Nigeria’s housing deficit has continued to make headlines in the media and obviously so. The issue is not only limited to quality but also deals with quantity and affordability, especially for the low income earners. It has been reported severally that the Federal Government of Nigerian requires N25 trillion in order to meet the 18 million housing deficit, a Consolidated Discount Limited, a company established by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to assist bridge mortgage funding gap in the country had stated. With the population of the country soaring around the region of 170 to180 million, the deficit is believed to have been understated. Even official figures are conflicting in this respect.
For instance, the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria, FMBN, reportedly stated that, the sum of N56 trillion was needed to tackle the housing needs of the country estimated at between 16 million, that is, at the cost of building one house at N3.5 million. The Minister of Works, Mike Onolememen, partially confirmed this fact.
According to the Minister, 17 million, rather than 16 million remains, Nigeria’s housing deficit. Even at that, the figure was still a largely conservative calculation according to experts because the shortfall did not cover the cost of providing infrastructure.
Habitually, the Nigerian government keeps reeling out housing policies and programmes aimed at building more houses for Nigerians without concrete effort to achieving same. For instance, former Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Ms Ama Pepple, was once quoted by news reports last year when she was still in office as saying that the Federal Government had planned to build one million affordable houses annually in the country in order to reduce housing deficit and meet Vision 20:2020 target.
Observers are wondering how can government achieve this kind of lofty dream if the cost of building materials like cements, rods and others keep skyrocketing as a result of flooding local markets with imported building materials? What about the difficulty in accessing land as a result of Land Decree?
We have severally maintained a position that while it is important to reel out policy measures regarding how government intends to tackle housing deficit, there is an urgent need for the authorities to expedite action on its different housing policies.
For instance, what has it done about the report of the committee that recommended reformation of the Federal Housing Authority where allegation of official corruption, mismanagement of public property, manipulation of documents and leadership ineptitude, clog the wheel of progress towards meeting its objectives?
A report by the United Nations estimated that Nigeria’s population would reach 289 million by 2050 while the United States Census Bureau projects that by 2050, Nigeria’s population will hit 264 million thus making the country the 80th most populous country in the world.
If the authorities are serious, they should really be worried because this is a huge problem that should not be postponed to the next generation. Serious countries in Europe and emerging economies in Asia build houses for next generations but not here where rules are arbitrary and leadership at different levels are characterised by visionlessness and corruption.
It is a fact that rapid economic growth in population invariably puts enormous pressure on demands for shelter and other basic utilities and services. Already, Nigeria has sadly lapsed into this tight corner. We, therefore, urge government to wake up from slumber and take pro-active step towards addressing this problem.