One major area that posed so much challenge to Nigeria’s development is the area of housing and property development. Virtually every city in Nigeria is faced with the challenge of affordable accommodation for its inhabitants, particularly those in Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja which could be said to be the worst hit.
According to the world bank estimates, Nigeria needs to produce about 720, 000 housing units annually for the next 20 years, so as to be able to close the gap in her housing demand and supply.
The Minister of State for Works, Housing andUrban Development, Grace Ekpiwhre in a press statement recently posited that only 19.2 household in Nigeria live in their own homes.
In some highly populated cities like Lagos, statistical data have revealed that 65 percent of the 15 million residents of the city live in rented apartments, and spend over 50 per cent of their monthly earnings on house rent.
The same could also be said of the Federal Capital Territory (Abuja), Port Harcourt, Enugu as well as other major cities across the country where income earners spend a very higher percentage of their income on rent.
To make matters worse on the provision of affordable housing, land it self has become extremely difficult to acquire, and various land owners have tended to take advantage of the situation to keep prices at cut throat level, where as the average income earner, especially the junior public servants who depend on monthly salary can hardly acquire a plot of land, even if he had to save 50 percent of his monthly salary.
In all these, government, both at the federal, state, and local government have not really taken giant steps towards addressing the matter, even if it means granting loans for housing to workers enmass.
It is for these reasons that the efforts put up by President Umaru Yar’dua on the land reform agenda is most commendable because of some notable impediment it is viewed to address in respect to home ownership and access to land.
The land use act was promulgated as the law use decree in 1978 by the military government under Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, and is seen or viewed as a major obstacle to real estate development business.
Report citing the United Arab Emirate example quoted Abdul Kadiri of Ark Gold properties of advising Nigeria to go ahead – long for such reform for housing development, and such that can boast tourism.
According to him “The United Arab Emirate (UAE) is today world tourism destination, and this is simply because of changes it made in its land rules. In 2002, UAE liberalised its land rules, giving even foreigners freedom to acquire land and develop on same. Today, the story is what we see as Masdar City in Abu Dubai, Burji Dubai and Burj Al-Arab both in Dubai”.
It is true that much have been said about affordable houses and ownership of houses in the time past. The year 2009 is gone, and here we are in 2010, and the question still is the way forward to actualise this goal of addressing Nigerian’s housing deficit onward.
Government has so much part to play in this regard. Housing loans should be made available to public servants to enable them own and live in their own houses.
Apart from providing soft housing loans, government at various levels can as well acquire land and either build on the land and resell them to public servants, while the cost be deducted from their salaries over a period of a given time frame.
Private and over limited liability companies should also be encouraged to take the issue of housing for their workers very seriously through policies that will put them on focus for such important welfare matter.
At this point in time, the land reform becomes imperative because it is supposed to free land, not for the improvement of home ownership alone, but for other productive purposes like the agriculture, tourism and industries among others.
Nigeria is blessed with vast land and other resources, and if government will have the political will to implement the reforms and other solutions, only time will tell what we will achieve in a short while.
Traders Protest FG’s Move To Restore Festac Town
The move by the Federal Government to restore Festac Town in Lagos to its original status has sparked up protest among traders occupying Agboju Amuwo Planks and Building Materials Market.
The traders on Wednesday, protested at the FHA office in Festac Town against the demolition of their market, following the demolition of illegal structures by the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) ahead of the restoration.
The Tide recalls that there was a petition to the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, in 2020 about illegal structures that had taken over Festac Town.
Speaking at a stakeholders’ meeting on the restoration of Festac town organised by FHA, last year, its South-West Zonal Manager, Mr Akintola Olagbemiro, said, “This year, we commenced the restoration of Festac town, following the consent judgement from the court against illegal occupants of Festac land.
“Our action is to save the residents from the insecurity that has taken over the entire Festac town as a result of illegal structures everywhere”.
The chairman of allottees of First Gate to Third Gate, Mr Kole Olatunji, in his remarks at the meeting said the land from First Gate to Third Gate was allocated between 1985 and 1999, noting that with the consent judgment, original owners of the land as allocated should take over their plots.
But the chairman of plank market, Muhammed Bello, protested the seven-day notice given to traders to vacate the place without alternative arrangements.
Bello said: “How do they expect us to remove our wares in seven days?
“What we want is that they should allow us to remain there and we will pay whatever amount they ask us to pay”.
Speaking in the same vein, the chairman of Cane Chair and Furniture Association, Emmanuel Okoye said: “We need freedom. Let them tell us where they want us to stay. That place was swampy. We filled the place with several millions of Naira which we got as loans.
“We also rely on loans to do our business. Whatever the government wants us to pay; we are ready to pay to remain there. We have been there for 27 years. What we lost to the demolition is over N300 million”.
Fuel Tanker Explosion Kills Five, Injures Two In Ogun
No fewer than five persons were on Wednesday burnt to death, while two others sustained first degree of injury in a fuel tanker explosion at Ajilete, along Owode-Idiroko road, in Yewa South local government area of Ogun State.
Eyewitness accounts revealed that a truck bearing 33,000 litres of petroleum product was descending the steep portion of the road when its tank suddenly detached from truck’s body and tumbled to the ground with a bang.
The explosion, the witnesses said, killed five persons on the spot, while two other persons were injured.
The Tide learnt that the seven victims were all residents of the area where the accident occurred.
Confirming the incident, the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) Commander, Idiroko Unit, Akinwunmi Olaluwoye, said five deaths were recorded in the accident which occurred at about 8.15 am on Wednesday.
According to him, the remains of the dead had been claimed by their families.
He disclosed that a bus and a motorcycle were also caught in a web of the explosion and razed.
He said, “no vehicle rammed into the tanker. The tank dropped off from the back of the tanker and exploded. The number of persons involved are seven; five dead, two injured.
“The driver had taken away the head of the truck as at the time we got there. But we have allowed the police to take charge and handle that aspect”.
Travellers To Access $4,000 As CBN Boosts Forex Supplies
Nigerians travelling abroad can now access a maximum amount of $4,000 foreign exchange from banks following the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) announcement to increase forex supplies.
The CBN had said in a recent statement that it had concluded plans to increase the amount of foreign exchange allocated to banks to meet legitimate needs.
This followed the warning by the CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, to Deposit Money Banks to desist from denying customers the opportunity to purchase foreign exchange.
The purposes to access forex included Personal Travel Allowance, Basic Travel Allowance, tuition fees, and medical payments as well as Small and Medium Enterprises transactions or for the repatriation of Foreign Direct Investment proceeds, the CBN had stated.
Sources from some of the banks said those travelling on business trips could also access a maximum amount of $5,000 for each trip.
At a virtual Bankers’ Committee meeting last week, the bankers discussed how the CBN intended to assist with forex to ensure availability for the upcoming summer period and the return of students to school in September.
The CBN also said the BDCs would continue to have their weekly allocations.
The committee observed that the rates were going up.
It stated, “The CBN has said that all the banks must make availability at all times and anyone who wants to buy BTA, PTA, medical fees, student school fees and all the eligible invisible purchases to ensure that Nigerians are not forced to go and queue in the parallel market.
“So what the Central Bank is doing is to encourage all banks to make sure that there is available forex at all times, and that his information should be communicated on all our platforms.
“We are asking our customers to come to the branches and for BTA, for example, present the required documents, which are basically your international passport, your visa, your valid ticket and fill up the form in the bank.
“And what we have been instructed to do is ensure that we don’t turn anybody back and that we should request from the Central Bank once we exhaust the forex that we have.
“The idea is to have a hitch-free summer period and the resumption for children to go back to school. The idea is to ensure there is less pressure on the forex and then the rates will come down”.
Speaking during the virtual meeting, the Group Managing Director, Access Bank, Herbert Wigwe, said, “I think again as part of the Central Bank’s role in terms of price stability and the need to support small and medium enterprises, there was highlight of the need for banks to go and support SMEs who import small raw materials for them to set up their businesses”.
The Managing Director, Ecobank, Patrick Akinwuntan, said, “All banks are available to ensure forex need is met.”
Managing Director, Sterling Bank, Abubakar Suleiman, said the CBN had provided sufficient foreign exchange to meet the needs of all legitimate Nigerian travellers and therefore, the idea of going to any other market should not arise at all.
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