Friday, 22 July 2016

Housing for all; politics or policy? by Olusegun Ariyo


Event across the globe have shown that good governance is fundamental to national development. Ensuring a stable political atmosphere, sustenance of the democratic process and policy continuation is necessary in achieving improving housing conditions for the people.  For people to realize their potential by identifying opportunities and choices to overcome indignity, a rich political frame work that make living worthwhile should formulated. This includes providing adequate and affordable housing in Nigeria. Lack of adequate shelter that be called home Is sheltering the hope and lives of many Nigerians and increasing the various cycle of poverty. This is especially true with poor. An overview of housing for low-income earners and the poor always con-jures image of failure in mind of Nigerians. During the periods immediately after the independent, all development plans as vehicle for economic growth failed to provide houses for Nigerians. Worthy of note is the monumental failure recorded in the third national development plan (1975-80).during this period, the federal government decided to participate directly and actively in the provision housing rather leave it in principally to the private sector. A whopping 2.6billion was earmarked to drive the project and total of (202,000) dwelling units were proposed. These comprises of 50,000 units in Lagos and 8,000 units in each of the other nineteen states.  At the end of the planned period, record has it that less than 15% of the proposed houses were completed. But the rest of the fund could not be accounted for. It was also glaring then that the houses were allocated along political divides. The same goes for the period 1980-1985. Here, the target groups were low income earners. A total of 40,000 units were to be constructed annually nation wide with 2,000 units located in each of the states and federal capital territory. Again, 19 billion was budgeted with an additional 600 million expended on the implementation of the national low income cost housing programmed but this also recorded failure with only 32,000 unit’s complicated nation wide representing 2o%. Over the years, Nigeria has experimented on a plethora of failed programmes that directly or indirectly affects housing and she is ready to try more; the land use act, the employee housing scheme, structural adjustment programme (SAP) which was considered the root of Nigeria economic woes, the national housing policy, the national housing fund, the rent edict, need, seeds, Leeds, vision 2010, the various point agenda, vision 202020 and recently, the setting up of a committee on housing needs for the people by this present administration. The state too does not fare better in housing provision. Is it the sky-rocketing price of building materials were a bag of cement sells for 2,000 and beyond? Or is it the exorbitant money placed on land use charge, plan approval process, governor consent, property tax, and certificate of occupancy or other bureaucratic processes in-volved in other government land transaction? Not to mention the arrangement on mortgage that millions of Nigerians do not know exist, how much more their operations? What impact had this polices had in ameliorating the housing needs of Nigerians? Despite the efforts and changes on policies and programmes in Nigeria, housing has failed to reach the majority and the government cannot hide from the fact that Nigeria’s housing problem is assume another dimension with a housing short fall of 17 million units. This translate that more that 85% of Nigerians are not properly accommodated. This invariably means that number of people living in squalor in the condition that can be term as slum in Nigeria will keep rising. The foregoing can be adduced to lack of necessary political will and corruption.  This is because corruption saps the ability of government to meet the basic needs of various constituencies through diverting money from development of housing. This concentrates resources in the hands of a selected few, while many grope to make ends meet. In spite of the existence of several anti-graft and institutions, corruption remains an institutional problem. These posses a challenge not only for housing sector but for other developments.  This time around, it is hoped that this administrations quest in charting a course in other to meet the yearnings of Nigerians on is housings need will not be a situation were the drum of politics is biting out loud in the bush and allowing it people dance outside with their so called recommendations on meeting the housing need of the people.

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