The rate of low house ownership in Nigeria has been a point of concern, especially for the Association of Housing Corporations of Nigeria (AHCN). The country is in the last rank, particularly when compared with countries like South Africa (70 percent), Brazil (74 per cent), Kenya (75 percent), and Indonesia (84 percent). During this year’s World Habitat Day occasion themed: “Mind the Gap: Leave No One and Place Behind”, Dr. Victor Onukwugha, the President of AHCN said that it was saddening that even Nigeria at the age of 62, the country remained overwhelmed with confusion concerning how to improve the housing sector.
He affirmed that some of the problems that are ravaging the country’s housing sector include an inappropriate mortgage processes that still largely relies on the outright sale of buildings that people who really need them can’t afford to purchase them; lack of finance for housing; lack of housing; unused funds in the system which are kept and put in treasury bills and fixed deposits, which instead of helping people in need, generate self-centered income to the pockets of wealthy individuals.
Nigeria has natural resources that can be used for building materials.
More so, Dr. Onukwugha shows his displeasure about the high cost of acquiring building materials that even when we have a large deposit of natural resources that can enhance the production of quality local building materials, inadequate policy implementation has been one of the major challenges in the sector. According to him, the industry is being held back by a number of factors, including a stagnant mortgage market, an inadequate exit point for developers who have made housing investments, and a lack of a land administration system that provides adequate access to viable real estate transactions.
It is without a doubt that the sector is profitable with opportunities of varying kinds; the question is, what has been done as an individual and as stakeholders to make sure that these opportunities will be turned into gains to address the housing issues that we currently face? Also, nothing has been done on the post-COVID-19 Economic Sustainable Plan which entails the aim of creating 1.8 million jobs within 12 months and the 300,000 new homes that were supposed to be built in the following two years,
The government is yet to fulfill its promise on the housing sector.
Dr. Victor continued that when the current administration took office in 2015, it made a commitment to the people that it would build one million new homes in its first year in office and two million new homes thereafter. In addition, it guaranteed to create a successful mortgage system that would only charge a single interest rate in order to encourage individuals to purchase their own homes. He wondered what the total number of housing units can be developed in the market.
Speaking on the same, Architect Gabriel Aduku, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of AHCN said that housing should be treated as a basic need on an equal level with food, and therefore, he called on the government to encourage those in the private sector to develop it. He went on to say that the sector’s lack of effective policy implementation was to blame for the country’s persistent deficit in this area, despite the fact that subsequent governments could have easily closed the gap if they had expanded upon President Shehu Shagari’s housing program. Aduku, who is also a former Minister of State for Health, added that housing had the potential and ability to boost the country’s economy.
The housing institutions also need to fulfill their responsibilities.
In order for institutions such as the Federal Housing Authority (FHA), the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN), the Urban Development Bank, Federal Mortgage Finance Ltd, and the Central Bank of Nigeria, amongst others to fulfill their primary responsibilities, the government need to fortify, challenge, and closely monitor these institutions. This suggests that there is a need for constant re-engineering of the financial and capital markets in order to deal with the renewed challenges of providing some housing financing.
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