Being the most populous nation in Africa, Nigeria is confronted with severe housing challenges as its predominantly low and middle income earners do not have access to qualitative housing. With a population of about 200 million and 35% of this figure dwelling in cities, it is apparent that the problem is burdensome. However, it must be acknowledged that even in developed nations, there are still some pockets of homeless people. Housing challenge is, therefore, universal in nature, though with variations from nations to nations.
Quite understandably, provision of affordable housing is a foremost part of the Babajide Sanwo-Olu Administration’s T.H.E.M.E.S Developmental Agenda in Lagos State. With the various innovative strategies it has put in place, thus far, the Sanwo-Olu Administration has, no doubt, made appreciable strides in the housing sector.
The last two years, the state government has strengthened its efforts to realise the housing programmes by completing and delivering various schemes across the state.
This includes 360 home units in Igbogbo, Ikorodu, 252 home units at the Lagos State Affordable Housing Scheme, Idale, Badagry, 84 home units, in LagosHoms, Lekki, Phase 2,132 home units at the BRF Housing Estate, Iponri, Surulere, 120 home units at Courtland Villas, Igbokushu, Lekki and 360 home units at the Lateef Kayode Jakande Housing Estate, Igando.
Similarly, four housing schemes are already completed and are ready for habitation. They are located in Odo Onosa Ayandelu, Agbowa, Magodo/Omole, Gbagada and Ibeshe. In all, a total of 14 schemes have been completed in the last two years, thus making available over 7,000 affordable housing units for Lagosians to access.
It is cheering to note that the government is not resting on its oars as it is determined to break new grounds. Therefore, it is currently working on other housing projects, totaling 21 schemes, which are being developed through budgetary allocation as well as joint ventures. Going by the current momentum, by the end of 2023, the Sanwo-Olu administration would have delivered 35 housing schemes to further close the huge deficit in the sector.
The homes being delivered are for both the low and high net worth individuals in highbrow and low-income settlements, including Igando, Igbokushu, Lekki, Badagry, Igbogbo, Odo-Onosa/Ayandelu, Agbowa, Sangotedo, Epe, Ilubirin, Epe and Egan-Igando.
The main goal is to ensure that the housing deficit in the state is bridged as much as possible. Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s desire is to see more residents of the state own homes and he has put in several strategies to ensure this becomes a reality. That is the secret of the success, thus far. Presently, the government is partnering multinational development partners for the construction of mass housing estates across the state.
Successes recorded, thus far, do not come by accident. It is a product of conscientious thinking and carefully thought out strategies. From the outset, the government set out strategies that would ensure the realisation of its targets. The first strategy was to complete all inherited housing projects from the past administrations in order to consolidate on the gains of the past and have a quick win which will translate to more dividends for the people.
Many of the projects had been put on hold for over four years. Some had exceeded the project life span, thereby requiring extensive modifications and variations. Suffice to say that, this plan was also to curtail the unwarranted wastage which would have resulted from continued abandonment of such housing projects.
The second plan was to activate the Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) schemes, which were already in existence. This helps in reducing direct governmental expenditure, thereby releasing more funds for bridging other infrastructural gaps. While the government provides unencumbered land for these investors, the onus then lies on the partner to build according to given and agreed-upon specifications within a time limit.
Also worthy of note is the introduction of an eco-friendly accommodation, through a joint venture arrangement with Echostone Nigeria, to utilize less energy for cooling and heating, thereby ensuring sustainability of the environment. The first phase of the estate, which comprises 252 two bedrooms in Idale, Badagry, was recently commissioned by Mr. Governor. The initiative is also being extended to Imota and Ayobo areas of the state respectively.
Similarly, work is also due to commence on the Workers’ Village, Ishefun, Ayobo-Ipaja, with 608 two-bedroom flats as well as the Workers Village at Imota with 501 homes comprising 2 bedrooms and three bedrooms flats.
Concerted efforts have also been made to strengthen the government’s “Rent-to-Own” policy, thus making more residents on the homeownership ladder. This scheme enables an allottee to pay only 5% as initial payment with the rest spread over a period of 10 years with a minimal interest of 6%. On January 30, 2020, apartments’ keys were handed over to 492 beneficiaries of the administration’s rent-to-own housing scheme at the Lateef Kayode Jakande Housing Estate, Igando.
To sustain the plan, the government is actively driving cluster arrangements via Cooperatives to satisfy the yearnings of as many people as possible in this bracket. This group is accommodated through the ‘Rent to Own’ Scheme which is a unique way of increasing affordability.
Effective mortgage funding at a reasonable interest rate to reduce the high cost of funding for housing is also part of the current administration’s policy considerations. In addition, encouragement is being given to research into the use of local building materials to reduce the cost of building. In this way, the issue of affordability is being resolved, while also energizing the local economy through reduced import cost.
Cheeringly, the state’s efforts at bridging the housing deficit equally have a job creation component. Besides the main and sub-contractors, numerous artisans, labourers, suppliers and food vendors are also effectively engaged and earning a living from these projects.
On the whole, the government housing policy is being tailored towards a more integrated and fully incorporated synergy for the total benefit of the people. With this, location of housing schemes, either in rural or urban parts of the state, will soon be inconsequential in making choice of homes, especially with multimodal means of transportation being embarked upon by the current administration.
The progress in the Housing sector in the last two years, no doubt, affirms the commitment of the Sanwo-Olu’s administration to drastic reduction in housing deficit, which will in turn fulfill the attainment of realizing a 21st Century economy.
However, in order to achieve sustainability of the various housing initiatives of the government, all beneficiaries are enjoined to play their part by ensuring good maintenance of the houses as well as remit their financial obligations to the government as at when due. This would not only open doors of opportunity for others yet to benefit, but will also motivate the government to do more for the residents.
Ogunrinde is of the Features Unit, Ministry of Information and Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja