Nigerian workers, home seekers and offtakers, numbering about 300 made up of staff of the Voice of Nigeria (VON) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) of Nigeria, FCT Chapter in Abuja voted Yes in a voice vote, to affirm that President Muhammadu Buhari should declare a state of emergency in the housing sector for the benefit of Nigerian workers and citizens.
This historic vote was made at a Town Hall Meeting, with the theme Value Chain Offtakers Affordability Strategy for Affordable Housing Delivery for Nigerian Workers, jointly organized by the Director General of the Voice of Nigeria (VON), Mr. Osita Augustine Okechukwu; TUC President, Comrade Bobboi Bala Kaigama; and the Chairman of Value Chain Project Consultants Ltd, a home ownership offtakers affordability expert, Dr. Joshua Aloaye Egbagbe.
The interactive meeting sought government’s support for funding mortgage loans and guarantees for affordable housing finance, at par with the National Housing Fund (NHF) Mortgage Loan Interest of 6%, operated by the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN).
The DG of VON informed the gathering that VON management is to partner TUC and Value Chain Project Consultants Ltd to secure development finance from local and foreign partners to commence construction of houses for staff in two locations, Abuja and Lagos, where it has land.
Okechukwu tied the provision of affordable housing to workers’ welfare and loyalty of workers to their employers.
He assured, “We have made available 20 hectares of land in Lugbe within the Federal Capital Territory in the first phase. We took time to hold series of meetings before we got to this stage.
“I want to assure you that when the planning stage is completed within the next few weeks, we will commence activities towards construction of the houses; and Mr. President will commission the project.”
According to him, the project is in line with the president’s agenda for the welfare of the Nigerian worker and the party’s manifesto.
He commended Value Chain Project Consultants Ltd for its innovative concept of designing data-driven and transparent worker-responsive strategies for affordable housing delivery for workers.
The TUC president, Comrade Bobboi Kaigama, revealed that FMBN and other stakeholders, had advanced in plans to sponsor the delivery of affordable housing in a national pilot scheme, in two states per geo-political zone.
He said workers’ monthly contributions to the FMBN had hit N2 billion, with the new FMBN management committed to assisting workers with mortgage loans to purchase their own homes, at 6% interest rates.
He lambasted past policies of government which foisted institutions that charged high mortgage interest loans of 15% or more instead of strengthening NHF mortgage loan window at a more worker–compliant single digit interest rate.
Previous efforts to build houses for workers failed mainly because they did not take time to plan for the workers’affordability strength, Kaigama observed; a problem that the Value Chain Project Consultants Ltd would eliminate.
In his Keynote address, the chairman of Value Chain Project Consultants Ltd, Egbagbe applauded the doggedness and passionate advocacy for affordable housing for Nigerian workers of the TUC president.
He reminded the house that shelter is a basic human necessity, which has even been provided for in Section 26(2d) of the Nigerian Constitution.
Egbagbe traced his research to conceptualize the Offtakers Affordability Strategy to how he suffered from a major mass housing project in Bauchi State, which the state government has not yet exited, and workers cannot afford to easily buy the houses, despite the relatively low prices, due to an affordability mismatch.
The research is with the backing of the German Agency for Development (GIZ) and the Plateau State Government, the pilot research state. The concept with the well developed automation software is the first of its kind in Nigeria.