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Delay in land acquisition hinders FG’s diaspora city project take off in states

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Two years after the Federal Government finalised plan to develop diaspora cities across the country, the authorities are hitting brick walls in acquiring the needed lands for the project.

Known as Nigerian Diaspora Housing Programme (NIDHOP), the project promoted by the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) came up in March 2017. The initiative is meant to meet the housing needs of Nigerians in diaspora but also provide another non-oil cash inflow of FOREX, of at least $10 billion yearly into the nation’s economy.

FHA’s Diaspora City is also designed to provide a secured and sustainable home ownership for Nigerians that are living and working outside the country and workers in Nigerian Diplomatic Missions.

The project was packaged under a tripartite partnership arrangement with the Federal Housing Authority as project developers, Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing (FMPW&H) as project facilitators and Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) as project promoters.

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Based on the design, the project was scheduled into two phases and would have kicked off in 2017 with the (Phase I) in Abuja, Lagos, Benin and Port Harcourt, while the (Phase II) slated for Enugu, Kaduna, Asaba and Ibadan / Otta was to be developed in 2018.

Statistics show Nigerians in the diaspora remitted $21 billion to the country in 2012 with those in the United States of America sending in the highest of about $12.26 billion and UK, $7.76 billion. They also remitted about  $16.93 billion into the economy, in 2013, and repatriated the sum of $35 billion in 2016; an amount, which some experts say, is more than the revenue from the nations’ oil sector.

Regrettably, majority of such funds have been lost back home to swindlers, who often times are relations of the victims, in the name of building houses for them in Nigeria.

According to sources, the process of acquiring land for the housing development has been so slow thus, hindering the smooth take off of the housing projects in the selected states.

The source further revealed that,  “the project is still on course, we intended to site that project in Abuja around Maitama section II. The process of getting land and the title is not an easy thing. You can’t just go and start building when the title hasn’t been properly acquired. A lot of works has to go into the project and we have started making in-roads.”

“The one for Lagos is going to occupy a large expanse of land somewhere around Badagry. For Benin, we are in the process of acquiring the land.  The authority is working expediently on the project and putting all necessary things into place before getting the investors into it. Titles is not something that could be done immediately, it takes time.”

The Guardian learnt that the construction funds for the project are being sourced from both local and off shore funds. The off shore facility are being considered from China, Europe and some American investors while, the FHA is in discussions with about six local investors in Nigeria. Two of which are commercial banks.

It was revealed that individual payment options to be available to the Nigerian Diasporas interested in the project include, outright purchase of the property by any member of the Diaspora who is capable and willing to take such an option. While this option may not be popular, the second option is called Tranch-Payment in which the buyer pays in four installments of 25:35:30:10; over the construction period of the project.

“Third option is the most popular which is that of creating mortgage on the properties selected by individual Diasporan. Under this option a primary mortgage bank is appointed to off-take the houses on behalf of the interested persons, then create a mortgage payment plan for the allottees to serve. The option paves way for long tenure and secured possession.”

The project is expected to start with four house types -flats, duplexes, terraces and bungalows while the scope per site is 200 hectares on 50 hectares neighborhood. The completion period would vary from 16 to 36 weeks.

Part of the proposed housing estate will comprise of 1,120 housing units comprising 560units of two bedroom semi-detached bungalows and 560 unit of three bedroom detached bungalow among others.

The total project cost including building, infrastructure and project administration is estimated at over N12billion. The price for each unit would be arrived at when other costs such as, lands are added up.

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