is a lot easier with the government.
“Jakande houses are still there till tomorrow, providing shelter for many people about 40 years after. How was it done? The government sat down and said to itself, ‘we need to build houses.’ So they started opening up new areas where they had massive land for the housing programme,” he said.
Continuing, Emmanuel said, “the government noted that if you are buying a plot of land in Banana Island for N2 billion, or a plot of land in Ikeja for N100 million; whether it’s Banana Island or Ikeja, the cost of cement was the same.
They, therefore, said to every company that would produce the components of the buildings, come to the table. As part of your own civic responsibility to help your country, supply your building components with interest on the cost of production till we finish the project.”
He recalled that what the state government did next was to appreciate the various companies by giving them tax break, and were able to build. “Why are we not doing that today?” he wondered.
What happens today with housing delivery in the country is that both the federal and state governments are into housing delivery. The governments are not only in competition with the private sector players, but are also overtly crowding out those players.
Houses built by Federal Government agencies like National Housing Authority (NHA), Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN), Family Homes Funds (FHF) are as expensive as those done by the private sector operators. A one-bedroom house in a government estate goes for between N5 million and N7 million.
In Lagos, the story is not any better. Houses built by the state ministry of housing under its Lagos Homes Mortgage Scheme (LagosHOMS) are sold for between N10 million and N20 million, depending on the size of the apartment and the location of the scheme.