GOMBE – (Federal Ministry Of Power, Works & Housing Report) – The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola has said that the present administration has taken a leadership role by demonstrating how the provision of affordable housing can catalyze development and sustainable economic growth in Nigeria.
Fashola explained that President Buhari has used the National Housing Programme (NHP), presently active in 34 States of the federation in the last three years as one of the tools to grow the economy and extricate the nation from recession. According to him, the Government has been able to employ on the average, a thousand people at each of the 34 NHP sites only for the pilot stage.
The Minister stated this at the recently concluded 7th Meeting of the National Council on Lands, Housing and Urban Development held at the Banquet Hall, Gombe International Hotel, Gombe State with the theme: “Provision of Affordable Housing – A Catalyst for Development and Sustainable Economic Growth.”
While speaking at the Council, Raji Fashola urged policy makers and governments at all levels to make efforts at consolidating on the achievements of the present government by building more houses and proffering policies to address urbanization. He said that one of such policies is to consciously redistribute wealth and opportunities by strong commitments to programs such as agriculture and mining.
The Minister further revealed that from his trips across the nation, he can tell categorically that President Buhari’s investment in infrastructural development is impacting on the nation’s urbanization challenge in a positive way.
In his remarks, the Governor of Gombe State, Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo, who was the Special Guest of Honour commended the Ministry for choosing Gombe State as host, assuring that the Council meeting was bound to address the challenges facing land administration, housing and urban development to enable the sector contribute meaningfully to the socio-economic development of the nation.
Dankwambo stated that access to quality and affordable housing is not only fundamental to the health and well being of families and communities, but critical to human survival. He urged Governments at all levels to work assiduously in ensuring the provision of affordable housing, particularly for the low and modest income earners in the country.
He commended the efforts of the Federal Government in the construction of mass housing under the National Housing Programme (NHP), stating that the state government has also consolidated on these gains with the construction of over 1, 000 housing units, fully completed and allocated to civil servants and the general public in the state.
Earlier in his address to the Permanent Secretaries at the state level and other stakeholders, the Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Works & Housing, Mohammed Bukar said that the provision of affordable housing rests on the shoulders of all stakeholders in the industry. He later indicated that it is the collective duty of stakeholders to provide leadership for achieving the set objective.
Bukar enjoined all stakeholders to make judicious use of the opportunity provided by the 7th Meeting of the National Council on Lands, Housing and Urban Development to deliberate on the memoranda submitted for consideration. Adding, this will help in formulating and strengthening policies that will address the challenges in the built environment and make housing affordable to all Nigerians.
In her goodwill message, the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Winfred Oyo-Ita represented by the Permanent Secretary for Service Welfare, Didi Walson Jack disclosed that the Council Meeting is an auspicious moment which brings together key stakeholders in the housing sector to deliberate on policy issues geared towards the full delivery of mass housing. She commended the ministry for initiating and promoting the discuss on affordable housing in Nigeria.
According to her, the Federal Executive Council in consideration of the need to reposition the civil service for greater productivity has approved the Federal Civil Service Strategy and Implementation Plan. She averred that one of the eight goals of the plan is to enhance the value of repositioning Civil Servants through improving on their access to affordable housing.
She hinted that this initiative has resulted to the creation of the Federal Integrated Staff Housing (FISH) programme by the Head of Service, inferring that it has assisted over 35, 000 civil servants to acquire homes through the provision of mortgage loans with long term repayment plans.
In the climax, the Council Meeting ended with the issuance of a communiqué seeking to chat the way and formulate a holistic housing policy for development and sustainable economic growth in Nigeria.
During the deliberations, thirty-four memoranda were received and considered under four thematic groups – Policy, Finance, Capacity Building for Affordable Housing Delivery; Building Consideration and Institutional Strengthening for Affordable Housing Provision; Urban Planning Provision for Affordable Housing and Lands & Infrastructure Consideration for Affordable Housing.