Construction chiefs canvass dialogue on housing



PASSIONATE to see remarkable improvement within the housing sector, leaders among the professionals in the real estate industry have called on the newly appointed Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, to engage all professional bodies within the construction industry to chat a common course on housing delivery.

The dialogue, according to them is inevitable, as all the professional bodies within the industry needed to make input in order for the minister to come up with robust housing blueprint for the nation and her people.

Although, many of the professionals have always longed to have one of their own as the housing minister, they, however, expressed confidence in the choice and capacity of Fashola to deliver, but urged him not to jettison them and their counsel, as the country is presently bewildered with huge housing deficit.

In their reaction to the appointment of Fashola, immediate past governor of Lagos State, the professionals unanimously said the minister must call all the professionals within the sector to a round table, before drawing up plans to tackle the housing, land and urban development programmes.

According to the Chairman, Estate Surveyors and Valuers Registration Board of Nigeria (ESVARBON) Elder William Odudu, the new housing minster is an action man and he does not need to be an estate surveyor and valuer to do well; and putting in charge of power, housing and works, I believe he is going to do something wonderful.

“With his pedigree in Lagos, it is certain that the nation would witness enormous impact within the industry. I believe he will start with works, infrastructure and that also will align with housing. And for us within the built environment, we are all out to give him the support he needs, although he has quite retinue of experts within the civil service to assist him actualize his dreams.
Odudu said to solve the nation’s housing challenge, the new should create an enabling environment. “We want him to create enabling environment for private developers to go into mass housing developments, especially, for the less privileged.

Now, there is concentration for both the high and medium income earners but little or nothing for the low privileged. I do not want to see a situation that government would be undertaking construction of houses by itself, rather, the government should create an enabling environment to encourage private developers, who have the capacity and the technical know-how to deliver mass housing.”

While calling on him to seek to implement the National Housing Policy, Odudu said: “the minister should focus on simple housing units that would deliverable within short period of time and affordable to the low-income class; we don’t need an exotic houses. This is why I am saying the minister should be preoccupied with creating an enabling environment to that would make this vision to thrive.”

For the President, Commonwealth Association of Surveying and Land Economy (CASLE), Mr. Segun Ajanlekoko, the Federal government should promote synergy between the politicans and the technocrats, adding that the professionals must be involved in nation building.

He insisted that their involvement augurs well for the development of the country. Ajanlekoko advised government to hire top technocrats as chief executive officers to run the the former Ministries of Works and Housing differently as a private driven organisations.

The President, Nigeria Institution of Surveyors, Bern Omo Akhigbe, while congratulating Mr. Babatunde Fashola on his appointment as Minister of Works, Housing and Power, urged him to ensure that professional bodies in the built environment are giving responsibility, based on their professional competence.

According to him, for a successful delivery of projects, be it road, housing or energy, there is need for government to consult the appropriate bodies in their area of specialisation.

Similarly, the immediate past President of Nigerian Institute of Builders (NIOB), Mr. Babatunde Lasaki, called on government to call the meeting of all professional bodies in the built environment.
Listed his expectations for the minister, Lasaki said issue of building collapse must be paramount in his mind and that the best way to address it is by ensure a standard training for the Nigeria artisans and craftsmen.

Besides, there must be a concerted efforts to ensure that building code that has being at the National assembly for many years should be passed without further delay, saying that antidotes to forestall the anomalies in the housing sector are incorporated in the code.

A Rivers State based estate surveyor, Mr. Emmanuel Wike said: “It was the constitutional right of the president to appoint those he feels he can work with, although we in the real estate sector have been praying to see a day that one of us would be appointed as minister for housing to bring a professional competency to bear.”

Confident of his ability to deliver on the task ahead, judging from his performance as the governor of Lagos, Wike said: “we in the industry are ready willing to partner with him. But we want him to engage the professional bodies within the housing sector, as this will aid the government to deliver on housing mandate. The minister should consider the mass and social housing system, which cater for the low-income people. The government should be able to provide the infrastructure to lessen the burden of housing construction. The minister should provide enabling environment that would encourage the private sector to come in. Also, the government should also improve on the mortgage system. The National Housing Policy should be reviewed to meet the present realities. The minister should sit down with the professionals within the housing sector to see how best we can implement the policy”, he added.

But Mr. Roland Abonta differed saying it was a serious disaster that a lawyer was appointed as housing minister in view of the fact Nigeria political leaders have not really hinged appointments on professionalism but on political patronage.

Notwithstanding, Abonta said Fashola should begin to relate with the professional bodies, particularly on the housing; partner with them, as we would soon be paying him a visit during which we would be discussing with him some of the way forward on housing.
According to Mr. Azuibike Unigwe, an estate surveyor, the choice of Fashola cannot be faulted, because he had already shown capacity in terms of ability to use resources to ensure compliance, when he governed Lagos State. However, to have good result, the minister should consult with the professionals and concentrate on creating enabling environment, giving the private sector incentives towards achieving the mass housing vision.

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