Saturday, 2nd December 2023

Operators set agenda for housing minister, list benefits of new ministry

By Chinedum Uwaegbulam
21 August 2023   |   5:27 am
Following demerging of the Federal Ministry Housing and Urban Development, professional bodies and an advocacy group are canvassing that institutional framework for effective housing delivery and urban management at all tiers of government be stabilised...

Ahmed Dangiwa

Following demerging of the Federal Ministry Housing and Urban Development, professional bodies and an advocacy group are canvassing that institutional framework for effective housing delivery and urban management at all tiers of government be stabilised, empowered and strengthened to effectively discharge their respective duties.

They said the creation of the ministry is evidence of the Federal Government’s resolve to tackle the intractable problem of housing and urban development frontally. The benefits will be the deployment of professional knowledge and experience to solving problems facing the sector.

It will also enhance focus and prioritisation of housing and urban development, whereby achievable targets could be set and realised. It will assist Nigeria to fully join the league of progressive nations, as well as improve the image of the country in fulfilling some of the treaties signed through bilateral and multilateral agreements.

The bodies – Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP), Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA) and Housing Development Advocacy Network (HDAN) lauded the government for separating the works and housing ministry and appointing Ahmed Dangiwa as the minister.

“The housing sector seems to be placed at a disadvantaged position relative to works and infrastructure, which gulp quite a substantial amount of money and often prioritised ahead of housing due to its effect on people,” according to NIA President, Enyi Ben-Eboh.

For NITP President, Mr. Nathaniel Atebije, the major challenge was engagement of non-professionals to manage affairs of the ministry, “people have always believed that the position of the minister is administrative because he would take decisions based on the recommendations from experts in the ministry. Without knowledge of the profession, he can be misled into making wrong decisions.”

He said it was purely a factor of ignorance that has been responsible for poor coordination and execution of infrastructural projects in the country. “Planning must precede development or else development would lose rationality and relevance. Therefore, the step taken this time is both corrective and evidence of sending signals of hope to the people of Nigeria,” he said.

Atebije observed that lack of physical planning is the source of most of the problems ranging from overwhelming episodes of ill-health to security, poor educational performance, poor investment opportunities, as well as economic and social problems.

With the new ministry, there were high expectations among the organisations. Town planners are looking forward to improved housing policies and their implementation; engagement of indigenous professionals and artisans to effectively participate in design, implementation of housing and urban development programmes and plans, as well as enhancement of the delivery of affordable housing schemes.

“We also look forward to quick adoption of the National Physical Planning Standards, which have been under consideration of the ministry, as well as adequate deployment of political will and funding for housing and urban development projects,” Atebije said.

Planners also want the minister to set up structures to provide and implement national, as well as and regional development plans with a view to harmonising and efficiently harnessing resources of each geo-political zone under a national development framework.

They also advocate creation of a platform for seamless respect, cooperation and collaboration within and between all the professionals in the built environment to minimise wrangling that pervades them currently and updating, as well as formalising the adoption and implementation of the Nigerian Building Code.

Similarly, they want the creation of an agency to collect, analyse statistics of housing with the aim of assessing the deficit in quantity and quality of housing to serve as the basis for effective planning and implementation of housing policy.

The architects expect the minister to hit the ground running by itemising measurable deliverables towards providing access to more houses through various initiatives, such as enabling the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) and various private sector led property development entities to have access to adequate funding for housing delivery.

“There is also the need to upscale access to mortgages for housing delivery through mortgage institutions such as the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN), which he once headed as Managing Director, in addition to other Primary Mortgage Banks for a wide spectrum of the populace and create an enabling environment for investment in housing delivery to thrive,” Ben-Eboh said.

HDAN President, Festus Adebayo, said in the last 10 years, the sector hasn’t gotten the required attention, especially in the area of data. “As we all know, the exact data for the housing deficit is still in silos. Notwithstanding, the housing deficit has increased tremendously without any commiserate effort by the government to solve the problem,” he said.

He said the minister should exploit the opportunity of developing cooperative housing and come up with a committee to address mortgage sector problems, saying, “Mortgage development will help create hope for our youths, who have plans of leaving the country as a result of losing interest in the country.”

Adebayo urged the minister to identify professionals in the sector, estate developers with excellent reputation and record of performance to deliver mega cities in the different geo-political zones.

“There’s also a need to empower the agencies under the ministry as some are under-performing due to lack of enabling environment and appropriate laws in delivering their services.

“He needs to work with the National Assembly to implement laws that will attract investments in the real estate sector. He should single handedly lead the building of made in Nigeria houses models that will make Nigerians to know that it is possible to have made in Nigeria Houses, even if the input is just 80 per cent,” he added.