Nigeria’s minister of works and housing, Babatunde Fashola has debunked claim that the country has 17-22 million housing deficit, nothing that there are many housing in some parts of the country that are empy and unoccupied.
According to the minister, many of the people sweating for an apartment in the city of Lagos, Aba, Port Harcourt, Abuja, Kaduna, Kano, probably have a 4-bedroom or 5-bedroom bungalow in their village that are empty and unused.
Fashola, who spoke at a webinar organised by Lafarge Africa noted that housing problem arose with rapid urbanisation.
“Quote me, Nigeria does not have a 17-million or a 22-million housing deficit,” the minister said, adding that whatever housing deficit that exist “is an urban problem. So, in most of Nigerian rural areas, they don’t have housing challenges.”
Fashola said housing problem arose with rapid urbanisation. “So, there is demand and supply issue. Now, even in those urban centres, and I’ve travelled to all of Nigerian states by road, there are empty houses, unused houses, unoccupied houses.
“Before we begin to build, the question is have we optimised the ones we have? Why do you have a shortage when you have unused assets?,” Fashola queried.
On his vision for urban housing in the country, the minister said land is a very crucial component in housing development but that it is controlled by the states and not by the federal government.
“Even if all the states government are building, as many of them are, housing is a commodity, so it is something that the private sector can leverage their entrepreneurial skills to deliver,” stating that “in the last four years, the footprint of real estate developers is increasing.”
He said government could strengthen that space by using its monetary and physical policy muscles to make it even more prolific to play in by bringing down the interest rates for lending and borrowing, and longer tenure financing.
He said he is having this discussion with the Minister of Finance Budget and Economic Planning.
He also stated that all the states houses of assembly and the states’ Attorneys General “must rise up to intervene on behalf of their residents by way of rent control,” stating that housing ought to be discussed in terms of ownership and rental.
“Before you get to the ownership ladder, you get to the rental ladder first. But where you have people asking citizens to pay three years’ rent in advance from salaries earned monthly, there is a mismatch and housing can never be affordable,” Fashola said.
Another strategy he discussed with Lafarge was that there was need to change the building method to fit prevailing demand. For instance, people no longer demand 4-bedroom or 5-bedroom houses because they require small spaces and most use showers and not bathtubs.
He advised that proper survey be done before developing a house for it to fit demand.
Fashola advised real estate developers to take into consideration a post-COVID world where people may want to do business remotely from their homes, even in their rural communities if they have broadband/internet.