The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, has called for government, private sector partnership to address the nation’s housing deficit.
The minister made the call at the 10th Abuja Housing Show (AHS) and Construction Industry Exhibition in Abuja on on Monday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the three-day show has its theme as “Expanding Access to Affordable Housing in Africa”.
Fashola said that the call become necessary in order to achieve a synergy between the government and private sector for sustained housing initiatives in the country.
He said that such a synergy would enhance some of the housing policies which government could control.
“Unless we have that partnership and a clear direction of where we should be going, we will have problems,” he said.
The minister said that some of the issues on exchange rate, importation of building materials, among others, could also be tackled through the synergy.
He stressed the need to enhance the mortgage culture to expand access to affordable housing in Nigeria which has an economy that hardly accommodate the informal sector.
Fashola identified one of the impediments in accessing housing deficit as studying the concept of ‘affordable home.’
He said that trying to know the concept of ‘affordable home’ was necessary in order to manage the legitimate expectations of the people who were especially low income earners.
“Across the country there were so many empty houses built which were not occupied due to the demand of rental income of two and three years from workers who earn salaries in arrears.
“Asking them to pay in multiple of advances, gives continuous access to shelter by rental.
“The government led initiatives had not in any event be sustained where is the sustained private sector affordable initiatives to reach the vulnerable people.
“This year when we have a N35 billion provision in the budget, the best that we are going to achieve is a proof of concept which we are developing in the ministry.
“What we are seeking to do is to first develop the design. There are different cultural predispositions in the country which we have to accommodate for acceptance.
“Some of the previous initiatives didn’t have occupancy because of cultural dispositions in the parts of the country where not receptive to them.
He noted that after embarking on surveys, the ministry narrowed down to six designs instead of the initial 12 designs to replicate different cultural needs in the country.
The Senate President, Sen. Bukola Saraki, who declared the exhibition open, said that the Senate was reviewing a number of laws, especially the 1979 Constitution with the hope to get the report ready as soon as possible.
Saraki noted that the Senate had also addressed the National Housing Fund (NHF) and Mortgage Institution Acts.
He said that the Senate had equally come up with its own solutions to access to funds and lands to foster different operators and private sector participation and investment.
“We have started to work on number of laws; of course we are already working on the review of the 1979 Constitution with the hope to getting the report ready as soon as possible,’’ he said.
He further challenged the housing show participants to identify the existing laws that needed enhancement to boost the housing and construction industry in the country. (NAN)