By Aisha Al-Ameen
The dignity of human life lies in the ability of individuals to have access to shelter for safety and privacy, which provides opportunity to pursue other human needs and fulfilment. It is in realization of this that article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes the ‘right to housing’. In spite of the crucial role played by housing in human life, over 100 million people are homeless while over one billion others are inadequately housed according to the United Nations. Therefore, providing decent housing to the people had consistently occupied a major place of priority for various governments across the world.
Sixteen years after the creation of Yobe state, the challenges of housing accommodation to civil servants, the business community, corporate organizations, government establishments and private individuals had remained with the people. As recently as six years ago, some civil servants in Damaturu the state capital were forced to be operating from Maiduguri and Potiskum daily due to scarcity of housing accommodation, until the major intervention into the sector in 2007 by the Mamman Ali/Ibrahim Gaidam administration.
The initial construction of 515 housing units in Damaturu and the 17 local government council headquarters at the cost of N3.6 billion had no doubt to a large extent addressed the problem of accommodation in the state capital and the council headquarters.
Out of this number, 300 houses were constructed in Damaturu along Maiduguri road otherwise known as ‘Red Bricks Estate’, 10 units were also constructed in each of the 17 local government council headquarters while 15 others in each of the three senatorial district headquarters have definitely saved a lot of lives traveling daily on the busy Maiduguri via Damaturu to Potiskum federal highway.
This intervention was the first, providing sufficiently decent accommodation to civil servants 16 years after the state was created. This also encouraged many people to relocate to Damaturu saving several man hours lost to traveling against staying in office to attend to government businesses.
While still celebrating the Red Bricks estate, the Gaidam administration embarked on another 256 units at the Bra-Bra housing estate which was completed even before the scheduled completion period and distributed to civil servants on owner/occupier basis.
To the delight of us the beneficiaries in particular, and people of the state in general, Governor Gaidam graciously and benevolently announced a 65 per cent waiver subsidy which translates into a generosity of every beneficiary paying only 35 per cent of the cost price of the houses.
And to provide succour to families who lost their bread winners, the Gaidam administration generously wrote off outstanding balance of all government houses provided under the owner/occupier programme. This generosity and humane gesture in Yobe’s housing policy under the Gaidam administration makes it to stand tall over and above others in the effort to providing the citizenry with accessible and affordable housing accommodation.
It is obvious to state that the new estates have been provided with tarred roads, water and electricity supply. Similarly, other estates constructed by previous administrations which includes Buhari estate, Shagari and state low cost estates, Ben Kalio, Don Eteibet, Sani Daura Ahmed Waziri Ibrahim, Bukar Abba Ibrahim, Obasanjo and Nya-Nya estates all benefitted from roads construction and solar panel street lights by the Gaidam administration thereby providing beauty and security in these estates.
The just completed 300 housing units at the Gujba-Maiduguri road by pass in Damaturu, which are yet to be occupied will further provide another segment of the society with relief and, taste of decent accommodation in the state capital.
Similarly, the construction of 39 doctors’ quarters in the hospitals is a major feat and good incentive that will attract doctors to the state and to boost healthcare delivery in a growing urban state capital like Damaturu.
Therefore, the investment of about N7 billion to provide 1,110 houses to the people by the Yobe state government, is indeed a worthy investment that addresses housing, a major challenge to human life even in developed economies. Civil servants in the state now retire as proud house owners that they paid for with little or no stress courtesy of the Gaidam administration housing policy.
As we face the problem of insurgency with the attendant migration consequences, many families that migrated into Damaturu had had some sense of relief as they settled with their relations in the various housing estates in the state capital. This provided them with sense of relief and security while on the other hand, government was able to reach out and identify such people with ease for assistance. The Gaidam housing policy has no doubt changed the trend and usual practice with retired civil servants who were forced to relocate back to villages due to lack of accommodation even when they have potentials to contributing to the socio-economic development of the state.
Certainly, the lives of civil servants and other private individuals who benefitted from the housing policy in Yobe state have attained another level of human development. We are indeed proud of this policy and, administration. We have seen an effective and realistic housing policy at work which can be a role model to solving housing problems in the country and, to meet this basic necessity for human existence.
Aisha Al-Ameen wrote in 3B Bra-Bra Housing Estate, Damaturu