The act of government intervening in issues that affect the well-being of its citizens is commendable, vital and critical. As seen in previous special interventions projects in some sectors of the economy, examples, the CBN Intervention Fund, Small and Medium Scale Enterprise [SMSE], intervention funds in the Health Sector, Entertainment Sector and many others, have not brought the desired expectations it had envisaged for the growth of the Nigerian society.
Amongst other sectors of the economy, it is quite unfortunate that the housing sector may not have experienced such aid as it is one of the core essentials of the development of the human mind. Housing plays an important role in the lives of the masses of a community and growth of the country’s economy.
As it is in the present and past, the country is one of other African countries affected by the 89 billion dollars annually lost through illicit financial flows.
In the past nineteen years of recovery efforts, embezzled funds recovered from past public office holders and hidden in foreign bank accounts, approximately not less than 6.5 billion dollars have failed to address the lack of development. It may be said that the funds might not have been channeled properly to where they are really needed or landed in wrong hands. Management of these funds has remained doubtful and the long term impact remains controversial.
These recoveries made have failed to make the desired impact as it has failed to bridge the infrastructural gap as the country still needs about 300 billion dollars to improve the essentials of life like transportation, security, housing, health amongst others.
This has greatly widened the gap between the rich and poor as visible in the lack of adequate infrastructures, inadequate electricity supply, lack of improvement in the education sector, high rate of insecurity, limited health care access. All these have led to low standard of living of most Nigerians especially those living in slums.
Statistics shown by the World Data Lab estimate that 43 percent of Nigerians live below poverty, that is, less than 1.9 dollars per day. Many in this category are poor and living in unhealthy environments.
As part of other stolen funds that were recovered, some days ago, the Nigerian government announced the return of 4.2 million Pounds loot linked to former governor of Delta state, James Ibori. It is said that the previous recovered embezzled funds may have been tied to projects as it is believed that the country entered into an agreement with the World Bank to ensure that these funds are channeled to projects that will be beneficial to the Nigerian masses or disbursed the said funds directly to the needy and vulnerable families but, under the supervision of the National Social Investment Office.
This is where the government should think of the housing sector to be a beneficiary to the recently recovered funds linked to Ibori. To this effect, the government should come up with more housing intervention schemes added to what it already has on ground that will see to the development of decent affordable housing to relieve the major burden affecting many poor families in the country. Doing this would mean that the government is double living up to the Memorandum of Understanding entered with the World Bank by investing in more projects and affecting positively the lives of the poor and needy in the country.
Housing bodies who are into various housing development projects need to be partnered with to accelerate the housing development plans they have. Housing bodies like the Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria [REDAN] housing initiative tagged ‘Rural Urban Housing Initiative’ [RUHI] 774, targeted at developing decent affordable housing in all the 774 local government areas in the country, should be embraced and look for ways through which this laudable initiative is achieved. Aside seeing to the development of housing in rural areas, this project will improve the creation of more job opportunities as it will positively affect other sectors of the economy.