N37bn Yearly Not Enough To Solve Housing Problem – Fashola | Independent Newspapers Limited
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N37bn Yearly Not Enough To Solve Housing Problem – Fashola

Power Supply; Niger Delta projects; IYC youths
Posted: Jun 22, 2016 at 4:30 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

 …Reps Demand Comprehensive Housing Design, Plan


Ahmed Musa

Abuja – The annual budget of N37 billion as passed in the 2016 appropriation cannot enable the country to meet its housing deficit in the nearest future, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, the Minister for Power, Works and Housing, has said.

Fashola made the submission while appearing before the House of Representatives Committee on Housing to update lawmakers on the implementation details of the ministry’s housing policy.

He told the lawmakers the Ministry was made up of professionals of diverse background armed with necessary expertise to come up with a sustainable housing plan that would put the country in a better stead in no distant time.

He said, “N37.6 billion won’t solve our housing problem; 15 per cent down payment is not enough to stockpile materials for work by the contractors”.

He urged an increase in the percentage of money for down payment to enable contractors make adequate preparations for project take-off.

Fashola also raised the issue of cultural impediments hindering the uniformity design being conceptualised by the Ministry, saying that joining the with the issue of climatic differences in the various geopolitical zones, some cultural beliefs are obstacles to the policy.

“We are getting feedback from states where some people don’t want toilet within the House. In some places, in-laws don’t use the same toilets as their daughter in-laws, apart from having to vary the designs based on climatic conditions prevalent in different places.

“Now how do we achieve uniformity of design in situations like these? It’s either we change that culture or we build according to the cultures. We have done comparative analysis from other countries, both in Africa and outside the continent,” he said.

Sani Gidado, Director of Architectural Services in the Ministry, had earlier explained to the lawmakers of the efforts being made by the Ministry to deliver on its mandate based on the budgetary provision available to it in the 2016 fiscal year.

Gidado explained that in line with what 37.6 billion approved for the national housing programme can do, his department has set out to formulate designs based on feasibility studies of the different zones of the country bearing in mind the need for durability in design structures.

“The programme is set for implementation under the strategies developed designs. Since the commencement of the budget, the minister has written 36 letters to the state governors asking for allocation of land for the take-off and so far, 19 states have expressed willingness to key in and 17 are those that have responded with real commitment.

“House styles suitable for each geo-political zones have been designed by in-house architects of the Ministry. The designs are currently going through analysis and critique of professionals and experts before we roll them out. And the design vary from zone to zone based on the climatic conditions prevalent in each zone vis-a-vis their way of life,” he said.

Lawmakers at the meeting while querying the Ministry for delaying in coming up with a comprehensive plan and designs that would enable the projects to take off as soon as the budget was passed also alleged incompetence on the part of Ministry officials in doing their jobs.

Looking at the documents circulated to members by the Director, Mustapha Dawaki (APC, Kano) committee chairman, in his observation, expressed surprise that the Director has not been able to come up with designs that can be approved for the projects to commence.

He said, “I’m surprised that since January, you have not been able to provide the designs, and now we are in June. Is it that you are not competent or you don’t have professionals?

“By the time you will bring these designs, probably it would be in September or October, and the year is running out. Why couldn’t you get them done before hand so that as soon as the budget is released, you move to site without any delay?  I’m just not impressed by this,” he fumed.

Hon. Janothan Gaza (PDP, Nasarawa) also queried the designs of 1 bedroom apartment buildings bearing in mind the rising population of the country.

He said the idea of providing a 1 bedroom house for low income earners lacks wisdom knowing that a single man is bound to get married and produce children, asking further that “where will the man whose income has probably not increased move his expanding family to?”

However, this criticism did not go down well with the minister who commended the industry of his officials, insisting that they have done best they can under the circumstance and if presented with adequate fund and flexibility of cultural beliefs, they would do better.

“Concerning the issue of competence, I think we should commend the men and women in the design department for their industry rather than condemnation. And when you look at the budget in the Housing Ministry, it’s just N37.6 billion, which is nothing compared to what is actually needed,” Fashola stressed, warning that “we must also look at our housing laws so that we don’t get knocked down and out of development by our own laws”.

He also responded to the criticism that the policy of concentrating more units in some states or zones than others would be against the federal character principles as enshrined in the constitution.

“I’m not saying things should not go round. But if you watch the migration pattern and incidents around the country, some states have more population and the need for housing than others. And you simply can’t say that the state which loses population to migration into other states should get the same number of houses that the ones with higher population should have,” he explained.

He raised instances of Singapore and the UK whose housing schemes are older in the comity of nations saying that they have only achieved between 50 to 60 per cent accomplishment with mere uniformity of designs as others are accommodated in the rental scheme.