MINISTER of Power, Works and
Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has
said that the Nigerian government
would not use imported materials in
its housing schemes.
Mr. Fashola said this at the Real
Estate Investment Trust, REIT,
Conference, held at the Exchange
House in Lagos , represented by
a former finance commissioner in
Lagos State, Ayo Gbeleyi.
The minister said the decision
was part of government’s efforts to
help small businesses in the housing
industry grow.
According to Mr. Fashola, the
government’s plan for sustainable
supply through its housing scheme
is to standardise designs and
industrialise production, noting that
it would help diversify the economy.
“By standardising fittings such as
doors, windows, roofing sheets, tiles
and other components, it allows us
to use these standards to stimulate
local mass production of fittings
and finishing to meet the demands
of mass housing,” the minister said.
“We have as such resolved not
to use imported materials in our
housing schemes, where there are
local alternatives.“In this way, we
will be achieving one major objective
of the President Muhammadu
Buhari Administration’s vision and
strategic goal of diversifying our
economy,” he said.
Speaking further, the minister
said, “For example, the smallest
of houses will have at least a main
door, a kitchen door, a room door
and a bathroom door making a total
of 4 doors.
“In order to build 250,000 units
of that type of house, this market
will need to produce 1,000,000 (One
Million) doors.This does not include
pipes, taps and sockets for electrical
appliances. I leave you to imagine
what this can do for our economy if
we produce all these items locally.
“Our surveys indicate that
electrical fittings such as sockets and
door locks are still largely imported
and we will use our demand capacity
to stimulate local manufacturing or
assembly, in order to keep the jobs in
these areas at home.” He said.
The minister disclosed that the
government has resolved that
the next step toward industrial
production is to reduce the time it
takes to build a block.
“Our recent experience shows
that a block of 12 flats usually takes
12 – 18 months at the quickest,” he
said, adding that, “We are looking
at designing moulds that reduce this
time to 6 months or less”.
Speaking on some of the challenges
being faced by the ministry, Mr.
Fashola disclosed that there are
many Nigerians who have resorted
to property development out of a
survival necessity rather than out
of any capacity or knowledge about
the industry.
These people, whom he described
as “emergency developers”,
dominate the industry and pose a
challenge for decision makers.“We
receive dozens of letters almost
daily by people offering to build
10,000 housing units, which seems to be the magical number for some of
these emergency developers.
“They are without verifiable
pedigree and track record of where
they have built a simple 100 housing
units.We also have offers from road
construction companies who want to
build houses.
“The skill sets and logistics are
entirely different even though they
both involve construction,” he added.
Meanwhile, Mr. Fashola argued that
the government would not leave the
housing sector in the hands of private
individuals, as being championed by
the some stakeholders in the industry.
He, however, disclosed that
government would provide support through policy formulation,
regulation, and empowerment of its
stakeholders. “There is the view that
government should get out of housing
and leave it only to the private sector,”
the former Lagos state governor said.
“This was one of the issues debated
at the summit. What the proponents
failed to show us, was the proven
capacity of the private sector on its
own to meet the demand for housing
and reduce the deficit considerably.
“The successful methods in
countries I have referred to, show
that government often leads the way,
first by policy, later by regulation
and finally by empowerment and
enablement. Our programme will not
be different.” he said.
The REIT conference was organised
by the Nigerian Stock Exchange,
NSE, in collaboration with other
stakeholders in the housing sector
and the capital market.
The programme, which had
in attendance selected media
organisations, also featured other
key speakers like Ahmed Kuru,
Chairman of Asset Management
Corporation of Nigeria, AMCON;
Tunde Fowler, Chairman of the
Federal Inland Revenue Service,
FIRS; Munir Gwarzo, Director
General of the Securities and
Exchange Commission, SEC, among
others.

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