By Mashe Umaru Gwamna
The Minister of Power Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has said that the present Administration has taken leadership role by demonstrating how provision of affordable housing can catalyze development and sustainable economic growth in Nigeria.
Fashola explained that President Buhari has used the National Housing Programme (NHP), presently active in 34 States of the federation in the last three years, as one of the tools to grow the economy and extricate the nation from recession. According to him, ‘’we are able to employ, on the average, a thousand people at each of the 34 NHP sites, and this is only for the pilot stage’’.
The Minister stated this at the recently concluded 7th Meeting of the National Council on Lands, Housing and Urban Development held at the Banquet Hall, Gombe International Hotel, Gombe State, with the theme ‘Provision of Affordable Housing: A Catalyst for Development and Sustainable Economic Growth’.
This was contained in a statement signed by Principal Information Officer for: Director Information, Olatunji John said Fashola urged Policy Makers and government at all levels to make efforts in consolidating on the achievements of the present government by building more houses and also proffer policies to address urbanization. He said that one of such policies is to consciously redistribute wealth and opportunities by strong commitments to programs like Agriculture and Mining.
The Minister stated that from his trips across the nation, ‘’I can tell you categorically that President Buhari’s investment in infrastructural development is impacting on the nations urbanization challenge in a positive way’’.
In his remarks, the Special Guest of Honour and the Host Governor, the Governor of Gombe State, Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo, commended the Ministry for choosing Gombe State as host, assuring that the Council meeting was bound to address the challenges facing Land Administration, Housing and Urban Development to enable the sector contribute meaningfully to the socio-economic development of the nation.
Dankwambo stated that access to quality and affordable housing is not only fundamental to the health and well being of families and communities, but critical to human survival. He urged Government at all levels to work assiduously in ensuring provision of affordable housing, particularly for the low and modest income earners in the country.
He also commended the efforts of the Federal Government in the construction of mass housing under the National Housing Programme (NHP), stating that the state government has also consolidated on these gains with the construction of over 1, 000 housing units, fully completed and allocated to civil servants and the general public in the state.
Earlier, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, (Works & Housing) Mohammed Bukar, said that the provision of affordable housing rest on the shoulders of all stakeholders in the industry, adding that ‘it is a collective duty to provide leadership for achieving the set objective’.
Bukar enjoined all stakeholders to make judicious use of the opportunity provided by the 7th Meeting of the National Council on Lands, Housing and Urban Development to deliberate on the memoranda submitted for consideration towards formulating and strengthening policies that will address the challenges in the built environment and making housing affordable to all Nigerians.
In her goodwill message, the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs Winfred Oyo-Ita, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Service Welfare, Mrs Didi Walson Jack, stated that the Council meeting is an auspicious moment bringing together key stakeholders in the housing sector to deliberate on policy issues geared towards the full delivery of mass housing. She commended the ministry for initiating and promoting the discuss on affordable housing in Nigeria
According to her, the Federal Executive Council in consideration of the need to reposition the civil service for greater productivity approved the Federal Civil Service Strategy and Implementation Plan, adding that one of the 8 goals of the Plan is to enhance the value reposition of Civil Servants via improving their access to affordable housing. She stressed that this initiative led to the creation of the Federal Integrated Staff Housing (FISH) programme by the Head of Service, which has assisted over 35, 000 civil servants to acquire homes through the provision of mortgage with a long term repayment plan.
The Council meeting ended with the issuance of a Communiqué unanimously agreed by all stakeholders to chat the way forward and also formulate a holistic Housing Policy for development and sustainable economic growth in Nigeria.
A total number of Thirty-four (34) memoranda were received and considered under the following four thematic groups: