President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday said the present administration would revolutionalise the country’s housing sector to make houses accessible to Nigerians irrespective of their socio-economic status.
Jonathan stated this at a one-day Presidential Stakeholders’ Retreat at the Presidential Banquet hall, Abuja. He said already, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) had approved National Housing Policy and National Urban Development Policy in June to facilitate speedy transformation of the housing sector.
“These policies are to be translated into action through a roadmap for the housing and urban development sector. The roadmap will address the challenges of achieving a housing revolution in our nation within the shortest possible time. It will also provide the path way for transforming our cities into livable and functional human settlements.
“This retreat will provide us with such opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to the revitalisation of the housing and urban development sector. We believe that through the pooling of resources and talents, we can meaningful address the impediments to the growth of the sector.”
He noted that inequitable access to land for housing development, inadequacy of housing in view of the national housing deficit estimated at about 16 to 17 million units had remained a critical challenge to all stakeholders in the sector.
“If the deficit is to be bridged, we must continue to seek ways to provide affordable housing, especially to non-income, low income, lower middle income and the informal sector worker. A variety of housing delivery scheme, including social housing, rental schemes, regeneration and housing corporations must be evaluated.”
Jonathan, therefore, challenged the participants to devise means of meeting the global benchmarks in housing, building standard, proper land use, and space standard as well as the institutionalisation of a vibrant mortgage system, based on long-term repayment terms.
The president also urged them to focus their attention on how to overcome the issue of human capacity gaps, poor quality of building materials, inappropriate technologies and dearth of technological innovations in support of mass housing delivery.
He stated that government on its part would continue to develop satellite towns across the country as well as check unplanned developments in the cities. Jonathan said that government would also continue to place emphasis on good urban governance, regeneration of unplanned and old cities, as well as proper planning of urban spaces.
He stressed the need for increased investment by the private sector in the development of infrastructural facilities in cities. He said the Federal Government would continue to partner with international and multilateral agencies to revitalise the housing and urban development sector.
"With our phenomenal urban growth rate placed as one of the fastest in the world, I cannot but emphasise the need for increased investments in infrastructure in our cities. Funding mass housing delivery and promoting functional, dynamic and green cities would require the injection of more funds to the urban and regional development sector.
“Since government resources are limited, I urge you, through this medium, to consider all available options for sustainable funding of the sector. I would like to emphasise that we will continue our policy of engaging the private sector to play a more dominant role in the housing sector.”
According to him, government is committed to recapitalising the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria, strengthening the Federal Ministry of Land, Housing and Urban Development and the Federal Housing Authority. He said other institutions of government in the building industry would also receive equal attention.
In her remark, the Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Ms Amal Pepple, observed that Nigeria required a minimum of an additional one million housing units annually to reduce the national deficit of about 17 million housing units.
She stressed the need for the development of a new town in each of the six geo-political zones of the country as well as the creation of linkages between existing towns and cities for the achievement of a constellation of cities that would be economically linked through the provision of adequate infrastructure.
Pepple, who described housing as a veritable tool for poverty reduction, said the issues of climate change needed to be addressed in order to mitigate the effects of increasing natural and man-made disasters, which to her, had more profound effects on urban settlements globally.