2023 Urban October: Housing Minister Identifies Urbanization as key to Economic Productivity

Minister of State for Housing and Urban Development, Abdullahi Tijani Gwarzo, representing the Honourable Minister, Arc. Musa Dangiwa at the just concluded Urban October held at the ministry's Headquarters in Mabushi, Abuja

The Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Arc. Ahmed Dangiwa has affirmed urbanization as one of the transformative forces in the world that could currently be utilized to enhance economic productivity, inclusive growth and environmental sustainability.

The Minister who was represented by the Minister of State for Housing and Urban Development, Abdullahi Tijani Gwarzo, made this affirmation while delivering his keynote address during the commemoration of the 2023 World Habitat Day/World Cities, in Abuja.

According to the Minister, the theme, “Financing Sustainable Urban Future for all” was aptly chosen at a time the Federal Government of Nigeria has paid reflective attention to the issues surrounding urbanization in the Country.

“The issue of financing for affordable housing and urban infrastructure remains the cardinal focus of the Ministry and we solicit collaborations and partnerships from our development partners and other stakeholders”, he reiterated.

Dangiwa explained that more than 50 percent of the Nigerian population which will expand to 60 percent by the year 2030 was made up of urban dwellers, adding that it was the duty of the Ministry to make adequate preparations for the expected growth of population in the towns and cities of the country through effective urban planning and management, as well as building the required resilience and transformation to absorb the expected shocks.

He acknowledged that urgent steps were needed to rectify past imperfections as the world builds and integrates the foundation of the New Urban Agenda, which according to him can be done by recognizing that development is an evolutionary assignment that cannot be resolved by one Agency alone.

“Over the years, I have realized that inefficient urbanization resulting from lack of sustainable development financing can result in diseconomies of scale and negative externalities, further exacerbating issues that contribute towards decelerating progress of achieving the SDGs, such as poverty, climate change, and pollution. The government alone cannot handle the financing for housing and urban development”, Dangiwa noted.

He explained that the Ministry’s readiness to actualize its mandate of providing adequate and affordable housing to all Nigerians, in line with Mr. President’s Renewed Hope Agenda, through a multi-stakeholders and institutional engagements and collaborations.

The Minister further called for Private Sector investments, leveraging on the Ministry Public-Private Partnership arrangements already in place, as well as International Development Partners to mobilize financing for affordable housing and Urban Development.

He also applauded the UN-Habitat for their readiness to collaborate with the Ministry at all times in offering technical support in the area of implementing the New Urban Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals in Nigeria.

Earlier in his welcome address, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, Mr. Mamuhda Mamman, noted that this years commemoration would allow stakeholders to brainstorm and find practical solutions on sustainable financing for cities.

In his virtual remarks, the Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres stated that the theme for this year’s event was a call to action, giving that local authorities are struggling with limited support and resources while the demand for infrastructure, efficient transport, social services, and affordable housing were on the increase.

He called on the Governments, International Organizations, Private Sectors and the Civil Society to work together to mobilize finance for resilient and sustainable cities.

Also in her remarks, the Executive Director of the UN-Habitat, Maimunah Mohd Sharif decried the slow progress towards achieving a sustainable development, and to reverse this trend, she noted a new financing framework was needed to unleash the potentials of cities.

“Half of the world is now urban. There is no stopping this mega-trend. By adapting the resources and talent we need, we can upscale the solutions we need to ensure no one is left behind”, Sharif said.

In their goodwill messages, the Managing Director and Chief executive of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN), Mr. Madu Hamman, called for significant deployment of investments and resources to combat degenerative pressure on urban areas and cities.

Hamman also affirmed that the FMBN has remained steadfast in meeting its corporate mandate of providing liquidity for mortgage financing and facilitating delivery of affordable housing targeted at low and medium income earners.

The Managing Director and Chief Executive of the Federal Housing Authority (FHA), Senator Gbenga Ashafa, said that the Federal Government has a well-defined blueprint which according to him is in conjunction with the policies of the UN-Habitat, giving the recent development in the Nation’s Housing industry.

Senator Ashafa further called on the Government to make deliberate efforts at urban development through building of new cities that will not only provide houses to people but also deliver more live-able and secure environment to them.

Salisu Haiba Badamasi
Director Information