Over the years, the question of housing has been lamentably growing from bad to worse and successive governments from independence to date are grappling with the huge housing deficit. Today, the country’s housing deficit has been put between 16 and 17 million units and for a country with a population of about 170 million people it is particularly sad, meaning that to meet the shortfall, the country requires a minimum of an additional 1 million housing units per annum to avert the housing crisis.
Though, housing deficit is not just a Nigeria phenomenon, according to the UN Habitat, about 30 percent of the world’s population lives in slums, under deplorable conditions such as living in overcrowded conditions or in buildings that are structurally unsound and without security of tenure among others. The report also added that 35 per cent of the world’s rural population lives in unacceptable conditions, meaning that overall 2 billion people are in frantic need of better housing.
But in the government’s own estimation through its master plan, the housing sector would need about $300 billion investment over the next 30 years to resolve this deficit problem in the country. The World Bank on the other hand says bridging the deficit will cost the country about N59.5 trillion, which further tallies with the estimation of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria which puts it at about N56 trillion to be able to adequately meet the housing needs of Nigerians.
Unarguably, bridging the gap of housing deficit as well as providing adequate shelter for Nigerians, remains a salient feature of the successes Nigeria hopes to achieve in its quest to become one of the top 20 economies by the year 2020. Therefore, creating the right environment for investment in this sector would serve as a lubricant to attaining the set target, considering the sector’s potential for growth. So, if this government and other stakeholders can work together in creating the right environment for local and foreign investment in the sector, the shortfall will be a thing of the past.
Solving the housing deficit, though a capital intensive project, it must be backed effectively by a public-private partnership. The public-private partnership should be synergised to turn around the dangerous trend, which in the long run will help to halt the swelling numbers of homeless people. On the other hand, the real estate investment firms which presently accounts for between 4 and 5 percent of the total Gross Domestic Product, GDP, need to change their business mould for increase output, and the government owned real estate firms privatised to reduce the deficit to a manageable level.
But all this dream can only be actualised if the Land Use Act of 1978 which resides ownership of land in state governments, and the awkward property registration process which in the past are barriers to housing development and ownership in the country are either reviewed or amended, otherwise a better housing development will remain a pipe-dream.