The high cost of residential and office accommodation in Abuja has become a thing of grave concern to residents of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
Low and middle income earners, who are virtually at the mercy of shylock landlords, pay huge sums of money yearly as rents.
Notably, many have agreed that the effort of the Minister of FCT, Senator Mohammed Bala Abdulkadir, towards affordable mass housing in the FCT through land swap and other policies is acknowledgeable. However, looking at the huge costs towards confronting the challenge of high rent, Federal Government needs to support the FCTA with special interventions in the area of affordable mass housing.
According to official report, Nigeria has over 17 million housing deficit if it must provide houses for its over 170 million people. As one of the basic necessities of life, provision of shelter remains one of the major responsibilities of any government. Section 16 (1) (d) of the 1999 Constitution under the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy is categorical on the exigency of the state to provide adequate shelter for its citizenry. It enjoins the state to ‘provide suitable and adequate shelter for all citizens’.
In the FCT, high rent has forced many workers and low income earners not only to relocate to long distant satellite suburbs, but far-flung towns, villages and settlements within the FCT and the states linking it-Niger and Nasarawa. This situation has created several overcrowded slums outside the FCT where substandard accommodation is being provided by local communities around Mararaba, One Man Village, Masaka in Nasarawa State, as well as at Madalla, Suleija, among others in Niger State.
People come to work from far distances like Suleija, Gwagwalada, Kwali and even Keffi because house rents and cost of living in Abuja is far beyond their reach. Plush areas like Maitama, Asokoro, Wuse II,
Garki II, Utako and Jabi are exclusively reserved for the super rich. Residents of these areas are former governors, ministers, senators, diplomats, business moguls, permanent secretaries, top civil servants and the likes, except few persons of lower stature who pay through their noses.
For instance, a self-contained room at satellite suburbs like Kubwa, Dutse, Lugbe, Karu and Nyanya now costs between N150, 000 and N250, 000, while the same costs between N500, 000 and N650, 000 in Maitama, Asokoro, Wuse II, Garki II and other highbrow areas. Similarly, one bedroom flat in these areas costs between N300, 000 and N500, 000, while the same costs between N600, 000 and above N1.5 million in Gwarimpa, Wuse II, Maitama, Asokoro and other parts of the city centre.
Interestingly, some of these fine edifices scattered in the city centre are not occupied because of the exorbitant rates.
Analysts have observed that if not for the unrelenting efforts of Senator Bala, the FCT Minister, the situation could have been worse.
Unsavoury fraudulent activities of some estate developers, mass house demolition exercises carried out by the previous FCTA administrations, especially the administration of Mallam Nasiru el-Rufai which rendered thousands of residents homeless, as well as the daily high influx of persons into the FCT in search of greener pastures and policy summersaults have been blamed for this development.
As one of the fastest growing capital cities in the world and a model city, the FCT needs a better, if not the best housing plan. The Federal Government therefore needs to come up with a strategic housing policy to provide affordable mass housing scheme, not only in Abuja, but also across the federation to alleviate the sufferings of Nigerians, especially workers who have the N18, 000 minimum wages to contend with.