Following the approval of President Bola Tinubu to construct 1,000 houses each in Sokoto, Kebbi, Katsina, Zamfara, Kaduna, Niger and Benue States, experts in the real estate sector are already calling on the government to extend the initiative to every state of the federation, to solve housing challenges in the country.
According to them, such housing projects should be tied to new cities, integrated with agricultural and industrial parks.
Nigeria has housing deficit estimated at 22 million units, which will require the production of one million houses per annum for the next 20 years to bridge the gap.
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Currently, total annual housing production in the country is below 100,000 units.
Some of the challenges of housing in Nigeria include high rent, over-population, over-crowding, absence of infrastructure, high cost of land, rising building materials’ cost, high cost of funds and high planning approval’s cost.
Commenting on the WhatsApp platform of the Housing Development Advocacy Network, former Managing Director, Lagos State Property Development Company (LSDPC), John Bede Anthonio, said there is the need for the government to think beyond 1,000 housing units.
“We need to think big. We have a population of 200 million. The ministry of housing should target 10,000 units in every state annually. This should be a minimum.
“These housing projects should be tied to new cities, integrated with agricultural and industrial parks,” he said.
Corroborating Anthonio, another expert, Meidaka Adoki, pointed out that any housing project short of delivering at least 20,000 affordable houses of dignity per state in the federation “is merely superficial and lacks foresight.”
According to him, it has become imperative to adopt a more ambitious approach, similar to that of the Chinese.
“Comparing a mere 1,000 housing units to the current housing demand in Nigeria is insignificant.
“ The advantages derived from a substantial provision of affordable housing are manifold, particularly in terms of job creation and other associated benefits,” he said.
He added: “Any housing project that fails to meet the minimum threshold of 20,000 affordable houses of dignity per state in the federation is merely scratching the surface and can be considered a visionless endeavour.
To truly address the housing needs in Nigeria, the expert said it has become crucial to adopt a more ambitious and forward-thinking approach, akin to the strategies employed by the Chinese in their housing initiatives.
“When we compare a meagre 1,000 housing units per state to the overwhelming demand for housing in our country today, it becomes evident that such a small-scale effort is insufficient to make a significant impact.
“Nigeria is currently grappling with a severe housing shortage, with millions of people in dire need of decent and affordable homes. By limiting our efforts to a paltry number of housing units, we are essentially neglecting the vast majority of our population who are yearning for suitable living conditions,” he said.
He pointed out that benefits that come with the massive provision of affordable houses are immeasurable.
According to him, mass production of affordable houses would address the pressing issue of homelessness.
Besides, it would provide secured and comfortable shelter for individuals and families who would otherwise be living in substandard conditions or on the streets.
This, in turn, he said would contribute to the overall well-being and quality of life of our citizens.
Moreover, a substantial increase in affordable housing initiatives, according to Adoki, has the potential to stimulate economic growth and job creation.
He added that the construction and development of housing projects on such a scale would require a workforce, saying this meant more employment opportunities for the people.
He said: “From architects and engineers to construction workers and suppliers, the housing sector can serve as a catalyst for job creation, helping to alleviate unemployment and boost the economy.
“Additionally, a robust affordable housing programme can have a ripple effect on other sectors of the economy. The increased demand for building materials and related industries will spur growth in manufacturing and supply chains. Local businesses will benefit from increased consumer spending, further enhancing economic development at both the micro and macro levels.”
Furthermore, the expert is of the opinion that the provision of affordable housing could lead to social stability and cohesion.
“When individuals and families have access to secure and affordable homes, they are more likely to establish roots in their communities, fostering a sense of belonging and community engagement,” he said.
This, in turn, he pointed out, could contribute to reduced crime rates and improved social dynamics within neighborhoods.
“It is essential that we think big and set ambitious goals when it comes to addressing our housing challenges in Nigeria. Merely scratching the surface with small-scale housing projects will not suffice.
“By emulating successful models like the Chinese, we can embark on a path of comprehensive and transformative housing initiatives that not only provide dignified living conditions for our citizens but also generate numerous benefits, such as job creation, economic growth, and social stability,” he said.
Another expert, Femi Oyedele, noted that the 7,000 houses to be built by the Federal Government in the five northern states were tied to ranches.
Past President, Nigerian Institute of Town Planners, Steve Onu, said that government really needed to think big.
“When I visited Mendillin Columbia in 2014 during the World Urban Forum, I found out that the government of Columbia had built 100,000 housing units in that year to house those in need.
“It wasn’t an incremental housing so often suggested here but standard houses for the citizens of that country in need of adequate housing,” he said, pointing out that 1,000 units was a far cry from the Nigerian government.
He raised posers concerning the housing mix being proposed, the number of one bedroom, two, or three; average household size and type of structure being envisaged.
He said: “Is it going to be the usual bungalows or row houses or town houses. Has the location/site been identified, and planned?”
On the proposal for developing new cities, the renowned town planner said it wasn’t easy as it sounded, pointing out that the existing settlements (towns, cities, metropolis and megalopolis) are yet to enjoy public services (infrastructure) required for the existing settlements whose economic bases are lacking efficient infrastructural services to enhance their economic performance and efficiency .
“You cannot just wake up to build a new city with a minimum population of one million with 1000 housing units per a state without the corresponding services.
“I would advice the promoters to think again. So that we do not have the Shagari experience where houses were located inaccessible location,” Onu said.
Another expert, Olubayo said that Nigerians definitely needed a planned program of mass housing delivery to help reduce the current deficit in Nigeria.
“We should be aiming for a plurality of delivery strategies, and incremental housing is unequivocally an important part of any national housing delivery strategy aimed at covering the housing demand of low-income households,” he said.
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