Stakeholders in the housing sector are of the opinion that unless a proactive policy is put in place by the government, the nation will continue to record huge housing deficit.
Some of them, who spoke at a two-day workshop for housing researchers and lecturers organized by the Centre for Housing Studies, University of Lagos, noted that the incoming government must aggressively pursue the progress of the industry.
“It is not enough to give incentives, it might have been sometime back, but we have passed that stage now.
The Managing Director, CMB Building Maintenance and Investment Company Limited, Mr. Kelechukwu Mbagwu, who was one of the facilitators at the forum said that “the economy is in the doldrums and our mainstay is not going to sustain us for a very long time and everybody knows that now,”
“It is time for the government to look for new ways; housing is not exactly a new way, but if the government can aggressively move towards housing construction, development and infrastructure, they will be going a long way towards not only encouraging the recovery of the economy but providing a basic need,” he added.
According to Mbagwu, the Nigerian Mortgage Refinance Company, created by the Federal Government to ensure liquidity in the mortgage sector, is laudable but needs to be restructured.
He said, “The NMRC is a laudable idea but it relies too much on cost and effect; you can only access the funds through already completed buildings. How many completed buildings are there available for sale and secondly, you are relying on two to three steps down the line and that is not very wise. That is the fundamental flaw in the system.
“It is a good idea, better than nothing; but it hasn’t actually had an impact; the mortgage banks are not triggering off anything and so it is not trickling down. The government has to come out, I don’t know how they are going to do it, but they have to aggressively boost the system to reach everybody.”
The Dean, Faculty of Environmental Sciences, UNILAG, Prof. Kole Odusanmi, noted that there was a need to develop policies that would boost housing and improve the environment.
“Accessibility to land and building materials should be improved upon to enhance housing provision. There should also be more investment in housing to meet needs through equitable distribution of land. Both the public and private sectors need to work together to develop the housing sector,” he said.
The Chief Executive Officer, MCS Consulting Limited, Mr. Afolabi Imokhuede, spoke on the need for technical skills development in the sector.
According to him, the skills should include housing development, land economics, finance and budgets, city planning and building codes, among others.
Some of the participants also spoke on the need for improved research, especially among the academics.
This, they said, would boost the development of new and innovative approaches to housing in the country.
Speaking on the topic: ‘Repositioning research in Nigerian universities’, the Director, Academic Planning Unit, UNILAG, Prof. Toyin Ogundipe, said countries with weak or non-existent capacity for knowledge generation run the risk of being marginalized.
He said, “Research endowment funds and innovative or competitive funds should be established to promote institutional and individual research on competitive basis based on agreed criteria and a transparent system of selection, monitoring and evaluation. Such funds should be available for faculty in both public and private institutions to promote multi-disciplinary synergies.”
“Incentives should be instituted to reward research effort. More research grants with personnel salary top-up can be a good incentive.”
The convener of the workshop and Director, Centre for Housing Studies, UNILAG, Prof. Gbenga Nubi, noted that the problem of housing had become an everyday discussion in the public and private sectors of developing countries in Africa.
According to him, it has become increasingly glaring that most of the urban population live in dehumanising housing environment, while those that have access to average housing do so at abnormal costs.