Housing is no doubt one of the essential needs of life and ensuring that citizens have a form of shelter is an important social issue.
This is the reason the Nigerian government like many other countries have at least a ministry dedicated to improving the housing needs of her citizens.
Despite the existence of the Federal Housing Authority in Nigeria, a government-owned agency with the vision to facilitate sustainable housing solutions in the country, Nigeria still has a very serious housing challenge, which abounds both in rural and urban areas.
Research revealed that Nigeria’s Housing deficit is due to the high cost of building materials, poverty, increasing population, poor access to the mortgage, and high rate of urban migration.
Housing As Human Right
Although, prior to breaking from the clutches of colonialism, Nigeria had in place housing provision, which has been duplicated over the years but remains only ornamental in the face of a crippling housing issue.
In the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of the United Nations stipulates the “right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing, and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions.”
According to the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), there is an estimated 1.6 billion people living in inadequate housing globally.
It also noted that of the 1.6 billion, 1 billion live in slums and other informal settlements, meaning that “one in four people in cities live in conditions that harm their health, safety, prosperity, and opportunities,” the report added.
Limiting the scope of discussion to Nigeria, research by BizWatch Nigeria found that Nigeria has a 17 million housing deficit – the highest in Africa – with an urbanisation rate of 4.78 percent.
Where the United Nations recommends 8-10 dwelling units per thousand people, Nigeria has only climbed up to as high as 2 dwelling units per thousand people.
The issue bedeviling housing in Nigeria is multifaceted but is bred on the grounds of ineffective policies enacted to tackle the problem.
A History of Housing Policies
1977: The Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria was borne from the Nigerian Building Society.
1978: The Land Use Decree was enacted, granting all Nigerians access to land.
1979: The Employees Housing Decree No. 54 of 1979 was enacted, targeted at staff and housing estates.
Institutions Decree No 53 of 1989 was promulgated.
1992: Urban and Regional Planning Decree 88 of 1992 was enacted, following the then administration allowance of players from the private sector in Nigeria’s housing business.
2000: Housing for all came into light and was stopped short by bureaucratic red tape.
2002: The Housing and Urban Development Policy came into law as a modifier of the Land Use Act.
In the face of these housing legislations, the problem has only continued to fester, buoyed by poor research and implementation, inadequate funding, the faltering building industry, and anorexic infrastructural supplies.
Speaking with BizWatch Nigeria, the Chairman of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV), Adedotun Bamigbola, highlighted problems restricting the growth of the construction industry in Nigeria and a path toward closing the housing gap.
Bamigbola noted that the construction industry in Nigeria was plagued by challenges hampering the sourcing of building materials like “iron rods; we have the challenge of the finishing materials for buildings” including tiling.
“Most of these things are imported,” he noted.
Another obstruction, according to him, was the problem of foreign exchange in Nigeria.
“So, we have a construction industry that is highly susceptible to importation and therefore foreign exchange plays a huge role in the delivery of housing in Nigeria,” he said.
“Where you see fluctuation in terms of FX in Nigeria, definitely, it will affect the cost of construction; it would definitely affect pressure, affect prices of properties. It’s a bandwagon effect.
“Until we are able to get to the root of it and promote the local industry in all areas of building material components, we may not be able to” close the gap in the country’s housing deficit.
“It now depends on the government to bring up policies that will ensure that even without doing price regulation, we can deregulate the industry in such a way that monopoly is cut off.”
Bamigbola also cited the cost of production of building materials and poor infrastructure as part of the challenges facing the industry, leading to higher prices of these materials in the market.
He offered that a reduction in the cost of production and good road infrastructure, with a liberally competitive market, the prices of construction materials would drop, and the construction industry would see a significant boost, meeting the housing needs of the country.
contributing writer: Victor Okeh