AS part of its efforts to reduce the housing challenges facing Nigerian workers, the Federal government last week proposed to deliver over 100.000 housing units for civil servants all over the country. President Goodluck who gave the assurance while flagging off the Nationwide Workers’ Housing Scheme yin Apo Tapyi District in Abuja reiterated that the initiative is part of the Transformation Agenda of his Administration to provide adequate and affordable houses to Nigerians particularly, the workers.
His words: “The Federal Government will continue to partner with the private developers to provide affordable houses to bring down the cost houses in the country”.
The president lauded the efforts and the seriousness to the scheme by the developer, Good Homes Development Company Limited and urged other developers to emulate the entrepreneurial skills of Good Homes.
While appreciating the kind gesture of the Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress to partner with the Federal Government on the project of providing shelter to the workers, he urged all Nigerian workers to key into the scheme to enable the government make the houses available on schedule.
Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Mrs. Akon Eyakenyi disclosed that various interventions by the ministry, in collaboration with its two Parastatals, namely the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) and the Federal Housing Authority (FHA), yielded a total of 43, 125 housing units, which were added to the national housing stock from July 2010-date.
“A significant number of the beneficiaries of these new housing units are workers across the country given the focus of the housing scheme of the Ministry on affordability and quality delivery, with particular attention to low-income and middle income earners in both the formal and informal sectors of the national economy,” she said.
Eyakenyi listed other improvements witnessed in the housing sector under the present Administration to include creating an enabling environment for private sector-led participation in mass housing delivery, implementation of innovative people-centred policies and programmes aimed at reducing the housing deficit, promoting access to home ownership, reducing the affordability gap, reducing housing construction costs and ensuring better living conditions with improved access to social amenities.
Her words: “We will not rest on our oars until we significantly reduce the housing deficit in the country, and ensure that all Nigerians are properly housed in properly functioning communities, with access to essential infrastructure and services.” The minister disclosed that another official ground breaking ceremony of the first batch of 10,000 affordable homes to be provided under a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) housing delivery scheme of the Federal Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, with the support of the Federal Ministry of Finance and other key stakeholders will be inaugurated early next year.
“Our commitment to the accelerated and long-term transformation of the sector, is well reflected in the revised National Housing and Urban Development Policies, revised National Building Code and the Road-Map being finalized for the Sector. The establishment of the Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC) in January, 2014 is also set to bridge the funding cost of residential mortgages by providing mortgage lending banks with increased access to liquidity and longer terms funds in the mortgage market.”
The minister who affirmed government’s commitment to better manage rapidly expanding cities, appealed to all the 36 State governments to make suitable and un-encumbered land available for the expansion of the scheme for the benefit of Nigerian workers across the country. Welcoming guests to the occasion, the FCT Minister, Senator Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed remarked that the right to shelter is an economic, social and cultural right as recognized in many national constitutions and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; noting that it is in recognition of this right that President Goodluck Jonathan
Administration placed high premium on provision of housing for all in the Transformation Agenda of the Federal Government.
Senator Mohammed stated that over the period of time, FCT has been dynamic in providing initiatives such as Accelerated Development, Affordable Housing and District Development to address prevailing housing deficit.
According to him, “the Land Swap initiative represents our strategy for leveraging private capital in the provision of infrastructure and housing with the expectation of development of 15 districts to provide houses for more than one million residents and creating 500,000 new jobs with capital inflow of about one trillion Naira in the next five years”.
On the Nationwide Workers’ Housing Scheme, the Minister revealed that the FCT Administration gave a waiver of about N28 billion on the land premium and about N550 million waiver on building plan approval.
He emphasized that his Administration gave the waivers to make the houses even more affordable to the workers who are the end beneficiaries.
Speaking at the occasion, the NLC President, Abdulwaheed Omar thanked the Federal Government for this wonderful partnership, which he restated, would go a long way in alleviating the sufferings of the workers.
He appreciated the waivers by the FCT Minister and urged the developers to reflect the waivers in the prices of the houses to be delivered to the workers.