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Affordable Housing

Should Affordable Housing Be The Right Of Every Lagosian?

Considering the various housing and urban renewal project set up by the Lagos state Government, is there a possibility that Lagos may only just be for the rich? After all there are 36 states in the country…This article poses a basic question in search for answers; “Should affordable housing be the right of Every Lagosian?

Each day I live the comforts of my home in search of my daily bread, I hear several complaints from aggrieved Lagosians about the Government of the day. Lagosians believe that the Government is not doing enough for the masses, especially in the area of shelter. But is the city of excellence really for any Tom, Dick and Maria?

These days we’ve lost track of what it means to have affordable housing, as long as you have a roof over your head, no one seems to give a damn about affordability. He who can afford to eat twice a day, all through the year, can afford to wear a permanent smile on his or her face, whether the person lives under Ojuelegba bridge or close to the waters around 3rd mainland bridge.

That is what our government of the day has turned her masses into; suffering and smiling. Little wonder Nigerians are regarded as the happiest people on earth. Because the white man does not understand how the average Nigerian would be subjected to deplorable living conditions, yet a Yoruba man will still throw a party for his entire street.

Ask a layman man on the street, the most important basic need; I’ll bet he would exclaim, food! food!! food!!!

How many Nigerians really do have a proper home? Is it the Hausas that do menial jobs in Lagos or the Fulanis that transverse the nooks and crannies of Nigeria with their herd? Maybe the Yorubas and other tribes that can be called Lagosians too by virtue of the number of years they’ve spent in the city of hustlers, who live under the various bridges in the city and in improper structures even dogs won’t venture to live.

In fact,  some Lagosians of Igbo descent open their shops for business during the day, but go there at night, you would be amazed that the same shop has been converted to a temporary home.

But is it any fault of theirs? Shouldn’t we blame our Government instead for the plight of our masses? One of the basic responsibility of any government is providing adequate shelter for the citizenry, or is that just an assumption? I stand to be corrected if I’m being too critical…

A friend of mine once said that, providing adequate housing for Nigerians can be a possibility only when Lagos is not included in the plan. Now, the question is; why should Lagos be left out? Is it because of the teeming population of people in the city of hustlers?

Here is the puzzling explanation he gave in response to my questions; “Every Lagosian appear to be sprinting on an imaginary track where there are no spectators or even track officials, the kind of life here is not suited for shelter, because they hardly stay at home. They are always on the move, so why go through the stress of providing shelter for the masses there.”

Of course his response was a big joke! the dude doesn’t have a single atom of love for the city.

I digress…

One of the most back-breaking means of survival is finding affordable housing with good living conditions.

Nigerians have their own definition of the term “Affordable Housing”, the living condition is not much of a big deal. It’s no problem if the living condition is poor, even if there are no living conditions at all, the average Nigerian only needs a place to lay his or her head, even if the habitat is in the wild, whilst living on water or along canals is even a better alternative for many.

But again, that is the lie we’ve been served for donkey years, that is the lie our government has conditioned our mind to.

With a population of about 21 million people, the second fastest growing city in Africa, yet Lagos happens to be the smallest city in Nigeria with a vast area of wetlands. The implication of this is that, a fraction of the population stay on water or along it, while others who are not entirely human may prefer to dwell in water rather than on it; I learnt its always cold there and probably more peaceful.

Like my friend would say, “Bro, stop being a crusader, forget about affordable housing, that term is relative. What is not adequate housing to you may just be to that man on the street. All na house, that is the most important.”

In a country with an estimated housing deficit of over 17 million, with Lagos solely accounting for 5 million, is it really impossible to accommodate the teeming population?

Wouldn’t we rather blame homelessness in Lagos to the continuous growth of the population here in geometric proportion than blame it on poor governance?

Of a truth, the extent of the housing shortage in Lagos is enormous, and that’s putting it mildly. This is evident in the multiplication of slums, prompting some to find solace on and around the sea, swamps and canals in deplorable states.

As for residents of the Lagos shanty towns, they exist in their own peculiar world. For those on and around the sea, their major occupation is fishing. However, this means of livelihood portends danger. The surrounding oily waters which provides a way of life for the fishing communities also role play as monsters in their lives, spreading disease through the cramped population.

Many of the inhabitants of shanty towns or communities in Lagos, especially those around the sea would rather remain there than go elsewhere as long as that place in not in Lagos. Offer them adequate shelter in their home towns, they would decline and rather live in their shanty house. To them, a house raise raised on stilts in Lagos is far better that a mansion in Aba.

Lagos seems to hold a lot more promise than Aba. So, many actually left the comfort of their homes in the village to join the ever increasing population of homeless Lagosians. Where they make ends meet is the home they know, the Lagos fate ceded to them.

Considering the teeming population of Lagos state in relation to its land mass and of course its immense water body, Government officials have a hard nut to crack.

With Lack of affordable housing, high standard of living, continuous migration and poverty, increased homelessness looms

Government claim to enhance affordable housing projects yet in Lagos only the rich can afford the so called affordable houses.

Is Lagos then only for the rich?

 

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