Why States Are Slow, Not Active In Housing Delivery

In Breaking News, Reports

By Bertram Nwannekanma, Lagos, Anietie Akpan, Calabar, Ann Godwin, PortHarcourt, Charles Akpeji, Jalingo, Charles Ogugbuaja, Owerri, Rotimi Agboluaje, Ibadan, Emmanuel Ande, Yola, Rauf Oyewole, Bauchi, Ayodele Afolabi, Ado Ekiti and Mansur Aramide, Gombe – The Guardian

Despite the place of shelter in the Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs, housing delivery in Nigeria has remained abysmally poor. This is despite of Governments’ access to factors of housing production.

With about 20 million deficit and substantial contributions expected from public and private sectors, the country could at best expect 4.2per cent of the annual requirement.

The State Governments are most culpable in terms of lagging behind in house deliveries despite huge yearly budgetary allocations to their housing ministries.

Apart from Lagos State, which recently announced the completion of about 712 new homes through a partnership with private investors, others States seem not to make housing a priority.

With N33.952 billion budgeted for housing and community amenities in 2021, Lagos State recently added a total of 244 homes in two schemes, notably Courtland Luxury Villas, Igbokushu, and Lekki Apartments which were delivered through private sector collaboration in May 2020.

The State also commissioned last week a joint venture housing scheme located at Iponri, Lekki Phase II, and Idale, Badagry, with a total of 468 home units of various types.

However, it is a different story in other States across the country. Recently, an assessment by the Association of Housing Corporation of Nigeria (AHCN) on the State of housing in the country shows that many States have not built any house in the past two to four years, while few others only increased their stocks through private sector intervention.

Beyond Lagos and perhaps States like Anambra, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Nasarawa, Niger, Ogun, Oyo, Taraba and Yobe, whose housing projects are still in embryonic stages, others have paid lip service to shelter.

Among the States that have failed to make any meaningful impact in the industry are Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Enugu, Gombe, Imo, Kebbi, Ondo, Osun, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto and Zamfara.

The Guardian identified an amalgam of factors ranging from undue political interference, misplaced priorities, poor implementation and non-execution of public housing programmes as reasons for this dismal performance in housing delivery. For example, there are no cash release to the Ministries after the budgets have been signed in most of the States.

The situation in Abia State Ministry of Housing is a classic case of instability because of frequent dissolution of cabinets. Last week, the State’s cabinet was dissolved when the Commissioners were barely a year in office.

Such instability, which will not allow for any meaningful programme for a Ministry, which is supposed to drive the State’s housing delivery efforts.

A Government source said the practice has been a norm and has become a bane to planning, including housing delivery.

In Taraba State, housing delivery has became a mirage as the only 5000 housing units embarked on by the State Government in the past four years are still at a snail speed.

Apart from the housing estates being constructed by the Federal Government in collaboration with the Federal Mortgage Bank, there is nothing on ground at the present in Taraba.

Sources in the Ministry of Housing claimed that most of the estates were constructed and commissioned by past Military Administrators within five months. They cannot fathom why the ones being built by the current administration has continued to drag.

However, a top Government official blamed the outbreak of COVID-19 for thwarting the dreams of the State Government to make housing available not only to public workers but to other citizens of the State at affordable price.

Similarly, the present Imo State Government is just initiating a programme for provision of 5,000 housing units for workers and non-government workers.

The State in the past had 19 estates under the control of the Imo State Housing Corporation, located in various villages of Oforolla (Owerri West LGA), Obinze (Owerri West LGA), Avu (Owerri West LGA), Ihiagwa (Owerri West LGA), Aladinma (Owerri municipal LGA), Trans -Egbu (Owerri North LGA), and Unuguma (Owerri West LGA). Each of the estates has 120 houses, bringing it to a total of 2,400.

General Manager and Chief Executive Officer of Imo State Housing Corporation, Chinedu Mbakwe Obi, said there is arrangement to add 3,000 houses to the stock. He disclosed that arrangement had been made with the Federal Mortgage Bank with the consent of the Civil Service as contributors to the National Housing Scheme.

Mbakwe Obi said 1,000 housing units would be provided under the Site and Services Low Cost Housing for the Civil Servants in the State, in the first quarter. He, however, regretted the large housing deficit in the State.

But in Cross River State, the Government said it has so far built over 100 social housing units for the people of the State.

Out of this figure, 52 of the housing units, the State said have been completed and handed over to the occupants who are the Bakassi returnees in the State while the second housing unit at the Obudu Cattle Ranch is almost ready.

Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Publicity, Mr. Christian Ita said the Bakassi housing units were built and furnished late last year and donated to the returnees even though the place was vandalised in the wake of the last EndSARS protest in the State last year.

He also said the State is building 60 housing units for the aborigines of the Obudu Cattle Ranch, which are at lintel level.

In Oyo State, where Governor Seyi Makinde promised to make provision of houses, a top priority, no single house has been delivered by the State Government.

Makinde had promised to “facilitate private sector-driven housing delivery through variants of Public-Private Partnership (PPP) initiatives.

However, up till now, the State is yet to commence implementation. Though, it was gathered that some projects are going on, as it stands, no single project has been completed.

In September 2020, the state’s Commissioner for Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Mr. Rahman Abdulraheem said that apart from existing Government Reserved Areas, (GRAs) Government s coming up with about four or more GRAs before the end of the year.

About three of them, he said, would be at Akinyele axis because of railway track coming from Lagos to link the Dry Port to Ibadan.

But the Chairman, Oyo State Housing Corporation, Chief Bayo Lawal, said the corporation is partnering with many private investors to deliver on its mandate.

One of such, he said is the on going 360 housing units at Ajoda, in Egbeda local council. He said that 45 housing units are currently under construction in Bodija, while some local councils, like Saki West are collaborating with the corporation in the provision of housing to the people.

According to him, there is also a PPP arrangement at Ejioku in Lagelu local council while discussion is at advanced stage on another PPP scheme at Oyo.

He said the corporation has almost completed arrangement to allocate 1000 plots to interested members of the public at highly subsidised rate while the Omituntun scheme will also be made available within the shortest possible time.

Similarly, housing delivery in Rivers State is yet to receive the needed attention, as the State Governor, Nyesom Wike, appears to be concentrating on provision of road infrastructure.

The Guardian gathered that while the State has witnessed series of projects commissioning between December and January this year, there is no investment yet in the housing sector despite huge, yearly budgets.

Investigations also revealed that the website of the State Ministry of Housing has remained dormant.

The website was occupied with few activities carried out between 2017 and 2018 on youth empowerment, reclamation and sand filling of Eagle Island as well as the phase 2 of the Mile one market, which is yet to be allocated two years after its completion.

When contacted earlier, the State Commissioner for Housing, Tasie Chinedu Nwobueze, told The Guardian that he couldn’t speak on phone and an interview was scheduled, he later sent text messages that he would not be available for the interview due to some appointments.

The situation is not different in Adamawa State, as the housing crisis in the State has been blamed on the insurgency in the North East. Managing Director of Adamawa State Homes and Savings, Dr. Norris Stanley, told The Guardian that there was mass movement of people from other North Eastern States into Adamawa, thereby increasing the crisis in the housing sector.

He, however, claimed that about 1,000 houses would be ready in June, saying that since the creation of Adamawa State, it is the first time that housing will be the priority of Government

According to him, the construction of the 1,000 houses has reached appreciable level and the houses would be sold to the people at affordable prices. He said that in the time of Boni Haruna, Government introduced the owner-occupier housing scheme and also build Boni quarters to tackle the housing problems.

“When Governor Murtala Nyako took over he built Nyako quarters located near NNPC depot and the Adasolid quarters with 400 houses comprised of two and three bedrooms flats.

“The ongoing 1,000 houses under construction is the biggest housing project in the North East, no Government has embark on such huge housing project in the zone,” he stated.

Also, housing projects in Bauchi have not been noticeable, as the State could not boast of any meaningful delivery in the past years. Rather, the State is partnering the Federal Government through Family Homes Funds (FHF) to construct 2,500 housing units worth N12billion.

The housing project according to the State Government has been shared across the six emirates of the State. It said that the project was to reduce the problem of housing deficit, which was worsened by the influx of internally displaced persons from other Northeast States troubled by insurgents.

Bauchi metropolis would get 1,500, Azare town in Katagum LGA to get 350, Misau 250; Ningi 200; Jama’are100; while Dass is to get 100 housing units.

According to the Government, the project would run concurrently and simultaneously to be completed within 12 months as 30 per cent of the cost has been paid to the contractors while subsequent payments would be done as the project progresses.

In Ekiti, the Government is attributing lack of housing delivery to peoples’ attitude to mortgage. The Ekiti State Government said that it has recorded over 60per cent deficit repayment from the ten housing estates scattered around the State capital adding that this attitude was discouraging Government to build more houses for mortgages.

The Commissioner for Housing and Urban Development, Chief Oladiran Adesua also identified funding as another challenge, stressing that Government was in talk with the Federal Mortgage Bank to see how it can assess some funds.

He noted that apart from enacting laws at institutional level, the state is talking with bilateral international agency who are committed in providing 5,000 houses over a period of five years.

Similarly, provision of houses has remained a challenge in Gombe. Commissioner for Housing and Urban development, Adamu Dishi Kupto, regretted that successive Governments couldn’t equip the ministry to be able to handle issues as common as housing.

He stressed that the present Government has evolved a plan to solve the housing challenge by dotting all the 114 electoral wards with housing units.

The idea, he said, is to eliminate the accommodation fear of Civil Servants especially health workers and primary and secondary school teachers posted to rural areas, thereby ensuring urban-rural drift and discouraging rural-urban migration.

As lofty and commendable as that sounds, the outbreak of COVID-19 shattered the dream of “10 houses in each ward,” he added. In Borno, the State Government had pledged to build 210, 000 housing units to bridge the accommodation shortages in the State.

The Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum, who disclosed this at the foundation laying ceremony for the construction of 500 houses in the State, said urban dwellers will get 10,000 houses, while 200, 000 units would be constructed for the rural residents.

The State is also planning to build 4,000 housing units across the State for the Internally displaced persons (IDPs) and Civil Servants following escalation of the Boko Haram insurgency has caused insecurity and massive displacement of the residents.

Zulum said the essence of the construction is to return the IDPs back to their ancestral homes and give them livelihood support to enable them continue their normal life in their communities.

He also disclosed that the State Ministry of Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (RRR) would be constructing 500 housing units at Auno. Prof. Zulum said the Government will invest US $14m towards the project.

The project will feature construction of 400 two-bedroom apartments and 100 one-bedroom apartments. The State is also building another 300 housing units along the Damaturu road, which is very closely to the State university.

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