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Experts seek establishment of National Housing Commission

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As high prices of building materials are threatening construction costs and dampening the hopes of quality homes, stakeholders have reiterated their call for the establishment of a National Housing Commission (NHC), which will set standards to monitor and evaluate housing policy as well as sector in the country.

They made the appeal at the webinar on “The Crisis in Perspective: Affordable Housing Post COVID-19”, organised by a Non-Governmental organization – Housing Development Advocacy Network (HDAN) that witnessed insightful contributions from players in the housing sector and over 350 participants joining from across the globe.
 
The stakeholders said the failure to match the annual increase in households and housing needs with a comparable increase in new homes built as well as its adverse impact on the nation and its citizens has made them to seek for the NHC.

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Former Managing Director, Nigeria Mortgage Refinancing Company (NMRC), Prof. Charles Inyangete who led the advocacy for NHC, noted the need for a NHC that can bring all players in the housing sector together with an intent to defining roles and scope of operation for better efficiency of operations.
 
“We need radical, bold steps to deal with the new world of COVID-19. We are at war and a post war solution is what is required. Funding is critical to fighting that battle in order to win the war. I have in the past proposed a Housing Commission to serve a coordinating role, and evolving the policies, evolving the economic model for housing, Monitoring and Evaluating housing sector performance.” he said.
 
In the same vein, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Family Homes Funds Limited, Femi Adewole, stated that the housing and construction sector has the largest potential for employment after agriculture and there is need to reconstruct the obsolete housing policies to better fit the current reality.
   
In his submission, the Founder of Eximia Realty, Hakeem Ogunniran stated that if the narrative of housing in Nigeria must change. “It is of utmost importance to commoditize housing and create a legal framework that facilitates buying and selling of houses at ease.” He stressed that the industry must of necessity move away from the era of building houses to the era of manufacturing them.

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On his part, the President of the Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria (REDAN), Alhaji Aliyu Wamakko said that housing should be given high priority by, not only the government at all levels. “The private sector, although government must play its role of creating an enabling environment for real estate developers,” he added.

A Professor of Housing at the University of Lagos, Timothy Nubi, stated that most of the solutions to housing in the past were focused on the minority being the working class, but in the present lockdown experience, a vast majority of people living in slums in Lagos and other places could not be locked down as they do not have access to decent housing making the Post COVID-19 a tougher challenge.
  
In his contribution, the former Chief Executive Officer, Ogun State Housing Corporation, Jumoke Akinwunmi who explained that if the various institutions in the housing sector do not have people at heart, then failure could be imminent even after the pandemic as the crises stresses the relationship between housing and health care.

While the immediate past President of REDAN, Ugochukwu Chime, stressed the need for greater synergy and collaboration among key players and institutions in the housing sector and also the need for adequate funding and supervision of such funds for the post COVID-19 era.

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Similarly, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Shelter Afrique, Mr. Andrew Chimphonda commented that on the issue of Africa not being able to meet the aspirations of the United Nations in the area of access to decent housing for Africans even before COVID-19, adding that the rate at which affordable houses are being provided is lower than the rate at which urbanization is taking place and there is need for a commensurate provision of housing, else there would be proliferation of slums even after the pandemic.

“The shortage of housing in Africa is projected at 56million units, if you are to quantify that in generic terms, you will need at least $3trillion to resolve that shortage of housing. So the role of Developmental Financial Institutions (DFI) cannot be the same as a normal financial bank as they must take risks and utilize the capital at its disposal to turn private capital into housing,” he said.
  
Earlier, the webinar moderator, who doubles as HDAN Director, Mr. Festus Adebayo, stated that the housing sector is set to witness a drastic change shortly after the coronavirus pandemic era and it has become imperative to critically examine and predict possible trends with a view to making viable resolutions, hence the webinar.

Adebayo stated that the importance of such insightful webinar cannot be overstated, especially in the wake of the change that is to come upon the global economy and the housing sector after the pandemic, adding that the group would continue to host the webinar monthly, as part of its roles to ensure affordable and decent housing for Nigerians.

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