Nigeria can reposition its 17million estimated housing deficits to a buoyant source of economic prosperity if the National Housing Fund (NHF) and the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) can be well funded to provide affordable homes, according to the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola.
Speaking during a housing stakeholders meeting at the weekend in Abuja, the former Lagos State governor said the previous government policies on mass housing as well as the policy of the National Housing Scheme suffered setback due to poor sustainability plan.
“It is true that we have a national housing deficit, and while some choose to engage themselves by discussing about the size of the deficit, we choose to engage ourselves by doing something about the deficit,” he said.
“This is because every building we start and ultimately complete is a blow to the size of the deficit which no amount of talk can inflict.
“We understand that every nation has a housing deficit and the bigger the size of the population, the size of the growth rate and the size of the urbanization rate, the bigger the size of the deficit.
“But while we commit to the national policy of delivering affordable housing, we must look at short, medium and intermediate streams of opportunities for employment, productivity, skill development, restoration of dignity of our people which lie within the housing delivery value chain.”
Fashola stated further that with the new policy which the current government had formulated, through national housing concept, design and now pilot stage implementation, it had created opportunities for 653 contractors, 13,680 direct jobs and 41,000 indirect jobs at its early stage.
Calling for a repeat of this program annually beyond the federal level but also at the states, he said, “If we do this and also successfully implement the housing cooperatives, leverage on private sector capacity, strengthen FHA and FMBN to play their roles, we will be creating a housing economy that will irreversibly and positively transform our nation forever.
“Not only will we be addressing one of the problems of urbanization, we will unleash the capacity to build for inclusion, for growth and prosperity.
“In this way, the size of the deficit of housing will become an economic opportunity of immense proportions rather than a social burden to be scared of.”