By Mimidoo Patrick
Dr. Joshua Aloaye Egbagbe Chairman of Value Chain Project Consultants Ltd, Off-takers Affordability, National Strategy for COVID-19 Era Housing Delivery in Nigeria.
He recently interacted with Viewpoint Housing News when he stressed the need for what he termed “low hanging fruit”. He said, that the federal government should create design solutions for low housing problems by taking initiatives for housing projects. He also called for the implementation of the Joshua Plan to address housing shortages in Country. Excerpts:
Viewpoint: With the challenge of COVID-19 in the country, what is your advice to the Nigerian government in ensuring that the housing sector does not suffer setback in this period?
Egbagbe: In my opinion, this is not the time to be talking about post COVID-19. Rather, what the government and stakeholders in the housing sector should be concerned about, is strategizing on how to come up with workable policies on how to remain relevant in the COVID-19 era. This has to be a radical approach involving all key stakeholders in the housing sector.
This is due to the fact that a careful analysis of the COVID-19 pandemic indicates that it might not go away any time soon, it will affect the housing sector a great deal.
Specifically, COVID-19 may last up to two years and of course, when there are no international travels, investors will not be available to invest into the industry.
Viewpoint: What do you think are the practical measures the Government must take to safe guard the housing sector?
Egbagbe: In strategizing, you must have a long term plan that is in line with your goals so that, you can achieve them, irrespective of the circumstances. Therefore, the government must start looking inwards to come up with solutions that are workable in Nigeria, because, what works in the United States of America may work here. The challenges confronting the two countries are different, so, the approach must equally be different.
Like I said earlier, the COVID-19 influence is not going away anytime soon, due to the foundational issues, and this has affected the global economy. At least, until there is a vaccine that will be used to cure the pandemic, before there will be free movement of people and goods. Don’t forget that the housing sector had its challenges before the arrival of the pandemic.
Viewpoint: What should the government do in addressing these housing challenges?
Egbagbe: Stakeholders should begin to look at advocacies that will stimulate the housing sector even before the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. We need to identify our weakest links in the housing sector and do a proper data evaluation. I think the weakest links are the off-takers who are in need of decent houses. There is also the need to carry out an analysis of different Off-takers in the country with a view to planning for them.
Viewpoint: What are the different categories of off-takers?
Egbagbe: The private sector is the worst hit in the whole situation and they are the majority in the country. For instance, in the USA alone, there are over 33million persons who have lost their jobs.
The second category are the state government workers who are going to have payment challenges even when salaries are paid. Their priorities for spending is going to change for obvious reasons, they will not be thinking of how to own a house at the moment.
The fear of this corona virus has made people to think of more about food and medication as critical issues. So, I can say that the spending pattern for workers is going to change in the next one or more years to come.
The third segment are the federal government workers, they will be more stable generally, because of their proximity to the seat of power. So, the federal government, MBAs will have more stability. Why I said they are more stable is because of the regularity of their income, that’s because, they are in control of the other tiers of government. So, they will need to be more stable because, if they collapse, we will all be in trouble.
Nigerians are very optimistic people, they believe that things are going on well. Meanwhile, they are not seeing the hand writing on the wall. Based on that, we are not going to experience stability in the economic and financial sector.
Viewpoint: Are there any form of solutions to these problems?
Egbagbe: My Proposed solutions to the government is that, they should do what I call low ‘hanging fruit’, the housing sector should immediately design solutions on low housing. Hanging fruit means that the federal government needs to take initiatives for housing projects, they should make it a point of priority to get seriously involved in financing and structuring of housing projects. They should get into agreement with FMBN, World Bank, pension administrators, CBN, and so on, to design a special global strategy on what I call the Joshua plan. I call it Joshua plan for two reasons, number one reason is because, my name is Joshua and this is something I’ve been strategizing for the past few years. Number two reason is that, the federal government should create a national housing regulation for every state, of the federation at least, the capital, Abuja. There should be massive housing construction plans driven by the federal government in collaboration with state governments.
The collaboration should be driven by President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that every state has at least 1000 housing unit to be planned for the federation.
Why the Joshua plan needs to be carried out by the government is because, housing has a huge multiplier effect in the socio- economy of Nigeria because, the raw materials for housing come from different industries and sectors of the economy. So, if we carry out the Joshua housing resolution, it will mean that the Nigerian economy which has been affected by covid19 will come alive very fast, compared to what agriculture can do.
Agriculture is mostly farm based and a specialized industry, it’s gives success but housing has a higher stand for more success.
The value chain of housing delivery is relatively interwoven with different value chains of the Nigerian economy.
The Joshua plan for housing will automatically attract development to the industries that supply raw housing materials, the small scale manufacturer that you need for housing input like the welders and plumbers in a nut shell your artisans. This will create massive jobs for labour and small scale industries, this will make the Nigerian economy to develop very fast, not minding the covid 19 era.
Viewpoint: How do we finance it?
Egbagbe: We can draw resources from different sectors to fund the Joshua resolution housing plan. Bank of Industry (BOI) finances most industries, CBN also, has a special intervention fund for small and medium enterprises. We need at least, one trillion for the Joshua resolution housing plan to come to reality.
To fund it, we need to have a strategic value chain, multi sectorial collaboration.
My conclusion to this is that, the Joshua Off-takers Affordability Strategy, is the only way we can succeed in getting the workers to pay for this project. Federal government workers will have to pay from their salaries so that the Joshua Off-takers Affordability Strategy will stand. In other words, to make sure the off-takers will pay for these houses, then, government money will just be like an advanced payment which will be repaid from the salaries of these workers over a period of years to come. This is a long term plan.