Everywhere in Lagos, a striking picture of insufficient housing stares all in the face. From the stilts erected on the Lagos lagoon to the overcrowded houses in Idumota, Mushin, Agege and other densely populated areas of the metropolis, a huge gap exists in housing needs.
No doubt, owning a home is probably the most important achievement for any individual in life. However, the journey towards that path, especially for the working class, is usually laced with challenges, as building a house or accessing housing mortgages can be near impossible.
With Nigeria’s housing deficit put at 17 million and an additional two million units needed every year, the ordinary man is practically left in the lurch.
However, if by stroke of luck, owning one’s home becomes a reality, the feeling is that of absolute fulfilment and accomplishment.
This feeling, unarguably defined the joyful strides of Mr. Amos Kimeh Omodunni, as he gallantly made his way to the podium of the conference room, Governor’s Office, Alausa, Ikeja, to receive the keys to his three-bedroom apartment at Shitta Estate, Surulere.
Omodunni was one of the 11 lucky new home owners, who won and have successfully fulfilled the requirements of the Lagos Homes Ownership Mortgage Scheme (Lagos HOMS). His apartment is one of the estates purposely built by the Lagos State Government for ownership by prospective first time home owners only, under a mortgage payment scheme.
Other lucky new home owners included Mrs. Rukiat Abdulmalik, Mr. Ademola Odujoko, Mr. Ejiroghene Torishedu Madedor, Mrs. Yetunde Oluwaseun Awopeju, Mr. Ajayi Omotayo Jubril, Mrs. Ganiyat Dolapo Akanni, Mr. Gbenga Owolabi, Mr. Chukwuneta John Paul Ogbatwi, Mrs. Bibian Aloba Kanayo and Mr. Ikpeh Daniel Darligton.After receiving his keys from the Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), Omodunni recalled how his journey to becoming a home owner in Lagos started, noting that he didn’t expect it to be as seamless and as easy as it turned out to be..
He noted that the journey that changed his status started few weeks ago when he came across the scheme on one of the social media sites. He said he was really fascinated by the non-complex procedure of the scheme, unlike some other house ownership schemes.His words: “I saw the photographs of one of the schemes that were uploaded when the governor visited the estate. Having read more about the Lagos HOMS initiative, I became interested, applied and followed the entire process online.“Everything worked quite speedily. I did not have to visit any office or talk to anyone. Everything that I needed to do to complete that application was done just in my office and I did not have to move anywhere.”
A visibly elated Omodunni further revealed that he was in his office when the televised draw was being held and had to run to one of the adjoining offices to watch the event. Surprisingly, according to him, his name was picked for a three- bedroom flat.He noted that though he had always had reservations about trusting government on any project, the present home ownership mortgage scheme reinvigorated his trust as well as that of other winners on the efficacy and efficiency of the state government.To this end, he assured that he and his fellow home winners would become ambassadors of the initiative.
“We are very strong advocates of the transparency and fairness that we now know are the bedrocks of this particular scheme. We will sing it high and loud everywhere we go; to our friends, to our neighbours, colleagues and people around us”, Omodunni said.
He thereafter, implored other Lagos resident to embrace the initiative. “It is real. You don’t need to know anybody, just send in your application and you can become a home owner.”Speaking after presenting keys to the new home owners, Governor Fashola noted that the success of the first draw was a strong message to the present generation not to lose hope on Nigeria. He opined that regardless of the present state of affairs, it was possible to build a better Nigeria.
While giving an assurance that the number of new home owners would continue to increase monthly, Fashola described the handing-over of keys as the beginning of a journey of promise.His words: “I am happy to see very young people who have become home owners in their country and in our state, and in a place where young people are struggling. Go and apply, pay your taxes, register as a Lagos resident and the rest is easy.”
The governor described the first draw which produced the new first time home owners as a modest start. Making reference to the assurance given earlier by Omodunni on behalf of other successful new home owners, Fashola expressed satisfaction that even if Mr. Omodunni were the only successful allotee, the efforts of the state government and the Lagos Mortgage Board would have been worth it.
He commended the Lagos Homes Committee members for their firm commitment that resulted in the inauguration of an easy-to-use mortgage system.Earlier, the Chairman of the Lagos Mortgage Board and Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Ayo Gbeleyi, described the event as another promise made and kept by the present administration.He informed that those presented with keys to their apartments had fully completed the requirements and achieved closure on their mortgage facilities.
He also noted that the latest home ownership initiative by the state government was intended to take many more people out of the poverty line into economic prosperity.While explaining that mortgage was a universal model for home ownership, he said in many of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, over 60 per cent of home owners actually own their homes under a mortgage scheme, adding that in the United States, it is over 80 percent and about 30 percent in South Africa.
‘‘Even in Rwanda that is just coming out of war, amazingly it is 15 percent but in Nigeria, that figure is well under five percent,” he said.
Another elated winner of a two-bedroom apartment in Shitta Estate, Mrs. Yetunde Awopeju, commended Governor Fashola for his foresight. The employee of Atlas Technical Services Limited described the estate as a beautiful initiative and a product of foresight.
While noting that the scheme and entire processes were transparent, she enjoined prospective home owners to take advantage of the Lagos HOMS.
“You don’t require any godfather to get your desired home. It is very easy once you have met all the requirements,” she said.
To find out if you qualify, and can apply visit the Lagos HOMS website. The next draw holds June 4th, 2014.