CHIKA OKEKE examines the successive governments’ journey towards the provision of shelter for Nigerians.
Shelter is the third most basic need of man, aside from food and clothing. This is why housing plays a vital role in human life, just as the inability of humans to live in conducive settlements affects the economy of any nation.
Regrettably, the provisions of mass and affordable housing for civil servants, low-income earners and the informal sector of the economy has been marred with challenges since Nigeria gained her independence in 1960.
Nigeria is currently challenged with over 21 million housing shortfalls, despite the large number of completed and unoccupied houses dotting the landscape of major states in Nigeria.
This was further worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic that crippled virtually every sector of the economy, including the built environment.
Investigation by NATIONAL ECONOMY reveals that the shortage of affordable housing is threatening economic growth, especially from low-income earners that constitute over 80 percent of the workforce.
Failed Policies By Successive Govts
As Nigeria witnessed about three percent annual population growth during the 1970’s, it led to rapid urbanisation and housing shortage. In order to address the deficiency, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, who was the military head of state, had in the country’s 1976 budget, highlighted plans for the construction of 200,000 new housing units by 1980. Eventually, only 28,500 units were built.
Further findings highlighted that one of the major housing policies that was initiated in 1979 during the administration of the first democratically elected president of Nigeria, Shehu Shagari administration was unable to meet the housing needs of Nigerians, as the designs could not capture diverse cultural delineation.
About 80 percent of such units were meant for low-income earners, but due to over-pricing, the houses were unaffordable for the intended beneficiaries.
Recall that when the National Technical Working Committee, under the Housing Thematic Area of the Vision 20:2020 was inaugurated on 18th April, 2009 during the regime of Late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, they were asked to make recommendations towards the contribution of housing to Vision 20:2020 goal of the federal government.
Part of the vision was to make housing available to all Nigerians by the year 2020, and also rebrand the housing sector one of the top three contributors to the nation’s economy by adding 10 million decent and affordable homes to the national housing stock by the year 2020.
The overall target for the sector was to contribute to Nigeria’s quest to achieve a gross domestic product (GDP) of $900bn, with an annual growth of 15 percent by 2020.
However, the thematic area, chaired by Mr. Stephen Mayaki, suggested that for Nigeria to meet up with its housing needs by the year 2020, that the federal government must provide the legal and regulatory environment that would attract public private partnership (PPP), work with financial sector operators and regulators to develop an effective primary housing finance system, reduce the cost of houses by developing and promoting appropriate designs production technologies for the sector, among others.
Also, the federal government had promised to provide housing for all Nigerians, with the acronym, Housing for All by Year 2000, but failed serially to meet up with the target.
The 2012 National Housing Policy, which also aimed at providing affordable housing for Nigerians was drafted during the tenure of former President Goodluck Jonathan. The policy didn’t yield positive results as the current housing shortfall persists.
Current Administrations’ Policy
Irrespective of the failed target, the APC administration, led by President Muhammadu Buhari, had in 2016, promised to embark on a National Housing Programme (NHP) across the 36 states, including the Federal Capital Territory.
The minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, while defending the housing sector in the 2017 budget proposal before the Senate Committee on Lands, Housing and Urban Development in Abuja, noted that the NHP is expected to gulp about N41 billion from the N64.9 billion budgeted for capital spending in the 2017 budget.
Though the project was flagged off in 2017, the chances of closing Nigeria’s enormous housing shortfall is lean as the housing sector had remained weary since the merger with the Ministry of Works and Power.
To this end, the pilot phase of the project commenced in the 34 states including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), with the exemption of Lagos and Rivers states, whose governors failed to donate land for the project.
It’s directly executed by the federal government, through the federal ministry of Power, Works and Housing before the ministry of power was returned as a stand-alone ministry.
NATIONAL ECONOMY discovered that the private sector may likely participate in the second phase, depending on the acceptability of the designs by the intended off-takers.
It was also learnt that the sum of N35 billion was budgeted for the project in 2016; about N41 billion from the N64.9 billion budgeted for capital spending in the housing sector’s 2017 budget was set aside for the project while in 2018, N35 billion was also budgeted for the project.
The same was replicated in the 2019 and 2020 budgets, as the crux of the project is to provide affordable homes for the low-income earners.
To successfully achieve the set target, state governments and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) provided suitable lands in their state capitals and municipal council areas.
The houses are at various stages of completion, while some have been completed. They consist of 1-bedroom, 2-bedroom and 3-bedroom semi-detached bungalows.
Nevertheless, the NHP is expected to add 2,736 units to the national housing stock and has provided about 13,680 direct jobs and 41,000 indirect jobs, according to the minister of works and housing, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola.
Also, the two agencies under the ministry, Federal Housing Authority (FHA) and Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) are also pushing for the provision of affordable housing to workers as seen in various projects and programmes.
Federal Housing Authority (FHA)
In order to key into President Muhammadu Buhari’s vision on housing, the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) commenced the construction of the Abuja Mass Housing Project in Zuba in the second half of 2017.
The Zuba project was planned for 16 units 3-bedroom blocks of 8 flats, 25 units 2-bedroom blocks of 8 flats, 10 units 1-bedroom blocks of 16 flats and 5 units 3-bedroom blocks of terrace duplex of 4 units, with a total of 508 housing units.
With the relocation of 256 units from Kwali site, the project is expected to roll out 754 houses for off-takers, comprising civil servants and informal sectors.
About 35 percent have been sold to interested Nigerians according to the immediate past managing director of FHA, Prof Mohammed Al-amin.
In addition, the Gombe mass housing project was completed in 2018 and sold through the Federal Integrated Staff Housing (FISH) scheme anchored by head of service while payment was made to FHA through the National Housing Fund (NHF) managed by the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN).
The managing director of FHA, Sen Gbenga Ashafa, said the construction of 1000 units of housing in Law School Bwari, Abuja, would kick-start the first delivery of 300, 000 housing units, which President Muhammadu Buhari promised Nigerians, as part of his social intervention programme for low-income-earners.
He was excited that FHA would be the first public agency to key into the social housing vision of Mr. President, with the signing of the partnership agreement with Family Homes Fund (FHF) to deliver the first 1000 housing units in Bwari.
Ushafa pointed out that apart from providing 300, 000 new homes to Nigerians, the project would also generate jobs for professionals, labourers, artisans, suppliers, food vendors, transporters and others in the value chain.
Federal Mortgage Bank Of Nigeria (FMBN)
In addition, the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) has played a crucial role in providing shelter and loans for workers across the states.
Recall that in 2017, the FMBN signed a $2bn Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Shelter Afrique and Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria (REDAN) for housing development across the country.
The bank, in partnership with the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (NUC), and Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA) kick-started the construction of 1,400 affordable housing units for workers nationwide last year.
The Nasarawa and Kogi housing sites were the first of the fourteen locations used as the pilot phase of the programme, with 200 housing units expected to be constructed in each of the six geopolitical zones in addition to Lagos and Abuja.
The housing scheme is a product of strategic collaboration between FMBN and labour unions towards addressing the housing needs of its members estimated at 3.75million units.
However, the house types captured proven social housing models, comprising one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom units, with prices ranging from N3.1 million to N8.3 million.
Also, the bank spent about N2.8 billion in the construction of 985 housing units in Enugu State for Nigerian workers contributing to the National Housing Fund (NHF) under the National Affordable Housing Delivery Programme (NAHDEP).
Also, the bank plans to invest the sum of N491.3m in Brekete Family Smart City Project located in Gurku, Nasarawa State, expected to deliver 70 units of houses financed through its Cooperative Housing Development Loan (CHDL) window.
The managing director/chief executive officer of FMBN, Arc Ahmed Musa Dangiwa said that the labour unions project is targeted at shrinking the national housing deficit estimated at over 22 million units, adding that the project is a departure from the earlier social housing projects that were executed without considering the economic realities of the workers.
Dangiwa stated that within the last three years, the bank added about 8,700 new homes, totaling 29,133 housing units.
He noted that within the last three years, NHF collections grew by N186bn, representing 80 per cent, to reach a cumulative amount of N418bn as at September 2020.
The MD hinted that home renovation loans increased to 56, 000 within the year under review, adding that about 570,000 contributors were added to the NHF scheme, resulting in over 5.1 million subscribers.
Dangiwa maintained that 34 out of the 36 States of the federation were contributing to the scheme, even as five states resumed contributions in the past three years.
He pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic provided an opportunity for the bank to rethink and re-invent the country’s national policies and strategies for affordable housing, especially for the low- and medium-income earners.
In recognition of non-remittance to NHF scheme by banks and insurance companies, Dangiwa said that the bank would be advocating for a new NHF investment framework that would address the challenges of mandatory investors.
He added that, “The framework proposes that banks and insurance companies will contribute five per cent of their Profit-After-Tax as mandatory investments into the NHF scheme instead of a percentage of their life/non-life funds and the proceeds will be remitted into a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) jointly established by the institutions and FMBN will protect the investments”.
Family Homes Fund (FHF)
Also, Family Homes Fund (FHF) is another housing project domiciled in the office of the Vice President, Prof Yomi Osinbajo.
Through the fund, the presidency is expected to invest about N500 billion in five years for the construction of social and affordable housing.
About 1.8 million would be created for young people, women and unemployed persons through the construction of 300,000 new homes by the Family Homes Fund (FHF) in collaboration with Federal Housing Authority (FHA), for the low-income earners across the country.
While signing the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with FHA for the construction of 1000 units of housing in Law School Bwari, Abuja, managing director of FHF, Mr. Femi Adewole rated the project as phase one of President Muhammadu Buhari’s 300, 000 social housing project.
He stated that FHA has more lands for housing development than every organisation, stressing that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), through the ministry of finance has approved an initial capital of N200 billion towards the execution of the project.
According to him, “We are hoping to deploy some of the capital into sites that are owned by FHA to produce homes for Nigerians in very low-income level and they are homes that people can buy from N2m to N3.75m for one-bedroom to 3-bedroom”.
Adewole disclosed that FHF is determined to ensure that young people and Nigerians on low-income have access to affordable homes, saying that for every home produced, six jobs would be created.
He stated that the project would accelerate local manufacturing, as factories engaged in the production of doors would input into the programme.
Adewole stated that FHF have initiated control measures to avoid the project from being hijacked, saying that the houses would be distributed through the cooperative societies in the informal sector.
Federal Integrated Staff Housing (FISH) Programme
Determined to tackle the housing challenges of civil servants, the former head of service of the federation (HoSF), Mrs. Winifred Oyo- Ita had in 2016, launched the Federal Integrated Staff Housing (FISH) programme in partnership with developers, meant to provide decent accommodation for civil servants.
FISH is an initiative of the HoSF in partnership with the American Building System International (ABSI) and in line with the federal government’s housing policy.