By Jummia Abu & Kinsley Chikwendu
Social housing which is a scheme made by the Nigerian government, aimed at the low income earners or those with particular housing needs has been a welcome development to Nigerians especially, going by how the coronavirus pandemic that hit the world exposed the lack of good housing infrastructures the Nigerian masses have been battling with for decades. Viewpoint Housing Media went to the streets of Abuja to get the views of these masses concerning the construction of the 300,000 housing units by the federal government and the National Social Housing Programme [NSHP]. Some of the people spoken to, commended the government while others casted doubts over the credibility of the housing construction.
Speaking to Mohammed Baba, a resident of Nyanya-Mararaba, who lauded the federal government for the housing scheme, called for more commitment from the government to ensure that the goal of the project is achieved.
‘Anything is achievable if the government is fully interested and committed at carrying out such project, he began.
‘The masses are filled with joy that the government initiated this program. People like us that leave around the Nyanya-Mararaba axis, it has not been easy for people that come from such areas to the city centre to work.
‘Also, these environments are not conducive for the crowded population that reside there. I think, with this plan, the low income earners will benefit a lot from it if the government can keep to what they have been saying because, they have made several promises in the past and little have been fulfilled’.
A resident of Airport road, Abuja called Kelechi believed that the housing project is achievable only if the government is sincerely ready to cater for the masses. ‘If the government is not willing to take care of the masses, then, it will be difficult to be achieved. Where we are living in Airport road is really bad and we have tried to manage it because of our understanding of how the nation’s economy is as of today.
‘At the place I’m residing, if you bring someone from the Eastern part of the country where I hail from to come and live with you, he will not. The place is not ideal for someone to live but, we have to manage it because we know that this is not our village where we hail from.
‘I am pleading with the government to look after the well-being of the masses especially in this trying times of the coronavirus pandemic. The government has not achieved anything when it comes to housing, they need to do more.
‘Even the one million houses they promised to develop during their campaign is never achievable, going by their performances so far. They should think about the poor masses because the next elections are coming up soon and we know what to do’.
Kenneth living in New Nyanya, a town in Nasarawa State bordering Abuja was happy that the government could come up with this housing idea. He said that ‘people living in all these Nyanya, Mararaba, Karu, Masaka, name them, we are all suffering. Coming up with this initiative will help the masses a lot.
Daniel from Karmo acknowledged that yes there is leadership that is not doing well in the country. In his words, ‘those that are working with the leadership of this country are the problems we are having. The government have a lot to do in this country, let’s start with food but, if they can fulfil their promises of providing housing for the poor in the country, it will be good’.
Mr Korede Adedeji, a resident of Karamajiji, an outskirt town of Abuja, pleaded for the federal government to consider other areas outside the city when carrying out development activities, saying that ‘the construction of the 300,000 housing units should not be limited to specific areas so that everyone can benefit.
‘It can be achieved if the government will be very transparent in the process and delivery’.
‘Presently, our environments are very dirty with bad drainage systems that need to be really worked on so that everywhere will look clean. The heavy traffic in that area is very worrisome and the government should find a solution to that’.
We also spoke with Dilike Muroma who said that the present housing program will not make a difference. ‘This will not make a difference’, he began.
‘The government had promised to build one million houses every year during their electioneering campaign and it hasn’t been done. What difference will these 300,000 housing units make considering the fact that the country is facing economic problem now and the issue of covid19?
‘The country has not recover from the coronavirus pandemic that took the better part of 2020, is it now the government want to build houses for the low income earners’? He further suggested that the government should provide jobs for the masses first, then the aim of affordable housing will be achieved.
Speaking with Mr Usman, he said that one of the major challenges people face in the country is affordable housing therefore, the housing scheme is a welcome move by the government.
‘The construction of 300,000 housing units that the government has planned is a very good initiative because, one of the major challenges we have in Nigeria is the issue of housing. It will be very beneficial for people to own their own homes close to the city because, people working in the city come from the outskirt of Abuja.
‘Some persons even go far to rent houses, they go as far as Nyanya, Mararaba, some even go to Keffi, Gwagwalada and Suleja. Also, the location where these houses will be built, matters and it will be helpful’.
‘The previous government were full of promises that were not accomplished. This present one is on his second term and he promised to build one million houses every year and he’s building 300,000. I think the government is already working towards their promise and I believe that It’s a nice one on their part’.
Also, in the words of Mr Akim Buka ‘I just want the government to know that there are thousands of people in Abuja who are homeless, many houses in the city are empty. The government should look at these empty houses in the city and do something about them. The government needs to go around Abuja to see the millions of houses that are vacant. After that, they should bring down the prize of houses that the low income earners can afford.
He went further to say that the government should have more control on mortgage banks and create a standard so that the common man can benefit. He said ‘most times, the common man does not benefit from these mortgages, rather, it is the big men that benefit. An ordinary man that does not have anybody finds it difficult to get a loan. Even if you are a civil servant that has a source of income, the loan will not be granted to him or her as far as they do not have anybody in government to assist them’.
‘Even with this portal that the government just lunched for people to apply to get a house, the common man will not still get it. It will be given to the big men. So, the federal government need to do more, by putting the ordinary man into consideration because, a lot people are suffering in this country’.
Speaking with Mr Steven, he said ‘the federal government should first of all, look at the houses around the six area councils, people are suffering. They should change their strategy and carry the common man along’.
Korede Omoyemi, a resident of Karamajiji, Airport road said everywhere in her area which she described as ‘Abuja village’ is dirty and the government need to do something about it. ‘People living in Abuja know themselves but, some of us are living in Abuja village’.
When asked as to what she wants the government to come and do in her area, she said that demolition should not be the case now but, how to make the environment clean should be focused on. ‘It’s not about demolition, the government should seek for ways of making the environment clean like providing good boreholes, roads. The electricity providers are really trying now; we always have power like four times in a week’.
On the issue of the National Social Housing Program, she said ‘it’s a good thing but, the government should make it affordable for people like us who earn so low and struggle to survive so that we can flow with those at the top.
Mr A.K Murima found it hard to believe the government on its promise of constructing the 300,000 housing units and giving them out to the low income earners on a rent to own basis at #10,000 every month. He believed that it may be hijacked by the top brass in the country to the detriment of an average owner whom the project was originally planned for.
‘All these ones, it is them that will build the houses and pay their own. At the end of the day, it may not get to the reach of the poor that the plan was made for’.