Convener of the 2023 Shelter Conference, Arc. Cecilia Atohengbe last Monday in Benin, called for a combination of efforts amongst stakeholders in the public and private sectors to solve Nigeria’s housing problems.
She urged for increased Public Private Partnership (PPP), especially with the continuous rise in figures of housing deficits every year. “This could be model to improve housing provision in Edo State and Nigeria as a whole”, she said.
The conference aims to bring together housing stakeholders to network and discuss on ways to improve housing conditions in the country.
While speaking with journalists, Arc. Atohengbe, also said the reason attention or more efforts should be made on ensuring increase in housing stock, is the continuous rise in the number of housing deficits.
“Housing problems cannot be solved by one person alone, we have to come together to solve these problems, she said.
“The figures (housing deficit) keep growing every year.
“As we speak now, we are having between 22-28 million housing deficits. Three, four years ago, we heard of 17 million and later heard of 21 million, where exactly are we going?
“The bulk of these needs is the average Nigerian who earns an income that can barely take him home. The income is something that cannot even pay for their house rent, let alone buy a house. So, you have a lot of people living in shanties, slums and places you cannot be described as a home”, Arc. Atohengbe said.
Revealing how this problem can be solved, she said the target for solutions should encompass everyone, including those in the private sector and self employed, not just civil servants.
“How do we solve these problems within the income bracket of what these people have? She asked.
“Most times, when we talk about housing, we concentrate on civil servants who are actually comfortable, compared to other sets of persons. There are a lot of people that if you put them beside the civil servants, you will call the civil servant a big man. So, the civil service is also a percentage of persons compared to the number of people that need homes.
“The woman selling garri in the market, the young man hawking on the streets, the old man that sells to feed the family, they hawk today to feed and the next day they go out again to work and eat for that day.
“The problem is huge and that’s the reason we have a lot of criminality in the country, a lot of fraud because, people want to survive. There’s a desperation to survive and if we can create solutions, we will reduce criminality, we will have better houses and societies. We will reduce corruption and children will grow in better serene environments. That’s what we are pushing for.
She said one of the solutions that have been designed is the opportunity for low income earners to have their own houses. According to her, it’s a scheme similar to rent -to-own where in her words, “anyone who earns ₦40,000 per month can own a home and pay in twelve months”. You don’t have to be in the civil service or work in a company to achieve this.
“You don’t need to have a bank account, hence you have an osusu to show that you are earning money, you can have your own home. The system protects you from loss of job. Whether you are in the public or private sector or self employed, if your income is affected, you don’t have any problem because, the system protects you from that.
She applauded the Edo State government for being supportive of the goal of the conference to provide over 300, 000 houses in the state.
“Our target is Edo State for now. Any house within the boundaries of the state, whether in urban or rural areas, as far as they have genuine papers and documentation, it can be packaged for these products.
“Due to the long processes it take to get government approval, we have arranged for a short term solution where we can get lands directly from the communities with the required Certificate of Occupancy (CoO).
“We are also trying to get the government to subsidise lands so that the cost of the buildings will come down. Our target is to construct three bedroom apartments for not more than 10 million naira, with good infrastructure. The project does not plan to depend on the government for infrastructure.”, she added.
The theme of the Shelter Conference isAffordable Housing,