Housing in focus at UNILAG’s presidential debate

Aspirants release parties’ blueprints, to abrogate Land Use Act
Following the lacklustre performance of previous administrations on the provision of housing, specialists, groups and institutions want it to be a top issue and bigger part of the Presidential candidates’ manifestos in the next month’s election.

Concern has grown over the years about how housing costs have increased faster than wages, leaving many people to relocate to the outskirts and some taking refuge in slums. According to statistics, there is a shortage of more than 17 million homes in the country.

Hence, the assemblage of candidates to release their proposals in a town hall meeting on the state of the nation’ housing market organised by the University of Lagos through its Centre for Housing and Sustainable Development in partnership with Rowland Igbinoba Foundation for Housing and Urban Development and FESADEB Media Group.

Five presidential candidates, namely, Prof. Kingsley Moghalu, Young Progressive Party (YPP), Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, Allied Congress party of Nigeria (ACPN), Fela Durotoye, Alliance for New Nigeria Party (ANNP) Omoyele Sowore African Action Congress (AAC) and Isaac Ositelu of the Accord Party attended the debate that attracted industry stakeholders. The major contenders – President Mohammadu Buhari of All Progressive Congress (APC) and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) shunned the debate.

The candidates agreed that the Land Use Act should be repealed, as it has been a clog in the wheel of housing development in the country. They also took a swipe on the mortgage sub sector, and unveiled plans to grow refinancing as well as create  market incentives that will target lower mortgages.

They also plan the declaration of a state of emergency in housing as well as creating a N1 trillion National emergency fund, that will target new initiatives for shelter for all.

Earlier, the founding director of the Lagos Centre for Housing and Sustainable Development, Prof. Timothy Nubi said housing is indeed the foundation of industrialization with great potential to resolving  unemployment and poverty dilemma in the country. Nubi stressed that the multiplier effect of any programme that delivers housing in millions can never be estimated.

Also the Vice Chancellor, University of Lagos, Prof.  Oluwatoyin Ogundipe noted that with 100,000 housing units production annually,  Nigeria has  35 per cent home ownership, which is the lowest in Africa. Represented by the deputy Vice Chancellor, Academic and Research, Prof Wole Familoni, he expressed hope that the meeting will help to bring the nation out of the housing quagmire.

YPP Presidential candidate Kingsley Moghalu

Kingsley Moghalu, YPP
“Clearly, my government as president of Nigeria will move for the repeal of the Land Use Act. The reason is that the Act might have been necessary at sometime but today, it has outlived its purpose. It has created a massive bureaucracy, conserve land titling and prevent investment with economic deficiency in the housing sector.

“The Act has trapped about N300billion doors of debt capitals in this country’s economy today because the owners of land by the state will only grant certificate of occupancy, reduces the economic scope of what individual can do with the land to raise capital if they were to hold their land.

“We will be replacing it by proposing an executive bill that makes land titling under private ownership much more efficient. That will be our approach to the Land Use Act. My government will pursue a very aggressive policy on social housing and that will be achieved by bringing innovations to housing. The Ministry of Science and Technology will be asked to develop technology that will provide social housing. We will have a serious policy on slums, we must improve our slums, create adequate water and sewage management for slums.

“The problem with mortgages in this country is that the only people who are benefiting from them are those who are already rich. The mortgage system is not addressing the need of the lower level class and the poor. We are going to add more capital for mortgage refinancing in Nigeria. I propose that the new Development Bank of Nigeria will have a N1trillion capital support to refinance projects, provide subsidised mortgage support for the poorer people in the society. I will take a more socially responsible approach to mortgage and home financing in Nigeria”.

[FILE PHOTO] Oby Ezekwesili

Oby Ezekwesili, ACPN
“The core of the question on what to do with the Land Use Act. There is no doubt that it will be politically difficult to get everyone on board on the necessity to upturn that Act because of the barrier that it has created, not just for housing but every aspect of industrialisation in our country.

“The key thing is going to be to provide all the stakeholders the evidence of how this Act has limited the economy. That will be brings more people into the fold to do something about that. Having shown the evidence to the different stakeholders, the most important thing is going to be an acceleration process for actually evacuating that Act and putting in place a new system of access to land that is very transparent and very efficient.

“Housing is an important part of lifting people out of poverty. The major thing to do is to ensure that people has income that enables them to own houses on a long-term sustainable basis.

“To promote economy that enable people to earn income is fundamental. In the development of social housing, we must understand how the right policies trigger participation of the private sector in the provision of social housing. We must look at our slum environment from the perspective of income corridors to shift the way we treat the poor. We will not keep them in an environment that is detrimental to the achievement of sustainable development goals. Tackling poverty is according to research, hugely inclined to what we do in housing the poorer segment of our society.

“We need subsidization in the mortagage sector but it must be market efficient. We will shape policies that will encourage refinancing in the way that the market see the incentive for the volume of business that is supposed to target people at the bottom of the pyramid”.

Omoyele Sowore, the presidential candidate of the African Action Congress

Omoyele Sowore, AAC
“The Unitarism system that the military brought to Nigeria started when they smuggled the Land Use Act into the constitution in 1978. Since then this country has not witnessed any progress.

“What we need to do is to return to landownership but we must be careful not to return to the customary ownership of land that we had in Nigeria before independence in which just a few people own land to the extent that the majority are left without land.

“That Act will be expunged by the will of Nigerian people and will be replaced with a living document to the benefit of Nigerian people and that document must start through a referendum. In that document, Land Use Act will become a thing of the past and Nigerians will decide who owns lands”.

‘Government must invest to ensure that every Nigerians must be entitled to a home’.

“Our government will set side aside $3.6billion. What we should do is to turn this country into a construction site where we are building homes. We are in need of over 17 million homes. What we will do is to set the standard where a family should be entitled to a house.

“Our problem in Nigeria is that the rich which is one per cent of our population already has too many houses”.

“What we are going to do is to increase the salary of an average Nigerian worker to a minimum wage of N100, 000.00”, a minimum wage that is a living wage. I am going to make sure that an average Nigerian enjoy N2million mortgage loan every year.”

We will empower Nigerian people so that they can be able to take mortgage. We will have a policy that enables mortgages for low income workers”.

Fela Durotoye

Fela Durotoye, ANNP
“My understanding of housing is best summarised in the philosophy that you either build homes or you build prisons”. For me, home ownership is one of the important things to having a sense of citizenship. In any nations where people don’t own homes, they don’t feel like being part of that country and so people relocate to other countries. One of the things that happen when people relocate is to first of all buy homes to have a sense of belonging.

“I will declare a state of emergency on housing and bring together all the stakeholders to develop a national housing vision in order to make sure that every Nigerian has access to cheap, affordable, safe, attractive and most importantly functional homes. “We will get it done by bringing together all the brilliant minds both home and in the Diasporas together and share the vision”.

“We will have a national emergency housing fund to a tune of N1trillion and we will ensure that we have what is called Collective Social Responsibility, which means that housing is not a government problem alone, but a society problem”. We will make the citizens and the private sector to work together”. If you are going to be part of our skill acquisition programme, we will provide a home for you”.

Isaac Osintelu , Accord Party

Isaac Osintelu , Accord Party
“In our four years programme, we have what is called operation access to Nigeria. Nigeria right now is not accessible because our lands are in the hands of few as cronies devised the Land Use Act. What we are going to do is through discussion and conversation with stakeholders.

We will repeal and probably replace the Act. The cost of materials for housing is one of our problems. If you are a civil servant between levels 1 to 5, you can only access less than N1million for home”.

“We will embrace social housing as well as regenerate the slums. We will not remove people and sell their houses. We will relocate people from slums and give them the right living. We will engage in serious technology and subsidize housing. Our government will earmark certain amount of money for housing and we will get the money from subsidies”.

“The mortgage system is very foreign to Nigeria and it does not work. We will incorporate housing cooperative societies into a mortgage system where the professionals in the building sector will work systematically and give the people the kind of homes they desire, in short time and with moderate prices”.

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