Experts urge government to match rhetoric with action
Flustered by the increasing housing deficit in Nigeria, put at about 20 million, experts have harped on the need for government to go beyond rhetoric in providing homes for the people.
They specifically urged authorities to see issue of housing as fundamental right of the people by increasing the budgetary provision for the industry and creating the enabling environment that would double existing housing stock and reduce homelessness in the country.
Access to housing is a positive legal obligation that requires states to devise and implement within its resources, a well-coordinated plan toward expanding citizen’s access to adequate housing. However, overtime there has been a gap between fulfilling this policy by authority as a matter of human right.
Speaking on the how to promote the right to housing for Nigerians in Lagos, an associate professor at the University of Lagos, Dr. Taibat Lawanson said the multiplicity of factors inhibiting effective housing development and delivery in Nigeria include, the lack of secure access to land, high cost of construction, limited access to finance, bureaucratic procedures, high cost of land registration and titling as well as uncoordinated policies by the government. This she said needs to be resolved by the federal government to cater for housing requirement of Nigerians irrespective of class or tribe.
The Executive Director, Social and Economic Rights Action Center (SERAC), Felix Morka observed that the international human rights standards provide a foundation for citizens and women’s rights related to housing, land and natural resources (HLNR), but substantial legal, structural and social barriers continue to prevent the people from enjoying substantive equality in relation to these rights.
He said as part of efforts to promote home accessibility, authorities must reduce the stress in processing land documents in both formal and informal centres, stressing that more than 60per cent of people in those areas lacks necessary document due to undue stress and delays in the process.
He also said there is need to develop a process for land banking in order to have a know of lands that are available for development adding that issues of forceful eviction of people from their natural settlement without providing an alternative for them by authorities must be addressed to strengthen right to housing.
“A situation where people in informal and water communities are forcefully evicted and their land taken over by the government for expensive housing projects which they wont be able to afford is not good for the housing system.”Morka asked government to ensure proper monitoring of awarded housing projects to curb corruption especially in cases where housing projects would be awarded by government and would never be delivered by contractors who sometimes connive with the politicians
The executive director spaces for change, Victoria Ohaneria said it is not enogh for social and economic rights provisions to be contained in the constitution rather human rights like right to housing could only have serious meaning to the people when they are enforced, claimed by people at the lower cadre of the social and economic ladder. Ohaneria charged government to mitigate the stress of illegal displacement of people, shun forceful eviction and institute a process that would provide alternative for those sent out from where they have lived over time.
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