President Muhammadu Buhari has said that while recognising the importance of providing accommodation for low income earners and the poor in Nigeria, his administration understands that housing is a veritable catalyst for production and development by virtue of its forward and backward linkages to land, construction materials, labour as well as commodity and financial markets.
The president noted that in the African context, deep seated cultural sentiments are attached to housing as an article of prestige and self worth. It constitutes major capital investments and life ambitions of individuals. He added that there are immense social benefits which a strong housing and construction sector can help to generate.
Buhari said therefore, optimum and sustained attention should be given by all governments and various agents of positive development in Africa.
At a Symposium in Abuja on housing low income urban settlers held recently, Buhari asked Nigerians and Africans respectively, to make attempt to align with the overall African Union’s Agenda 2063 vision for the rapid socio-economic development of the continent and the pursuit of a comprehensive urban development agenda that will supply adequate and affordable housing, provide infrastructure with basic services, ensure environmental sustainability and promote resilience and inclusiveness.
The President who said immediately the Sustainable Development Goals are adopted, particularly Goal 11, which centres on making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable, its importance will be felt as we enter the post-2015 development era.
While declaring the AGM/Symposium open, the President who was represented by FCT Minister, Mohammed Bello, regarded the theme of the meeting – “Housing Africa’s Low Income Urban Population” as apt, seeing that the African Region is experiencing the world’s highest rate of urban expansion and faces myriads of problems, adding that Nigeria would be needing 1million housing units per annum to reduce the 17million housing deficits.
According to the United Nation’s projections, Buhari said that our continent will be 50% urban by year 2035, and consequently, rise to 60% by 2050 if the present growth trend continues, meaning there would be rapid changes in our towns and cities, more poverty, increased homelessness, urban sprawl, more slums, more demand for food water and sanitation, thereby, typifying living conditions for low income group and the poor respectively.
To resolve the aforementioned challenges, Buhari hinted some key thrusts of the New National Housing Development Programme like the direct housing supply as strategic intervention measure to ameliorate growing deficits and housing shortages across the geopolitical zones of Nigeria. Also, he motioned harnessing all forward and backward development linkages, guaranteed access to by middle and low income earners and continues prosecution of an overall housing policy stand among others.
Buhari appreciated all the African Ministers in attendance, Chairperson of the Board of Directors of Shelter Afrique and all the Pan-African Delegates Represented, ensuring that Africa overcomes its housing challenges and the company being able to sustain its reputation for over 30 years as a finance institution facilitating affordable housing and estate development across Africa with Nigeria as a major stakeholder.