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Housing agencies in 24 states fail to make impact in last 12 months —Report

DESPITE the huge housing deficit in the country, no fewer than 24 housing agencies in the states of the federation failed in their responsibilities to build houses for the low and middle income Nigerians in the last 12 months. 

According to findings by the Nigerian Tribune, the housing agencies in these 24 states neither built nor completed a single housing unit in the last 12 months. 

Going by the latest report by the Association of Housing Corporations of Nigeria (AHCN), the umbrella body for all housing agencies in the country, the 24 states without any impact in the provision of housing units in the last one year include Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Cross River, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Enugu, Gombe, Imo, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, Zamfara. 

The non-performance of these housing agencies in the last one year negates the estimation that the nation needs to build 700,000 houses annually to close its 17 million accommodation deficit in the next 20 years. 

The report also recorded the names of a few states’ housing corporations and the number of housing units delivered in the last one year; including ongoing projects. 

The states and the number of housing units delivered include Anambra – 252 units, Benue State -30 units, Borno State -2,778 units, Cross River – 200 units, Delta- 120 units, Edo – 100 units (to start 500 units while another 1,440 in the pipeline), Enugu – 173 units and Yobe -2,350 units. Others are Jigawa – 204 units (2,084 units ongoing), Kaduna 37 units (53ongo- ing), Lagos – 580 units (850 units ongoing by LSDPC), Niger -2,000 units (300 units on-going), Ogun- 280 units, Oyo- 350 units on-going, Plateau- 308 ongoing, Rivers- 32 (5 units ongoing), Taraba -59 units (91 units on-going). 

From the report, it is assumed that the total number of housing units developed within the last one year in Nigeria by state agencies is estimated to be less than 100,000 units. 

Perturbed by the poor performance, President of AHCN, Dr Victor Onukwugha, pointed out that many of the state governments were not interested in social housing. 

According to him, rather than using their state housing corporations to execute their housing projects, most of the state governments embarked on Public Private Partnership (PPP), which produced little or no results. 

He said the governments both at the federal and state levels have done very little over the years to respond to social housing and address increasing housing deficit, adding that the poor implementation and non-execution of public housing programmes both at the federal and state levels based on the overall framework of the housing policy have continued to create a problem for the sector. 

Still lamenting low performance of the sector, he pointed out that the government’s commitment to lead the crusade of converting opportunities in the housing sector to deliberate and profitable economic ventures and growth, has continually remained untapped for economic recovery. 

Housing corporations were statutorily created as government agencies to execute public housing programme and undertake the development of housing estates by acquiring, developing, holding, managing, selling, leasing or letting any property movable or unmovable in their respective states on behalf of their state governments based on the formulated housing policy and programmes of each state within the overall framework of the national housing policy. 

Executive Secretary of AHCN, Mr. Toye Eniola, blamed the situation on selfish and political reasons by the state governors, whom he accused of usurping the responsibility of housing corporations through the ministry directly under the governor’s office. 

He said: “For selfish and political reasons to satisfy party members, they usurp that responsibility through direct construction and through the ministry directly under the governor’s office, hiding under PPP.” 

On the insinuation that housing agencies lack the required capacity to deliver, Eniola explained that the state housing corporations had the capacity and were well equipped with all technical know-how and staff requirements for construction outside the statutory laws that were established to build. 

“Every department in housing construction is available in all housing corporations,” he said. 

He added that the housing units manufactured by housing corporations are always of good qualities compared to the ones produced by politicians. 

“Most often those houses are of standard and they are properly supervised by experienced core professionals as seen in housing corporations set up to build,” he said. 

The executive secretary of AHCN said the implications of neglecting the state housing corporations by the governors were numerous. 

According to him, it would lead to the construction of sub-standard housing units, incessant building collapse, increasing housing deficit, rising unemployment and non-contribution to the Gross Domestic Products (GDP). 

He added that it would also result in the reduction of economic activities that would impair economic growth. 

As a way out, Eniola said that AHCN had proposed Agric Village Settlement and a business model that would keep housing corporations afloat henceforth. 

More importantly, he disclosed that the association was embarking on rental housing to support continued existence of housing corporations without depending on their government for survival. 

Bemoaning the state of the housing sector in Nigeria, Onukwugha stated that social housing all over the world is essentially driven by the government. 

“It is seen as the responsibility of the government to the governed to address the housing deficit,” he said, pointing out that both governments at the federal and state levels had done very little over the years to respond to social housing and address increasing housing deficit. 

“There is no doubt that the housing needs of the people are enormous and opportunities abound in the construction and housing sector. Home ownership still remains and constitutes the priority and major need of the people,” the AHCN president said. 

Onukwugha called for pragmatic approaches and appropriate strategies to tackle housing deficit and affordable mass housing production with a view to utilizing housing as a veritable tool for economic recovery thereby empowering the people to reduce unemployment in the society. 

The AHCN president renewed call for the use of local building materials, saying they should be encouraged and promoted to arouse acceptability by the general public, who had developed apathy for its usage.