Mr. Umaru Gonto, is the acting Managing Director/Chief Exective of Federal Housing Authority (FHA)and Legal practitioner. In this interview with Mashe Umaru Gwamna, he spoke on how the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration is embarking on Abuja Mass Housing project and social housing project, to provide accommodations for low and non-income earners (vulnerable) earners in the country. He also spoke on the Diaspora city project. Excerpts:
Sir, what are the major challenges FHA is facing in its mass housing project?
One of the major challenges we are having is funding. Let me be sincere with you, we intend to do a lot of projects but we are limited with funding. For now, government has opened a window for mass housing projects in Abuja; that’s the Abuja Mass Housing project. The Abuja Mass Housing project we just visited at Zuba, is the pilot project, FHA is working on.
Also, we intend to extend it to other sites. We are already doing the procurement process of Bwari, and we are also trying to access our land which is being processed with the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA)at Lugbe. You are aware that we already have Lugbe Federal Housing, but additional one for Lugbe Phase 2 has been granted to us,so we are build another mass housing there.
Apart from these, we are building another one in Kwali but we are not calling it Mass Housing. The project will be called Social Housing for the vulnerable; that is, the low income and non income earners. The provisions of those houses in Kwali is targeted at them (vulnerable people).
We also intend to collaborate and involve all security agencies because of the situation of the site. We have been talking to Immigration, Civil Defence, Road Safety Corps to be our off takers at our kwail project.
Abuja mass housing we intend to established it eventually in all the zones of the country. We have just done proposal to the Minister of Works and Housing, after the last inspection he did of our Zuba Project .
He was of the view that, we need to replicate such project as Zuba. He was very excited about the success story there and got carried away by the housing projects he saw and said there is need to do such in the 6 (six)geo -political zones of the country.
We have done a proposal which we have submitted to the minister during his first tenure and repeated it again now that he has come for his second term.
Now that the minister has come back for second tenure and with the new minister that came to visit the Zuba site, we have given him a copy of that proposal again to him. We are targeting to start with six(6) state for now,and eventually reach out to all the states (36). Meanwhile, for Abuja mass housing, we have three(3)sites already, once we finished Zuba, Bwari is the next, then Lugbe.
Sir, can you expatiate more on the low and non -income social housing project?
Yes, we also intend to do another one in Kwali ,we are not called it mass housing but Social housing .
Apart from the mass housing that we said we are already doing, there is also a window in FHA that attracts social housing. By social housing, we intend to get to low and non-income at all of the society.
We have been approaching them through cooperative societies, organisations not necessary government organisations and even individuals that have cooperatives.
For instance, Spear Market Dealers, Buildings Materials Markets Dealers, all other cooperatives, even tailors, mechanics cooperatives can come to FHA and approach the Department of Cooperative Housing for that .
Already, we have been speaking with a lot of stakeholders that wants us to come and assist in this our social housing. The social housing project like I said takes care of low and non income earners.
This social housing is a role given to us by National Housing Policy(NHP), with a specific role given to FHA to perform in addition to what we are doing. We can also intervene to make sure that apart from the low income earners, we take care of Medium and High income earns that’s for our project in Apo Guzape is targeted at the high income because these are blocks of luxury flats and duplexes apart from that,we have (3)three plexes in Apo, all in the FCT.
Again,for this social housing,different cooperatives are being reached out to, depending on how organized those cooperatives and their contributions are. Also, when they come in, there is a primary mortgage bank called FHA mortgage bank that has been going to Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN),to access money under the National Housing Fund (NHF). Once you are a contributor to the NHF you can always reach out to our FHA mortgage bank to help access the house paid by structuring and repayment through mortgage.
How can the non -income get the housing without contributions ?
The social housing Programme is actually a programme of the government and in every society, it is the responsibility of the government to provide such type of houses to its citizens and those people of low income are Nigerians too and they are entitled to that .
For example, the FHA has an Estate in Lagos called Isheri-olofin we made provisions of low income people that have health challenges. For the physically challenged , we have provision for them at about 10(Ten)of the units which were given to them free of charge through their association; these are the no -income kind of group we are targeting .
Sir, what about the Diaspora city project?
Diaspora City Project is a project that is a key project undertaken by FHA under this administration of president Muhammadu Buhari. In this project, we are liaising with Nigeria Diaspora Commission, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation(SGF) and another office working with Diasporans.
We have gotten the land from FCDA, about 750 heters of land which we named Maitama 2. But the actually name of village is Kabusu, close to Mpape in the FCT .
The land has been given to FHA, we have the right of occupancy, payment have been made and waiting for the certificate of occupancy. Layout approval has been granted to FHA and awaiting the Land-use approval. Also, one of the clauses has been approved but waiting for the remaining clauses to be approved. The moment we get that approval from FCDA, we are good to go. We intend to commence work before the end of the year .
Meanwhile, we are doing some road shows talking to Diasporans home and abroad.
It is not only in Abuja that the Diaspora city is located, FHA is trying to reach out to their sites located in Benin, Port-court, Kano, Enugu and Lagos.
How much are diasporans injecting in this project to boost economy ?
Honestly, it is in the neighborhood of billions of dollars because you can see how massive that project is. Apart from Abuja, we are doing it all over the country as I told you before and I have mentioned four other sites in the country for the project to attract Diasporans from the experiences they had before.
When we interacted with them, they have always been shortchange. When they send money to their relations to build houses for them, they end up not achieving what they have plan for over the years .
So we felt that will be the safest way to interject and assists diasporans to own their houses directly from government and not individuals. With that, we can provide succor to our people abroad. More so,that money will come in billions of dollars,I don’t have the actual figure but like I said,the economy will benefit very well from the project